3 Ways To Improve Your String Bending Technique

String bending is a technique that many guitarists have problems with. This article looks at a few ways to improve your string bending technique.

Ultimate Guitar

Bending notes can be a very powerful technique on guitar. It is important to learn to correctly use this technique in order for it to sound good. Many guitarists in the beginning stages of learning string bending do not do it properly. Either they do not know what a correctly bent note sounds like or their ear is not developed. When done wrongly, it often sounds bad and sloppy. This article will show you a few ways to start improving your string bending technique today.

When bending notes, you need to know what note you are trying to bend to. If you do not know what note you are bending to, there is a good chance the bend will be out of tune. The most common bend is a whole step bend, which is two frets, but there are other bends as well. The key to getting good at bending notes is consistently being able to bend to the desired note.

1. Use a tuner

A tuner is a great tool to help you improve your string bending technique. It will tell you if you are correctly bending to the desired pitch and if you are in tune. If you have a difficult time telling if you are bending to the right note, use this technique. Have your guitar connected to a tuner, play a note, and bend that note up to your desired note. Watch the tuner and see when you correctly bend to the desired note and when it is in tune. Observe what it sounds like and your fretting hand position. Repeat this a few times to get used to correctly bending to the right pitch.

Bending notes is a lot about having a good ear. You do not want to rely too much on this technique with a tuner. If you rely too much on the tuner, you may not develop your ear and the tuner will become a crutch. Use this technique if you are having a difficult time with string bends but work on using the following technique to really help develop your string bending.

2. Listen to the desired pitch before performing bend

Listening to the pitch before performing the bend is a great way to develop your ear. You will have to rely on your ear to bend to the correct pitch and it will significantly help develop your string bending. This technique is simple. Play the note you are planning to bend up to and get that pitch in your head. Then bend the note up to that pitch. Once you bend up to the pitch, play the fret you wanted to bend to and see if the pitches match. If the pitches match, you are doing it correctly but keep working on being able to do it consistently.

Here is an example of using this technique. Lets say you want to bend an A to a B. First, you would play the B to get the note in your head. Once the sound of the B note is in your head then you bend the A to the B. You can see if you did it right by picking the bent string and then picking the B note and seeing if they match.

If you are having a difficult time hearing whether you are correctly bending then I recommend combining techniques one and two. You are going to follow the steps for technique 2. Get the desired pitch in your head and bend the note up to the desired pitch. Once the note is bent to what you think is correct, check it with the tuner. See if you are bending the pitch too much or too little. Always check the tuner after you think you are at the desired pitch. This will help develop your ear and help you be able to distinguish when your bends are flat or sharp.

3. Learn to bend with all your fingers

Learning to bend with all your fingers will help you in your playing. Most players prefer to bend with their ring finger. While the ring finger is the easiest to bend with, you do not want to rely only on this finger to perform string bends. Sometimes in your playing, you may run into licks where it is difficult to use your ring finger for a bend or you would have to shift your hand for just one bend. Being able to bend with all your fingers will limit this problem and make you an overall better player.

To improve bending with all your fingers you need to spend time practicing bends with each finger. You should use the previous techniques when practicing with each finger. You may find it difficult to bend with certain fingers but keep working on these fingers. For me, I found it difficult to bend with my pinky but after working on it, it has become a lot easier. Now when I come to playing situations where I have to bend with a finger other than my ring finger, it is no problem. Spend time improving your bending technique with all your fingers. It will help your playing and you will not have to worry about being limited to bending with certain fingers.

String bending can be a difficult technique to learn because it requires a developed ear to consistently do it right. It is easy for your bends to be a little flat or sharp. That is why it is important to use these techniques to improve your ear and your bending technique. Make string bending part of your practice sessions and your string bending will greatly improve and make your playing sound a lot better!

About the Author

Dan Acheron is a hard rock guitarist, songwriter and instructor in St. Louis, MO. He is the author of the ebook: Become a Better Guitarist Today. You can sign up and receive a free copy of the ebook today.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Good article - I know bending was a big problem for me in the beginning, and I didn't even notice it for a long time. I'd feel that my playing sounded extremely unprofessional, but I couldn't tell why. Hope this helps someone out before they bash their head into a wall!
    Good Ol' Ramos
    I feel the same way. I found this article because I've been noticing lately that my bends sound kind of sad or depressing, if that makes any sense. This article provides a bit of structure to get past this stage in my learning.
    Jackie Lawless
    i honestly had no problems with bends from the beginning... guess i was one of the lucky ones.
    I find it helps to practise bends over a backing track, bending up to notes in the chords that are playing. It's not too hard to hear how in tune you are this way.
    Ich 666
    Dynamight wrote: Jackie Lawless wrote: i honestly had no problems with bends from the beginning... guess i was one of the lucky ones. Same here. Everything this article mentioned came naturally to me.
    Dont forget guys, you might just didnt notice how crappy your bends were, until they were good At least for me that was the case.
    Jackie Lawless wrote: i honestly had no problems with bends from the beginning... guess i was one of the lucky ones.
    Same here. Everything this article mentioned came naturally to me.
    I was told to use additional fingers to assist the main finger when bending. It was easier that way.
    Most_Triumphant wrote: Make sure that you use a lot of wrist while you bend, it's more stable than finger bending.
    This. The number one thing in bending technique is to make sure you use your wrist. If your forearm/wrist isn't strong enough, and you want to use your fingers, that's fine, but keep practicing bending from the wrist so that the muscles strengthen to the point where you don't have to do it with just your fingers any more.
    I got good practice trying to learn pantera songs with dimes crazy vibratos and bends lol that'll get u good real quick!
    Most_Triumphant wrote: Make sure that you use a lot of wrist while you bend, it's more stable than finger bending.
    So true. I'm still trying to break my habit of only using my fingers. Not only is it more stable, but it's easier on your fretting hand.
    Using the fingers behind to support the bend is also a useful way to achieve more accurate, stable bends and reduce stress on your muscles. For example, if you're bending with your ring finger, your middle and index fingers are often on the frets immediately below. Use them to help push the string up to divide the force between two or three fingers rather than just one.
    Good article, I really wish someone had told me these things when I started. Especially using more than one finger.
    Solid article, I would suggest doing the tuner thing around a few different spots on the neck to get used to different tensions.
    For your added difficulty try adding some vibrato to the bent note using only your fingers.
    I don't get it... bending was always one of the easiest things on guitar for me. It's all about the ear... one you develop your ear, you'll be good so you don't over bend notes. Bending with all 4 fingers is very important too. Now slides... that's something I had some problem with when learning. Not the basic 2-3 fret slide, but the cool sounding octave-to-octave slides. Or even sliding on multiple strings. I always found that technique much more tricky to get down than bending.
    Do a lot of people use their ring fingers? I pretty much exclusively use my middle finger to bend strings
    You should have added muting and adding vibrato to the bended note in the article. If you use your wrist instead of arm to do the bend it gets way eaiser to keep the bend in tune in addition to adding vibrato. Things like keeping the vibrato in time and subtle and let it get more powerful as note note ends could be nice to have here too.