a couple of string bending questions...newbie alert!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by ptt660, Jul 16, 2006.


  1. ptt660

    ptt660 Member

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    i have been told that when bending strings, you bend the bottom 3 strings (g,b,high e) up and the top 3 strings (e,a,d) down. i find this works for me MOST of the time but occasionally deviate from this. should i strictly adhere to this concept or am i just worrying about nothing here?

    i realize you need to bend a string with just the index finger at times. do you guitarists sometimes bend a string with just one of the other fingers or do you always use at least two fingers? i find that at times it is easier for me to just use one finger (middle or ring) to bend a string in order to play up to speed. do i need to get the index finger behind the middle AND both the middle and index fingers behind the ring finger when bending? maybe i just need to practise harder on getting my fingers together quicker to do this but i was just wondering if you vets use just one finger to bend sometimes.

    regards,
    Paul
     
  2. rickboot

    rickboot Member

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    This is just what *I* do. There is no right or wrong. I do whatever works at the time. Experiment. Over time you'll find that some things work better for you than others.

    - I bend high E up and pull low E down. They'll go off the fretboard if I do it the other way around.
    - I push G and B up most of the time but may pull down if the mood suits me, especially if I use my first finger.
    - I pull A down most of the time and D I go either way.
    - I use 2 or 3 fingers to bend when I am bend with my ring finger and usually use one finger when I bend with my first or second.
     
  3. ptt660

    ptt660 Member

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    thanks for your input!
     
  4. Brian D

    Brian D Member

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    There may be a particular guitar technique that requires you to bend a certain way every time, but off the top of my head I can't think of any. My theory about bending is very practical. Does it sound good? Does it sound the way I want it to sound? Am I able to play what I want to play? That is all that matters to me.

    Picking up my guitar to check, I see that I'm all over the board (no pun intended) with my bending. I tend to bend the top strings up (G,B,E), and the bottom (wound) strings down (E,A,D). BUT, when I bend with my index finger I bend EVERY string down, except the high "E" of course. That one I have to bend up.

    Interesting, I've never really analyzed it before.
     
  5. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Armchair Rocket Scientist Graffiti Existentialist Gold Supporting Member

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    There is just no right or wrong way to do this. The only thing that matters is that you can consistently reproduce the sounds in your head when you play, and that you bend to the pitch you really mean to play. IIRC, Albert King pulls down for almost all of his bends, while Gary Moore tends to bend up for the most part (Low E and A excepted). If you've got the hand strength to pull off a bend with one finger, great. Personally, I do 1/2 steps bends all the time with one finger, but find I have to reinforce things with a second (and sometimes a third) finger for larger bends on thicker strings. I sometimes bend all the way to a major third, and that sort of heavy lifting requires certain level of commitment, you know? ;)

    Good luck!
     
  6. ptt660

    ptt660 Member

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    thanks for the help guys. i feel better knowing there really isn't hard fast rules here as long as it feels and sounds good.
     
  7. clothwiring

    clothwiring Supporting Member

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    Bend any which way you care two, rules were meant to be broken. Hell, I bend the high E off the board and get some cool effects...who cares! :)
     
  8. Brian D

    Brian D Member

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    To answer your question about how many fingers I use, it really depends on the phrase I'm playing or what I plan on doing during or after the bend. There are different situations, and different styles of guitar playing, that require different things. There are also different hands and fingers between people, of course. I play a lot of blues, and I have long, lanky fingers. My approach works for me, but it may be worthless for somebody else.

    The vast majority of the time I use three - my index finger "anchoring", with my middle and ring fingers bending. If I'm adding vibrato to my bend, I'll usually take my index finger off and hold the bend with my middle and ring fingers while applying it.

    After that, my next most common useage is my index finger alone. I use it to bend like a half step, to add a "grace note" or "slur" to a blues phrase before hammering on to a different note or moving to a different string.

    Occasionally I'll use my middle finger, like when I do a country-style bend while simultaneously playing and holding a note on another string. I rarely do this, but if I do I usually reinforce my middle finger with my index finger.

    I hardly ever use my pinky finger for bending. If I do, it is usually an accident.

    Those are my quirks anyway. It just goes to show you that, as far as I'm concerned, there are no hard and fast rules. As you can probably tell, I've enjoyed this thread because I never really looked at the details of my bending before. It's been an education for me as well!
     
  9. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

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    Brian D refers to one of the most important things about string bending - bending a note and adding vibrato. Done well, it's a thing of beauty. Done badly, it's horrible. You may get a different sound doing this on a 'pull' and a 'push'. It can take a lot of practice to get either sounding cool. Eric Clapton demonstrates his approach in the 'Cream Farewell' film, and it's worth watching it for that section of the film alone. When I was starting out I learned a lot from Eric's demonstration. If you could do it like him, you could almost base your entire musical career on that one sound.
     
  10. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    Another important thing is to bend IN TUNE. Unless you're looking for a special effect, bending out of tune, especially sharp, is pretty awful to listen to.

    Larry Carlton did a video once where her showed how he practiced playing scales by bending the notes. He was also one of the first in the studios (according to Tommy Tedesco) who bent a note to pitch then picked and released it. If that note isn't bent to pitch it will sound pretty crappy.
     
  11. ptt660

    ptt660 Member

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    great input guys. very helpful stuff here.......much appreciated! i may have to find the clapton video.
     

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