Bending is one of the most overlooked techniques in guitar. In fact, most guitarists don’t quite know how to bend a note.
Sure they can push the note up and down, maybe even wiggle it a bit and get it to wobble, but bending is an art in and of itself, one that many guitarists completely ignore in favor of faster playing and more technical techniques such as sweep picking, economy picking, alternate picking, and many others.
In this article, we will go over the guitar vibrato technique; not only how to do it, but why it is a great thing to learn.
Have you ever listened to heavy metal? Guitarists in this genre are one of the best examples that can be found in modern music, as they tend to vary greatly. In one case, many of them are amazing guitarists and have great technical abilities.
They can play things that you couldn’t even imagine writing, never mind playing fluently. However, they also lack feel and emotion in their playing, and a lot of this has to do with the robotic feel of their bends, which consist of a quick wiggle and nothing more.
In another case, there are metal guitarists who have an amazing feel and superb vibrato, and can truly make a note scream. This percentage becomes fewer and fewer each year as more technical types of music take over the heavy metal scene, but so far (and we’re knocking on wood), they aren’t extinct.
Because some learn differently than others, and some take pride in certain things more than others. The guitar vibrato technique tends to be one of those overlooked tools in a guitarist’s arsenal, and because the genre is so diverse, metal was the best example.
Now, bending is easy; anyone can bend a string. Vibrato isn’t easy, at least not as a technique.
The best way to get better at bending notes is actually to use a tuner. Plug your guitar into the tuner, and starts by bending the high E on the twelfth fret. You may notice that when you bend and hold the position, you are no longer playing a high E but another note.
Great vibrato players know how to choose their notes by bending with a certain degree of strength. This is something that takes a lot of practice, so try choosing a close note or accidental (F or Fb) and reach it with your bend, over and over.
Once you are comfortable, you can experiment with the guitar vibrato technique in different ways, such as the speed of a bend. Slow bends tend to make more of a moaning sound and are great for sad songs, whereas quick bends are fairly aggressive and great for faster songs.
It all comes down to feeling, and over time and with sufficient practice, you’ll be able to determine where, how, and when to use your vibrato technique. So be sure to practice, and have fun!
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