Posted Oct 06, 2005 12:22 PM
String Bending History And Gauges.
String bending was originally developed by blues and country players to mimic the sound of bottleneck guitars, or much later, pedal steel string guitars. Bending has now become one of the most widely used techniques in most guitar styles, as it can provide greater texture to your sound, as well as added emotional dimension. The principal factor which governs the degree in which you can bend a string is its thickness, or GAUGE. String widths (gauges) are generally expressed as decimal fractions of an inch and can be found on any package of strings you buy.
Weighing up the pros and cons of each type of thickness or style of string is really a matter of personal taste. You must take into account that while thin, light gauge strings are more pliable and easier on your fretting fingers, they are more likely to break with continued use, create a shorter sustain, have a lower volume, and the degree in which they can stretch makes them more troublesome to keep in tune than that of higher gauge strings.
Thicker guitar strings can give you a richer, warmer tone, and can be tuned down and will not flop around like light guage guitar strings. Some players maintain that higher thickness strings simply sound better than thin ones.
If your guitar uses light gauge strings - where the high E string is no more than 0.010 inches thick- you should be able to alter the pitch of a note by at least a tone. Although this can also be achieved with steel string acoustic guitars under the most favorable circumstances, it is almost impossible to reach a tone on classical or flamenco gutiars, or even with thicker electric strings.
With their degree of pliability, the treble strings are most often used for bending, which causes them to break most frequently. It's wise to keep a supply a spares in your case.
Bending The Strings.
This is one of the most basic and widely used techniques of the modern guitarist today. It is usually achieved by playing a string, then pushing the string up with the fingers to create a pitch change. Keep in mind that you should be pushing mainly your wrist upwards to achieve the pitch change, and that putting your unfretted fingers behind the finger used to bend can give you more strength in your bend, and therefore, more accuracy. It can also be produced mechanically with a tremolo arm.
String Bending Exercise.
- Play the 14th fret of the third (G) string. Now, remember that sound, because it will come in handy when attempting to bend up a tone.
- Place your 3rd (ring) finger on the 12th fret of the 3rd string.
- Pick this note. You are playing a G.
- While the note is sustaining (or ringing), push the string upwards (towards the roof) until the pitch increases by what you assume is relatively close to a tone (remembering the 14th fret we played earlier).
-You should now be hearing the note A.
At first it may be difficult to stop or get to the correct pitch, but this will come with practice. In fact, some styles of playing don't even need pitch-perfect bending. A slightly flat note in blues playing can be a very nice effect. Take care, however, not to bend the string to much (called "Over Bending") unless it is called for, because this will make the note sound sharp, a sometimes unpleasant effect.
As an alternative, it is also possible to pull the strings downward, rather than push them upwards. This is generally used when bending the bass strings, because, if the low E string is bent upwards or the high E string is bent downwards, it is likely that the string will slip off the fingerboard of your guitar, producing a very unpleasant sound and killing the note. This shouldn't be too much of a problem considering that most players find it easier to push the treble strings (high E, B, G) upwards and pull the bass strings (E, A, D) downwards anyway. Well, I hope this can help with some string-bending questions.