Do you prefer using your bridge or your fingers for vibrato/tremolo/bending?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by nosajwp, Apr 26, 2008.

  1. nosajwp

    nosajwp Member

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    Do you guys prefer using a tremolo bridge for vibrato, string bending, etc.? Or do you prefer using just your fingers?

    I don't bend that often, and only do the occasional slight vibrato with my fingers, but I've always had tremolo bridges on my guitars, and I'm wondering if I would miss the trem if I got a guitar with a hardtail.

    Seems like it would be a lot quicker to tune up a fresh set of strings with a hardtail though!
     
  2. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    Is this like your going to have to give up your current guitar to get a hard tail, people can own more than one guitar, I have a couple fenders with tremolos, and I have several gibsons that are hard tails, vibrato and bending are techiques that you really want to develop whether you playing a tremolo guitar or a hard tail, I rarely use a vibrato, my fenders are set up to go up and down in pitch, but I usually don't have the tremolo bar on the guitar, I just hit the tremolo plate with my hand as an effect, however I am always bending and vibratoing the string, I also vibrato 3 or 4 strings at a time, really cool effect something SRV does as well.

    As far as a hard tail being easier to tune, yes they are easier to tune, and you don't have to search for the tuning, I use a chromatic tuner with a dial that shows the cents, and I will usually tune high 30 cents when I change strings and it takes a few times to tune, but a tremolo unit gives you a lot of things that you can not do on a hard tail, I play my fenders more than I play my gibsons, the tremolo is nice to have, and once its tuned it usually stays in tune, I know a lot floyd rose systems have tuning problems, and the way the strings are locked in and such, my fenders I find hold tuning pretty good, but I also stretch my strings a few times when put them on, but also do that on my hard tails so they don't go out of tune.
     
  3. stevel

    stevel Member

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    You don't bend that often?!? Wow.

    Here's what I think (and it's just my opinion, so take it as you like :)

    I do three types of finger vibrato:

    1. Up and down (perpindicular to the string), which I consider "standard".
    2. Back and forth (parallel with the string), which I use more for classical guitar, because the strings will actually go taut and loose as you do this and it has a different sound than up and down because the string goes both flat and sharp unlike "standard" vibrato, which only goes sharp. BTW, on classicals, the string tends to roll under your finger, so up and down isn't as effective, or rather, has a different effect than on electric. In this one, unlike "standard", I take my hand off the neck, so only my fingertip touches the fingerboard. No other contact with my LH.
    3. A combination of the two above - in a circle so to speak. Again, a different type of sound, and again, my hand is off the neck.

    I also do multiple finger vibrato and sometimes even do most of the notes of a chord. For example, I'll hold a 5th string A barre chord, and pull up (that is, towards the floor) on the lowest for strings (hand on the neck, like the "standard" vibrato above).

    I also will "shake" a smaller chord form - like if I play a D chord shape at the 10th fret (for a Bb chord) since I can't really push up the strings in the same way I do with the above vibrato, I'll move my whole hand up and down while keeping my fingers in position like the "classical" vibrato above with only fingertips on the guitar.

    These all have different sounds and should be explored IMHO.

    I also use the tremolo bar. I keep mine tight, so most of what I do is subtle to somewhat wide vibrato, but not crazy extreme vibrato. I use it for both single notes, and multiple notes.

    You mentioned bent notes - I will also vibrato a note or notes I've bent as well. The nice thing about this is you can go both sharp and flat with a standard finger vibrato, which you can't do on an unbent note. Likewise, I'll use the tremolo on a bent note.

    Heck, sometimes, I'll bend the string behind the nut to make an open string go sharp (thus allowing vibrato on an open string without the tremolo) or, if I'm being silly, I'll reach my RH behind my LH and pull up and down on the string behind the note I'm holding, which will cause it to vibrato (I do this extremely rarely though).

    I have seen people who even bend the neck of the guitar. While it creates a cool sound that might be usable as well, until I'm wealthy enough to keep replacing guitars with snapped necks, I don't employ this technique! Use at your own risk.

    Then there's a vibrato pedal :)

    Ooh, and let's not forget Slide.

    Ooh, and we can't forget the Brad-Gillis-bang-on-your-guitar-while-holding-it-horizontal-to-make-the-tremolo-vibrate maneuver (or, hitting the tremolo arm itself).

    So basically, I use anything I can think of and see what kind of effect it makes, and then put that in the tool box to use when I need it. Though if I had to pick the most frequent ones, I'd say "standard", then Tremolo.

    It doesn't take me long to string up my guitar either, but I think having a tighter tremolo helps it reach a balancing point quicker.

    HTH,
    Steve
     
  4. nosajwp

    nosajwp Member

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    Good points...anyone else?
     
  5. sausagefingers

    sausagefingers Supporting Member

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    I tend to use my fingers. I have a trem but generally don't even attach the arm...its a Kahler that messes up the tuning too easily. So I do the typical BB King wiggle from the wrist with the first finger, and also a lot of bends with the ring finger backed up by the first two.


    Here is a great clip of Frank G demonstrating some nice subtle finger vibrato and bends, all with fingers (no trem):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwnPpU1VDrg
     
  6. mbetter

    mbetter Member

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    Between my fingers, reaching behind the nut and bending the neck, I've got it pretty well covered. On the other hand, this guy Grant Tye does some sick faux-steel with the wang bar on his Strat that I'd love to learn.

    Also, on a Gibson Tune-O-Matic style tailpiece, you can get some cool vibrato by pushing down on the strings between the bridge and tailpiece. A good way to add some shimmer to those big cowboy chords.
     
  7. Dr. Jimmy

    Dr. Jimmy Member

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    I use all of the above depending on what I'm trying to accomplish.
     
  8. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    A subtle pitch drop & return is so effective in a lot of cases. I can't play without a floating bridge & bar. (I'm not Kimock tho!)
     
  9. Tubes and Strings

    Tubes and Strings Supporting Member

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  10. elgalad

    elgalad Senior Member

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    I've never been a big fan of tremolo bridges. I primarily play Les Pauls, and my strat has it's bridge blocked. Just personal preference - finger-based vibrato and bends just sound a little more organic to my ears :)
     
  11. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    ha ha, my first guitar was an SG bartone, real long thin neck on that guitar, it was hard not to bend the neck while playing, gives a very extreme dive bomb actually, Les Pauls and strats can be bent, but its a lot hard and the pitch change is not nearly as extreme as I could get on the SG
     

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