30-day guitar challenge: Bending in tune separates the novice guitarist from the pro.
It takes a combination of strength, control, feel and a lot of practice, but the 12 short licks we've tabbed here will take you through most of the techniques you'll require to perfect your intonation. Each line can be adapted into any key and style, so the exercises don't just end here.
Listen to the audio track. You'll hear each phrase played over a simple backing, and that's followed by a short space for you to play back the same lick in a 'listen and repeat' style.
The first few phrases have a 'naked' bend with no vibrato – great for practising your intonation.
Next, you'll hear the same phrase played with vibrato (a notoriously tricky technique) that requires more frethand control. Make sure you try both along with the track.
The best way to practise string bending is by fretting the target pitch (the note that you're bending up to) so you can get the sound of the note in your head. Try this with some of the string-bend phrases tabbed here before you play along with the backing track.
Don't forget to support your finger for maximum control. So, if you're bending with your third finger, keep your first and second fingers on the string for added strength. Unlike spider exercises, you can angle your fingers and squeeze the neck for more of a push.
String bending tab (right-click to download)