I can't bend to pitch

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Chicken Curry, Mar 29, 2021.

  1. Hatfield92

    Hatfield92 Tele-Holic

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    I’m not going through all these pages, but I’d suggest studying some Chuck Berry, who — if he didn’t invent them—brought double stops into the rock lexicon.

    if you can master the classic chuck double stop, you’re pretty much there.

    from there, take a look at what guys from Hendrix to Page to Frehley did with variations on the double stop.
     
  2. Tom Grattan

    Tom Grattan TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Keep playing. A lot of good suggestions here. I've been playing for years and along the way my ear/brain started to recognize correct pitch when bending as well as being able to hear pitch without bending. The more you play the better you'll hear. You also need to be able to hear pitch without bending. A suggestion is get a cheap classical guitar with NO fret markers. Practice with it and it will help. Another thing I've used is playing fretless instruments. Once you recognize correct pitch then you're bending will come along.
     
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  3. Stelecaster4me

    Stelecaster4me TDPRI Member

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    I was having the same problem, and came up with an easy way to solve it that you may not have tried. Instead of just trying to "hear my way" up to the correct pitch, I decided to "measure the distance" I needed to bend the string up to the correct pitch. That way, I could simply practice making the physical movement, which I found much easier and faster in getting very close to the correct pitch, and I could see how far off my incorrect bends were.

    You could even try putting a piece of Painters Tape or something similar as a visual reference to see how far to bend the string. Just stick a piece on the wood between the frets or it may work better to put in on the fret so the edge of the tape is at the targeted correct distance. I'd suggest doing this on any of the frets between 9 and 15, as these are pretty easy to bend, and are frequently used. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this easy method.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2021
  4. Tele Plucker

    Tele Plucker Tele-Meister

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    Are you having an issue physically bending the string to the targeted note or unable to discern the half or whole step pitch?

    For me it has always been easy, and obviously control of the string you are bending is key to success.

    When I started bending strings I used just one finger to do so. Somewhere along the line, and I don’t know when, I began using two fingers, which facilitated easier bends with better control. I believe this was somehow a subconscious development. The bend is mostly with the single finger with a bit of extra support from the second finger.

    Using both my middle and ring fingers, the two fingers straddle the fret below the note I will be bending.

    What ever the case, persistent practice with either one or two fingers should eventually get you there.

    Also, if it’s the audible pitch you’re having trouble with, try doing simple one and two note slides with the preferred finger for getting a grasp of the pitch you are trying to
    attain.

    Also, you may want to Google string bending for some visual tutorials.

    Good luck.
     
  5. steve1961

    steve1961 TDPRI Member

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    As a guitar player of 50 years, I think I can answer this from my experience. Honestly it to me years and ages to get halfway decent at it. I suggest you don't worry about it, keep playing and one day you will realise that you can do it. don't get hung up about what you can't do yet, and enjoy what you can do. would be my recommendation ( for what its worth).
     
  6. BlueGillGreg

    BlueGillGreg Tele-Meister

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    Try singing the bend including the timing and arrival at the target before playing, then while playing.

    Also, try fretting the second string at the 7th fret while pre-bending the third string. Play the third string then use both the middle and ring fingers to bring it into tune with the second string, and pick the second string. The first few times, start with the pre-bend just below pitch. Expand the range as your targeting gets more accurate. The middle and ring together have good strength and control, and there's no big stretch between 7th and 9th frets. Having an actual target guitar sound as the target gives great feedback. It's a great Chuck Berry and Keith Richards (et many many al) technique and sound.
     
  7. Telecasterless

    Telecasterless Friend of Leo's

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    There's always drums!
     
  8. Zoot Zoot

    Zoot Zoot TDPRI Member

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    Maybe put down the guitar and take up gardening?
     
  9. Stratman2252

    Stratman2252 TDPRI Member

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    Perhaps it is the tension of your strings. Try a lighter gauge. if you are using 11’s to 10’s 10’s go to 9’s etc.
     
  10. Stratman2252

    Stratman2252 TDPRI Member

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    You can also put a head stock tuner on and watch it as the bend hits the desired note IN PITCH.
     
