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  1. #1

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    I can't recall who claimed, or where I read, that jazz guitarists don't bend. I wonder where this came from?

    A couple of my favorite benders are Django and Oscar Moore.

    Jim Campilongo does some incredible stuff, though he isn't a strictly archtop flatwound jazzbo.

    There are many western swing players who bend.

    So ... who are some of your favs?

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  3. #2

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    here are a few guitarists off the top of my head who bend strings when it suits them.

    Pat Metheny
    John Scofied
    John Abercrombie
    Bill Frisel
    Pat Martino
    Jim Hall
    George Benson
    Django Reinhardt
    Charlie Christian
    John McLaughlin

  4. #3

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    howard roberts was a heck of a bender, as is herb ellis.

    everything in it's place. a bent blue note sounds sweet when the situation calls for it.

  5. #4

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    I hear quite some bending from one of my fav players, Wakenius. And I don't do it myself, because my fingers are too weak to bend the flatwounds. But I play some blues on my 335, and that one's got thinner round wounds on, so I bend. But I do slide away a bit when I practice on the jazz axe, and that's close to bending soundwise...
    Peace
    &
    bending space is a talent few of us master
    Skei (the weak fingers one)

  6. #5

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    Jazz guitarrists prefer to make a half tone or a whole tone slide rather than bending.

    After some jazz music listening I've seen and heard guitarrists bending a few notes but not more. Even in this forum, some jazzers are against bending notes.

    I find it curious. Someone answered my question by saying it's not part of the jazz vocabulary.

    Take care.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stackabones
    I can't recall who claimed, or where I read, that jazz guitarists don't bend. I wonder where this came from?

    A couple of my favorite benders are Django and Oscar Moore.

    Jim Campilongo does some incredible stuff, though he isn't a strictly archtop flatwound jazzbo.

    There are many western swing players who bend.

    So ... who are some of your favs?

    There plenty of jazz guitarists who bend strings as there are plenty of them who don't play archtop guitars too.

    My favorite is Bill Frisell. He doesn't bend the actual strings that much, but he bends the hell out of the guitar neck and you could technically call that a "bend."

    Pat Metheny and John Abercrombie bend the hell out of strings when they want to.

  8. #7

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    Actually it IS apart of the jazz vocabulary now. Nothing is "hands off" in jazz. This is what makes it such a challenging music to study for the simple fact that the players that have expanded the jazz vocabulary are also the ones found intergrating other techniques from other genres of music into their own playing.

  9. #8

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    Hi all .

    Although Joscho stephan is not a prolific bender he does'nt half get hold of some of those notes on his rendition of Django's sweet chorous...
    Has anybody listened to it??

    His articulation is second to none and is out their with the best
    As sure as god ,Eddie van Halen is in his style somewhere .
    Please dont laugh i'm serious.

    AVID

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by frisellfan19
    Actually it IS apart of the jazz vocabulary now. Nothing is "hands off" in jazz. This is what makes it such a challenging music to study for the simple fact that the players that have expanded the jazz vocabulary are also the ones found intergrating other techniques from other genres of music into their own playing.
    Totally agreed. Anyway I still am too new to jazz music to affirm this is so and that is so. I believe we can't reject, at least I can't do it, any technique.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by EXWINO
    Hi all .

    As sure as god ,Eddie van Halen is in his style somewhere .
    Please dont laugh i'm serious.

    AVID
    Why not? There are a lot of musicians who have learned things from other musicians who don't have anything to do with the style they play. Certain mixings sound fabulous (some others don't), otherwise a concrete style wouldn't progress. Don't you think?

  12. #11

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    Yeah i do agree.
    I saw an interview a while back with Joscho stephan and he stated that his biggest inspiration was Carlos santana ..Bizzare! but true .
    Have you been playing long claudi? i have only recently started to post as i have not been playing long ...a couple of years.

    DAVID

  13. #12

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    One of my best jazz guitar benders is Barney Kessel.

  14. #13

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    I've seen some vids of him and find he sounds great bending notes. And it's not fusion, so there's no reason why to link bendings with distortion.

  15. #14

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    I think the bending of strings is as natural in jazz as it is in rock or country music. There are tons of jazz guitarists who bend strings, especially now. Since Jimi Hendrix, there have been more jazz guitarists who incorporate that kind of free-wheeling, burning attitude into their playing, which proves that Hendrix's influence is still evident to this day.

