Mastering Different Types of Slides and Bends

author: gregstudley date: 12/26/2013 category: guitar techniques
rating: 5.9 / votes: 7 
Mastering Different Types of Slides and Bends
As many of you know, pentatonic scales are some of the most widely used scales for modern guitar soloing, and can be applied to numerous genres of music. I have already included a few lessons from my book "A Guitarist's Guide to Improvising With Knowledge" (coming out in Dec 2013) on Ultimate-Guitar regarding these scales and how they can be applied to improvisation. This lesson will not focus on the scales themselves, but how you can use some specific sliding and bending techniques within them to create sounds that are unique to the guitar. We will be using the following major and minor pentatonic scales in the exercises of this lesson, so be sure that you are familiar with these. All scales are written as diagrams (not TAB) and the root of the scale is labeled as "R." The name of each scale is based upon the string that contains the lowest root (either E or A) and the finger that will play that root (1 or 4).

Major Pentatonic Scales

Maj Pent E4 (low root is on E-string with 4th finger)
e |-O-|---|---|-R-|
B |-O-|---|---|-O-|
G |-R-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-O-|---|---|-R-|
Maj Pent A4
e |-O-|---|---|-O-|
B |---|-R-|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|---|-R-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|

Minor Pentatonic Scales

Min Pent E1
e |-R-|---|---|-O-|
B |-O-|---|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-R-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-R-|---|---|-O-|
Min Pent A1
e |-O-|---|---|-O-|
B |---|-O-|---|-O-|
G |-O-|---|-R-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-R-|---|---|-O-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|

Slides

Sliding is a technique that involves playing a note and then quickly sliding the finger to another note (and fret) on the same string. This achieves a sound of "connecting" the notes together with all possible notes in between. Constant pressure must be kept on the string when sliding in order to retain the sound of the slide. There are two options to consider when figuring out which finger to use when sliding: 1) If you plan to continue playing directly after the slide, it is best to use the finger that will slide your hand into the hand position that you will continue to use. 2) If you plan to rest after sliding, you may either slide into position or out of position. The rest will allow you to re-position your hand if necessary. The two most basic types of slides are legato slides and shift slides. A legato slide involves picking the initial note and then sliding to the second note. The second note should not be picked, but should still sound by the resonating string. These are best used when sliding short distances (2-3 frets). These slides are notated as "/" in the TAB and the second note is in parenthesis since it is not picked. The example below shows how you can use legato slides within pentatonic scale shapes and as a means to connect different pentatonic scale shapes over short distances. The chords and pentatonic scale shapes that are being used are written above the TAB and the roman numerals underneath the TAB will show the appropriate hand position (a description of what fret should be played by the 1st finger of your fretting hand). Follow the hand position descriptions closely to achieve the best fingering, and remember that the second note of the slide should not be picked.

Legato Slide Example


    B                                             F#                         
   (maj pent E4)                                    (maj pent A4)            
E |----------------|----------------------------|---------------------------|
B |----------------|----------------------------|--------7------------------|
G |-----------4----|--------------4-----6-------|--6/(8)-------8--6---------|
D |--4-----4-------|--------4/(6)---------------|--------------------8------|
A |----------------|----------------------------|---------------------------|
E |----------------|----------------------------|---------------------------|
     IV                    II IV                      VI                     

----------------------------||
--------------7-------------||
----------------------------||
--------6/(8)---------------||
----------------------------||
----------------------------||
       IV VI                  
A shift slide involves picking the initial note, sliding to the second note and immediately picking the second note. These are best used when sliding longer distances (4 frets or more). These slides are simply notated as "/" in the TAB. The example below shows how you can use shift slides to connect pentatonic scale shapes over longer distances. Remember that since these are shift slides, both notes of the slide should be picked.

Shift Slide Example


   Dm                                            Am                          
   (min pent E1)                                 (min pent E1)               
E |----------------------------|----------------|---------------------------|
B |-----------------------10---|--10----13--10\-|--5-----------8-----5------|
G |-----------------10-12------|----------------|-----------------------7---|
D |--12-------10-12------------|----------------|---------------------------|
A |--------12------------------|----------------|---------------------------|
E |----------------------------|----------------|---------------------------|
     X                                             V                         

          (min pent A1)       
--------5/12----------------||
--5--8----------------------||
----------------------------||
----------------------------||
----------------------------||
----------------------------||
          XII                 

