This is a kinda specific but I was wondering if anyone here has any experience notating pitch bends on the guitar/if any guitarists could comment on what makes the most sense to them? 

I've attached an example from the score I'm working on at the moment, I've put in quarter tone markings where the guitar needs to bend, but I'm not sure if thats sufficient or if I need to include something else as well..?


guitar bends.PNG

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  • You can't really bend down, though (unless you want to do it with tuning pegs, and that's kind of insane IMO).

  • fretless guitar perhaps best.. but not too many players… 

  • So would I want to renotate it all as sharps? Does what I'm trying to say to the player make sense though? If you saw that would you understand what it was I wanted you to do? Thanks.

  • If it's all sharps, it's understandable enough (assuming the player knows quarter tone notation, which probably isn't a given for guitarists).

    Personally I'm leaning towards questioning the practicality of the idea, to be honest. From the little opportunity I had for doodling with a guitar, bends generally seem to require a bit of strength and fine control with precise timing is difficult. I'm not pro enough to voice a definite opinion, though. Maybe Mike or Dave will know.

    Like Gregorio said, a fretless guitar would be best, I think.

  • Dominic,

    Classically trained guitarists would certainly understand what you have written and what you wanted, as would many others (one can also supply a legend at the beginning to avoid ambiguity if needed).

    Is this for electric or acoustic? If electric, one could perhaps use the tremelo arm, although the accuracy in the tuning of the 1/4 tones might not be guaranteed precisely.

    Gregorio has suggested a fretless guitar which I think is your best bet. There are acoustic and electric versions available, but I wonder if the players are so readily found.

    BTW, no need to re-notate in sharps.


  • Funny, I've seen hammer ons and pull offs, and slides notated, but not a bend. It's not terribly common in classical music, not that I've seen. It's very common to do what you're talking about while playing electric lead, and they do hit and hold very precise notes. Some players actually start out with the bent note, which requires a certain degree of precision and possibly a bit of very quick correction.

    Lowering a note is only possible with a tremelo, as pointed out above. Again, very common, especially amongst folks like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, the really crazy rock/fusion guitarists, though bends are very common in blues as well. I don't know that any of these folks would notate their work, though Steve Vai used to transcribe Frank Zappa's music; I believe it was his first professional job.

    So I'm not quite sure what it would look like, or whether someone would understand.

  • Lol. Here's the correct one. - Thanks Dave.

    Here's a video of Jack Thammarat, a Thai guitar player, holding bent notes. If you start from around the 3 minute mark, you'll see a bit more of what is possible, including a long hold on the final note, though he often is also using vibrato over those notes. Again, this is electric. No reason someone could not do a quarter tone, if they were able to hear it. He doesn't use a tremolo bar in this video, but it's very doable


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