String Bending: Quick Tips

In what was intended to be a very straight-forward tab for Crazy, I couldn’t resist throwing in a few bent notes in bar 21. I’ve had a couple of people struggle with it so I thought I’d put up a brief post about bending.

The Basic Idea

You bend a string by pushing it upwards (for the E- and A-strings) or pulling it down (g and C) whilst staying at the same fret. This raises the pitch of the note. It looks like this:

Technically, you should bend the note up one fret’s worth where the tab has ‘1/2’ at the top and two frets worth where there is a ‘1’. However, nylon strings don’t take to bend as kindly as steel strings so you’re doing very well if you can accurately get a two step bend. I usually use bends on the uke to transition smoothly between two notes. Using it like a slide except it allows for a slower and more smooth transition.

A Couple of Tips

Finger Support: Use your ring finger to bend have your middle and index fingers behind it so you get extra bending power. In the example above, I needed my index finger to play the next note so I’m only using my middle as back-up.

Thumb Positioning: Bring your thumb over the top of the neck. That gives you much more squeezing power and it can also be used to stop the g- and C-strings from sounding – which they can do as your bend will rub up against them.

Use It

Patsy Cline/Willie Nelson – Crazy
WIUO – The Israelites
B-52s – Love Shack
Wayne Federman – Electric Ukulele Medley
Brian Hefferan – Mama Bear Bounce

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