Vibrato Bends

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by S-L-A-C-K-E-R, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. S-L-A-C-K-E-R

    S-L-A-C-K-E-R Member

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    So this is one of my major drawbacks that shows that I am in fact an amatuer. I can't seem to figure out how to apply a vibrato while bending. Whenever I try, I usually just butcher my bend to all heck and back. Anyone know any tricks to this?
     
  2. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I think it's best to work slowly and deliberately. Play a note 1 whole step up from your bending finger for a reference tone. Then bend up to that note, release, bend back up, release, etc. Do it with every finger, do it with half steps and 1.5 steps when you feel you can handle the bigger bend. If you want to be maniacal about it, use a tuner to make sure you're bending exactly in tune. (Thanks HarryJ for the tuner recommendation!) You could also write some melodies that incorporate that type of vibrato and practice them until they're very smooth and musical.
     
  3. wahfreak

    wahfreak Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm assuming you mean adding vibrato after the note is bent right?? The trick for me is really getting a good command of using my first finger knuckle as a pivot point. While your left hand is wrapped aound the neck, use the point where your first finger attaches to your hand (your knuckle) as a pivot point. Rotate your hand towards the floor and then towards the ceiling using that pivot point. It's hard to do well even without bending but after a while you'll be able to bend any note to pitch and add vibrato using the same technique. Start slow. You don't even have to use strings at first, just practice keeping your hand anchored in one spot and work on getting a smooth back and forth motion. Next use non-bent notes some where in the middle of the neck, and then bent ones. It's harder to control when the strings are at higher tension. Whenever possible make sure you have the first 3 fingers on the string being bent. A little goes a long way.....
     
  4. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Do you guys play on many different guitars and still maintain accurate string bending? I've been finding that a real challenge when switching between guitars...I've got a Peavey Wolfgang (w/Floyd) that I practice with at work on lunch breaks, and at home I swtich between a Les Paul and Anderson Classic. So, I've got 3 different bridges, and 2 different scale lengths on the go....

    I find it makes it a bit of a challenge to get the bends solidly in-tune (I have the most trouble with the Wolfgand...I play it the least). Or maybe it's just an excuse and I need more practice....

    Cheers,

    Kris
     
  5. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    Great question and great answers guys!

    Tomo
     
  6. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Interesting thread. A guy I take lessons from asked me to go back and listen to a guitar player I really liked (could of been anyone) and determine why I liked what they were doing. I chose Albert King and I finally realized after real careful listening that I like how Albert puts a little vibrato on his bends. I never usually do this (consiously) when I play so it opened up a whole new approach to giving my bends a little more soul. I think when you start to do this you will imitate a singer hitting notes while they sing.

    I also think the idea of vibrato on bends is to move in and out of the pitch in a very sweet and personal way. I really think this can define a style or voice as a guitar player.
     
  7. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    For the most part I'd agree, except for pre-bends where you're bending down instead of up. Those just seem to require that you know your instrument...

    I also find it's easier (and less obvious) to correct a slightly flat bend than to have to fix a sharp one. Also, in really thinking about it, I find my 3rd finger can bend well on pretty much any guitar I have, but my index finger gets pretty different performance depending on the guitar (easiest on the les paul, hardest on the Wolfgang)...could be a strength vs set-up issue. I've been playing Sweet Child O'mine lately and the solos in that tune are all about bending...lots of taseful bends using 3 fingers of the left hand.

    Cheers,

    Kris
     
  8. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    Just a thought, but maybe a good way to practice vibrato bends is to de-tune the guitar a whole step...the overall reduced string tension should make it physically easier , allowing you to concentrate on getting control of the vibrato under the changing string tension while bending.

    Once you master this, start increasing the tension back to your regular tuning pitch. Kinda like the bending/vibrato equivalent to increasing the metronome.

    Haven't tried it myself, but it might just work....

    cheers,

    Kris
     
  9. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    It is difficult. While GuitarTone is correct about using your ear, there is still muscle memory involved and the sweet spot differs by gtr. Wide vibrato does help you dance around it.
     
  10. beePee

    beePee Member

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    Forgive me if this comes off preachy. I ‘m not a guitar god (just us mortals here!) I got in the mood to write this out. I hope it helps someone. Thanks for reading

    Vibrato is one of the strongest defining characteristics of a players style. It is definitely one of most difficult mechanical aspects of electric guitar playing. When I went to GIT(1984) they blew over this like it was a gimme.The bad thing was most of the students were rock players and had uncontrolled bad vibrato’s.

    Of course the starting place is always the ears. Paying very close attention to how the giants integrate this specialized mechanical technique is the most valuable lesson. The basics of the mechanics is how you develop the physical abilities to call upon it at will.