    Look at jazz guitarists like Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern, Ben Monder, Kurt Rosenwinkel, John Abercrombie, etc., they all use distortion from time to time and they all bend strings.

    When I kick on a distortion pedal, it lets this aggressive animal out of me. All of this penned up aggression I have inside of me is turned loose.



    Last edited by frisellfan19; 10-05-2008 at 12:35 AM.

  16. #15

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    I love the way Larry C bends a note. I see him smiling when he bends a note.

    Mike

  17. #16

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    tradition is the first thing i can think of.

    it's like someone once said, "okay, you need a hollowbody, the fattest strings you can find--.13's, well, okay, close enough--alright now--play clean--roll that tone off a little kid, oh, and no bending!"

    but there were some great more traditional jazz players who bent strings--herb ellis and howard roberts immediately pop to mind...

    now, truly, if you're playing some really heavy strings, bending ain't easy.

    and there is the fear of breaking a string, maybe. i mean, rock dude busts a B during his solo, he can make it thru the rest of the tune with some power chords...I bust a high string, and i just lost some of the cool voicings i was gonna play behind the alto players solo...

    personally, i rarely bend strings because i view the guitar more like a piano than a horn. for me, it's a percussive chordal instrument, not a wailing single note one...

  18. #17

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    Jim Hall does a little string bending. And he uses light strings, too.

  19. #18

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    Way too much tradition, and doing something, cause someone else did it that way, or someone wrote a book and said, here's the way it has to be done.

    Like playing, in the year 2009, the intro to all the things you are, that miles davis or charlie wrote in 1949.

    But, the guitar is not a piano, nor a horn. It's a guitar.

    Why not think of it as a guitar. That's what rock guys do. and truth be told, for the variety of sounds they get, in that dept. they are ahead.

    Why not use every possiblity that is available with the instrument. Lord knows it's tough enough to sound original, why restrict the possibilties unnecessarily?

  20. #19

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    Since a lot of guys come from a rock/blues/whatever background, it's good to find out what you can do without the typical seasick-inducing overbending and histrionic vibrato endemic to those genres...if it's just a weakness and a habit, lose it. If it adds something substantive, go for it...

  21. #20

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    Jazz is simply a genre that stems from a particular style of phrasing and harmonic movement that is rooted in a deep and rich tradition. Some instruments and techniques work within that context and some don't.

    If you think you can apply string bends within the context of jazz then go ahead, bend away, do what you like, nobody will really care. After all, it is the phrase that counts not a string bend. However.., if the phrase you create does not convincingly convey the sense and style of the genre then please don't blame the jazz tradition.

    Like it or not, all improvised music is not necessarily jazz. You can adapt your playing to embrace the jazz tradition but it seems a waste of energy to try and change a tradition to match the way you want to play.

  22. #21

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    The obvious reason is because they tend to use high caliber strings.
    The second one is because it can be very blues-ish and sound out of context.

    However, I have listened to some players use 1/4 or 1/2 step bends. One of the albums of metheny with mehldau starts with a pre-bend of a 1/2 if I recall correctly.

  23. #22

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    In addition to Howard Roberts bending strings...

    George Benson bends strings.

    Charlie Christian bent strings... talking about tradition.

  24. #23

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    He's another one: Metheny does a lot of pre-bends.

  25. #24

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    I'm with the camp that says bending makes you sound bluesy or rocky. Bending when playing straight ahead jazz sounds wrong to me. It adds a fusion/light jazz sort of thing to it. All I know is that I used to bend all the time when I played blues and rock and then when I started playing jazz, I stopped bending. It just didn't seem right to me. It didn't seem to fit, and I had zero preconceived notions going in and no background in jazz studies, so I just came to that conclusion on my own.

    I've even gotten to the point now where I feel like I'm somehow cheating if I bend. It's like if I can't figure out how to make the line interesting without a bend, then I'm not being creative enough.

  26. #25

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    Lots of players bend strings, you'll find it all over the place, here's some!

    Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, Pat Martino, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, Grant Green, John McLaughlin, Mike Stern... lots of ppl do.

    Those who do not do it because as suggested it's a tradition of the instrument in jazz. Bending was popularized in Rock and Blues guitar, not in Jazz Guitar. People who come to Jazz often times come to it through Prog Rock or Jam Band or Blues where bending is a typical form of articulation on the guitar to get whatever sound you are after.

