The Next Bend: Clarence White-Inspired Country B-Bender Lick
Yes, it's me again—with another fairly basic B-bender guitar lick! Before we get started, however, here are my two obligatory "What's a B-bender?" paragraphs that I use in every column—just in case you're reading this column for the first time:
A B-bender is a contraption that lives in- or outside your guitar and allows you to pull—usually with some sort of arm, palm, shoulder or hip movement—your guitar's B string up a perfect whole step. So, a B note would suddenly become a C# (or a C, if you don't bend the string all the way).
Although this simple explanation might not convey the wonder of a B-bender (it sounds more like an exercise regimen), let's just say the contraption allows guitarists to create sounds that would be impossible otherwise. And it sounds cool as hell. Or "cool as heck" if that offends anyone.
OK, I'm back. For today's column and video (like last week's), I grabbed my ancient grey shirt and my Gibson Music City Jr. with B-Bender (a limited-edition guitar Gibson issued in 2013), to play a Clarence White-inspired country lick in A. I'll use a different B-bender guitar for my next video, promise.
As an electric guitarist, White (the Byrds, Muleskinner, Nashville West) built the bridge between country and rock in the late Sixties. His work with the Parsons/White StringBender—an ingenious B-string-pulling device invented and installed in White's 1954 Fender Telecaster by fellow Byrd, multi-instrumentalist and machinist Gene Parsons—is legendary.
You can read more about him in this brilliantly written story.
This is a very brief lick with only three well-timed bends—because you never want to overuse a B-bender. You can have too much of a good thing!
To start, place your pinkie on the 12th fret of the E string (that's an E note) and your index finger on the ninth fret of the G string (another E). Next, hammer on to the 11th fret of the G string (an F#) and quickly move your index finger to the 10th fret of the B (an A), followed by your ring finger on the 12th fret of the B string (a B) and bend that high B note to a C#!
Without tab, this sounds annoyingly complicated (or annoyingly explained), but it's incredibly easy to play. I picture this lick being used as an intro to—or as the ending of—a mid-tempo country tune. As usual, feel free to steal it.
If you have any questions, write to me at email@example.com. I'll try to reply before 2021. By the way, this guitar uses a Joe Glaser bender and a modified Gibson Nighthawk bridge. Enjoy!
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City surf-rock band Mister Neutron, writes GuitarWorld.com's The Next Bend, a column dedicated to B-benders. His latest liner notes can be found in Legacy's Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.