Any tips on bending notes on an acoustic? Its really hard to do and my string loses it sound really fast.

Should I even try it?

Bending 1 semitone is easy, after that its quite hard...

edit: By losing it sound I mean that I can't hear the sound after a short while

  • 1
    Nylon or steel stringed? Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 15:54
  • I suppose it would be nasty to suggest using a fretless instrument (signed, a cellist) :-) Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 17:28

5 Answers 5


Bending strings on a steel stringed acoustic guitar can be done to good effect. It works on a nylon stringed too, but is less common.

You can try a lighter string gauge to make it easier. Especially steel stringed guitars are usually stringed with pretty brutal gauges. All major string manufacturers have lighter gauge acoustic strings. For nylon stringed guitar there's less tensions to choose from, but you can get lighter strings there too.

It's like everything else, practice makes perfect. There are special devices for training the strength of the fingers, I'm using this one. Don't know if it makes a big difference or not, but it doesn't seem to hurt. With the right job, you can improve your strength on working time.

  • 2
    +1 on lighter string gauge to make bending (and playing) easier. Check this question and its answers for more about strings and bending (it's about electric guitar, but the same rules apply more or less). Try a set of .010" (extra light) or .011" (light) if you play steel. Nylon in general is much easier to bend, but not as common.
    – charlie
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 21:23
  • Acoustic guitars also like electric guitar strings, which have more choice of gauges, and are often slightly cheaper.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 7:06
  • For clarity: Nylon stringed acoustic guitars do not like electric guitar strings, as they will break. Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 12:01

Since it hasn't been mentioned (my apologies if I missed it), I'd like to point out that you can be very effective bending only a 1/2 musical step. Wider bends (like a whole step bend) are also easier near the middle of the string span, rather than down where you are playing open chords. So look for places within the scales of the chords you are playing where 1/2 step fits, and you may be surprised. how effective it is. For faking wider bends, you can also momentarily slide up one or two half steps, and quickly bend another 1/2 step from there. Its not really "faking" though... its just a technique. There's no such thing as 'cheating" here. :-)


Another "trick" you can do is tune down the guitar (I recommend 1 or 1/2 tone, more may require neck adjustments) and use, if you want, a capo; the strings will have less tension and will be easier to bend. You can also experiment alternative tunings, which are usually softer than standard.

However, difficult bendings are only a matter of exercise, keep on practicing and you will be able to do it in any gauge or tuning.


I would change string gauges and see what you think. If sou do decide to do this I would recommend a slight tightening on the truss rod.

  • 1
    You mean loosening right? Lighter strings > easier bending > less tension > loosen truss rod.
    – charlie
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 3:21

If you're using metal (steel) strings, acoustic strings are generally thicker than electric guitar strings. For that reason, string bending is more common with electric guitarists.

The gauge of the string makes a difference in that lighter strings are physically easier to bend (less metal to move about) and are more responsive in that you don't have to bend them so far to get the pitch to rise.

You could try lighter gauge strings but the reason they're thicker on acoustic guitars is that it's the string that generates the sound volume, so the more metal you're moving about, the more sound you'll make. You're likely to find that lighter gauge strings are quieter.

An alternative is to slide up the frets instead. For example if you were going to bend a G up to an A, try just playing the G note and slide the finger along the frets up to an A. You'll get the sound of the note moving up one semitone (a fret) at a time but yif you're playing it quickly, it's not too noticable.

It's a bit fiddly at first but once you get used to it, it can be quite effective.

If you're using nylon strings, you'll find an odd effect comes into play which is that they're generally a lot less responsive to being bent than steel strings are. Again the gauge of the strings plays a part but here the 'sliding' technique might prove a better option.

And yes. . it's hard to convincingly bend acoustic guitar strings !

You are not alone there

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