    Jazz is more about swing, Bending doesn't help swing feel at all because you're glazing over notes and bar lines that help that motion move forward. Most guys don't bend properly either. They don't do it in time, or bend to the proper pitch.

  27. #26

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    Scofield uses it aaaaaall the time

  28. #27

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    I was talking to someone about tradition of styles and used this very example. Jazz is a style thats been developed without bends, when you stray you start going into other styles really, which may be a version of jazz or just your own style. If you are going for the same sound than bends wont work, but it's about your sound in the end.

    Like someone here mentioned they arived at the decision not to bend strings on their own because it wasnt their sound.

  29. #28

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    This thread has got me thinking. I do bend strings when playing in a pop/rock context, but I instinctively tend to slur in a jazz context instead. However, I also find that I use pre-bends more often than bends in a jazz context. The traditional players who do bend strings - Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, Howard Roberts, George Benson come to mind - tend to do mostly half-step bends to add a bluesy inflection, I think. Anyway, as others have said, it's all about your own unique voice.

    What about vibrato? I - again instinctively - do it differently in different contexts: The string-bending across-the-fingerboard style for rock/blues and the 'violin' style for jazz. Then there's the question of whether to start the vibrato right on the attack or wait a split-second and then 'wiggle' it. (I've heard this referred to as the American vs. the British style ... Huh?!) Fortunately, I don't (think I) think about this stuff when I play, I just do it!
    Last edited by Tom Karol; 09-11-2009 at 10:35 AM. Reason: Add comment about vibrato

  30. #29

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    I just can't understand people who are so restricted by rules.
    Jazz is an art form. Art is about personal expression.

    Tell Bird or Miles not to bend a note.

  31. #30

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    If you want to bend notes it's up to you actually in case you didn't realized. It's just that it will sound to a specific way that maybe it's not what you wanted.

  32. #31

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    I was listening to some Barney Kessel from the 50s today, and he sure did bend 'em. And he was, of course, from the same tradition as his fellow Oklahoman, Charlie Christian.

    In addition to bending, however, you also slides and let's not forget slurs (which in rock guitar terminology is known as the dreaded *Hammer on*) Perfectly acceptable musical device. Also ok to use bottleneck/glass slides at times. Why not?

    The musical raison d'etre: to help make your instrument truly sing, mate approximate the sound of the human voice.

  33. #32

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    yup. in a nutshell.

    i find string bending to be one of those tricky little things like octaves that everyone thinks they can pull off but few do very well.

    for example, the "blooze" band at the local pub last night who's resident stevie ray vaughan impersonator was consistently a soulless 1/4 step sharp on every friggin' bend. and oh did he bend. man the crap i'll deal with for free beer.,

  34. #33

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    good discussion, thanks !

    I think bending sounds great in a jazz tune, but it's personal/subjective.

    Lately I have been applying some "bend" to the string on every note, whether a chromatic riff, or an arpeggio.

    an fairly imperceptible amount of pressure on the string, tuning wise, but the result is that I am getting a much better sounding note out of the amp. don't know why, but it's working well for me.

    when I think of bending in jazz other than guitar players, I think of Johnny Hodges. beautiful.



    But you all know what charlie parker said:

    "learn the changes, then forget about them"

  35. #34

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    Django Reinhardt did also some bending.

    And in general I think in a jazz context nothing is inapropiate as long as it makes sense.

    I myself though have a hard time to use it in a way that I like it.

    Sometimes when its used to get in- or outside chromatically it can be quite nice. Then it kind of does a smoother transition between in- and outside.

  36. #35

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    if the early gtrs didn't have such thick strings with savage action, maybe bending would be the tradition, speaking of Django, his clnt/sax player Andre Ekyan had a bend in every phrase and swings like a m*therf*cker, transcribed for guitar it's such fun to play, and sounds nothing like blues/rock. If a new young champion of jazz gtr came along bending strings in an exciting way, we'd all be kicking ourselves for not thinking to include them as part of our own bag......
    Last edited by princeplanet; 10-01-2009 at 01:39 AM.

  37. #36

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    There's no reason guitar players shouldn't bend in a jazz context. Take any Charlie Parker or Cannonball Adderley recording and slow it down to half speed, listen to their attack on each note. I'll personally guarantee that at least 1 note in every 10 will feature some kind of pitch bending. It's easier to bend on sax than it is on guitar, even... Just a little extra pressure on the embouchoure, or a relaxing of the jaw is all you need to do to change the pitch generated by the reed. Bending is huge part of many of the greats' styles- guitarist or otherwise.
    Last edited by gravitas; 10-01-2009 at 12:18 AM.

