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• Learn how to bend strings throughout a specific scale.
• Play double-stops that involve both half-step and whole-step bends.
• Construct inversions of G7 and C7 chords that include bends.
String bending: It's an elusive technique. Usually used in blues, rock, and country, bent notes can create a whole new sound for electric guitar. In country, bends are often used to enhance single-note lines and create crying double-stops. What many guitarists aren't able to do, however, is imply the harmony of each chord with a string bend.
In this lesson, I'll demonstrate how to work through a scale, in this case G Mixolydian (G–A–B–C–D–E–F). For each double-stop, you'll bend one note on the 2nd string, using either a half-step or a whole-step move, and you'll play the top note on the 1st string.
Technique is very important for these bends. I use hybrid picking. I'll hit the notes on the 2nd string with my pick and pluck the notes on the 1st string with my middle finger. When bending, it's important to attack the note directly. If you hesitate when you approach a note, it will sound more like blues or rock, rather than country. Remember that pedal steel players bend notes in one motion (their foot goes directly to the floor when hammering the foot pedal). Try to embrace that technique by bending directly to the note and holding it there.
Imagine you are playing a scale in thirds. Our first dyad, shown in Fig. 1, will be E and G. Instead of fretting the E, we'll bend from D up a whole-step to E. Make sure that you are bending all the way up to E and that it's in tune. Bend D up to E and then play G.
We'll use this same principle for every dyad within the scale. In Fig. 2, we use this idea to move up through the G Mixolydian scale on the top two strings. Note that some of these bends will be half-steps.
Once you've worked through a scale, you can then focus on the specific bends that create a G chord. Releasing a bend from E to D while fretting the G on the 1st string implies an inversion of the G chord. In Fig. 3, we move this up the neck with a G7 sound (using a b7-root bend) and finish with a bend from the 2nd degree (A) to the 3rd (B) against the sound of the root.