Kirk Lorange

Country Blues Bends

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The TAB, GuitarPro file, midi files and notation that come with this lesson are now only available as part of the "Fingerstyle Lesson Pack" Details here.
Here is a neat little 3 bar figure that would make a great ending to a country blues type of tune. It features a double stop in which one of the notes is bent up a semi tone while the other remains un-bent. It also incorporates a barred double stop and a wide finger stretch at the end, so it's a good one to practice up. As always, smoothness in execution is what you should strive for, even if it means simplifying it to suit your needs. We all have limitations in our physical abilities, so don't feel bad if some of the moves just don't work for you. I have always had certain aspects of my playing that are not up to par, mainly because my hands just don't work as well as they should. When I encounter something that I know is beyond my capabilities (and there are many), I look for a simplified way of playing it. I might leave a whole chunk out. In the end, the only requirement that Music imposes on us players is that what comes out of the sound box actually IS music. That means a flow, and smooth connection of all the various elements ... a groove.

A good thing about this lesson is the fact that it takes to up the fretboard, away from the nut area. We all start out playing down near the nut where all the open chords are, and we become quite comfortable and familiar with our surroundings down there. Moving away from the safety of that area can be scary at first, but it's something you must start to do if you want to use the whole fretboard.

This is in the key of E, and it's basically a line moving through an E7 chord.

Taking it one bar at a time:

Bar one: The thumb plays an open E note at the same time as a double stop up at the seventh fret. The two notes are a B note on the top string (a 5) and below it on the second string I play a G note. Those three notes together spell an Em chord. HOWEVER, I don't leave the G note 'minorizing' the E chord for long, because after plucking it, I bend it up a semi tone. That brings it up to G#, which turns the chord into an E major. So that bend changes the flavor of the sound from minor to major. Rather that see it as two chords (E minor and E major), it's better to think of it simply as an E chord with a flat 3 that is bent up to a 3.

The difficult part is not the bend, but leaving the top string as is, relaxed and ringing out the B note. The natural tendency is to bend both. It takes a little while and a lot of concentration to make your fingers perform this strange move, but once you do, you'll have it for ever.

So, after the bend comes a line which moves down through the 1, 7 and 5 of the E chord.

Bar two comes the barred double stop. The thumb plays the B on the bass string at the same time as the D note on the third string. It's not a B chord ... it is in fact simply the 5 of the E chord being played as bass note (the most common 'bass line' is moving from the 1 to the 5 and back again. The line then continues down from the 7 as single notes, being the 5, b5, 4 and 3 of E. That 3 falls on the first beat of bar three and is joined by another E bass note. That's the end.

The movie shows both hands. The picking hand is doing nothing out of the ordinary. It is conforming to the rules: thumb handles the bass notes, the wrist is bent so that the other fingers are poised over the appropriate strings, ready to twang anything that is required. You'll notice that the opening notes require the thumb for the bass note and two fingers for the double stop.

There are many more country-ish string bends, and over the coming weeks I'll have a look at a few more. Light gauge strings are a big help playing this kind of music.<br>


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