In this lesson we’re going to look at the bending of strings on bass guitar. String bends can be pretty tough on bass because of the increased string gauges but they are possible and lots of players like Billy Sheehan, Geezer Butler and Cliff Burton have used them to good effect in both solos and bass lines
String bends are normally associated with guitar melodies rather than bass lines due to the thickness of bass strings making them harder to bend. However, with a bit of practice you can use them to add a bluesy tone and some expression to your playing.
A note can be bent across different intervals, up to about a minor third. Each interval gives the bend a different feel, so play around with each one a bit until you are familiar with the different sounds.
Exercise #1: Start on the high A on the G string and bend up to a Bb (a distance of one semitone). Compare it against the fretted note to check your accuracy.
Exercise #2: Repeat the previous exercise but this time aim to bend the A up to a B instead (a distance of one tone).
To put this technique into context, we can apply it to a cool blues riff in the key of Am:
This riff can be easily transposed to the key of Dm, but note that you will have to bend the G string towards you for the Ab to avoid falling off the side of the fretboard.
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