Bending Boot Camp - Ergonomics of Bending

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Bending Boot Camp - Introduction Bending Boot Camp - Scale Length and Radius

So, the first thing we will be looking at is the actual ergonomics of bending, how we use our fingers when bending. The fingertip itself is the focal point when bending, upon which the strings will rest when bending. If you straighten your fingers too much when bending (especially if you suffer form moist hands) you will run the risk of the upper strings (that are being pushed upwards as your "bending-string" travels upwards) gliding down from the top of the fingertip and colliding with the bending-string. This you do not want, as this will a.) produce extraneous noise when releasing the bend and b.) will force you to press down that much harder to keep the string in check while bending, equaling you having to use much more force. See the picture below here, how the B-, G- and D-strings are grouped together under the lower portion of my fingertip? Big no-no!

Another problem might be having to steep of an angle towards the string and fret board. Common problem amongst those that have mainly been playing open chordal stuff, where you want that angle of the fingers to allow strings to ring out in unison. This you do NOT want, since this can lead to the top strings being forced to travel over your fingertip and up on your nails (see pictures below). And if you are really unfortunate, the string might be caught just under the nail, leading to some serious pain, and possibly bloodshed. Even bigger no-no!

Finally, what you want is to have a roughly 45 degree angle int he first joint, and as you bend only straighten that angle ever so slightly. The goal is to allow the G and D-strings to rest upon the fingertip, in close proximity to the ail, but not dangerously close to it, while the string you bend is on the middle of the fingertip. You can easily check this by holding a bend for a while, and then checking the grooves on your fingertips as you released the bend, should looks something like the picture below. This will enable to release the bend smoothly, without the other strings flicking off and creating noise, and you will have a much smoother and more manageable bend. This will also GREATLY benefit your vibrato technique when bending, but that will be the focus for another tutorial.

So, practice this bending technique just with one bend, see how it feels, and check your fingertips afterwards to make sure you got it right. If the grooves are placed as they should be, you have correct placement, and if that feels uncomfortable at first, so be it! This is boot camp, it might be uncomfortable. =)