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Electric Country Guitar Lessons: Introduction to Basic Bends

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Country Guitar with Guthrie Trapp. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Electric Country Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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[MUSIC]
Okay, we just covered
hammer ons, some pull offs,
basic intro to slides.
So like I said before, we're kinda getting
into a little bit more of some fun.
Like more intricate kind of
aspects of what the style
is gonna provide here for you.
Also talking about, just to recap
a little bit, the fact that we're
getting multiple notes with one pick
stroke on the slides and stuff.
So and the hammer ons and
pull offs, same with the bends.
We're gonna be bending some
different strings here and
in some different positions.
I'm gonna start doing some bends
a little bit farther up the neck.
And don't let that freak
you out because I know
we haven't worked up the neck very
much in the beginner lessons.
But the way the string tension is,
it's easier to start bending in
this portion of the neck rather
than down here closer to the nut,
it takes a little more hand strength.
So I'll talk about that too.
But in the more middle
section of the guitar,
the string tension is a little smoother.
So it's a little easier to bend.
So what we're gonna do
is we're gonna start by,
I'm gonna play you a couple
examples of bending.
And I'll start to tell
you a little bit about
how we can work on bending in tune
which is the whole key to bending
is you wanna keep it smooth,
and very in tune.
And that's gonna really, really define
a big part of your playing because there's
a lot of intricate bending and complex
bending that's coming up in this lesson.
And country guitar in general
is based a lot on, of course,
you guys know steel guitar bends and
stuff that we're gonna get into later on.
So getting this fundamental down of
bending and really getting in on
the ground floor of being able to
do it properly is very important.
So let's just dive right in here.
So first of all,
this is what a bend sounds like.
[MUSIC]
So I'm
bending the note.
You're grabbing a fretted note.
[MUSIC]
Striking it, and bending up and
sometimes down which
we'll get into that too.
But right now we're gonna
stick to just a simple bend,
a whole step bend on the B string.
And we're gonna start on the seventh fret
with our ring finger on the seventh fret.
And one of the techniques that is really,
really, really gonna help, and
it's almost a must in my opinion,
the way your finger strength is,
it's gonna take a little bit to get
this under your belt, but it'll happen.
And the thing about is if
I try to bend this string
with just this finger on the finger board,
[SOUND] .- It is extremely hard and almost
impossible for me to do with any finger.
[MUSIC]
It's very hard.
So the technique to bend properly and
make it easier on yourself which is to
me the whole key about this bending,
is when you fret this string,
the fingers behind it.
So in this case the middle finger and
the first finger, they're gonna support
this first, they're gonna support
the string that's doing the bending.
So the finger that's fretted,
the note's that gonna be bent,
these two fingers are actually
on the string as well.
And they're providing the strength
behind it to pull that
string up in a smooth, easier way.
[MUSIC]
So I'm using these two fingers to
support and kinda help out this finger.
So, what that looks like is you're
fretting all three of these
fingers on the same string, but
the note that's being manipulated,
obviously, since this is
the finger that's on this fret.
These don't matter cuz they're behind it,
so the note that's being
manipulated is that one.
So when you bend up, let these
fingers help this one and support it.
So this is gonna be one movement and
you're almost thinking of your,
when you bend,
[MUSIC]
Your fingers almost become like
a little mechanism to where
the muscle memory is like you're
thinking of it as the more
you practice this,
this will become one motion,
[MUSIC].
To where your muscle memory will know
how far to go up to to
where that is bent in tune.
And another way to do that
that's really great practice and
we'll incorporate this into
an exercise also, but to fret the note
that you wanna bend to, before you
bend to it, to get it in your ear.
So if I'm bending this note,
[SOUND] which happens to be an F sharp,
[SOUND] to a G sharp,
what we're gonna do is we're gonna
fret the note we're gonna bend to.
So [SOUND] that's the note we're bending
to, so we're gonna fret this note, and
pluck it.
And get that sound in our head,
that's the sound we're gonna bend to.
So to bend it in tune,
we're gonna hit that note and
then, [SOUND] we're gonna bend up to it.
And you gotta do that over and
over again to just get that in your head.
So hear the fretted note.
[SOUND] And then
[MUSIC]
Bend up to it.
And it's gonna take a little bit of
practice to get your hands strong enough
to where you can really
do that confidently.
So let's work on a couple of
these exercises together.
What we're gonna do is, and
then I'll get into the release also.
So we're gonna bend up.
[SOUND] And then you can bend
down [SOUND] To release it back.
And it's just a smooth motion, and if you
can think of like what I said a minute
ago, if you can really think as your
finger as becoming a little mechanism.
And like, okay, how far will that have to
go for me to bend that string in tune?
It's a motion like that.
So that'll keep you from really kinda
flailing around and like under bending.
[MUSIC]
That's not gonna sound good,
so or overbending.
[MUSIC]
You really wanna avoid that at all costs.
So the great thing to do is fret the note
you wanna bend to, and bend up to it.
So wanna do that right now.
I wanna do a couple exercises and
I'll count us in just so
you know where we're at.
But what we're gonna do is we're
gonna fret the note [SOUND] And
then [SOUND] Bend up to it.
And another thing,
real quick before we do that,
I do wanna mention something
that I just noticed, okay?
When you bend [SOUND] These other
strings above this, B string,
the G string, the D string,
they're gonna get kinda
squinched up together cuz
you're pulling this string up.
And so, the medier finger is gonna
touch these other strings, and
it's gonna wanna make kind of a bad sound.
And you're gonna notice in
the beginning that you really have to
be conscious of these other strings.
So if I bend up
[MUSIC]
Sometimes you can hear these
other strings.
You just really wanna be careful that,
they are gonna move, and
your hand is gonna touch them.
But really
[MUSIC]
try to focus on not letting these strings
produce any sound.
So what I do sometimes is,
since my hands are a little stronger
cuz I have been doing this a long time.
Sometimes I won't need to use my
first finger to support this finger.
The middle finger's
enough to support that.
[MUSIC]
But when you start out,
use the first one cuz it'll help.
[SOUND] But when you bend,
once you get good at it,
this finger can kind of
loosen up a little bit.
And sometimes I'll put it
over these other strings,
to where I know that they're not
gonna make any unwanted sound.
But right now, let's do these
exercises and I'm gonna count us in.
We're gonna fret the note
[SOUND] Which is G sharp.
And then we're gonna bend up to it.
[SOUND] So I'll count us in.
One, two, three,
four,
[MUSIC]
Let's do it again.
One, two, three, four [SOUND] Okay,
so that's a great way to really
focus on bending in tune.
And once you get that under your belt,
you'll feel that with your left hand.
You'll know that you do have
to press a little bit harder
bending because it does
take some strength.
But it still should be relaxed and smooth.
And just not jerk, you try to focus
on bending really smooth [SOUND] And
just listen to that sound of
that string bending and really,
really just this is a great tool
to be able to be super expressive,
and really get some soul and
some vibe into your playing.
So string bending is gonna be a big
part of this lesson coming up too, so
just practice that and
have fun with it the best you can.
[MUSIC]