Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

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spoonful
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Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by spoonful »

I get a feeling that Clapton used high bends, like 1 1/2 step bends more frequently in Cream then later on. Is that correct?

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12bar
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by 12bar »

Yes - he also played more bends with vibrato back then, in a different style than nowadays. He was much into Albert King and also played super slinky strings, which are much more easy to bend. Later he changed to heavier one making it harder to play that way.

spoonful
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by spoonful »

I use 0.10 - is it necessary to go to 0.09 to make 1 !/2 bends more comfortable, like mike bloomfield, wasn't he also considered a high - bender who preferred super slinkys almost down to 0.08? But having super slinkys do'nt you loose "power" in your overall sound?

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VikingBlues
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by VikingBlues »

spoonful wrote:But having super slinkys do'nt you loose "power" in your overall sound?
I would have agreed with that but I've seen a fairly detailed thread elsewhere recently where it was being stated, apparently from an expert point of view, that heavier strings are under more tension, and that the increased tension can dampen and reduce sustain and harmonics and overtones, therefore they said a good guitar can sound more powerful, IF the guitar is set up properly for the lower tension of string and IF the player has the appropriate playing skill to extract the sound.

It certainly seems to be a point of view that goes against the generally accepted thinking, but they did say this principle only applied to better guitars and that mid priced guitars tend to sound better with heavier gauge strings. I guess this is why I thought heavier gauge was better for tone.

I guess if the string tension is low and the hardware the string sits on and is connected to is of a lower quality then the lack of tension can cause unwanted movement and dampening of vibration - hence lost sustain with a poorer quality instrument with lower gauge strings.

I'm confused!! :icon_whoknows:
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cruisemates
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by cruisemates »

I think it is pretty much accepted that heavier strings give you more sustain - when playing a fretted note. Almost every article I read featuring a well known Strat player says they use 10s. I could argue that when bending notes I could get more sustain out of lighter strings just because they are easier to vibrate than thicker strings, but it is kind of a weak argument. Thicker strings just generally sound fuller.

You know a LOT a strat players (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix) and Van Halen all tuned down a 1/2-step to lighten up on the tension of the strings.

I have been thinking about trying heavier strings on my Strat - when I switch to it after playing my Les Paul (both using 9's hybrid or super slinkies) the Strat sound horribly thin. That generally also means using more fretted and fewer bended notes, which is something I also think I should be doing (its hard to break old habits).

For me, say you are playing the regular blues box in E on the 12-fret, the hardest note is the root note on the high E string. To play an E on the 12-fret E-string instead of bending up the 15-fret on B-string is really not in my usual repetiore, but I have seen Clapton do it many times.

cruisemates
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by cruisemates »

As far as 1 1/2-fret bends, it certainly is something you can do, and I am sure he did it. I do it. My favorite place is on the root (1) note of the scale, to bend it up a minor third, say going from E to G (in the key of E-blues scale). Another fun place to do it is on the third (G in the E-blues cales) to hit the Bb tri-tone - although this is not a note you want to hold for long, just more of a momentary thing to take the G to a wild place. The next spot is to bend the 5th (B in the E-blues scale) up to the D for the dominant 7th. This can be a pretty dynamic note and is one of the better ways to play it.

I also do a fair amount of 1/2-step bends - which is unusual but not unknown. They are the hardest bends to keep in tune, though.

One of my favorite tricks - very Claptonesque, is to bend the G (15th fret) up to A (same E-blues scale) and then drop it down a fret while you are still bending the string the same amount. Literally move to the lower fret (for G#) but still bending the string up a whole-step. That is one of those tricks guitar players used to turn their back to the stage for so no one could see how the did it. It's easier than it sounds. he did this a lot in the last section of the Crossroads solo.

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VikingBlues
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by VikingBlues »

cruisemates wrote:I think it is pretty much accepted that heavier strings give you more sustain - when playing a fretted note. Almost every article I read featuring a well known Strat player says they use 10s. I could argue that when bending notes I could get more sustain out of lighter strings just because they are easier to vibrate than thicker strings, but it is kind of a weak argument. Thicker strings just generally sound fuller.

You know a LOT a strat players (Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix) and Van Halen all tuned down a 1/2-step to lighten up on the tension of the strings.

I have been thinking about trying heavier strings on my Strat - when I switch to it after playing my Les Paul (both using 9's hybrid or super slinkies) the Strat sound horribly thin. That generally also means using more fretted and fewer bended notes, which is something I also think I should be doing (its hard to break old habits).

For me, say you are playing the regular blues box in E on the 12-fret, the hardest note is the root note on the high E string. To play an E on the 12-fret E-string instead of bending up the 15-fret on B-string is really not in my usual repetiore, but I have seen Clapton do it many times.
I've certainly always found that 10s on a Les Paul tpe guitar sound fuller than 9s but I think the shorter scale length is a step too far for 9s - any time I've tried 9s on a "Gibson" scale they've felt floppy and sounded thin, even with my lighter than normal touch. :sad: The longer scale length of "Fender" guitars makes 9s more usable - the trouble with changing string gauge on a strat (which if sold is usually set up for 9s) with a floating bridge is the joy of playing around with the dam springs for a few hours to get the tuning and floating bridge in synch - makes me reluctant to experiment with 10s on a strat! :wall:

I did have heavier gauge than 10s on my Hagstrom Viking Deluxe for a quite a while - from the time I first purchased it and the existing strings were a bit tired. After around a year of using a few sets of heavier gauge I changed down to standard 10s - the tone and sustain is markedly better - don't know why and it's the only time that's happened - maybe just a different brand of string, but the heavier strings weren't low budget ones. :icon_whoknows: It is now a much more usable and enjoyable guitar to play. :banana:

:think: The number of pro's who don't use normal sets of strings, have mixed sets, or use heavier gauges and tune down maybe should tell us something about the inadequacies of standard sets. Maybe it's the truth that according to Zachary Guitars.com we're all using unbalanced sets of strings. If their tension figures for the individual strings are to be believed then it's a bit of a shocker! They are trying to sell their strings though - gives them a conflict of interests! I might have considered giving them a try out of curiosity but the shipping costs for international orders makes them a lot less attractive for us in the UK.

