Vibrato Techniques For Beginners

Vibratos are possibly the most used technique for stringed instruments all along the history of music. So, electric guitar couldn't be the exception.

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Vibratos are possibly the most used technique for stringed instruments all along the history of music. So, electric guitar couldn't be the exception. This technique consists of giving the string a little oscilation while the note is ringing. Depending on how we do the oscilation, we'll get different modulations of the sound, which will give us an enormous variety of possibilities in order to do a good performance. Despite there are several different ways of vibrating notes, they can be classified in two clearly differenced types, according to the movement of the left hand(or right for those left-handed):
01. Rock guitar vibrato. 
02. Classic  vibrato
The vibrato technique for rock guitar, is very similar to the bend technique. In fact the movement of the hand is the same, except that it is cyclic and "bends" less the string than a real bend. According to this, it is possible to say that rock guitar vibratos are a series of multiple slightly and rapidly played bends. Classic vibrato features a different movement. The finger is fixed at the fret where note that you're going to played is, and the hand is moved slightly in a cyclic way, taking care of keeping the finger motionless. To be clearer, rock guitar vibratos feature an up-to-down movement; instead, classic guitar vibratos feature a forward-to-backward movement. The modulation you get from the use of any of these vibratos is a little different, but it's valid in the same way. So, it is advisable to practice both, try to dominate them and use them according to the interpretation you are performing. Another thing: In both vibratos, the movement needed to play may come from the arm(reccommended for beginners) or from the wrist (this one is more difficult, and only after very much practice you can get a good sound), like Carlos Santana's vibrato. Vibratos are easy to be identified in a tablature. They're represented by a ~ line beside the note and there can be one or several of these lines, depending on the vibration needed. We can also mention another type of vibrato, although it's not performed by a fretting hand. The one I mean is those you can play with the vibrato stick (or tremelo)of the guitar. This is commonly used when the guitarist wants to vibrate the sound of a whole chord instead an only note, but can be also used to vibrate single notes. The curious thing of this type, which makes a difference with the other two, is that you can play lower pitch vibratos. I mean, the other two types feature an oscilation going from the original note pitch to a higher one. Using this third type you can do the opposite: oscilate notes from the original to a lower pitch. So, if you pull the stick you'll get the first ones; if you push it, you'll get this last one. Well, just as we've seen it, vibratos don't mean too high technic difficulty but you can be sure playing a good vibrato requires hours and hours of practice. Most times the expressivity of a solo lies in the way you vibrate notes. A good vibrato will mark the feeling you want to transmit to the audience, that's why you must work it in a special way. A good exercise is to set the metronome at a relaxed tempo (120 bpm for instance) and vibrate a single note for about three minutes; then there comes the difficult: try to make it sound the less monotonous possible during that three minutes. Even using an only note, you can vary the rythm and the dinamic of the vibration. Try to transmit some "life" to that note and that's where the key of a good vibrato is. Final advice: - Use your index or your middle fingers. - Experiment with the rythmic and dinamic of vibratos. - Try to transmit your feelings, your spirits and your mood to your way of playing. With the adequate practice, you can make really interesting melodies and solos using this vibrato techniques without needing very rapid movements, terrific artistic technique or magic tricks. Practice until you dominate it; just with some discipline this technique will be yours. Good luck! - JC Rea.

