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Twang 101: Bending Double-Stops

Pretty much every country guitarist who has picked up a Tele has squeezed two notes together to emulate pedal steel licks or slide guitar.

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This month we will be taking a look at bending double stops. Pretty much every country guitarist who has picked up a Tele has squeezed two notes together to emulate pedal steel licks or slide guitar. These do require some extra strength, so make sure to use multiple fingers on your fretting hand whenever possible. Make sure to mix this bend and licks in with your single note lines to break things up.

We also want to talk a little bit about intervals. The distance between any two notes describes the interval. For example, from C to E is a major third because there are four half steps between the notes. All the examples below deal with thirds, both major and minor (which is three half steps). The key to any bending lick is playing in tune. In the first six examples, I have notated how to play the licks as double stops without the bends. Make sure when you bend, you go directly to the note. This will take some practice, but will make your bends sound totally pro.

Fig. 1 is an example of how to bend a major double stop up a half step. I place my pinky finger on the high note of the interval and the ring finger on top. Lead with the pinky finger, the third will follow and you'll have a better chance of bending in tune. Listen closely to the fretted example and match the pitch.
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Fig. 2 is a bit tricker. Here were are bending two strings different distances. The second string is bent up a half step while the third string is bent up a whole step. Use the same fingering as Fig. 1.
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Fig. 3 works great in the key of A. Here, we are taking a minor double stop and bending it up a half step to make it a major double stop.
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Fig. 4 is a major double stop lick in the key of E.
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We move back to the key of A for Fig. 5. Try different fret-hand finger combinations for this example. Depending on the context of the lick, a few different options could work.
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Finally, we look at Fig. 6. Here we are bending a minor double stop up a half step.
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Once you feel comfortable with all the different bends (both major and minor) on a few different string groups, dive into Fig. 7, which combines all these techniques. The first four measures combine both major and minor double stops for a cool descending lick in E. In the fifth measure, you want to make sure you hold the major double stop bend while you hit the A on the first string to complete the triad. Same goes for the bend in the next measure.

In the ninth measure, we want to hold the G# on the second string while bending the D up to an E to create a major double stop. By bending the b7 up to the root, you can give that dominant to major sound some more juice. In the twelfth measure, we use a pre-bend. This is when you bend the notes up, then strike them creating a cool descending slide sound. Obviously, this can take some practice; so make sure to get some reps in before your honky-tonk gig this weekend. Over the turnaround in the last four measure, we use combine a few pre-bends with some muted chicken pickin'.
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Jason Loughlin has performed with Amos Lee, Rachael Yamagata, James Burton, Mike Viola, Nellie Mckay, Phil Roy, Marshall Crenshaw, Sara Bareillies, Lesley Gore, Ben Arnold and John Francis to name a few. Jason lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn performing and teaching. Look out for his new record, Peach Crate, due out in February. For other info be sure to check his website jasonloughlin.com

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