  38. #37

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    one obvious reason is, its hard to bend a .13s strings others can coz they have strong fingers.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by NSJ
    I was listening to some Barney Kessel from the 50s today, and he sure did bend 'em. And he was, of course, from the same tradition as his fellow Oklahoman, Charlie Christian.

    In addition to bending, however, you also slides and let's not forget slurs (which in rock guitar terminology is known as the dreaded *Hammer on*) Perfectly acceptable musical device. Also ok to use bottleneck/glass slides at times. Why not?

    The musical raison d'etre: to help make your instrument truly sing, mate approximate the sound of the human voice.
    Yes, the ultimate musical instrument, the human voice.

    I agree completely with this post.

    And Barney Kessel is for me the most hard driving, swinging, who cares about mistakes, going for it guitar player.

  40. #39

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    My archtop has a bridge that is adverse to bending beyond a half step. I like to prebend, esspecially in the modern context, when its not hoaky 2-4 beat bass and drums. On my tele, esspecially if we are playing fast latin, for example, i will throw on the O.D. a little reverb and go bananas. Its all about context, prefernce, and the audience.

    Although, I am in a agreement with many people here, the precision of the bend is critical. Tune and timing. Its really easy to get sloppy if you start bending all over the place.

  41. #40

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    Jazzing-up a country tune can be fun. Using country techniques such as pedal steel emulation bending to spice-up an old jazz standard can also be fun. Having the appropriate guitar and strings does help...

  42. #41

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    Yeah, someone asked me to show them Larry Carlton type string bends. Well I could easily bend those 10's or so he had on his McCarty, but when he tried on his L5, that was not easily done! :-)

  43. #42

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    Bending strings is an art in itself.
    As is straight jazz guitar.
    Now when they come together.....mmmmm...interesting.

  44. #43

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    2 cents: If you like the sound you get and you can do it well in a jazz context, go ahead and use it. If not, not. There's no need for "camps" on the matter.

  45. #44

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    Lately, I've realized that I've been using subtle slow bendy vibrato on single lines to emulate that thing that vibraphones do. I was sort of doing it without being aware of it. Of course, now that it's apparent to me, I've become self-conscious about it!

  46. #45
    I've been wondering about string bending in jazz guitar. I know it's something that's frowned on and that you're not really "supposed" to do (unless you're playing fusion, that is) and I'm wondering why. It seems to me that bending and vibrato, if done tastefully, is one of the best ways to give the guitar the expressiveness of a horn.

    I can understand if it's a physical limitation thing, but I usually use .11 and .12 flatwounds and have no problem bending a step and a half.

    Anyway, I feel like the proper application of the technique can add a lot of depth to the performance, and if I'm going to offend purists by doing it then so be it, but I'm just wondering where the "anti-bending" rationale comes from

  47. #46

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    Hi KC250,
    Not sure where you heard bending was frowned upon in jazz guitar. I heard many players do it.
    An example that comes to mind, is my favorite player, Ed Bickert. You'll find that he's very highly regarded here.
    Check out his solo on the tune "Just Squeeze Me" from the Paul Desmond album, Pure Desmond.
    Cheers, Ron

  48. #47

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    Wes did it now and then.

    Howard Roberts did it a lot...tough on those 16-60 gauge string he used.

  49. #48

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    The string bending and heavy vibrato thing are frowned upon, "just because." It's just a style thing. If you want to sound "authentic" then you will limit your use of those effects.

    I questioned my instructor about this a while ago when I was chastised for over-vibrato-ing. I pointed out the wide vibrato of Sidney Bechet, but was still told not to do it. I don't think there's much reason other than tradition.

  50. #49

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    Barney Kessel bent plenty of notes, as did Herb Ellis.
    It adds a bluesy Charlie Christian feel sometimes when in pentatonic ideas (for me).
    Last edited by backliner; 10-15-2010 at 09:56 AM.

  51. #50

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    Here's my take on it: Bend if you want to. Don't worry about labels. I believe Miles once said, "First I'll play it; then I'll tell you what is."

    I tend to slur rather than bend most of the time when I'm playing Jazz. I use 11's with a plain third, so I have have both options available. However, I love to do slow vibrato on long notes when I'm playing a ballad - sounds to me sort of like those little fluttery things at the top of the sound tubes on a vibraphone.

    Play what you hear!