    Here’s what I’ve observed
    Vibrato has 5 fundamental aspects

    1.Depth (or width) of the bent pitch
    2.Speed of the “vibration”
    3.Rhythm
    4. Timing
    5. Release

    here’s a few guidelines first

    1.Wide depth…. faster speed
    2.Shallow depth …slow speed

    The rhythm needs to be “in” time. I don’t do any counting now but it is helpful to get the vibrato in sync with the tempo and feel of the music. It’s very dependent on the width and speed.

    Timing is hugely overlooked. In other words when to start the vibrato, There are no hard and fast guidelines but most times .Wait for the note to “bloom” then start vibrato. When it begins to quickly the note tends to sound out of tune (which technically it is) Letting the ear “catch the note establishes it stronger IMO.

    Of course it depends on how long the notes going to last. This is an artistic choice but seems consistent across the board of “desireable” vibrato. It’s an “on the fly” choice after it has been mastered dependant on the music.

    I think it also has a lot to do with “amp” playing” there is a point where a note will go into full decay. it’s amazing how our ear can “catch” that if you listen..Vibratoing just before it gives the note an extra kick and makes it sustain. It’s especially prevalent with feedback in high gain when the overtone harmonics appear. It gives the guitar a singing quality almost like a wind instrument or the voice.

    When and how to release a note is equally as important .it won’t sustain forever.How to get out of the note into the next (or silence) gives the note it’s full character.

    I think this is VERY important in relationship to bend vibratos because it’s almost impossible to have a good bend vibrato sound good without having our unbent ones together.

    So the next step is having the bend in tune. If you under or over shoot the note and vibrato that well…..no peanuts and a prize…and bad note….

    Guideline #1 get the note in tuneThere are two ways to approach the vibrato where the un bent vibrato only has 1…Up bend

    1.Drop Release the pitch down then up again (using good vibrato etiquette)
    2.Up Bend past the bend and ..again..use good vibrato etiquette

    #1 is the most common. You can get a wide wild vibrato this way because you are half way there. The secret is the drop release/ return. You must drop release to a pitch (not really heard as a note) then bend back to the in tune pitch you bent to. The illusion is you are in tune. If you drop release is all over the map it sounds goofy musically(unless you like the Disney effect!!) CONTROL……One way to practice this is with a tuner or better yet …your ear with a whammy bar!!

    I think it’s better to train you ear to hear solid pitch bending tecchniques.That way it’s intuitive .

    Ex.1 Drop release
    1.Bend the note up
    2.drop the bar and then release to the flush position(keep your hand on the bar though).The trick is “feeling the drop release depth consistently. It’ will strengthen your ear which is one of the major culprits in bad pitch bending


    Up pitch
    I like and used this one....your bridge has to float to do this. I found this out by accident many years ago because it didn’t have a clue how to set up my vibrato bridge (duh!!). I coincidentally had it floating about a full step on the G string. I found pulling it back I could hit a pretty consistent “up “ pitch.

    1.Bend the note up
    2.pull up on the bar and then release to the flush position.

    Drop release and Up have different sounds. For a REAL up pitch you can’t really bend past the original pitch very far(mechanically).but with the floating bar you can!!
    I practice/experimented with both until I you canget your finger vibrato as consistent as the bar vibrato.You can hear the alternation of bar and finger (with all combinations!!)with great vibrato players like Jeff Beck ,David Gilmour and Yngwie.

    The vibrato really makes a guitar almost a singer!!(I did say “almost”).It’s very difficult do to well for most(mostly because of bad mechanics) but the reality is…. it ain’t rocket surgery. Get a plan.(a good one).Work on the mechanical aspect vigorously and then apply it and forget about it and just feel it. That is the biggest factor. You can’t think when you are doing this. It has to already be there or the music suffers. Be kind to those notes…

    BP
     
  11. Poppa Stoppa

    Poppa Stoppa Member

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    Wow - that's a thoughtful response from BeePee!
    Nothing wrong with YouTube!

    Drfrankencopter came up with the best idea, IMO - start with strings with a lot of give:

    Step one, either de-tune or stick some really light strings on your guitar.

    Step two, practice vibrato with no bend applied. Get that really happening.

    Step three, try bending those floppy strings and then applying vibrato.

    Step four, gradually work back up to your usual guage/pitch.
     
  12. guitguy28

    guitguy28 Member

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    I've been skimming over the responses on this thread, and I just want to add my own two cents.

    Bend vibrato is something that I always wanted to learn but was having great difficulty with. After a lot of analysis I've discovered a few tips that might help you:

    1.) I was initially attempting to practice my vibrato with .009s (on my Strat). I found it a little difficult to do, actually. THe strings felt too limp to me.

    In my opinion, I think having a little string resistance helps your vibrato. It took a bit of experimentation to me to find that perfect amount of tension on all three strings (the G, B and E strings).

