Welcome back to "The Next Bend," a column dedicated to B-bending guitarists, guitars, gear, news, licks, songs and more.
For the uninitiated, a B-bender is a contraption (the perfect word for it) 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), suffice it to say the contraption allows guitarists to create sounds that would be impossible otherwise. And it sounds cool as hell.
So, to kick things off, and perhaps to best demonstrate what B-benders are all about, we present this guide to 13 (possibly 14; our math isn't too good) essential B-bender guitar songs.
Sure, we could've packed this list with songs with B-bender solos by Diamond Rio's Jimmy Olander, the Hellecasters' Will Ray or the Byrds' Clarence White. Instead, we've gone for a more well-rounded approach, attempting to include as many different guitarists as possible, not to mention a few super-accessible (even "classic") songs. We might've even thrown in a bonus song or two. Our math isn't too good.
Note that we couldn't resist including a triple dose of tunes featuring the late, great White, the pioneering guitarist from the Byrds, Kentucky Colonels and Muleskinner—the granddaddy (or perhaps the grand-uncle) of B-benders. White's flights of fancy with the Parsons/White StringBender—an ingenious B-string-pulling device invented and installed in White's 1954 Tele by fellow Byrd, multi-instrumentalist and machinist Gene Parsons—is legendary, or at least it should be.