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Bending technique help

#1 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 03:01 PM

So i love bending my g string to get that sort of soul that comes from down bends, up and down vibrato and just to get that screaming . Bending is probably the best way to give your guitar a voice and make it express itself as if it were your voice, in my opinion. But, after about a year of owning my LP Studio and practicing hitting the right notes when i bend, and having a terrible ear for that, I found my frets were getting totally trashed. Now after almost 2 years I go see my luthier friend who tells me its already time for me to get another guitar, because re-fretting this one would not be worth the expense and trouble. Whether or not his opinion is correct on that doesnt matter but he also said most guitars have this type of nickel frets and that it is a matter of technique. So my question is can anyone tell me what technique i need to understand on bending that will allow me to get the notes correct and not destroy my next guitars frets the way this one is? There is apparently a right way and then there is whatever i been doing for 2 years.

Any suggestions?
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#2 User is offline   MichaelT 

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:58 AM

I'm not sure how much a refret job costs in your area but if you like the guitar and trust this person's work, it's worth it to get it done rather than replacing the guitar. Does it need a total refret or partial?

That being said, how hard are you pressing down when you bend and how bad are the frets? I guess the string gauge matters as well. You should have to press down just hard enough near the fret to get the note to play, then pushing up or pulling down, sliding and moving the string. I think I use my wrist and rotate it with the bend as well. If you're using heavier gauge, you may be pushing too hard into the frets. Maybe a little insight on how you're bending your strings, what kind of technique you're using and how your setup is. It would be interesting to hear what he says you are doing wrong.
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#3 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:14 PM

View PostMichaelT, on 03 July 2017 - 08:58 AM, said:

I'm not sure how much a refret job costs in your area but if you like the guitar and trust this person's work, it's worth it to get it done rather than replacing the guitar. Does it need a total refret or partial?

That being said, how hard are you pressing down when you bend and how bad are the frets? I guess the string gauge matters as well. You should have to press down just hard enough near the fret to get the note to play, then pushing up or pulling down, sliding and moving the string. I think I use my wrist and rotate it with the bend as well. If you're using heavier gauge, you may be pushing too hard into the frets. Maybe a little insight on how you're bending your strings, what kind of technique you're using and how your setup is. It would be interesting to hear what he says you are doing wrong.


That guy doesnt do fret work, and i do not know how far up the neck the worn frets are i would say at least to the 9th fret. dont have the thing with me right now...
I am pretty much a beginner, mostly self taught. I use 10's on my les paul studio, and im sure you are right about me pressing into them too hard. My ear is not good for hitting the right note on bends so i used this guitar allot for practicing that very thing and can see that being why this happened to such a new guitar. maybe that is what he meant by "technique". my strength is week too because i had some compressed nerve take it away. I couldnt even play at all for a few months, got the movement back but not all of the strength, also i do not always position my thumb where i am supposed to but im working on that too.
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#4 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 05:37 AM

This is weird.. Can you explain the problem to us Roach?

Kinda sounds like you may be lost the top of the crown, and maybe it's some of the frets are flatter than they should be???

if that's the case I would think that "Could be" possible, a fret leveling with a re-crowning would probably remedy the problem. a refret should be some where around 400/500 if all the frets need to be replaced. I can't imagine after this short a period of time tho.. if you were using heavy gauge strings, and had a DEATH grip,, maybe a few frets would need some attention,, but even there, what you should have is wear marks in the frets under the strings (most common in the first two to four frets.)

look at it this way, I have a les paul I bought in 95,, I play it a lot.. it does not need to be fretted.. never mind even re-leveled and re-crowned.. (It could be close to that but... I don't notice any issues when I use it)

I don't want to disparage your buddies expertise, but maybe take it to someone who does do fret work and get a second opinion.
/Ray
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#5 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 10:03 PM

View Postkidblast, on 05 July 2017 - 05:37 AM, said:

This is weird.. Can you explain the problem to us Roach?

Kinda sounds like you may be lost the top of the crown, and maybe it's some of the frets are flatter than they should be???

if that's the case I would think that "Could be" possible, a fret leveling with a re-crowning would probably remedy the problem. a refret should be some where around 400/500 if all the frets need to be replaced. I can't imagine after this short a period of time tho.. if you were using heavy gauge strings, and had a DEATH grip,, maybe a few frets would need some attention,, but even there, what you should have is wear marks in the frets under the strings (most common in the first two to four frets.)

look at it this way, I have a les paul I bought in 95,, I play it a lot.. it does not need to be fretted.. never mind even re-leveled and re-crowned.. (It could be close to that but... I don't notice any issues when I use it)

I don't want to disparage your buddies expertise, but maybe take it to someone who does do fret work and get a second opinion.


it is mostly under the "g" where i been bending and where the frets have worn the most.