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weelie
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by weelie »

I've used 10-46, 10-52 a lot. But now I am down to 9-42 or 9-46 (actually have 095-44s in the drawer too). Actually have used 12-52s too. And I think I had 11-49s at one point.

Now I convinced that with my practice regime and country leanings, the 9s is where it's at. Takes a lot of mental strength not to change to 10s, though. I remember the best sound (not most universally usable, maybe, but best) was a Chinese tele with Fender 52RI pickups... and 10s as the string, the 9s just sounded wimpy. Have had similar experience with strats. I do understand that 10s are the perfect compromise, and plenty of strat players use that gauge, for all good reason.

EXCEPT that I cannot do my country stuff on them, and... if I don't get too much noise (due less signal from thinner strings), the lighter gauge IS good enough, you can change your signal on the amp and all that. I only need to think of the light gauge players, like Billy Gibbons, Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler, JJ Cale, Jim Campilongo... to know that 9s are enough!

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Blindboy
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by Blindboy »

Hmmm, I guess it's real personal. I run 11-52's and tune to standard. If I use a lighter gauge string, my guitar sounds "thin" (to me) and I tend to overbend notes and push chords out of tune. :icon_whoknows: I also tend to break strings a lot more often if I use anything lighter than an 11. :roll:
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cruisemates
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by cruisemates »

I will admit I think my 9's sound a little thin on the Les Paul, but not so much that I can't stand it, but on the Strat it s a huge difference. I have a standard American HSS Start (Humbucker in the bridge position) and it still sounds way too thin for me.

I have gone to 10s before on the LP, but with the amount I stretch (often 1 -1/2 steps as the OP asked) it really got to be too hard to play.

I have the Cream at Royal Albert Hall (2008) set of DVDs and Eric uses a strat throughout. It does not sound thin, (not even a humbucker), but I have read he uses 10s. I am sure the amp settings have a lot to do with it, too.

But it is true he does not bend strings like he used to . He goes for the fretted equivalent note much of the time, which is really a perfectly valid way to play, especially if you really care about being in tune. Someone here also mentioned he said he practiced just bending strings for a couple weeks before that concert. That tends to show you how hard it is for anyone to play bended notes in tune.

I also notice that he tends to use bends for moving pitches more than for straight notes. He rarely bends & holds a note for very long. The bend is usually part a phrase that resolves into a fretted note at the end - at least in the recent concerts.

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deltabluesrookie
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by deltabluesrookie »

Late post here. Another example of a great double bender is David Gilmour . Also if you go with bigger strings you may need to file the nut. I went through this with my guitar. Sry if this was already mentioned in another post
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rocknroll93
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by rocknroll93 »

all it is with strings is finger strength. you just gotta build it up.. I use 10-52s (ernie ball) and I get some MASSIVE bends out of those..
"Playing the blues is like being black twice. Stevie Ray Vaughan missed out on both counts, but I never noticed" - BB king

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VikingBlues
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by VikingBlues »

:aha: Though don't forget to watch for signs of strain - arthritis and carpal tunnel etc are best avoided as far as possible.

Just wondering - do heavier guage strings tuned down so the tension is similar to lighter guage strings have a fuller tone? :icon_whoknows:

Arthritis runs in my family (so do noses :lol: ) so I'll sacrifice a bit of tone if it means playing for more years. 10s on the shorter "Gibson" scale guitars and 9s for the "Fender" scale is about as high as I'll risk now with standard tuning.
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vancouverois
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by vancouverois »

VikingBlues wrote: Just wondering - do heavier guage strings tuned down so the tension is similar to lighter guage strings have a fuller tone? :icon_whoknows:
I have a strat tuned a semitone down, it is strung with 10-46 or sometimes 11-52.
Otherwise I guess a set of 10-46 tuned a semitone down is equal in terms of playing comfort to a 9-42 in standard tuning.
I am quite sure the 11-52 set would sound marvelous with a good amp, the 10-46 set already sounds good on a small gear like mine.

Open G is also a good tuning and can make heavy string gauge more comfy to play.
The tone is interesting, and most of the time riffs and chords sound enhanced.
I think JL Hooker used it a lot as well as K. Richards, EC sometimes during the 70s.

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Jan 15th 2007

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12bar
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by 12bar »

I did it.

Now I'm back to 9th on both my Sherry and Strat. Tone wise it's not too much a difference for my ears.
Those 1 1/2 bends with vibrato are now easy. :banana: I'll stay with it, even if it lowers the coolness factor quite a bit :lol:

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deltabluesrookie
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by deltabluesrookie »

Nice, love that song. I myself like strings that push back. (but not too much lol)
"I'm Bad...like Jesse james"

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DeaconBlues
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Re: Clapton's 1 1/2 bends

Post by DeaconBlues »

I played 9's for years. Even tried a set of 8's...well they came on a little red Tele I used to own. The 8's were super easy to play as you might guess, but they just didn't feel right to me.They were just too loose. They certainly didn't sound thin though. That guitar had a sort of Clapton meets Page vibe going on. It could sound sweet, but it had a lot of raunch and sustain when you gave it the gas.
Currently, I play 10's. They feel comfortable. I've thought about going to 11's on my Strat, but I don't really want to take the time to file the nut to accommodate them. I already have some hand pain, although I've never associated that with string size.
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