tips on nailing clapton's vibrato...

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by coolhand78, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. coolhand78

    coolhand78 Member

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    as far as i'm concerned clapton's vibrato is the best in the business and to me great vibrato indicates a very refined player...

    i'd really appreciate any advice on just how I can nail his vibrato technique...

    one thing to note I play 10's and am not keen on going any lighter... i know he uses 9's on his electrics... which would make it a bit easier... but i wanna stick with my 10's as i've gone down from 11's and dont want to go any lower...

    if you can point me in the direction of a good vid that really shows this off i'd be very grateful!!!

    cheers

    Luke.
     
  2. HiddenCharms

    HiddenCharms Member

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    Clapton has two different vibratos; a bent note vibrato and a stationary vibrato (or non-bent note). The bent note vibrato is not unlike many blues players where the action comes from the wrist. It is Clapton's non-bent note vibrato that is so unusual in it's physical approach. In that vibrato, his hand lets go of it's tight grip on the guitar neck and his wrist and finger remain stationary while the motion comes from his forearm in either a pulling down or pushing up motion. It creates a beautiful slow and even vibrato. Once you are used to it, I find it easier to control the vibrato's speed than the typical method. Just look up videos of him on u-tube and you'll see an abundance of examples. His style has evolved where he doesn't use the bent string vibrato as much as he used to in Mayall, Cream, and DATD. But he still uses the stationary vibrato a lot.
     
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  3. newb3fan

    newb3fan Member

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    I agree with hiddencharms. Here's a VT vid I found for Hard Times.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGCxo2HLuYA

    This is a great blues tune. When EC solos watch his phrasing. At the end of runs he'll often stop on a note with is forefinger. When he does, he releases the grip from the neck and puts that killer vibrato to it. The motion is a rotation of your forearmn down and up. I personally pull down first and then come back up. To vary the speed simply vary how fast you rotate. It's a great technique once you get it.
     
  4. tweedster

    tweedster Member

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    The forearm motion is like grabbing a doorknob and turning the knob back and forth.

    As far as string gauge goes, get the shake first, then worry about tone. If you're flat, no one will care what gauge string you use. If the vibrato is sweet, everyone will want to know what gauge you use.

    IIRC, Clapton uses 10's since the Domino's days. He used 9's with cream.
     
  5. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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  6. rajsmooth

    rajsmooth Member

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    so true...one of my friends who i play with sometimes called me a "sissy" because i wouldnt put 12s on my strat "cause SRV did it." i told him to have fun with his flat bends and blistered fingers trying to be SRV. i'll stick with tens.
     
  7. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I am pretty sure Clapton uses 10s on his Strats (which he mostly plays these days). I also heard SRV used 10s but tuned down 1/2-step.

    I could never go to 12s, sorry. I like to bend too much for that.

    As far as vibrato goes, the main thing is to use the wrist vibrato on the notes that you can go a bit sharp/flat and it doesn't matter (the third, for example) but use the flat finger waddle on the notes where pitch accuracy is a must (the root, for example).
     
  8. clay_finley

    clay_finley Member

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    Billy Gibbons uses that second one also. I call it the disconnected vibrato because your finger is the only thing touching on your left hand. You have to clamp the body with your right arm too.
     
  9. Emporia

    Emporia Member

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  10. shg

    shg Senior Member

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    EC has a number of different vibrato styles, to be sure. However, when he's employing that which I think of as "THE Clapton vibrato" - on an unbent note - his thumb isn't even TOUCHING the neck. The only part of his hand that is touching the guitar is his fretting fingertip, and the entirety of his vibrato motion is lateral (across the neck) utilising his upper-arm muscle, nothing else. His fingers stay rigid, his wrist doesn't move, his forearm doesn't turn. All the motion is coming from his elbow and the work is being done by his biceps.

    That particular Clapton vibrato style is quite jarring visually. It stands out a mile. It's as if, for a brief moment, his fretting hand has detached itself from the neck entirely and is just floating in the air above the fingerboard. Which, of course, is exactly what HAS happened.

    It always catches my eye in the first few seconds of any video of Clapton playing "Sunshine of Your Love". The F note he hits at the 10th fret of the G string as the last note of the riff, just as the band comes in. For the intro riff Clapton's thumb is usually hanging over the top of the fingerboard and he's squeezing the neck quite hard - then for that ONE NOTE rotates his forearm and then totally lets go of the neck to vibrato that F note with his upper arm.

    And when done right, it just sounds SO GOOD. It's wide and soulful, and Clapton often deliberately holds the vibratoed note just a little bit too long, slopping over the bar line into the space of the next measure.
     
  11. mouzer

    mouzer Member

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    This is the quintessential Clapton vibrato for me. Not too wide, not to intense, perfect, IMO.
     
  12. newb3fan

    newb3fan Member

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    This is accurate. At about 1:42 of Hard Times you see this vibrato technique.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGCxo2HLuYA
     
  13. rajsmooth

    rajsmooth Member

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    love how he matches his shirt color to his guitar color too...what a pimp.
     
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  14. shg

    shg Senior Member

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  15. randomhitz

    randomhitz Member

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  16. Guitar Non Hero

    Guitar Non Hero Member

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    I know this is an old thread, but I am after that "arm vibrato" that he does, where only his fretting finger seems to touch the guitar neck. I think you are right here in that you have to clamp down on the guitar and hold it still against your body. I think you need those smaller strings to.

    I tried practicing it on a headless guitar of mine, but there is no way in hell I can do it with size 11 strings. I am going to grab my Les Paul, which has 10s, and see if the body weight will help me.
     
  17. Royce McCutcheon

    Royce McCutcheon Member

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  18. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

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    This a wonderful subject and one I’ve been researching for a while.

    Forever I used to avoid high e vibrato and went with the B.B. style on the b string instead.

    I’m NOT a big Clapton guy, but that vibrato is amazing.

    The Koch video is one I’ve seen more often than I’d like to admit.

    Tips...

    Don’t just do it with the index finger. Make sure you practice with all 4 fretting fingers. That said the index is the one I use the most. Pinky too believe it or not.

    Don’t be afraid to use it on the b, g, and d strings as well as the high e. Granted, the high e by design NEEDS this method to add some stank n wiggle to notes.

    Practice with a strap on too...it’s different than just sitting down.

    Right hand has to do ALL muting so bear that in mind.

    I’m still a student of this technique, but it’s a must have imho.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2018
  19. jkendrick

    jkendrick Member

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    Those weeping bends at the beginning of his solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps are tough to nail. I worked on that for a while and still don’t get it right most of the time.
     
  20. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    The doorknob vibrato, also known as butterfly vibrato, BB's vibrato, Peter's vibrato,,, Clapton didn't do that very much.

    A great example of the doorknob vibrato vs the forearm shake is wonderfully displayed in Peter Green's tune Albatross. Peter plays the doorknob vibrato and Danny Kirwan doing the harder job of duping Peter's vibrato with the forearm shake. But he nails it and the two vibratos are as pretty as ever recorded imo.
    Clapton's vibrato was more like Danny Kirwan's.
    Sorry about the bird making it harder to see the players.
     
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