  11. reedrainey

    reedrainey TDPRI Member

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    Sorry you're having trouble with this. But I never had any trouble with it. Can you sing along correctly when a song is playing and when the music piece modulates up a tone or two? Looks like if you can do that, the bending to pitch would be like humming along, you're just listening instead of humming. If you want to straighten this out, quickly, hire a vocal coach to specifically teach you how to do this. It beats living in fear when you play country rock and need bending notes. Besides, it's only money.
     
  12. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    it's one of the easier things to practice. Fret the note you wish bend to, release then bend, repeat over and over.
     
  13. gaddis

    gaddis Tele-Afflicted

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    Try practicing unison bends with a distortion pedal turned on. Of the bent note is not quite matching the fixed not, you will hear “beats”, which will sound like a pulsation. The beat frequency will be the difference between the two frequencies. For example, if your fixed note is 440 Hz and your bent note only makes it up to 439 Hz, you will hear a 1 Hz pulsation. Try to make the pulsation go away.
     
  14. ChicagoFats53

    ChicagoFats53 TDPRI Member

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    Don't know how long you've been playing, but it does take practice just like anything else.
     
  15. Gas4Teles

    Gas4Teles TDPRI Member

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  16. Devanatha

    Devanatha Tele-Meister

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    You don't have to bend. I hardly ever bend anymore. It is much easier developing a personal playing style when not relying on rock guitar dogma. I found my style when I switched to medium flatwounds (12–50), stopped using amp distortion and changed to a smaller, thicker pick (Jazz III Ultex). I used to sound like everyone else, now I sound like me.
     
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  17. effzee

    effzee Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Thought about this thread yesterday while telephoning with a musician bud of mine, a drummer who always wanted to be a frontman, so he bought an electric guitar and taught himself to play.

    He's a really good natural musician; give him any instrument and he'll get something musical to come out of it. I witnessed it when he picked up a violin (of all things) and immediately pulled off a Frere Jacques that was almost pleasant to the ear. He learned digeridoo in 30 minutes at the Frankfurt music trade show.

    All this background to say that his note bending sux. It was always a bone of contention in his band. He was the rhythm player/singer, but took solos in a few songs. Everything sounds fine, until he has to bend a note, then it's WEEEEEEH! Too agressive, too fast, never to pitch. No finesse, no vibrato.

    It was a bone of contention in the band and the other guys made no secret about their opinions on it. The biggest problem was that he's not the type to listen to constructive criticism and work on his technique because other ppl see/hear a problem. He's more the "screw you guys, you don't know what you're talking about" category.

    So, all I really wanted to say is, don't bend too quickly, keep your hand loose, work with your arm and hand position, do finger strengthening exercises, and all the other tips in this awesome thread
     
  18. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    You're not alone. You're definitely in good company. Many world famous, and influential players have done this, and keeps still on pursuing their bad habits, they contracted when they were young. I could name drop all day. However, as it is dervied from old blues players tradition, this in-between notes, and "blue" notes, quarter steps, and whatnot is an essential thing, and just by its whiney and complaining nature of the blues lyrics, sound and singing, it's supposed to not be exactly mathematically correct.

    I don't know if it's that one that eludes you. I used to don't care at all, but these days, when I listen to old "heroes" of mine, I can't help but think "but...where were my heads at? This is sooo and too out of tune..." especially live albums.

    I would say that not only after 20-25 years it was nailed down in my habits. However, the important thing, was that I knew about it from the start on. I could tune a guitar by ear, and relative comparison quite early on. But the problem arose when shifting guitars. as fast as I picked up another one, the bending was out of tune again. Decided to stick on one two guitars. With the same scale lenght and the same gauge on string, even the same brand, model, and alloy.

    Agree, a lot of people, this comes naturally, other must practice like hell. The one rule you must NOT rely on is muscle force, and tension, to tell if you're in pitch. More often than not, strings will go out of tune while playing and bending and vibrating and when the bend comes you tend to rely on muscles and when you bend, it's not in tune anymore, because the string has become too slack anyway. Way too many professionals, and supernatural talents (hello, Santana) relies on how much, in physics, and distance, and strength of muscles you use, instead of listening relatively. don't bother to learn perfect/absolute pitch, it's the relative that matters.

