I have a different question about bending

Discussion in 'SWS Questions' started by DaveHannan, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. DaveHannan

    DaveHannan Guest

    First of all, I am new to playing guitar.  I've been playing for about eight months or so.  I'm currently working on BGU and SWS.  (I have alot of time to practice)  I have solo 1 down, totally memorized and can play with the track that has guitar.  I kind of have to cheat to do it though.  I couldn't quite get the bends a full step, so I tuned my guitar down half a step.  Now I can bend to pitch.  I thought that when my fingers gained more strength I would return to standard tuning. 

    Today I returned to standard tuning and my bends were much better than they were, but still a little flat.  I decided to put in a little work learning solo 2.  The first riff has a bend on the 3rd string (a full step from D# to F)  The best I can manage right now is a half step bend on this string.  Of course with my guitar tuned down a half step I can bend it a whole step.

    I play a Stratocaster and I know that because of the scale length the strings have to be tighter and are harder to bend.  (I don't know how much harder it is to bend, I don't have anything to compare it to)

    I'm just curious how others have handled this.  Is tuning down the answer?  or is it still just a matter of gaining strengh in my hands and calluses in the right places?

    Anyway, I'll post a recording of solo 1 when I can get the other strings to shut up.  I'm still working on muting strings.   :)
     
  2. luckylarry

    luckylarry Student Of The Blues

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    Dave it is 2 things, first technique. Are you using 2 or 3 fingers to do the bend. This is important as 1 finger is not enough. Secondly it is practice. The best practice I know is to play the note you want to bend to first and get the sound in your head. Then do the bend to that note. Take your time and concentrate on the note. I am betting that within a week or 2 the bend will come and you will be pleased. :)
     
  3. Jon3b

    Jon3b Blues Newbie

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      It's a combination of gaining finger strength, muscle memory, and your ears. It takes time to build the strength needed to execute them. Once that comes you'll still be training your ears to recognize when you're at the right pitch. As much as we would all like to find some magical short-cut, there isn't one. Dedicated daily practice is the only way to get there. Even a guitar-god like Clapton still practices bending.
       Personally, I don't subscribe to the tuning down practice. IMO, because it's easier you'll take longer to build the needed strength.
     
  4. henryj

    henryj Blues Newbie

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    Getting the bend force without adding to the fretting force comes with practice.   

    As your touch improves you will be able to get to pitch and your strings will last longer.  You'll stop sawing them in two at the fret.

    Like many others things you will be facing, it's just a matter of time and practice.
     
  5. wgabree

    wgabree Blues Newbie

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    Do you have any idea what gauge strings you have?  Factory strung strats usually have 9's which are usually pretty easy to bend.  Perhaps you have 10s?  Nothing wrong with using 9s to make bends easier (Clapton, Page, Hendrix among other did this - then Hendrix tuned down a half step as well!).

    It takes time to build up the finger strength.  Practice is the key.  Just like lifting weights.

    Frequent shorter practices work better than fewer marathon sessions.

    :cool:
     
  6. BoogieMan

    BoogieMan Blues Junior

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    I'm with Wayne on this one.  I would go for lighter gauge strings rather than tuning down. 
     
  7. DaveHannan

    DaveHannan Guest

    I love this forum!  Thanks to all of you for taking the time to respond to my question.  I know what’s going on now! 

    I mentioned in my original post that I play a Stratocaster.  What I did not mention is that I recently bought a Stratacoustic off Craigslist because I wanted a “beater guitar” that I could take to work (field conditions, dusty, dirty, humid). 

    I originally planned to put the same strings that I use on my electric guitar on the Stratacoustic so that it would feel like my Strat.  The strings needed replaced so I stopped by GC and told them how I planned to use the guitar and they recommended D’addario EXP10 acoustic guitar strings.  I took their advice, bought a couple pair and changed the strings.

    Since I got the Stratacoustic about a month ago, my Stratocaster hasn’t been played much because I get so much practice in while I’m at work.  For the first three weeks I kept the Stratacoustic in standard tune and was working on Solo 1.  I could bend the E string a whole step, but it was high effort and I couldn’t do it fast enough to keep up with the solo. This is when I tune down a half step.   I figured I’d return to standard tuning after my finger strength improved. 

    Fast forward a week.  I return the Stratacoustic to standard tuning to see where I’m at.  My finger strength had improved but I couldn’t make the bend consistently or fast enough, it was still high effort but I had made progress.  I decided to start learning solo 2.  This is when I discovered that I could only bend the G string half a step and even this was high effort.  This is where I was at when I first posted.

    After I read the first few replies, I decided to take their advice.  I returned to standard tuning as Jon suggested and continued to practice with all of my bends being flat.  :(

    That was yesterday.  Today I’m off of work so I pulled out my Stratocaster and guess what?  I can bend the G string a whole step.  :) In fact, I can bend it easily and have to be careful not to bend it too far!

    It’s pretty clear to me that the problem is with the strings on my Stratacoustic.  I don’t think there’s enough room on the fretboard to bend it a whole step!

