How to Bend Notes on Your Ukulele

You play a bend on your ukulele by grabbing the string and pushing it across the neck. This action increases the tension in the string and therefore raises the pitch. To play a bend,

  1. Fret the note with your ring finger and also put your index and middle fingers on the same string.

    The additional fingers act as support.

  2. Pluck the string.

  3. If you’re playing the E- or A-string, push the string up towards your face. Your hands look something like this:

    image0.jpg

    If you’re playing the g- or C-string, pull it down toward the ground.

  4. Bend the string until you reach the target pitch and hold it.

    Bring your thumb over the top of the fretboard to give you some extra leverage.

Check out the bending video to see and hear how it’s done.

Bends are a tricky prospect on the uke. Unlike on steel-stringed instruments, the nylon strings don’t take kindly to being bent. Bending notes to get them in tune can be a trial.

In tab, bends are shown as a curvy arrow with a number at the top. The number refers to the number of steps the note increases. So when a bend has a “1/2” at the top, you need to bend by half a step (one fret higher). When the tab says “Full” at the top, that’s a bend of a whole step (two frets):

image1.jpg

In standard notation, a bend is shown as a pointed line between the note being bent from and the note being bent to:

image2.jpg

When you’re practicing bends, try playing the note you’re aiming for before attempting your bend to get a better idea of what note you’re shooting for.

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