Bends

The use of bends will also give the sound of "connecting" the notes. As a string is bent, it is stretched to a higher pitch. The amount of bend that is given to a string will determine how much higher the pitch will move. For utmost control, it is best to bend strings with multiple fingers. For example, if a note is normally played with finger 3, then use fingers 1, 2 and 3 on the string to bend. Simply line up fingers 1, 2 and 3 on their usual frets of the string that is to be bent, and use all three fingers to bend the string. Not all notes of the pentatonic scales are appropriate for bending, so here are the same scale shapes with the best bends notated as "B." Because strings 1, 2 and 3 (E, B and G) are thinner strings, they are more flexible and therefore easier to bend. Note that since Maj Pent E4 and Min Pent E1 are relative pentatonic scales with the same finger pattern (but different roots), the bends are the same and so they are grouped in the same diagram. The same holds true for Maj Pent A4 and Min Pent A1. Maj Pent E4 / Min Pent E1 Bends
e |-O-|---|---|-B-|
B |-O-|---|---|-B-|
G |-O-|---|-B-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|-O-|---|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|
Maj Pent A4 / Min Pent A1 Bends
e |-O-|---|---|-B-|
B |---|-B-|---|-B-|
G |-O-|---|-O-|---|
D |-O-|---|-O-|---|
A |-O-|---|---|-O-|
E |-O-|---|---|-O-|
All bends in the following exercise are full bends, meaning that the note should bend up a full-step (the equivalent of two frets). The notes should be heard bending up, but you should not hear the sound moving down as the string returns to its normal position. These bends will be notated as "b" following the fret that should be bent.

Full Bend Exercise (in G#m)


   G#m                                                       
   (min pent E1)                                             
E |----------------------------|----------------------------|
B |--------------4-------------|----------------------------|
G |--------4--6----------------|--------4--6--6b------------|
D |--4--6----------------------|--4--6----------------------|
A |----------------------------|----------------------------|
E |----------------------------|----------------------------|
     IV                                                      

--------------4-------------|----------------------------|
--------4--7----------------|--------4--7--7b------------|
--4--6----------------------|--4--6----------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

--------4--7--4-------------|--------4--7--7b------------|
--4--7----------------------|--4--7----------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

--7--4----------------------|----------------------------|
--------7--4--7--4----------|----------------------------|
--------------------6--4----|----------------------------|
----------------------------|--6-------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

(min pent A1)                                             
----------------------------|----------------------------|
-----------12-14------------|-----------12-12b-----------|
-----11-13------------------|-----11-13------------------|
--13------------------------|--13------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
  XI                                                      

--------------11------------|----------------------------|
--------12-14---------------|--------12-14-14b-----------|
--11-13---------------------|--11-13---------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

--------11-14-11------------|--------11-14-14b-----------|
--12-14---------------------|--12-14---------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

--14-11---------------------|---------------------------||
--------14-12-14-12---------|---------------------------||
--------------------13-11---|--13-----------------------||
----------------------------|---------------------------||
----------------------------|---------------------------||
----------------------------|---------------------------||
Some other common methods of bending are the use of bends with release and prebends. To release a string that is bent, return the string to its original position while it is still producing a sound. This will sound as if the note is bending back to a lower pitch, and is notated as "r" (a bend and release is notated as "br"). A prebend occurs when a note is bent before it is played, and is notated as "pb" before the bent note. Prebends are often followed by a release in order to have the sound bend to a lower pitch (notated as "pb7r").

All Bends Exercise (in E)


   E                                                         
   (maj pent A4)                                             
E |--4--7--4-----4-------------|--pb7r--4-------------------|
B |-----------7----------------|-----------7--7b------------|
G |----------------------------|----------------------------|
D |----------------------------|----------------------------|
A |----------------------------|----------------------------|
E |----------------------------|----------------------------|
     IV                                                      

--4-----------4-------------|----------------------------|
-----7--5--7----------------|--pb7r--5--7--7b------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

----------------------------|----------------------------|
--7--5-----5--7-------------|--pb5r-----5--5b------------|
--------6-------------------|--------6-------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

----------------------------|----------------------------|
--7br---5-----5br-----------|--5-------------------------|
-----------6--------6--4----|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

(maj pent E4)                                             
--9--12-9-----9-------------|--pb12r-9-------------------|
-----------12---------------|-----------12-12b-----------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
  IX                                                      

--9-----------9-------------|----------------------------|
-----12-9--12---------------|--pb12r-9--12-12b-----------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

----------------------------|----------------------------|
--9-----------9-------------|----------------------------|
-----11-9--11---------------|--pb11r-9--11-11b-----------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|
----------------------------|----------------------------|

----------------------------|---------------------------||
--12br--9-------------------|---------------------------||
-----------9--11br--9-------|--9------------------------||
-----------------------9----|---------------------------||
----------------------------|---------------------------||
----------------------------|---------------------------||
So, you can now bend your strings up, up and down, or even just down using a prebend. Start incorporating these different types of bends and slides into your solos and lead guitar playing to utilize all that the guitar has to offer. The following video includes all exercises from above, along with a solo that shows you how to apply these different elements.

About the Author: Lesson by Greg Studley, author of "Speed, Accuracy & Technique for Guitar" and "A Guitarist's Guide to Improvising With Knowledge." You can find many more lead guitar resources including warm-up exercises, scale and arpeggio lessons, jam tracks, and improvisation theory at www.improvisingwithknowledge.com.
More gregstudley lessons:
+ Embedding Arpeggios Into Your Solos Soloing 11/10/2013
+ Linking Pentatonic Scales & Arpeggios Scales 09/30/2013
+ The Ultimate Preparation for Soloing Soloing 09/02/2013
+ 3 Steps to Solid Improvisation Soloing 07/18/2013
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