Steel Guitar Bends Etude

by Chris Shofner

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  • This lesson is an introductory etude to steel guitar simulation bends. These licks are easily moved around from chord to chord. Simply start the lick on the top E string on the note that corresponds to the chord you are playing over. As in other lessons hybrid (claw style) picking is the desired right-hand technique.

    So, why steel guitar bends? The steel guitar is synonymous with country music but you don't have to have one in the band to get those beautiful bends and swells. Frankly, there are few other techniques that send your playing into instant chicken pickin’ serenity. Just listen to James Burton, Roy Nichols, Jerry Donahue, Brad Paisley, Johnny Hiland, Danny Gatton, Albert Lee, and the list goes on. There’s no doubt, if you are going to sound country it is essential to have some steel guitar bends/licks in your arsenal. Hopefully, this lesson will lay that foundation.


    Tuning: Standard - EADGBE

    Key: G modulates to A

    Tempo: 105bpm

    Time Signature: 4/4

    Gear: Partscaster Tele with Kinman Broadcaster pickups, Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue (modified), Wampler Ego Compressor, ZVex SHO Clone, Keeley Modified Boss BD2, Strymon El Capistan

    Though there are no scales performed in this etude per se, each of these licks works within the diatonic pitches of the corresponding major scale. In this lesson we play over the G, C, and D chords and then modulate to the key of A playing over the A, D, and E chords. Below you will find the corresponding scale forms for each.

    G Major


    C Major


    D Major


    A Major


    E Major

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