Bending Technique In Blues

Thanks for the heads-up Toby. I don’t see it either.

OK so the 4 exercises Justin is demonstrating are (all in the Key of A) Intervals included for anyone wanting to transpose to a different key :smiley:

Bend Notes to/from Intervals
B string 8th fret tone bend. G to A. 7b to Root.
G string 7th fret tone bend. D to E. 4th to 5th.
G string 7th fret semi tone bend. D to Eb. 4th to flat 5th (the Blues note).
e string 8th fret tone bend. C to D. Flat 3rd to 4th.

Hope that helps.




Hi. Is it a definitively wrong technique to mute a bent string with the pick or finger (if not using a pick) and should muting strictly be done with the palm of the picking hand?


Welcome to the Community, Thomas.

I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules. I think the real test would be in what you are doing immediately after the bend and if muting with the pick/finger makes that harder or not possible.

As a rule of thumb when learning anything new from Justin’s lessons, I tend to do exactly as he says. Then later one may learn more options and adapt things to suit yourself. So I’d suggest practice that muting with the edge of the palm technique as taught.

But I am just another advancing beginner.

@Richard_close2u Richard, can you add to or correct my reply; thanks.

I am reminded of another old-forum article I wrote which is another on the list of things I need to migrate to here. Taking the first steps in Improvising / playing Blues Lead Guitar

Thanks Richard.

I went through that old post and found this gem. I’ll nominate that for the ‘Most helpful tip’ award in learning to hear a bend. And I can use this same trick to hear the D to E interval with a little adjustment. Maybe my ears are a little better tuned that I thought :grin:



Very similar to what I was saying to you or Gordon a few weeks back. Take time repeatedly switching between the note you are going to bend and the target note. Either just fret source and target back and forth, slide to the target, hammer the target. Work on those movements repeatedly to get that target pitch in your head, then bend. Wash rinse repeat. If I can play the Unison on the string below, I will hold the bend and check it that way. Also look at where you are bending the string to at the fret, does a B string tone bend end up with the string under the D string. Maybe not exactly but in that region. Look when you bend and use those references along with your ears.



Indeed I have been doing this two things since you mentioned them to me in my ‘What are you learning now’ topic.

I had been taking note of this as well. I thought it might be ‘cheating’ but I’m OK with anything that helps me on this path.

What this adds is to give the practice a musical and super familiar context viz the Smoke on the Water riff. Rather than just playing the 3rd note in the riff, bend up to it from the second note.

I immediately tried on my acoustic and was astonished. I know that riff so well in my head, having heard it 100s if not 1000s of times that in the context of first note, second note, bend to third, I could immediately hear it.

And I think using that ‘trick’ for a while and eventually dropping the first note will help to train my hear to hear a tone interval from one note to another.

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Thanks. I needed that info too as it wasn’t on the lesson notes. Hi

Check this supplementary topic for additional guidance and support on learning and using blues licks to play lead improvisation: First Steps in Blues Improvisation using Minor Pentatonic Scale Pattern 1
Cheers :+1:
| Richard_close2u |

I’ve got a question about bending. Often, especially when bending the first string, my fingertips hit the string above it at the height of a bend and that creates a tone. How do I bend without doing that? I’m pretty sure I’m doing the bend as Justin explained it by “hinging” my fingers against the bottom of the fretboard and I can bend the string I want to, but, as i said, often I touch the string above it. What to do?

Please don’t double post your question was answered in you post yesterday

My apologies for the double post - I didn’t see the answer before and hadn’t enabled notifications to see that it had been answered. And thanks to Toby for his answer. I’ll try your suggestion with palm muting.

No problem. If you can’t find a post you’ve made you can click on your Avatar, then click Activity this brings up all you posts from newest to oldest. Comes in real handy when you want to review your post after being away for a while. This forum is really active and some days posts get pushed down the list very quickly and can get lost in the crowd.

Thanks, Stitch. I found Activity under Preferences, thanks. I’m new to the Forum so that helps. p.s. some nice looking guitars you’ve got.

After changing guitar I am having to revisit my bending technique as whilst on the old guitar I thought I could bend OK I am now struggling to bend on the high E string.

One of the things I’ve noticed is on the old guitar the action is higher and so it is easy for the finger to push up the string above (e.g. the B string where I find it hardest). On the new guitar the action is lower & I’ve noticed it’s often the high E string hitting and pushing the B string up which then means my finger must increase force to prevent the E string sliding back to normal position.

But I find it hard on the new guitar to ensure the finger pushes the string above instead of the string I’m bending pushing it. After revisiting many bending technique videos the way I have solved the problem is to ensure I’m bending from the finger tip and not flattening the finger. By bending from the finger tip I find the finger pushes the B instead of the E string hitting and pushing the B.

I’m writing this post as it seems to me a key part of reducing force needed in bends is ensuring the bending finger bends the string above and it is not the string you are bending hitting the string above and bending it. I’d be interested to hear if other people (especially on low action guitars) find the same thing (i.e. it’s the finger bending the string above) or if I’m adding 2+2 and getting 5. Thanks.

Yeah, that’s one of the problems with having a very low action and why I set mine a bit higher to suit easier bending. The other option that I also use a lot is to move the phrase higher up the fretboard so that I can bend the B instead of the e then you also have the option of bending towards the e instead of the G; it all depends on what works best for you. Myself I would raise the action a bit at a time until it’s OK, it won’t really affect the open chord area much (except perhaps a full barré F chord) so worth trying. Very low actions are more for the speed demons, very fast legato playing and tapping with lots of hammer ons and pull offs, it’s not really the best for blues players!


thanks @DarrellW. I was thinking this could be a good option. As someone that is usually inept at any kind of DIY assuming you’d take the guitar to a professional to set the action?

Leon, setting the action on an electric can be fairly straight-forward, not too demanding at all. And given you may want to experiment, perhaps take a look in YT for instructional videos on setting the action on your type of guitar.

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No not really, a lot depends on what guitar you have - if it’s got a Floyd rose or similar trem it’s more complicated, most are fairly easy if you follow an online method and just go a bit at a time.

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What are your two guitars? Action isn’t the only factor that comes into play on how easy a guitar is to do bends on.
Fret board radius is a bigger factor, so is scale length. The smaller the radius the harder it is to bend. A 7.5" radius 25.5 scale Fender Strat is alot harder to bend than a Gibson LP with a 12" radius 24.75 scale. Having your guitar set up to optimize for bends will make a huge difference.