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I don't mind the finger pain/difficulty, etc. I just don't want to mess up the guitar's part and setup, besides obviously having to retune more often. Thanks in advance for any thoughts

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Bending strings is a technique that has been use for years and is pretty standard from a playing perspective. Will it put a bit of extra strain on the frets and the strings...yes. But the alternative is to put the guitar in its case, stick it in the closet, never touch it and have it remain in pristine condition. It will last a lot longer but your life will be a lot more empty.

If this guitar wasn't played the way it was it would be in a lot better shape... enter image description here ...but at what cost??

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    Repair the bridge, take the decals off, a bit of sanding and a refinish, that guitar would look as good as new... :p – PeteCon Jan 14 at 18:38
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    I know you're joking @PeteCon, but NOOOO! – Doktor Mayhem Jan 14 at 19:09
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What type of acoustic guitar, steel string or classical? This is a valid technique and in theory should not cause damage. There are limits to everything of course. Some guitars do NOT have the nut glued down so extreme bending can make the nut pop off. I did this to an electric guitar of mine decades ago and it really freaked me out, but no damage. I had the nut replaced and all is well. Other than that case I have never experienced or heard of bending causing damage to the instrument.

I suppose that digging in with the left hand with nails could scratch the finger board but again you're more likely to rip your nails off that cause real permanent damage to the guitar.

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