    For example, I uses chorus effects to no end, in the 80s, until I found I couldn't track pitch with them on all of the time. Today I loathe chorus by the truckload, and whenever I hear someone else using it, I just hear "they are out of tune"... it masked my bending errors, and I got better in pitch bending.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    There are sometimes though, you must rely on muscle memory, and it helps the other kind of bending too. It's called "silent bending" when you have to mute your note WHILE BENDING up, and when you pick the note afterwards, it should be spot on, and then releasing the bend. So the bend goes only downwards. Many solos has this (highway to hell by AC/DC for expample) and country solos where they mimick pedal steel guitar on a Telecaster. Then you must know beforehand how much you should bend up and be sure that the note bent is spot on when you actually pick it.

    An unique method to use, instead of reading a tuner all of the time, is cunning use of any Delay pedal with long delay settings, more than 500 ms. Like 600-800 ms or 1 second. Set this one to 50/50 wet dry mix, ONE REPEAT ONLY (this is crucial) and at a crystal clear pristine setting as possible, no tape vintage settings here.

    Now proceed like this:

    1. Play one fretted note (any) on any string selected by you. Let's start with the string with the most slack and least tension, the plain G-string. Play the 12th fret note. The G octave note.
    2. Now, in the pause between until this is heard by the echo unit again (after one second), you must swiftly shift finger on that string to the 10th fret and bend silently up, and play the note EXACTLY at the same time when the other one comes back from the echo so you can compare. If it sounds chorused or out of tune, you must adjust your bending.
    3. Do not play the note until you've bent it up first!
    4. This note will be played back by the echo too, so...
    5. Alternate with picking the note, straight unbent 12th fret note, and bent 10th fret note, back and forth. when each one of them sounds exactly the same you're good to go, but only on that string, that fret, that note. 12th fret plain g-string is the easiest one on you muscles. Now do the same on all other strings! yes it will take while....

    Use as many fingers as possible behind the bending finger one. You need help, 3 fingers to make a bend is normal and you can omit the pinky for starts. Only later on you can to start to show off, with bending with one finger. The thing to keep in mind here, is that the added fingers behind the one that's bending will press down on the strings and raise the pitch a little bit sharper than normal (i e pressing down numeruos times on the same string will make the pitch go sharp even if not bending). Anyone using a capo can attest to this.

    Take small breaks, and pauses as to not stretch your muscles to lactic acid, or cramping up. My fingerpad skin shreds too, and flakes off, no matter how much practice I've done. Wait until it grows back.

    Large, tall frets will help you, and you'll get a better grip on the string. clear laquer finish on the fretboard (mostly maple) will act a lubricant and may make the string slip and slide slowly from your grip while bending it. I e you've bend it up to pitch alright, but when trying to hold it there, it slips down ever so slowly. Stainless steel frets will help you too, but that's maybe a stretch.

    Or you could change to 012 string flatwounds, and start to play jazz, no bends at all. Suits me fine, and sometimes I prefer that some people would've done this after hearing their bends.;)

    I can name just a handful of world reknown guitaritsts that can do BENDS and vibratos at the same time without falling out of pitch. But those who can't do this, well, it's mainly all the rest of them. And lo and behold, it isn't those who are most virtuosic in speed, and fluent and running top of the heap in polls. Then again, it's all part and parcel of the blues kind of thing, not to be scientifcally pitch correct. I've heard numerous opera singers who covers up their failure to pitch, by masking it with hysterically wide vibratos, and violinists too...gets on my nerves.
     
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  19. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    ahh...so that director were this guy? :twisted:

     
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  20. MatsEriksson

    MatsEriksson Tele-Afflicted

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    does this guy play in pitch, or should the music be like this on purpose...? sounds way out of tune doesn't it?



    seems he couldn't care less with his fretless guitar...pitch bend up and down to whatever you like...it seems...;)
     
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