Guitar Technique Lesson How to Bend in Tune

Bending notes with perfect intonation is probably the skill that really sets the professionals apart from amateurs. Other than good rhythm, perfect intonation is the main priority I give my students when they start playing rock guitar, because nothing ruins a solo more than an out-of-tune bend.Learn how to bend in tune in this detailed lesson.

Once again, it is vital that we learn to bend accurately with each finger, and your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers should be capable of executing up to a one-and-a-half tone bend.

To bend a note on the guitar you should always support the bending finger with any spare fingers below it. In other words, if you are bending a note on the 3rd string, 7th fret with your 3rd finger, your 2nd finger (if not also your 1st) should also be on the string to give strength and control.

The idea behind all the exercises in this chapter is to play a reference note, descend the string a few frets and then bend perfectly back up to the reference. Treat this as an aural exercise; you are listening for the bent note to sound exactly like the reference pitch.

Try the following three exercises with different fingers on each bend. Go through each line 4 times, the first time bend with your 1st finger, then your 2nd etc. When you are on line three, don’t worry about bending with your 1st finger.

Begin the exercises by bending very slowly to pitch, this will give you time to hear if you are in tune. It also develops control and strength in the fretting hand fingers.

Gradually speed up the rate at which you bend to the target note. If you can hit it perfectly with an immediate, fast bend you know you have it.


A pre-bend is essentially a bend in reverse. You bend the note to the desired pitch before picking it and releasing the bend. Pre-bends are notated like this:

To practice this extremely expressive technique, go back through exercises 35a – c and modify them to include pre-bends in the following way:

The examples in the lesson are extremely important to work on, nothing screams amateur like bad intonation!

For more essential technique lessons, check out my book Complete Technique for Modern Guitar