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How to Bend Strings & Play Vibrato in Rock on Guitar

Learn how to bend strings and play vibrato in rock from guitarist Adam Smale in this online fingerstyle guitar lesson from Howcast.


Rock finger-style guitar. Well, there are very few finger-style rock guitar players out there. But there are few. Jeff Beck being one, a famous person. And it's all similar techniques to blues except you're using a distorted guitar sound usually. I'll dial that sound up and well try some different techniques and we'll get you happening with rock finger-style. Now unlike the other things that we've talked about before about getting really nice tone and all that stuff, that's not as important with rock guitar. Sometimes you actually want a spank the guitar a little bit [playing guitar] and pull on the strings. Get aggressive. That's what rock and roll is about baby.

One thing to really get down for rock is a nice rock vibrato. Here's is from the B.B. King school of vibrato and string bending. We're going to take, just for example right now, the second string and I'm going to use only my first finger. But I am going to anchor my big knuckle on my left hand up against the fret board. And I'm going to use that as leverage.

So, before I turn up the volume, you can see what my hand's doing. It's just rocking back and forth. Now let's try it with sound. [playing guitar] That's a really famous sort of way to play a vibrato. I'd like to talk to you about string bending in general. This is sort of from the Eric Clapton school of bending where you use three fingers on the same string to give you lots of strength to push up. And you get a really nice good grip on the guitar neck. And you use all three fingers to push up, so you have lots of strength an lots of control. [playing guitar] You can even use that technique for your vibrato actually. [playing guitar] Now one thing I should maybe mention about vibrato is that you don't want to be pulling the string only in one direction. If you think of the sting being your central line, you want to come above and below that central line evenly on either side. You don't want to just only come up and come back down to the center. You want to go back forth. So you can work on making it sound smooth by doing that. And those are some great rock techniques that you can get down.

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