Getting a Grip on Bends
by Christopher Sung
Bends are achieved by fretting a note and picking it, and while it's still ringing, you either push the string up towards your head or pull it down towards your toes. The extra tension on the string causes the note to rise in pitch. The amount of bend depends on how much you push or pull the string. In this lesson, we'll cover bends that raise the pitch either 1 fret (also known as a half step), or 2 frets (also known as a whole step).
Perhaps the most common bend is to bend a note that is 2 frets below the key of the piece up to the tonic. In this lesson, all the examples are in A, and draw mostly from the A minor pentatonic scale in 5th position. To play this bend in A, we play the G located on the 2nd string, 8th fret, and bend it up two frets to the A, which is the key of the piece. In the example, the basic bend is shown, along with a few variations so that you can hear it in context.