Guitar lesson: String bends for beginners

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Guitar skills: here we're looking at string bends for beginners or anyone looking to brush up on the basics of an essential technique. 

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Target notes

(Image credit: Future)

Pushing a string up or pulling it down raises the pitch of the note you're playing. This is called string bending. The technique can be used to create singing, vocal-like phrases that other instruments find difficult to recreate.

You'll know when to bend a string when you see a 'BU' (bend up) symbol in the tab. You'll also notice two numbers: the first number is the fret you'll bend from; the second number is the 'target note' or the note you want the bend note to sound the same as.

Tip: Play the target note before attempting the bend. This will make it easier to hit the right note. Be warned: this will take a few attempts to get right!

Reinforce your bends

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You may have noticed that string bending can be pretty tough' It takes a little while to master (so be patient), but using your other fingers to your bending finger out will make it easier to hit target notes. You could also follow the greats like Jimi Hendrix and use your thumb to get extra leverage when you're executing string bends.

Tip: This simple lick bends a note up and then you release the bend back to its starting position. Note: the release actually makes the lick easier to play.

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