Hey guys,

I've been reading abit about vibratos lately and I've only recently started to seriously analyse this part of my playing. I've always felt that It was important but I'm starting to practice it more and try to be abit more precise with it. I don't have the best ear for picking up vibratos, but I know what types I don't like and what types I do like. For example, I love Marty Friedmans vibrato, it sounds great! I've read a lot about Kirk Hammett's vibrato not being well liked, and although I agree, i'm not really a fan of it, I can't really pick out distinct traits that make it as bad as what most people say it is.

Anyway! I'm after some advice and feedback to help me improve my own vibrato. I feel as though I'm on the right track, but still, I want to run it by the more experienced guitarists out there. I've only recently started getting into bending with a vibrato so that's been my main focus point lately. I've recorded an audio sample on my profile of my playing a couple of phrases and just some random stuff just to show my vibrato in with different notes and situations.

You can hear the audio file here: http://profile.ultimate-guitar.com/Slayer_ZV/music/play1032503

Criticize and give me some feedback and advice on how to improve, techniques to use etc etc.
You're on the right track, but there's always room for improvement

You kind of seem to over-do it. Your vibrato is pretty wide yet fast and sounds a bit spastic. Try practising it to a metronome and make sure your vibrato is in tune. Try doing half-steps, whole-steps, eight notes, quarter notes. Practise slow.

Marty does great vibrato, try to really listen to and mimic it. He does a lot of cool bend/pre-bend and vibrato stuff, it's worth paying attention to it.
I like Michael Paget's vibrato..
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Being in tune with the bends is THE MOST important thing you want to practice. Exact half notes or whole notes. If you're going for a certain feel, sure, the slight "bluesy" out of tune bends are good, but for metal you normally want precision. That's why people don't like Kirk Hammett's vibrato; it's very shaky, uncontrolled, thin and out of tune.

You might listen to some guys who have good/great vibrato and try and emulate them. Yngwie Malmsteen, Zakk Wylde, David Gilmour, and George Lynch all have really good vibrato. Just throwin out some names.

Edit: Also, I did the same thing as you and I tend to bend down (towards high E). I HIGHLY suggest practicing doing upbends as well so you can still do wide vibrato on the B and E strings without going off the fretboard. I'm having trouble doing that now because I didn't practice it early on.

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Last edited by GibsonMan321 at Aug 10, 2011,
Thanks for the tips Flibo! I'm abit of a fan of wide vibratos, like Zakk Wylde, but I would like to get more control of it and also be able to do other types of vibrato to suit the expression I'm trying to produce.

Regarding the half steps and whole steps, is that just for the bent notes? Or is that how wide a regular note can vibrate? I've been trying to think of ways and methods of staying in tune but I don't know how far to do the vibrato. I tend to pull down (towards the high e) when doing a vibrato on a held note. Does the note have to reach at least a half step for it to be a proper vibrato? For example, if I were to do quarter notes to a metronome, would it go something like this: Beat 1: D, Beat 2: D#, Beat 3: D, Beat 4: D#, and I'll be getting to that D# by doing the vibrato? Just abit confused with the proper approach with staying in tune, and that's something I definitely want to get right as early as possible.

@GibsonMan321: Yep, definitely something I want to get right as early as possible. I've been practicing bending in tune, but now I'd like to apply a vibrato to a bent note but it's been difficult to get the right control to keep the bent note in tune.
Last edited by Slayer_ZV at Aug 10, 2011,
I love wide vibrato as well. I've always loved Andy LaRocque's vibrato: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-yYG00Nr8I#t=02m24s

See how that solo is fueled by his vibrato?

Half-steps and whole-steps are not just regarding bending. You might think of vibrato as a series of bends. You could try doing vibrato to the other direction as well. It's surprising how different it can sound. I tend to do vibrato towards the high E-string when I want a wild, energetic vibrato. For smoother stuff like jazz doing vibrato to the other direction is more precise.

You definitely can do vibrato smaller than a half-step. Often that kind of vibrato is done pretty fast. Your approach with the metronome is good. I forgot to mention that try triplets as well. Just try playing with the metronome for a while. Improving vibrato isn't nearly as hard as gaining picking speed or other technical stuff. You should see an improvement pretty fast.
Andy LaRocque has a great vibrato! I've been getting into a lot of Steve Vai as of late. It's amazing how much he can do with just a few notes. He really knows how to make the melody sing.

I've tried to do vibrato in the other direction, It definitely sounds different, but I've still got to get a hang of it for it to sound decent. So, with the way i've done my vibrato so far, it's too fast and it needs to be more in time? Listening more closely to some of these great players, I can see what you mean about it sound a bit spastic. These players make there vibratos sound so smooth! Friedman still does quite a fast vibrato (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvHeOiFXUZ8&feature=related) but, yeah, I just don't know how he does it haha. Same with Jeff Loomis, his vibratos are so smooth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvfg0iLnzsw). With these types of vibratos, are they doing half or full steps to achieve this sound? Or are most of their vibratos done by just being precise without needing to go up a note?

Also, does this also apply to bending notes with vibrato? For example, if I wanted to add vibrato to a full step bend then would I go back and forth between that and one and a half steps? (or maybe even just half?).
It sounds like Friedman is doing half step vibrato in that video, I'm not 100% sure though. An important thing to keep in mind is to always go back to the exact same pitch so that your vibrato sounds even and stable. Otherwise it'll be all over the place (spastic I guess). I don't mean that you're doing it wrong, but just in general. Loomis' vibrato seems to be about a half step wide. Vibrato usually isn't wider than that.

Bending a whole step and then doing a half step vibrato sounds a bit extreme. After bending I would do just a tiny vibrato. In general the most common vibrato style seems to be 1/4th steps.
Last edited by Flibo at Aug 10, 2011,