String Bending Basics

Guitar bends (also referred to as “string bending” or “bending”) are produced by moving the stopped (held down) string with the fretting hand in a direction perpendicular to its axis and parallel to the fingerboard.  String bends are one of few ways to achieve micro-tonality, especially blue notes, on the guitar.

In other words, guitar bends make the guitar wail. In this guitar lesson, you’ll learn about the different types of guitar bends.

Guitar bends give your guitar solos a very vocal-like quality. The technique is performed much the way it sounds; by ‘bending’ the guitar string.

A Variety Of Guitar Bends

Below are examples of guitar bends:

Fig. 1

This is a full step bend and half step bend. Fret the 7th fret of the G string and strike the note. Immediately bend the note so that it’s pitch sounds a whole step higher (span of 2 frets). Strike the 2nd note and bend it so that it’s pitch sounds only a half step (span of 1 fret).

The Whole Step And Half Step Bend

Fig. 2

Bend and release. Play the note so it begins at the original pitch,  bend it up one whole step, and then release the bend; returning to the original tone.

Bend And Release

Fig. 3

Bend and hold.

Bend And Hold

Fig. 4

Pre-bend and pre-bend and release.  A pre-bend occurs when you bend the note up before  you strike the note.

Guitar Bends