He basically told me, very politely, that the cause of the wear was bad technique and it would be expensive to re-fret and as it in one of the least expensive les pauls ($1000w/case), he said it probably is not worth it when you can get another guitar new that ill be happy (happier) with

your right i also think they should not have worn so soon... i have a 2000 LP special and it does not need frets either

And being a drummer turned guitar player im not suprised to hear i might have a super power grip trying to bend 10's while hitting the strings like a drummer with my picking hand
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#6 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 04:18 AM

Well, at 60 years old, I've come the conclude that anything is possible!

If you can find any one that does fret work, they could probably level the frets and re-crown. I would think there's enough fret material left to do that?

I taught a guy that was a drummer as well, he was also a contractor and spent 35 years in the building bizz. Hands of steel. He dented frets like they were made of spaghetti instead of nickel. A prime candidate for stainless steel frets if I ever saw one.

good luck Roach!
/Ray
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#7 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 08:25 AM

View Postkidblast, on 06 July 2017 - 04:18 AM, said:

Well, at 60 years old, I've come the conclude that anything is possible!

If you can find any one that does fret work, they could probably level the frets and re-crown. I would think there's enough fret material left to do that?

I taught a guy that was a drummer as well, he was also a contractor and spent 35 years in the building bizz. Hands of steel. He dented frets like they were made of spaghetti instead of nickel. A prime candidate for stainless steel frets if I ever saw one.

good luck Roach!


How much would steel frets affect the sound?
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#8 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 06:33 AM

I hear mixed opinions on them.

Some say they are brighter, others say there is no difference. A luthier friend of mine, who's opine I do trust says they are a bit brighter, and they apparently will last a very long time with out the wear nickel frets have. On the down side, if they get damaged, like a good whack that dents a fret, they (afik) are not easily repaired, but instead would need to be replaced.
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#9 User is offline   Pinch 

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 04:11 AM

Bad technique sounds a bit funny. It's a steel string scraping a fret. The better the fret wire, the longer it'll last, usually regardless of bending technique?
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#10 User is offline   MichaelT 

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 09:20 AM

Are you noticing a bad spot or worn spot on the frets? If it's that new, they shouldn't be getting that worn. That's kind of the kind of wear that they're expected to go through. I would take it for a second opinion, if you can. It sounds like someone is just trying to talk you into buying a new guitar. I hit my strings pretty hard with a hard pick and I probably press harder than I should and need to and bend strings all the time. Maybe after a decade or two of playing the same guitar constantly (which I have done) can cause fret wear but not such a new one, I wouldn't think.

Are they actually causing problems? Is there a bad spot or wear that's causing issues? Are you putting your finger in the middle area between the frets or nearer to the fret itself? You shouldn't have to press very hard at all. See how lightly you can press before getting the note, then push the string up or pull it down, and not push further against the fretboard.

You don't happen to have pictures that you can post, do you?
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#11 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 03:26 AM

View PostMichaelT, on 18 July 2017 - 09:20 AM, said:



You don't happen to have pictures that you can post, do you?


i will try to get some
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#12 User is offline   NighthawkChris 

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 12:44 PM

If you don't have buzzes or intonation issues, don't refret. If you do have issues with either of these and you tried your best to correct them, get second opinion per MichaelT. My guitars are over 2 decades old, played regularly, and never had to do any fret work. The idea to playing any instrument is to do the least amount of physical effort to articulate a particular tone or set of tones. Like piano, you should never have any tension in the body when playing because tension negatively affects your hearing as well and you will become more "mechanical" and less "musical". You should always be focusing on optimal physical effort - nothing less, nothing more than necessary. Lower your action - bring strings closer to neck. This helps the player have to use less effort to depress string. Perhaps a lighter gauge will be necessary??? Do note that you need to adjust intonation when you start manipulating the bridge positioning or changing gauge of strings of a particular setup. First you will notice if frets are bad by buzzes and frustrating intonation issues. Then you should inspect all the frets with strings off. If they are flat, bent to all heck, whatever, then you might entertain a fret dressing before refret... Overall though, get second opinion and mention what you have learned from this thread to let the tech know you aren't one to be taken advantage of.
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#13 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 12:36 AM

View PostMichaelT, on 18 July 2017 - 09:20 AM, said:

You don't happen to have pictures that you can post, do you?




