Polyphia Guitarist Clarifies His Controversial Comments About String Bending, Shares Honest Opinion on Brian May’s Legendary Solo

Guitarist Tim Henson of modern progressive rock band Polyphia recently appeared in a new video by Wired where he answered some of the burning guitar questions on Twitter. Among various inquiries, one that stood out was about him saying “boomer bends” or “boomer-ish bends” in one of the past interviews, ultimately creating an avalanche of negative reactions online.

What Henson used as sort of a joke to address some of the players who refuse to accept new musical styles ended up being a scandal in the online guitar sphere. He clarified the whole thing by saying (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“‘Boomer bends’ is a term coined by Rick Beato and I. It describes a very specific guitar-bending lick commonly used in the music of the ’60s and ’70s — the age of the Baby Boomer. The more twang you give it, and the more ‘old guy’ you make it sound, the more boomer-y it is, I suppose [laughs].”

“But we didn’t make that term in an offensive way, it was more [because] it starts with a ‘B’, and ‘bend’ starts with a ‘B’. It became a catchy phrase, and many Baby Boomers got upset at that term. But that’s alright, because it’s just a way to describe a sound.”

Among other things that he addressed during the fan Q&A for Wired, Henson also reflected on John Mayer’s song “Neon.” He said how the song features a lick that is far more challenging to perform than it seems at first. Tim explained:

“It doesn’t sound that difficult, but you watch him play it, he’s just got his thumb stretched all the way up, and it’s just incredible.”

Tim Henson Plays "Neon" by John Mayer

“He frets the root of the chords with his thumb, and then he plays the normal chords like you’d normally do. It’s just a truly difficult thing to play, especially if you don’t have large hands.”

Another thing Henson was asked about by one fan was what makes for a great guitar solo. And for him, a great guitar solo is the one that you can hum. And despite the notorious “boomer bends” comment, Polyphia axeman chose one of the most boomer songs and solos ever as an example of a good piece — Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He explained:

“For me, how memorable the solo is [depends on whether] you can sing the solo. For example, I think the guitar solo from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is one of the best guitar solos of all time. If you can sing [to] it, I think it’s more memorable than just a bunch of notes scattered.”

Bohemian Rhapsody [Brian May's solo]

In a last year’s interview, Tim Henson also addressed this whole “boomer bends” controversy, saying that it wasn’t intentional and it was far from an insult. That initial “boomer bends” thing came up during a group interview over at Rick Beato’s channel which also featured Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders and Misha Mansoor of Periphery. Tim said:

“That was very unintentional. [laughs] So it’s me, Tosin [Abasi], Misha [Mansoor], and Rick [Beato], and we’re having a discussion amongst friends and people who have shared appreciation for the music. And we’re talking about specific things that we do in our guitar playing.”

“And I think, like, the bending thing came up and I was just ‘I guess I tend to avoid that because it has a bloomer-ish sound to it.’ And I think Rick really got a kick out of it. And there was no malicious intent behind that statement. It was mostly just like… The baby boomer describes the generation. I guess I was just trying to describe the sound, like it sounds like it’s from that era.”

The Modern Guitar Discussion w/ Tosin Abasi, Tim Henson & Misha Mansoor

He also added:

“And even then, I do bend a lot in our music, on our older music. And we still play our older music live. I’m still bending to this day. Am I adding as much as that in the newer music? Probably not. But that was just my contribution to the question.”

According to Tim, the whole thing was blown out of proportions by the guitar-oriented media. He continued:

“And of course, everybody wanted to clickbait it. I guess that just shows the current state of like media and press and whatever, it’s just that they just need something juicy for people to latch on to so that they can sell ads and clicks and whatever else that they’re trying to do. And I’m just ending up at the butt of the joke.”

Polyphia - Playing God (Official Music Video)

“Because it’s an odd thing to get hate mail from people that just, like, read it. [laughs] So they just read the title of an article and then you’re getting like, ‘Fuck you, I hope you die’ and like a bunch of crazy shit.”

“And I guess some of its warranted because yeah, we definitely gave people a reason to not like us, like in our ‘New Levels’ era where we were just kind of like tongue-in-cheek, being, like in-your-face about things.”

“But these days, it’s just it’s an interesting thing to watch them still kind of latch on to buzzwords and whatever else. When really, there was no… Like I said, there’s no malicious intent. And there was no disrespect behind that.”

Polyphia | G.O.A.T. (Official Music Video)

As Tim also added during this interview, Jimi Hendrix is one of his all-time favorite guitar players. He concluded by saying:

“Again, Hendrix is like one of my fucking idols. So that’s literally like who coined that shit. So it’s an interesting thing to see old people and other people like just get really upset about it.”

Photos: Delusion23 (Polyphia – Manchester, UK – 6 February 2019), Raph_PH (Queen And Adam Lambert – The O2 – Tuesday 12th December 2017 QueenO2121217-26 (39066621655))


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.