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Bending Steel


Wohoo... based on several requests, I figured I should elaborate a bit on bending and vibrato. Not only are those techniques something pretty much every guitarist has to deal with (so, this article ain't for you shred-freaks out there only!), but also, this article could be considered an addition or a "part II" of my "The Quest For Tone" article (Guys, thanks a lot for all the feedback on that one. I really appreciate it!!!)

Because... apart from your attack, the way you pick the string etc., the way you bend and vibrate strings is an integral part of your tone. Although there are many different kinds of vibrato, you can still often recognize certain players by the way they bend and vibrate. (Some obvious examples: Jeff Beck and Steve Morse).

And so, to kinda prove that to you and to give you an extra tread, I asked my buddy Thorsten Koehne to record some soundfiles... in combination with the soundfiles I recorded, they might help you to hear the difference in tone and bending / vibrato. So, let's talk about some different exercises and types of vibrato etc.

The technical side

Actually, both vibrato and bending are based on the same technique... on bending a string, thereby raising it's pitch. Here is a picture which might explain this way easier than words can:

In that pic, you see me bending very wide... the important part is not that that player is bending that far, but the fact that you can pretty much see what you have to do: Pull the string towards the floor. This is what I do on the low E-, A- and D-String.

The other three strings I push upwards to bend them. So I am moving them in the other direction. The reason for that is that I won't push or pull the string off the fretboard that way. Imagine you bend the high E-string by pulling it towards the floor... you would pull it off the fretboard.

So, the rule of thumb I go by is:

- I PULL the lower three strings towards the floor

- I PUSH the upper three strings upwards, towards the ceiling

Bends >>