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    Shoestick
    Good article for begginers. I would of explained the technique a little better, but oh well. (dont have to be a rocket scientist...)
    Andy_Laroque
    Great explanation and for those of u wonderin how to play a vibrato and saying that he doesnt explain how to do it.... u must not have read it... Just like anything u do or any instrument or any type of picking or guitar playing u have to FEEL what ur playing and if u dont get it u know the basics of a vibrato just try it out n mess around n get into it and ull feel it eventually and it might help u learn how to play other stuff too
    aenigma
    askurmoran: That is not a vibrato technique that is a pinch harmonic(and in some cases natural/tapped etc.) with vibrato added to it.That has nothing to do with the article. barret: No that is wrong.Tremolo like you said has to do wtih volume, whammy bars and vibrato has absolutely nothing to do with volume, it has to do with pitch. day2kill and torturekiller:**** off you idiots. Oh and why the hell would a vibrato lesson need examples?What are you going to do, put up some tablature with some vibrato lines?Yeah uh that helps.In fact lessons on basic vibrato is pointless, its an extremely obvious technique to people who arent troglodytes.
    aenigma
    askurmoran: That is not a vibrato technique that is a pinch harmonic(and in some cases natural/tapped etc.) with vibrato added to it.That has nothing to do with the article. barret: No that is wrong.Tremolo like you said has to do wtih volume, whammy bars and vibrato has absolutely nothing to do with volume, it has to do with pitch. day2kill and torturekiller:**** off you idiots. Oh and why the hell would a vibrato lesson need examples?What are you going to do, put up some tablature with some vibrato lines?Yeah uh that helps.In fact lessons on basic vibrato is pointless, its an extremely obvious technique to people who arent troglodytes.
    Wolf1915
    I've been doing the classic vibrato usually. Now I will practice the rock vibrato more. Thanks
    Jammie1
    This is very helpful. I just took up the bass a few months ago, and it's easier than I thought, although the fact that I'm a grade 6 cellist helps a bit. I had real trouble getting vibrato I was using the 'classical' method and wasn't getting the results I can on my cello, but the 'rock' method is far better.
    ace_lester
    hehe..yah comments are fun to read.. vibrato is a nyc technique..tnx.. im sounding lyk a pro already..haha j/k..=)
    21491
    I definately agree with jamstation and PLUCK, but it was also a pretty good explanation for begginers to the technique.
    highway1
    im not a bgginer but my guitar teacher says im vibratoing wrong ( i used my finger and just bend back and forth rapidly), its a good thread describing what vibrato is but it doesnt realy explain 2 me how to acctually do it(like with my wrist)
    WWWOOOWWW
    He says use only index and middle finger, but i find alot of guitarist using all 4 fingers???
    metalboy0392
    Ya just another tip if your doing a rock vibrato on the 5th and 6th strings, bend toward the 1st strings and vice versa. But I think everyone should know that by now
    abhorsen12
    Ermm i'm still a little confused, can someone explain to me how exactly to perform a vibrato, is it just a bend but moving the bend up and down a bit?
    kamakazi103
    I can do vibrato on a note without bending it but how do you do vibrato on a note while in a bend. My finger slips off of the string or i lose the bend and get a horrible sound out of the note as it comes back down to normal
    Dregen
    Good lesson. There were a couple things that weren't all that clear to me (such as the Classical vibrato technique), but by reading some of these comments I think I know how to perform it now.
    colinwicks
    brilliant, thanks for all your help UG. I THINK ITS AN AMAZING SITE,AND ANY HELP I CAN GET IS APPICIATED. keep it up .
    Quoteman
    ok, there are many different kinds of said "rock" vibrato though. Clapton-style, B.B. King-style (butterfly), Vai style, it goes on. Maybe some videos breaking them down would help begginers more. Anyone can create a vibrato. But a truly solid vibrato is enough to put you ahead of 90% of guitarists. With a good vibrato you can make one note say more than 100.
    vogi77
    on the classic vibrato you pull the string a little bit, so it works on fretted instruments as well
    Kevin Dias
    it'd b nice if u could put out a video showing how the vibrato is played.still it's a good lesson
    Kmos
    id say its pretty good... overall its a begginers lesson
    vai&satch767
    good article but i still cant get my vibrato right...you need some more practising examples next time...but overall a good article.
    IntlManOfMisery
    classic vibrato is more suited to fretless instruments (eg violin) specially towards d top of d neck, cos if you do slide a bit you get that distinctive fret passing sound on a guitar
    rahulkulkarni
    i was rather harsh,ya actually what you have said is clear and concise proving to be very helpful,thank you