Exotic Guitar String Bends To Use In Your Next Guitar Solo

by Tom Hess
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If you love the lead guitar solo style of Jason Becker and Marty Friedman...

You’re going to love the guitar string bends I show you in this guitar solo article.

What’s so special about Jason Becker’s and Marty Friedman’s lead guitar solo style?


Their exotic guitar phrasing comes from their guitar string bends.

Jason and Marty don’t bend guitar strings the way most lead guitar players do.

That said...

These exotic guitar string bends are very easy to play.

(In some ways – even easier than traditional lead guitar string bends.)

The Secret To Adding Fire &
Emotion To Any Guitar Lick
The Secret To Adding Fire And Emotion To Your Guitar Playing e-Book

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

And  once you hear how cool these exotic guitar string bends sound...

I promise – you’ll want to use in them in your next guitar solo.

(And possibly make them a permanent part of your lead guitar style.)

Ready to start?

Begin by watching this exotic guitar string bends tutorial that explains how to use exotic guitar phrasing in your guitar solos:

Here are 5 more tips for how to apply dramatic guitar string bends like these into your lead guitar playing.

Exotic Guitar Phrasing Tip #1: Master String Bending Guitar Technique. Here Is How:

To make your exotic guitar string bends sounds great, you must first make your regular string bends sound great.

And here are the key things to know about developing this crucial lead guitar technique:

- Use proper hand position in your fretting hand. This means: wrap your fretting hand’s thumb around the neck of the guitar and use the base of your index finger as the pivot point.

Here is what the proper string bending motions look like:

Guitar vibrato hand position

Question: “But Tom Hess, I heard that you should have the thumb behind the guitar neck when you play lead guitar? Shouldn’t this hand position also be used for playing lead guitar techniques like dramatic guitar bends?”

Answer: No. Having the thumb behind the guitar neck is great for fast lead guitar licks where you need a lot of control, stretch, precision and guitar speed. But when you want to play dramatic guitar string bends, wrapping the thumb around the guitar neck will give you the most control.

- Make sure your string bends are in tune. Here is a great exercise for doing this: play a note you want to bend up to as a regular (unbent) note. Let it ring out for 1-2 seconds and get its sound into your ear.

Then bend into the note you just played and stop when the string reaches its target pitch. Do this several times until you can consistently bend the string in tune.

This exercise builds the foundation for playing exotic guitar string bends in your guitar solos.

Bonus tip: if you struggle bending guitar strings in tune, practice bending strings only ½ step (1 fret). You can also tune your guitar down by a half (or whole) step (either 1 fret or 2 frets down).

This makes the guitar strings looser and makes bending guitar strings a lot easier. The less physical effort it takes to do guitar string bends, the easier it is to focus on bending guitar strings in tune.

As you get better at bending guitar strings, check out this in-depth video tutorial to learn more advanced guitar string bends that will spice up your exotic guitar phrasing:

Exotic Guitar Phrasing Tip #2: Master Vibrato (And Its Variations). Here Is How:

As you get better at bending guitar strings, the next step to mastering exotic guitar phrasing is to make your vibrato sound really good.

Vibrato is a series of rhythmic pulses (guitar string bends) you apply to a note to make it sound expressive. The better your vibrato is, the better your exotic guitar string bends will sound when you use them in a guitar solo.

Here is how to practice vibrato to make it sound great:

As you practice your vibrato, avoid these lead guitar mistakes:

Mistake #1: Vibrato not being in tune. This happens when you don't release the string all the way back to the note you are applying vibrato to. To solve this, make sure to relax the hand in between the vibrato bends. This will let the string return the note to the correct pitch and make your vibrato sound great during your exotic guitar string bends.

Mistake #2: Vibrato not being in sync with the rhythm of the backing track.

Great guitar vibrato locks in with the beat of the track you are playing your lead guitar solo over. Your vibrato pulses should have a rhythm (just like the notes you play in your guitar solo have rhythm). And that rhythm needs to be in time with the chords.

Watch this video to see how to make your vibrato rhythmically in sync with the music you play:

Mistake #3: Nervous vibrato.
This happens when vibrato is too fast and too narrow at the same time. This kills the expressiveness of your exotic guitar phrasing and makes your entire lead guitar playing sound nervous.

Here is the tip to remember:

The faster your vibrato is -  the wider it should be to sound good. And the slower it is – the narrower it can be.

Mistake #4: Vibrato done only one way. You can do vibrato on top of your exotic guitar string bends in 3 main ways:

- instantly (this is where you go to the vibrato as soon as you pick a note or complete the string bend)

- delayed (this is where you hold the note out for a moment before applying vibrato).

- delayed with rearticulation (this is where you delay the vibrato for a moment, then hit the note again and then apply vibrato).

When you apply all 3 types of vibrato on top of your exotic guitar string bends, your lead guitar licks sound very creative and your exotic guitar phrasing comes to life.

Exotic Guitar Phrasing Tip #3: Control Excess Guitar String Noise During Your Guitar String Bends. Here Is How:

Know anybody who likes the sound of sloppy guitar string noise? Me neither. And if you want your exotic guitar phrasing to sound good, you better be able to keep your guitar sting bends clean.

