Watch the Semi-Tone Bends online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Sweet Notes
So far we have learned that there are several “Sweet Notes” per chord to be found in the A minor pentatonic scale over our A minor blues progression but the chord arpeggios provide us with all of the “Sweet Notes” per chord and allow us to really outline and define the chord structure. In this lesson I wanted to show you that you can also bend up to the “Sweet Notes” within our scale and arpeggio patterns with either semi-tone (half step/1 fret) or whole-tone bends (1 step/2 frets). This is a very soulful way of playing and I suggest creating some of your own licks after learning the licks written here.
Licks 1 through 4 are all semi-tone bend ideas. Lick 5 Bar 1 utilizes a semi-tone bend from F# to G (the b7 of Ami7) and then in bar 2 we bend the G up a whole tone to resolve to A, the root note of our chord. Licks 6 and 7 are both quite simply whole tone bends but I wanted to talk to you about vibrato and the pitch of your bends. You can check that your bends are reaching the correct pitch by playing the target note first before bending up to it. Let your ear be your guide. Good vibrato is subjective but in my opinion a smooth even rocking of the note either side of the desired pitch in time with the music you’re playing over is the best approach. Let me show you what I mean on Licks 6 and 7. You can also practice your vibrato to a click track. Here is an exaggerated example.
***Please note that at 6.46 of this video segment I refer to bending a G# up to G. I was actually bending G# up to an A.