    So, after trying out .009s unsuccessfully for a while, I went up to .010s. AFter I got used to the extra string tension, I found that the high E had too much tension, the B felt just right, and the G still felt a bit too loose. So I went back to a .009 for the high E, then put on an .018 for the G (from an .011 set). Once I did this, the guitar felt just right. Ive done this on my LP as well, even with the different fretboard radius and scale length, it feels perfect to me on that guitar as well.

    2.) High action helps, too. Just to keep the other strings from getting underneath your fingers and hindering your technique. I had the action set too low on my LP and raising it made a very noticeable difference.

    3.) Practice, practice, practice. Get those callouses good and hard.

    As far as the general technique goes, to me it's the same technique I use to do a regular bend, and releasing the bend. I like the pitch variation about about 1/4 note. It takes a while to work on the technique until you get it to feel natural. This took a lot of experimentation through practice.

    ADmittedly, I still need a lot of practice to get that perfect vibrato, but I do have the advantage in having my guitars set up as well as possible for the vibrato technique, as well as knowing how to best do the technique (for me, anyways).

    In any case, after having spent about two years working on vibrato, I'm a LOT better than I used to be.
     
  13. retro

    retro Member

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    Don't know if it's an issue in your case, but in teaching the one thing I've noticed that seems to make things work is to have them hook their thumb over the top of the neck.
     
  14. telest

    telest Member

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    This has been my weak point for 30 years. :jo Some days I have it, others... not so much. I find relaxation is key, secondly I have to actually consentrate on the vibrato instead of just doing it. When I'm trying to "burn" is when it goes to Hell, but when I'm relaxed and playing casually, I get a smooth vocal vibrato. Keep working on it.

    Steve
     
  15. Tomo

    Tomo Member

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    Yes and no. I do play that (like Jimi) but I also use no thumb support on my bending style. I use much relax left hand and I use my entire body to bend, use some wrist movement and all. This way you can make vibrato on your chords too.

    The most important aspect on this issue is what you hear before you touch your guitar. Many said great techinial points and ideas.

    Listen to Earl Hooker's slide.... Ray Charles voice.... B.B. King 's singing phrase? I would save a lot of good moments/tone/emotional sound into my body and head. So that I have enough imagination, focus, direction toward these sound.

    I have been playing for many years. I am still not 100% happy about my bending and vibrato.

    Practice, practice and practice. I may get closer to the Carnegie Hall.


    Tomo
     
  16. drfrankencopter

    drfrankencopter Member

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    There's lots of different ways to make vibrato...you don't even have to keep your thumb on the neck. I don't think Clapton does...

    Like other have suggested, I think it's important to try out a variety of approaches to it. Eventually one or two (or maybe more) techniques will work for you for your style.

    Lately, when I've been working on vibrato its been trying to focus on being able to build from a rapid/shallow vibrato to a wide/slow one, and back to rapid/shallow.

    This thread has got me thinking that there are so many subtle aspects to guitar playing that end up encompassing one's style. Everything from sliding into notes, grace notes, rakes and reverse rakes, pick slides/gliss, etc...its all part of the magic of the guitar. There's so many ways to even approach a single note!

    I remember playing guitar for a bunch of buddys (non players) recently and having them remark "what was that *cool thing* you did?". I thought maybe it was fast run, or some pinch harmonic stuff, but it turns out what they latched onto was that when I would finish some phrases I'd slide my left hand either up the fretboard, or down the fretboard (slides to nowhere). I don't even think about stuff like that, it just happens....it kinda made my day.

    Cheers,

    Kris
     
  17. retro

    retro Member

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    Yes I agree Tomo and drfrankencopter. I don't mean to imply hooking the thumb over is the key always and in and of itself.

    In teaching I look for simple directions that give a student a means to find the light switch on their own in a simple and hopefully direct way. I have found by experience giving this small direction has lead to fast insight in the importance of hand position on the neck where no connection was before. All of a sudden they see the potential in using the neck hand in different ways.

    Since there have been many good suggestions I only thought to add one possibility. I should have been more concise. Thanks for your comments.

    Cheers.
     
  18. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    One vibrato that I haven't seen mentioned hear is the "shake the neck variety" versus shake the note.

    It's definitely not an "accurate" form of the technique but it has it's own flavor.............
     
  19. Sunstone Recordings

    Sunstone Recordings Member

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    go to you tube and search for hendrix at woodstock. I learned from him. Don't get discouraged, it takes practice and time. Just recently have I gotten to the point where I can control my vibrato bends.
     
  20. sethmeister

    sethmeister Member

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    Yes! Listen to great singers and you'll hear this.

    Also, technique is different for everyone and I doubt there's one "right" way to do it but for me the best and most natural way has aways been to think of my index finger as a pivot point around which the rest of the hand swivels. Kind of like you're doing the "hang loose" hand gesture but with the index finger anchored to the board. I find my thumb isn't even necessarily in contact with the back of the neck.

    Now if I could just figure out how to get a vibrato in my singing... I'm completely lost there :eek:
     

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