    So, I’m planning on putting the same strings that I use on my Strat onto my Stratacoustic.  If you guys have any advice on how I can make a Stratacoustic feel more like a Strat I’d love to hear it.  Thanks again everyone.   :)
     
  8. MikeS

    MikeS Moderator... Another Man In Black.
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    Lighter strings will certainly make it easier to bend on the Acoustic, but they won't sound as good as they would on an electric or as good as the guitar would sound if strung with heavier strings.
    Your bending issues have nothing to do with there being "enough room on the fretboard to bend it a whole step". You should be pushing ALL the strings up and out of the way. It's definitely finger strength. Bending strings on an acoustic is something that I just don't do.
    If you don't care about the sound and simply want to practice with the acoustic while on the road, then string it with as heavy a gauge string as you can and still get the bends close. over time you will improve your finger strength and be able to bend them.
     
  9. wgabree

    wgabree Blues Newbie

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    The g-string of an acoustic set is usually wound and it's VERY difficult to bend up a whole step.  Thank Chuck Berry for the the introduction of the plain string for the G on electrics!

    This may be you're problem.  There are a  lot of bends on the G string, and if it's wound, you'll be pushing it much further than the plain ones.

    :cool:
     
  10. Marv

    Marv I play 'err' guitar.

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    You might consider swapping the Stratacoustic for a cheap Strat, maybe a used Squier, that you're also willing to have knocked about at work.

    Add something like a Vox Amplug and some ear-buds and you're not dependent on the guitar having to provide the volume, making it easier to string it with the same strings as your primary guitar. 
     
  11. DaveHannan

    DaveHannan Guest

    Today I put a set of Ernie Ball 9s on the Stratacoustic, the same strings I have on my Strat.  I had to adjust the truss rod, but it plays just fine now.  It doesn’t sound as good as it did with the other strings when I play chords, but it feels pretty good and I can bend without too much effort.   I may end up putting 10s on it, but other than that I’m pretty happy with it. :)

    Mike – I was just kidding about there not being enough room on the fretboard.    I think what really shocked me was how easy it was on my Strat after finding it to be so tough on the Stratacoustic.

    Marv – you’re right.  A Squire would have been a good choice.  It’s ironic because I gave my Squire to my son who lives in another state, but at the time there was no opportunity for me to play guitar at work.

    Thanks again guys for the help and advice, it’s much appreciated.
     
  12. giayank

    giayank Just another day in paradise

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    my string bending exercise is much like luckylarry's. I play the note i'm going to bend first. I then play the note I'm bending to . I then play the bend.When doing this one fret up for half bends and two frets up for whole bends.One other thing you might want to keep in mind. For me I have big strong hands. Always worked out and I always worked with my hands swinging hammers and tools. Only reason I mention this is because  with 9's on my sg and lp sometimes I bend the note too much and it's pitchy because I over bend.My ear is getting betterI hear the notes better the more I practice my bends .Maybe some of you are like me and when you get over enthusiastic you dig in a little too deep with the pick and over bend the note.
     
  13. Cyberthrasher_706

    Cyberthrasher_706 Blues Newbie

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    I'm a little late since it sounds like you got it handled, but I'd just like to add that practicing with a tuner helps a lot. There's a lot of times where I'll sit there and just practice my bend several times in a row so I know exactly how far I need to go. Using a tuner at this point really helps to develop that accuracy that your ear may not quite be up to par with.

    About your stratacoustic, try to find some lighter gauge acoustic strings for it. You and it will be much happier then trying to run electric strings on it.
     
  14. Lame_Pinkey

    Lame_Pinkey Guest

    ain't nuthin' wrong with tuning down , guitar greats like Hendrix,Iommi,Albert King & LP have done this !

    LP   ;D   ;) 
     
  15. Marv

    Marv I play 'err' guitar.

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    I like tuning down, but I get dot-confusion and end up playing in the wrong key somewhere along the way. 

    I do like picking up a whole box 1 in E instead of fussing with open strings at the nut.

    Have seriously considered re-dotting at least one of my guitars so I can go back-and-forth without frying my brain.  :eek:
     
  16. giayank

    giayank Just another day in paradise

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       Marv the pulloffs and slides along with hammerons in the open position for me are way easier to do. When I first started to play leads all I wanted to do was to shred up and down the neck as best and as fast as I could . I couldn't wait to stop playing E blues in the open position. After all this time I realize I couldn't be without it.
     
  17. Blues_Man

    Blues_Man Blues Newbie

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    i caught that LP putting yourself in with the likes of guitar greats LOL ! ::) ::) ::) ::)
     
  18. Marv

    Marv I play 'err' guitar.

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    Just circling back around on this one.  Since the point of my message was a consistent approach to box 1, do you use a capo to play in the open position in other keys?
     
  19. giayank

    giayank Just another day in paradise

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    Marv I don't use a capo myself. I'm not a singer and for that reason I don't feel a need to change keys to play in the open position. Blues in E works fine for me . But yes that would be the thing to do to change keys and still play using open strings. The other boxes would follow in the same order.
     
  20. Lame_Pinkey

    Lame_Pinkey Guest

    Good catch Blues Man...I thought it had been so long that I had gotten away with it  ;D

    LP