Here are the best ways to clean sloppy string noise at bay as you add exotic guitar string bends into your lead guitar licks:

1. Use thumb muting. What’s thumb muting? It’s where you rest the picking hand’s thumb on the lower (in pitch) strings when you are bending guitar strings (or playing other lead guitar techniques). Then the thumb simply slides up and down the strings as you play a guitar solo.

It looks like this:

Muting guitar string with thumb finger

Why not use your picking hand’s palm to mute string noise?

Here are the main problems that happen when you try using your palm to mute guitar string noise:

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When you change strings, it takes a moment for the palm to begin muting the string you just played a moment before. This creates brief moments of unwanted guitar string noise.

The guitar string noise occurs for 2 main reasons:

  1. The flesh of your palm is very soft. It takes more time for your palm to actually stop guitar string noise from ringing.
  2. It is not easy to get your palm in position to consistently mute lower strings in all sloppy guitar playing situations.

When you use your palm to mute unwanted guitar string noise, the natural position of your guitar pick (when not playing) is away from the strings. This is what I call your “Natural Point Of Rest”.

Exotic guitar string bends aside, using your palm to mute string noise makes your playing less efficient for ALL other lead guitar techniques.

2. Use your picking hand’s ring (and/or pinkie) finger to mute the higher in pitch strings. Simply rest those fingers on the higher strings as you play your exotic guitar string bends.

Here is what this looks like:

Picking hand muting

These 2 levels of muting helps keep your lead guitar playing clean and makes any guitar solo you play sound better.

Exotic Guitar Phrasing Tip #4: Integrate Exotic Guitar String Bends With Other Exotic Guitar Scales

Exotic guitar string bends are just 1 element of exotic guitar phrasing that can make your guitar solo sound better.

To really milk your exotic guitar phrasing for all it’s worth, combine the guitar solo techniques from this article with exotic guitar scales.

Here are the exotic guitar scales I love:

Lydian Mode: this scale has a very floating and dreamy sound (that you often hear in Steve Vai’s and Joe Satriani’s solos). This sound lends itself very easily to exotic guitar phrasing. And if you combine the Lydian mode with bending guitar strings the way I taught you in this article, you’ll have a very easy time making any guitar solo sound exotic.

Check out this video that shows you 5 easy Lydian guitar licks to spice up your lead guitar playing:

Mixolydian b6 (also known as the 5th mode of Melodic Minor): this is quite possibly the most dramatic guitar scale there is. It’s nearly impossible to play a guitar solo from this scale without feeling the emotions of intense longing and melancholy.

And when you combine the feeling of this scale with exotic guitar phrasing (and exotic guitar string bends)? Then the feeling is strong enough to make grown men cry.

Watch this video to see how awesome this guitar scale sounds and get exotic guitar phrasing ideas for your next guitar solo:

Hirajoshi scale: this is a different type of pentatonic scale that lends itself very nicely to exotic guitar phrasing. Its notes are 1 2 b3 5 and b6/.

Like the traditional pentatonic scale everyone knows – it only has 5 notes. But it contains 2 very dramatic half steps that, combined with exotic guitar string bends I taught you in this article, make your lead guitar playing drip with emotion.

The regular pentatonic scale has no half steps (which is why, in my opinion, it sounds less emotional than the Hirajoshi scale).

Check out this video with a few must-know Hirajoshi guitar scale licks and use the exotic guitar phrasing ideas in this article to level-up your lead guitar soloing.


Exotic Guitar Phrasing Tip #5: Create Variations From Your Existing Licks And Guitar Solo Ideas

Now that you’ve learned awesome exotic guitar string bends, the fastest way to apply them is to go through the guitar licks you already know and use these guitar string bends in them.

Do this:

1. Choose any lead guitar lick or guitar solo fragment you know.

2. Play it once or twice (as is).

3. Think of places within the lead guitar lick to apply the exotic guitar string bends and exotic guitar phrasing ideas you’ve learned in this article.

4. Play the guitar lick again, this time - with exotic guitar sting bends.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to create at least a dozen variations on your original lead guitar lick (or guitar solo fragment).

6. Change to another lead guitar solo fragment and repeat the process.

This drill can become a regular part of your exotic guitar phrasing practice.

And as you master exotic guitar string bends, you can keep doing the above steps with other lead guitar techniques, like:

Slides (ascending slides, descending slides, backslides and super slides), double stops, pinch harmonics, rubato and more.

This process of lead guitar refinement is one of the fastest ways to make any guitar solo you play sound awesome. (And it works in every style of lead guitar.)

Here is a video of this guitar solo exercise in action:

Now that you know how to use exotic guitar phrasing in your lead guitar solos, I’d like to help you transform the rest of your guitar playing into top-level kick-butt playing, even if you feel stuck right now and are having some self-doubts. I can help you with this in my personalized Breakthrough Guitar Lessons.

Imagine how much better your guitar playing will become when you know exactly what to do and exactly how to practice to reach your goals. If you can practice at least 30 minutes per day – I am certain I can help you become the guitar player you want to be.

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Tom Hess
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

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