In this lesson, we’ll look into the world of semitone and tone bends, exploring what they are, how to execute them, and how to incorporate them into your playing.

Understanding Bends: Before we dive into the specifics of semitone and tone bends, let’s clarify what a bend is. A bend is a technique where you use your fingers to change the pitch of a note while it’s still sounding. You achieve this by pushing or pulling the string across the fretboard. Bends are commonly used in blues, rock, and various other guitar styles to create expressive and melodic passages.

Semitone Bends: A semitone bend, also known as a half-step bend, involves raising the pitch of a note by one semitone. To perform a semitone bend, place your finger on a fret, pluck the string, and then bend it upward towards the ceiling. The goal is to make the bent note sound as if it’s one fret higher than the original note. Semitone bends can add tension and drama to your solos, and they are often used in blues to convey anguish and yearning.

Tone Bends: A tone bend, also called a whole-step bend, takes the note two semitones or one whole step higher. The technique is similar to semitone bends, but you’ll need to exert more pressure to achieve the desired pitch change. Tone bends are often used in rock and blues to create soaring and expressive melodies. They can add a sense of urgency and excitement to your guitar solos, making them stand out and capture the listener’s attention.

Tips for Perfecting Bends:

  1. Use your wrist and fingers to execute the bend, not your arm or hand.
  2. Practice your intonation to ensure your bent notes are in tune.
  3. Listen to professional guitarists to develop a sense of how to apply bends in various musical contexts.
  4. Start with slower bends and gradually work your way up to faster, more intricate bends.
  5. Experiment with different fingerings and string gauges to find the setup that works best for your bending technique.