Blues-Rock Lick

Another blues-rock lick for your guitar repertoire.

Below is the tab for this lick, divided into sections. You’ll notice that Fig 1 is repeated in bar 3. I’m playing this at 100bpm, so I’d recommend playing slower than this at first, (it’s fine to play at any speed to begin with, no matter how slow, then work your way up to 100bpm, maybe even up to 130bpm.)

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Here’s a backing track for this exercise, but a bit faster than I’m playing it in the vid.

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Intermediate String Bends

This is a staple blues / rock / metal trick that you will have heard at some point as a listener. If you need to, refresh your memory on the Bm scale and the ideas outlined in my first String Bending lesson.

For the first bend you’ll want your first finger fretting the target pitch, which is at the 9th fret of the B string. Your second or third finger will start on the 7th fret of the G string.

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In the example below, notice that the letter “b” is used to indicate a string bend, and the number that appears in brackets next to it is the location of the pitch you’re aiming for. This is what we call a Full-Tone Bend.

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Here you’ll want your first finger fretting the target pitch again, which is the 9th fret of the E string. This time your third or fourth finger will start on the 8th fret of the B string.

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This is the same deal as the previous bend, it’s just taking place on a different fret. You can also apply some vibrato once you’ve hit your target pitch, as indicated by the “v”.

tumblr_mx1q7ykHDY1rvyc2jo3_400 Remember, when you bend a note, usually the listener will hear the target pitch as the one that’s been affected rather than the starting note, which is pretty much the opposite of what we’re experiencing as the performer. It’s important to get around this idea early on as it can hold you back later.

That being the case, you shouldn’t worry too much about the starting pitch of your bend – provided the target pitch is solid and you’ve got good intonation, no one will really mind where the note started.

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Once you’ve got solid intonation and your fingers are getting used to the idea of doing a silly amount of bending work, try playing around with slackening-off the bend here and there, or really slowing it down you to get a very tense pitch raise. Add vibrato here and there as well for a bit more flavour.

The next step would be the advanced bending techniques of Over Bending and Pre-Bending.

Technique: String Bending

String bending is awesome. I won’t bore you, (rather, myself), with the physics of string bending, but the gist of it is when you make a guitar string tighter the pitch becomes higher, just like when you tune a guitar, or add a tighten-up a new string. This can be useful when you want to reach a note with a bit more ‘oomf’ or ‘p-zazz’ than simply fretting it, as it adds a literal and emotional tension, making it that much more satisfying to hear when done well. Unfortunately, it’s also true that when you screw-up a string bend it sounds totally naff, and you spend the rest of the day wishing you’d just fretted the note like a boring person…

Great players who have really nailed this technique in a rock style would be Doug Aldrich, (Whitesnake, Dio), Joe Satriani, and Slash, (Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver). I highly recommend giving them a listen and pay close attention to when, how and where on the neck they bend.

If you’re not into rock, I’d suggest studying BB King and Buddy Guy.