One key aspect of melodic solos is the bending of notes.
Your solo will sound more expressive when you learn how to bend. This technique takes a lot of time to master, but it is worth it if you want to have expressive and interesting solos.
Whole Step Bend
A whole step bend is when you bend a note up one whole full step. This is probably the most common bend that you will hear in music. It is easiest to do if you place your third finger on the note that you want to bend. You will want to place your second and your first finger right behind, as additional support.
These two additional fingers will give your third finger the leverage it needs to bend the note up. Make sure you have your thumb on the back of the neck. You will need to practice this a lot until you can get the note in tune at the right pitch.
The half-step bend is easier than the whole step because you are only going up one-half step. You can use the same fingering for this bend, but you are not pushing the note as high as you did before.
A combination of a whole step and a half step bends can make your solo sound interesting.
The unison bend is when you bend one note up to reach the pitch of another note that you are holding.
For example, place your third finger on the 7th fret of the third string.
Place your second finger right behind it, on that same string.
Now, take your first finger and put it on the 5th fret of the second string. You will bend up the D note on the 3rd string 7th fret, up to the E note. Which will sound the same as the E note on the 2nd string, 5th fret.
When you do this, you will sound two “E” notes in pitch. There are also other unison bands, such as a semitone unison bend.
Bend and Hold
Another way to do a bend is to bend the note and hold it. This adds a lot of feeling and melody to the solo. You could hold on the one bend through a full bar of music if you want.
Bend and Release
You can also take note, bend it, and then release it back down again. This is another common bend that you can do. For example, bend the 7th fret on the third string, up and then back down to where you started. After you do this, strike the 5th fret on the third string.
You could also take that one note and bend it several times in rapid succession. You could go from a full bend to a 1/2 bend, to a full bend, to a 1/2 bend, and so on.
Pre-Bend and Release
This type of bend is a little tricky. First of all, you need to bend the note up without striking it or sounding the note. Once you have the note bent up, you release it back down after striking it, so it sounds. This might sound a little odd to you, but it is quite expressive. Try adding a lot of vibrato on the bend down.
There are a lot of other ways that you can bend notes. These are just a few common examples of bends that are common in guitar playing. Try to combine a wide range of bends in what you are playing instead of just relying on one or two. Your music will sound a lot more melodic if you are using a wide range of bends throughout the song.
Bends with Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs
Bends sound great when you combine them with other guitar techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs. These are where you can "pull off" or "hammer on" your fingers on the fretboard after striking a note, to combine these notes together.
By doing this you can create a wide range of licks, which will add a lot more melody and interest to your solos.
We tend to get in a trap where we play the same licks over and over again. This is when our solos start to sound boring, and they lose their melody.
Do not be afraid to experiment with the licks you already know. Try adding something different to them, and you will find that they start to sound more interesting.
Do not forget to add in a vibrato, slides, and other techniques as you are playing. A combination of fast and slower licks can add more interest.
By experimenting with the bending technique, your solos will have more melody. This is one of the most expressive ways that you can convey what you are feeling on the guitar. Think of all of your favourite guitar players. Most of them are masters at the bending technique. Spend time with it, and you will find that you can create superb melodic solos.