Making Music with Marshall

Slides and Bends

Posted: 28 April 2020

You should be developing a pretty broad range of techniques by now. From chords and scales through to hammer ons and pull offs, but it's time to mix up your playing. We show you exactly how to find your style by adding slides and bends to your technique.

Read time - 4 mins

Whether playing a simple riff or a monster solo, slides and bends are used to join notes and add some colour and depth to your tone. In this article we’ll go through the principles and styles of slides and bends.

How to slide

Widely used in everything from classical and country to jazz and heavy metal, slides are one of the key techniques for guitar players. In principal, a slide is when you play a note on a fret and slide to a higher or lower fret. This will add speed and fluidity to your playing and can make your licks sound unbroken and seamless. Starting with a one string slide, press firmly on the high E string on the fifth fret. Now, without losing pressure pick the string and move your finger up to the 9th fret, after you’ve got this down try the technique in reverse. The longer the distance between frets the more obvious the slide will sound. Try moving your finger to different notes and strings to get more comfortable with the sound. You can also try pushing your first finger down across the bottom three strings to perform a three-string slide. Incorporate these into some common guitar scales and you’ll be landing those solos in no time!

How to bend

Arguably one of the most expressive guitar techniques, bends have their roots in blues and country music and have found their way into every genre imaginable. From the more subtle shake to huge jumps, a bend is an absolute essential for almost every guitar player to master.


There's plenty of opportunity to add your own flair to your bends and slides, and a whole host of varied techniques to suit any player. Here's some extra methods to send you on your way.

Behind the nut bend

Although not commonly used, you can push down behind the nut for a big open string bend. Use it sparingly as this can severely affect your tuning.

Unison Bends

A great way to thicken up any guitar sound and get crazy. A unison bend is where you take a static note and then another note a tone lower which bends up to match the static note. To try this, play the B string at the 5th fret with your first finger and the G string on the 7th fret with your third finger. Bend the G string up until it matches the B string note. This technique can be moved up and down the fretboard, and can be heard in all kinds of songs, particularly those by Iron Maiden.

The ‘country’ bend

This recognisable technique is commonly used in country-style playing, almost imitating a lap steel guitar. Hit the B string on the 12th fret up with your third finger, then pluck your high E string on the 12th fret when the B string is at the top of the bend, once you’ve hit the E string, pluck the B string again and let the string bend back down.