Tuning a Bend
Tuning a bend takes practice. At first you may not be perfect at it, but the old adage holds up: Practice makes perfect. How can you practice playing a bend in tune? One easy way is to use a tuner. Try bending half steps and whole steps into your tuner and letting the tuner show you how close you are. A chromatic tuner is the only tuner capable of helping you tune a bend. A standard guitar tuner is taught to recognize only the sound of the open strings and will not be able to tune every bent note. Chromatic tuners can tune and hear every note on the guitar. This makes them ideal for tuning your bends.
As you use the tuner to practice your bends, your ears will learn the sound of a perfectly bent string. Bending out of tune is like playing an out-of-tune guitar; no one wants to hear a guitarist play out of tune—it hurts!
Another way to practice bending is to determine what note you are bending to. For example, bending the twelfth fret of the third string up a whole step gives you the note A. How do you know this? The note on the twelfth fret is G. The minute you bend any note, you change the name of that note. When you bend the G up a whole step you change the note to A (your tuner will verify this). If you don't have a tuner handy, you can use the fourteenth fret as a reference pitch. Remember, whole steps are two frets away, so the bent twelfth fret will sound like the pitch of the fourteenth.
The example in FIGURE 4-7 is a unique situation where you have a bent note on one string, and on the next string you have an unbent note of the same pitch.
Both notes are the identical E. The only difference is that each one falls on a different string. By playing them this way you're able to play both Es together. If the bent E isn't in tune, you'll hear the notes clash with one another. When both notes are in tune perfectly, they will blend together into one sound. This is called a unison bend. Jimi Hendrix was a big fan of this bend; it's all over his playing.