Here are the links in case images fail to show up:
(The forums gave error using insert image and also for file size as attachment)
These are 2 pics not 4

My link

https://gyazo.com/af...12b947d85467f06

My link

https://gyazo.com/5f...da3ce01d3eb5daa
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#14 User is offline   jdgm 

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 03:36 AM

WHOAH!

I've never seen anything like that before!
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#15 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 10:20 PM

View Postjdgm, on 23 July 2017 - 03:36 AM, said:

WHOAH!

I've never seen anything like that before!


plus the edges of the frets were always kind of sharp, i lean towards it being a craftsmanship technique, but the guys point is warranty work, gibson will just say it is wear n tear so im s.o.l. as far as have it repaired under warranty.
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#16 User is offline   MichaelT 

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 07:58 AM

Ok, my '81 V has a lot of fret wear but it's pretty consistent on all frets. Yours is all right there in the center. If you're pressing that hard into the fretboard, and pressing even harder when you bend, I can see how they could get torn up like that.

Your touch on the strings should be the lightest possible to get a good clear sound, and as close to the fret as possible. When you bend, you don't have to press in any harder. Your finger should push the string to slide it across the fret. Re-fretting a guitar is a fairly common thing over time but it'll cost you a couple hundred dollars. I don't think a re-crown will help you with those either, because there's so much damage.

The steps I would take are these:

1. See what your friend says the cost would be to re-fret the worn frets.
2. Get a second opinion.
3. Talk to and play with another guitarist, show him/her your bending and playing technique and see how he/she does it and compare.
4. If you love the guitar, it may be worth it to you to get the work done, regardless of the guitar's market worth.
5. Maybe try a different gauge and brand of strings. Try going from 10's to 9's. You probably won't have to press as hard or push as hard to get the right notes.
6. Let us know how it turns out.

If you can afford a new guitar and have been looking for an upgrade, then that's certainly an option. But, if someone told me to replace my beloved guitar instead of fixing it, I'd fix my guitar. If you've been looking to upgrade or replace anyway and can afford it, then you can also afford to fix the one you have.

If I had the choice of having one of my guitars re-fretted or replacing it, I'd re-fret.
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#17 User is offline   kidblast 

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 01:47 PM

wow Roach, I honestly wasn't expecting to see that much wear, and in such a short span time... "impressive"!!! not in a great way..
/Ray
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#18 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 10:10 AM

View Postkidblast, on 25 July 2017 - 01:47 PM, said:

wow Roach, I honestly wasn't expecting to see that much wear, and in such a short span time... "impressive"!!! not in a great way..


well i am sure it is because i have terrible ear, getting the right note when i bend is extra hard for me, i can barely notice when im in tune or not. i have to work extra hard to get in tune compared to real players, and then even harder to bend to the right note... (fixing my ear will be the biggest leap forward i will ever make and i work at this everyday)

buying a new high end guitar needs to wait till i learn how to not ruin them...

Oh and im not really that attached to this guitar... The guitar i want... i still have never even found so i settled on this one... i prefer 490r / 498t over these 57's for example, but i didnt know that till i got this one. my next guitar will have a binding on the neck. (unless i get the explorer they got down there for the same price this one was). Also i am not a fan of this studio's wider neck. That may have contributed to my exrta hard bends, it is not nearly as easy to play as my 2000 is.
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#19 User is offline   Roach 

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 10:40 AM

View PostMichaelT, on 25 July 2017 - 07:58 AM, said:

Ok, my '81 V has a lot of fret wear but it's pretty consistent on all frets. Yours is all right there in the center. If you're pressing that hard into the fretboard, and pressing even harder when you bend, I can see how they could get torn up like that.

Your touch on the strings should be the lightest possible to get a good clear sound, and as close to the fret as possible. When you bend, you don't have to press in any harder. Your finger should push the string to slide it across the fret. Re-fretting a guitar is a fairly common thing over time but it'll cost you a couple hundred dollars. I don't think a re-crown will help you with those either, because there's so much damage.

