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How To Bend Guitar Strings

Welcome to the sixth lesson of the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, we’ll take a look at the first important lead guitar technique: bending. Bending is one of the ways that you can add more expression to your lead guitar playing. We’ll be covering two types of bends in this lesson, starting with half-step bends and moving on to whole-step bends.

One thing you’ll notice when you first start bending on the guitar is that it’s pretty hard on your fingers. It’s just like when you first started learning the guitar. It may take a couple weeks for you fingers to get used to it. Just push through and it will get easier and the pain will go away in no time.

We’ll start with the half-step bend. To make things simple, let’s stick with the minor pentatonic scale for this lesson. For a half-bend step, you want to push the string so the note becomes the same pitch as one half-step higher, the same as moving one fret higher up the guitar neck. You can check how you’re doing by playing the note one fret higher and making sure the pitch of your bend is the same.

A helpful tip for bending strings is to use your available fingers behind the finger you are bending with to help you push that string. So if you’re using your third finger to bend the note, you can place your first and second fingers behind it on the same string to help bend the string.

Let’s take a closer look at the actual technique of bending. You’ll notice your wrist will pivot a bit, and your forearm moves a bit with the movement. Watch the video for an example of what this should look like. Practice bending until you find it feeling more natural, and always double check you pitch.

Whole-step bends are even tougher on your fingers. When doing these bigger bends you’ll definitely need to use other fingers to help push the string up or down. Once you’ve got the technique for half-step and whole-step bends down, you can try playing some of the licks from the video. Once you’ve got the hang of the hang of those, you can pull up the jam track and work on playing along to music.

Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t sound perfect right away. It takes time to build up the strength in your fingers and work on your ability to match pitch. In the next lesson, we’ll take a look at another important lead guitar technique: Vibrato.

Are you looking for more lead guitar lessons and relevant jam-tracks? The GuitarLessons.com Academy is Nate Savage’s step-by-step video training system. It has some great songs for lead guitar and it also covers many other important styles of music including rock, country, fingerstyle, metal, classical, bluegrass, jazz, and more. Best of all it includes a huge library of original jam-tracks so you can apply everything to music.