Skip to content
Clear all

String bends

8 Posts
7 Users
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 75
Topic starter  

Ok, here's my question on string bending. Actually, it may be a few questions.

Please note first of all, I am on an acoustic, not an electric. I see many videos with string bends on electric, but not many on an acoustic (lesson type videos.) Perhaps it's different on an acoustic. Easier I know, but I don't know if it would be the same.

First question. When bending the string, where do the fingers and string go in relation to the upper strings? I mean, do you just push the other strings up as well as you reach them? What ends up happening with me is, my finger and the string I bend ends up going underneath the next string, bending the B string, my finger goes under the G so that the G is on top of my fingernail. If I don't do this, I am finding that I hit the next string and I can't bend it any further. I do know I want some lighter strings. The ones I'm using now my wife picked up when at the mall and are a bit heavy. Can't remember what they are now, but I know they are significantly heavier than those I replaced. Perhaps that will effect it more than I'm thinking.

The other thing that happens when I don't push my finger under the next string is, my finger or fingernail will get caught on that next string and can ring it.

Now for my second question. When you want to bend the note and stop, I can't for the life of me figure out how to not have the note bend back down when I am finished with that note. Example, I want to bend up the 10th fret on the high E, then play 8th fret without the bend coming back down. I just want to bend up, then play the 8th fret.

One final question that I just though of while asking those. Simple one, what part of the finger is actually on the string when bending? I have been using my finger tips over more of the pads of my fingers (if you can understand what I mean) to push the string. This is why my finger ends up underneath the next string because if not, my fingernail gets caught in the next string.

Ok, that's all I'm wondering for now. Gotta run, I hear the dog into something she shouldn't be into, haha.


Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264

First question....well, most bends are done with the middle and ring fingers. At least for average guitarists. Good guitarists might be able to get away with bending with the index or pinky, but in practise, it's the middle two fingers that do most of the bending. With that in mind, use the index finger to pull or push the next string to the bent string out of the way.

Second question....using your example - play the note at the eighth fret, bend it till you get the required note - THEN, if you don't want to hear the bend coming back down, mute the string with the finger you've plucked it with until the string's back in the required position, then pluck it again. Takes practise, but it's worthwhile.....

Third question....I had to pick up a guitar and check, but definitely more fingertip than pad. Or is it more pad than fingertip? Hmm, hard to tell. Basically, whichever part of my finger I can land on the string accurately! I'd say, though, that the middle of the pad - or callouse - is the optimal spot to bend with. A, more control - and B, it's not going to hurt!

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 6348

it's more the pad than tip. a heavier callous helps tremendously.
if the tip is the more then you are more likely to catch an adjacent string as mrodders said.
when I bend an interval (two frets) the string I am picking is more pad.
the string next to it is being push by more tip. ( I just looked, the string, G, is centered between the nail and the
pad , right on the tip. it is muted. )
to go from a bend to another note just have to be fast. let off on the bend in a controlled manner and have your finger positioned for that next note you want.
for some reason. lately when I bend I add vibrato.
the transition to the next note and not hearing the 'unbend' seems smoother.

Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 36

This is an interesting topic. I was never aware there was a correct "direction" to bend the strings. Call me clueless. :?

I sat down and played, and found that for me it is easier to bend the strings towards the center of the fretboard - meaning I bend the bottom three strings (EAD) by pulling them down, and the top three strings by pushing them up. When I pull down, I seem to use more of the pad of my fingers, but when I push up I use more of the tips.

I have played a little acoustic, and I can't bend a string on that to save my life. Then again, the one I play had pretty high action, so that might make it more difficult.

I am where my mind put me.

Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 231

I'd definitely check the action. If it's too high, it can become a problem. Mostly though, if your finger slides a bit under the other strings, it's not a problem.

Eminent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 29

Yeah, it sounds to me like the action may be too high.

Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 75
Topic starter  

I'm back. I don't visit nearly as often as I'd like due to time constraints (wife just went back to work and I've got 2 young daughters to take all my evening time now.) Thanks for the replies, I've enjoyed them. Messing around with the guitar today, that thought struck me, the action was still too high. If I try bending and pushing the next strings up, they are hitting just below my fingernails, thus I have been previously bending allowing my fingers to slide underneath the next strings. I hadn't thought of action, as I hadn't really thought of the proper way to bend a string until I asked above.

I figured I was doing something not quite right as the next string was sliding above and completely across my fingernail way to the cuticle (sp?)

So, yes, I do think the high action is a problem after noticing today, then coming here and reading that. Eh, it's a cheap acoustic and I don't want to bother paying someone to look at it. I have worked a little bit with it myself, but I didn't want to screw anything up.

Yup, I'm still here, and appreciated the responses.


Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 628

So, yes, I do think the high action is a problem after noticing today, then coming here and reading that. Eh, it's a cheap acoustic and I don't want to bother paying someone to look at it. I have worked a little bit with it myself, but I didn't want to screw anything up.

Mike, I have exactly the same problem.... a dog that gets into everything while you're trying to concentrate.... :roll:

Oh yes, and when bending strings - anywhere . my fingers slide underneath the highers strings and catch on nails etc etc etc...grrrrrrrrrrr.

I also have a cheapy acoustic and I love the little darling but not going to spend any money on it changing the action - but saying that, I measured the action at the 12th fret and it was within what folks here tell me is a 'good' action, so I'll be a bit careful thinking that the action is the problem.

It just maybe like anything that it needs practice.

I'm glad I read this thread because there's some good tips (pun intended) about what part of the finger to use and pushing the other strings away with the other finger.

All good stuff - keep me posted on how you get on, and I'll do likewise - I also have an electric with a low action so I'll try a few bends on that - it could be the angle of attack....

Rock on!
D 8)

I'm nowhere near Chicago. I've got six string, 8 fingers, two thumbs, it's dark 'cos I'm wearing sunglasses - Hit it!