The steps I would take are these:

1. See what your friend says the cost would be to re-fret the worn frets.
2. Get a second opinion.
3. Talk to and play with another guitarist, show him/her your bending and playing technique and see how he/she does it and compare.
4. If you love the guitar, it may be worth it to you to get the work done, regardless of the guitar's market worth.
5. Maybe try a different gauge and brand of strings. Try going from 10's to 9's. You probably won't have to press as hard or push as hard to get the right notes.
6. Let us know how it turns out.

If you can afford a new guitar and have been looking for an upgrade, then that's certainly an option. But, if someone told me to replace my beloved guitar instead of fixing it, I'd fix my guitar. If you've been looking to upgrade or replace anyway and can afford it, then you can also afford to fix the one you have.

If I had the choice of having one of my guitars re-fretted or replacing it, I'd re-fret.



thanks, that is some good advice. playing with 9's though wont be happening, to me, pitch is harder to hear than the tone, if that even makes sense, just saying i like the tone from 10's much more than what i hear from 9's, On this guitar i mean, i think i would rather learn to bend correctly than change my tone to allow me to bend easier. but it is a proper suggestion and i appreciate all of you for taking the time to help. I think a different guitar might be more compatible with 9's, like a strat, tele, or some monster like explorers maybe... seems LP's are made for 10's to sound their best... am i wrong?

Oh another thing, (really don't know how i didnt think of this before), that could have been a huge contributor to this problem is about 4 months after i bought this guitar, i woke up one day and my left hand was f'd up. I couldnt make a fist, or control my fingers hardly at all. let alone fret a note. It took 2 months to even begin playing again, but i tried everyday and had to literally learn all over again. It took 6 months to be able to produce hammerons with all 4 fingers and bar chords are even still very challenging to get all the strings to ring out... Turns out i learned I have diabetis 2 and that is most likely what led to that happening. Only determination and will power am i playing today. and so, back to the subject, the movement in my fingers came back but the strength in them is still week which most likely causes me to overcompensate or dig too hard into the bends
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#20 User is offline   MichaelT 

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 12:18 PM

View PostRoach, on 28 July 2017 - 10:40 AM, said:

thanks, that is some good advice. playing with 9's though wont be happening, to me, pitch is harder to hear than the tone, if that even makes sense, just saying i like the tone from 10's much more than what i hear from 9's, On this guitar i mean, i think i would rather learn to bend correctly than change my tone to allow me to bend easier. but it is a proper suggestion and i appreciate all of you for taking the time to help. I think a different guitar might be more compatible with 9's, like a strat, tele, or some monster like explorers maybe... seems LP's are made for 10's to sound their best... am i wrong?

Oh another thing, (really don't know how i didnt think of this before), that could have been a huge contributor to this problem is about 4 months after i bought this guitar, i woke up one day and my left hand was f'd up. I couldnt make a fist, or control my fingers hardly at all. let alone fret a note. It took 2 months to even begin playing again, but i tried everyday and had to literally learn all over again. It took 6 months to be able to produce hammerons with all 4 fingers and bar chords are even still very challenging to get all the strings to ring out... Turns out i learned I have diabetis 2 and that is most likely what led to that happening. Only determination and will power am i playing today. and so, back to the subject, the movement in my fingers came back but the strength in them is still week which most likely causes me to overcompensate or dig too hard into the bends


I have 9's on all my electric guitars and I think the tone is pretty good but that's just my opinion. My two newest Les Pauls came with 10's and I put 9's on them after a few hours and I couldn't tell much of a difference. Then again, I spent years standing in front of a full stack so my ears may not be what they once were. You can always swap them out and swap back. It won't hurt anything.

I have diabetes type 2 as well and it certainly makes things more challenging. A hand/finger exerciser might help you with finger strength.

It still seems to me that you're pushing into the fretboard really hard and pushing the string really hard. I've never seen that much fret wear in such a short period of time in such a smallish area. I'd be interested to know what other guitarists think of how you're bending the strings and whether or not you're hitting the right note on your bends. Let us know if we can be of any more assistance.

Here's some examples, the first being BB King:

https://www.youtube....h?v=vg7ugDja1fA - can't go wrong with a BB King guitar lesson.
https://www.guitarle...guitar-strings/ - teaches how to bend to a proper tone.
https://www.justingu...ringBending.php - another good lesson as well.

These are just a few examples to compare how you do it vs. how others do it. One of the things they talk about is using another finger to assist with your bends. I find that my bends are typically single finger bends, using a bit of a wrist pivot and finger strength. Good luck!
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