Vibrato is rarely discussed
but is very important.
It is to music what icing is
to the cake.
Vibrato is a steady change in
It expresses emotion like
There are 2 ways it’s done on
a stringed instrument.
- – Think of the way a violinist or cellist moves
their hand back and forth on the neck while playing a note. On the guitar this is the most
subtle type of vibrato. The idea is to keep the finger firmly pressing
down on the note/string while moving the fretting hand back and forth or
left to right. Changing the speed of the movement changes the speed of the
vibrato. I use this type of vibrato for soft passages and for long tones,
not short, staccato notes.
- – This is the most popular type and takes the longest
to do well. Here’s the catch. With this type of vibrato the idea is to
holdonto the fretted note/string and move the hand back and forth bending the string steadily.
Anchor the base of the index finger to the neck. What beginner students do
is move the fingers instead of the hand, which sounds like a spring going
“boing”. It will never sound good or express the desired feeling.
are 2 aspects of vibrato that must be mastered.
A) The speed at which the pitch changes. i.e. slow – fast
B) The width. i.e. how much does the pitch change.
variations: slow and wide Clapton (bluesy and soulful) and fast and narrow
(B.B. King). The last thing to
master is applying vibrato while bending a note. This is the most difficult but
it’s powerful. When bending a note it’s important to first establish the pitch
add the vibrato, not the
other way around. Ever hear a opera singer or violinist with such a constant
vibrato that you can’t really hear the exact pitch? Nasty stuff. There are many
types of vibrato. Angus Young and Jimmy Page are 2 guitarists that have a
vibrato when they bend a note that is distinctly British (o.k. Angus is
Australian). Angus uses it half way through his solo on You Shook Me All Night
Long and Led Zeppelin’s Since I’ve Been Loving You. Also, listen to the solo in
All Right Now by Free. There’s soulful vibrato, 60’s San Francisco vibrato, of
course all the many blues players have there own sound.
and mysteriously to me I’ve never heard 2 guitarists with the same vibrato. It
is a unique stamp on a person’s playing in much the same way that no 2 voices
are the same. Listen for different types of vibrato in music and you’ll find
the ones that appeal to you. Use different types of vibrato for different
styles of playing and you’ll sound like a seasoned player.