BY JEFF MCERLAIN
Jeff McErlain is a New York City-based guitar
player, producer, songwriter, and educator. He
performs regularly in NYC and abroad with
his trio and blues band. Jeff has a number of
instructional DVDs available at TrueFire.com,
and he is a featured instructor for the National
Guitar Workshop. Jeff’s latest CD I’m Tired is
available on i Tunes or at jeffmcerlain.com.
playing on Wheels of Fire for a great lesson
on this particular bend. Actually check
out everything he plays on that album!
We move to the other minor-third
interval in Fig. 3. This is a classic sound
that I first picked up from listening to Jimi
Hendrix. Now we have covered whole-step
and minor-third bends, but let’s go deeper.
In Fig. 4 we have a lick in the style of Albert
King that will add a “blue” note, which will
bring some half-step bends into the mix.
Make sure to keep each bend in tune.
THEORY: Advanced Beginner
• Combine whole-step, half-step
and minor-third bends.
• Learn how to bend in tune
through a scale.
• Develop phrases in the style of
Eric Clapton, Albert King and
Check out Clapton’s playing on Wheels of Fire for
a great lesson on minor third bends. Actually check
out everything he plays on that recording!
C7 fi oej oe
fi oe bjoeoe ˙
Click here to hear
sound clips of
Bending strings is one of the coolest gui- tar techniques, and when it comes to
playing blues, bends are essential. The most
obvious bend is the whole-step. What solo
would be complete without a bend from
7 to the root, as in Fig. 1?
But let’s look a bit deeper, shall we? In a
minor-pentatonic scale, we have two intervals
we can use for bluesy soloing, the whole-step
and the minor-third bend. The scale formula
for the minor pentatonic is root–
Let’s apply this formula to the key of C
(C–E%–F–G–B%) and look at the cool—and
sometimes overlooked—bending options.
There are two minor-third intervals
in the scale, C–E% and G–B%. The bend
between the root and b3 as shown in Fig.
2 was a staple of Eric Clapton’s playing
during the Cream era. This is often called
an overbend, but really all we’re doing is
bending within the scale. I’ve got to say
I love this sound. Check out Clapton’s
44 & fi oej fi oej fi oej fi oej oeb oeoeoe
1 1/2 1 1/2 1 1/2 1 1/2
oeoeb oeoeoeb oeoeoeoe