Common Licks and Bends

by foogered (Jun 14, 2008)

Alright, so bends are pretty straightforward, but there are a few tricks and licks to master before your bends really start on fire.

First, to get a really solid bend, you should always use two fingers. I usually use my ring finger and my middle finger, or my ring finger and my index finger. One finger may work just fine on lighter-guage strings, or during faster playing, but for most purposes, two fingers is much better.

With this in mind, let's try a few bends. I'm not going to waste my time tabbing single string bends and double-stop bends (which can be performed either with one finger on each string or with one or two fingers barred across them). There are certain licks that you will see included a lot in solos and songs, that go beyond your typical single string bend. Such as these:

Fig. 1

This means bend at the 8th fret until it sounds like the 10th fret (the same note as the 5th fret on the E string). This lick appears a lot in rock, blues, country, and metal. It's based around the pentatonic box widely used to improvise in these genres. This can also be performed a fret lower on the b string, which gives it a much different feel (You will also have to bend farther for this).

Fig. 2

This one appears mostly in blues, and is recognizable in songs like Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry.

Fig. 3

This is the best way I could represent a very bluesy little bend. Stevie Ray Vaughan uses this technique frequently. Basically what you do is bend the string then return to zero then bend it back in the other direction. This is easiest to perform if you grip the neck tightly and give it a little shake while you do it.

These licks can be worked into any solo with ease, so have fun experimenting!