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David Grissom's Badass Bends

April 15, 2014
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Last month we grabbed a piece of David Grissom’s open-string magic, but that’s only one part of his multi-faceted 6-string chicanery. He’s also adept at ridiculous multi-string bending licks that can sound like pedal-steel, B-bender, or a certain Beatles solo.

“I can trace this whole sound back to ‘Got to Get You into My Life,’” he says, referring to the D-string bend that caps the two-bar break. “That’s what made me want to play guitar—that lick right there. When I was in high school, I heard ‘Sweet Little Lisa’ by Dave Edmunds that had Albert Lee playing the guitar solo. I didn’t know that he was using a B-bender. I spent a year learning how to play that solo, trying to emulate what he was doing.”

That bending boot camp served Grissom well, because he can bend his brains out on a floating-trem guitar strung with .011s. He gets us started with Ex. 1, a cool Gsus move. Get that half-step bend from B to C in tune and hold it steady until the release in the next bar. “A lot of that has to do with finger strength,” he explains, “to have the strength to pull the bend off but at the same time relax.”

Ex. 1
 

Grissom goes on to play Ex. 2, a “Honky Tonk Women”-approved set of moves with a twist on the ending.

Ex. 2
 
 
 
 

“It’s hard to keep them in tune when you bend on the lower strings” says Grissom as he nails Ex. 3, a similar phrase to Ex. 1 but with a decidedly different flavor due to the register of the bends. “Those moves get easier as you get to the higher frets,” he offers.

 
Ex. 3
 

“I’ve always loved these,” he says before dishing out Ex. 4, a gorgeous descending phrase that, as I was working it out, drew several editors and art directors into my office demanding to know how to play it. It ain’t easy to execute the full-step G-string bend with your first finger without also pulling on the A and D strings, but it is well worth the effort.

Ex. 4
 
Don’t be a hero, though: Use a fixed-bridge guitar with extra-light strings. These moves can hurt if you’re not used to them. Start slowly and always be brutally honest about your intonation. Bending rules!

This lesson was transcribed with a Godin Freeway SA, a Roland GI-20, and Sibelius 6 software.

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