Vibrato help

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Martyk, Feb 26, 2005.


  1. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    I have determined that without a good vibrato I will always suck. So, after playing for 20 years now, I want to concentrate on getting down a consistent intonated vibrato whenever and wherever I need it, even on faster runs.


    So....uh.....any suggestions? I'm not totally clueless here but I am somewhere abouts very advanced amateur, not quite really accomplished blues-rock level player.

    Willing to woodshed folks, just want some ideas...

    Marty
     
  2. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Play F on the low E string with your index finger and apply vibrato.

    Next F# on the low E string with your second finger and apply vibrato.

    Next G on the low E string with your third finger and apply vibrato.

    Next G# on the low E string with your pinky and apply vibrato.

    Now move to the A string and do the same.

    Now to the D string all the way to the high E, the come back down, starting at high E string till you get to low E.

    Now do the same thing starting on an F# on the low E, etc.

    Keep going up until the 5th fret or however far you want to go.

    Also try the same exercise starting on the 12th fret E.

    If you want you can start the whole exercise on the low E, 3rd
    fret (G) instead of F.

    Concentrate on making it sound good! Do this as part of your every day warm up.

    Also, play D (10th fret E string) for tonal reference then play a C (8th fret) and bend up to the D, once there, add vibrato.
    Do this all strings all over the neck. Be sure to play the target note first and be sure to give plenty of vibrato on the bend.

    Try bending only 1/2 step, be sure to play the target note first.

    Try a minor 3rd.

    Also, when playing be sure to land on the note first and then add vibrato. Don't start wiggling the note until you hit it first, otherwise you will sound out of tune.

    If you have any questions or need a better explanation, don't hesitate to ask.
     
  3. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    lhallam,

    Hey that's great, I was starting something like that last night. Perfect.

    I was wondering mechanically if it's more in the wrist or more in the finger/s? Maybe everyone does it different, but classically, for instance, where do they train those guys to get vibrato from - fingers or arm/wrist? Perhaps teh mechanics are holding me back, not the idea. Of course, with rock n roll, probably any technique practiced to perfection would work, right?

    I can't thank you enough for your help,
    Marty
     
  4. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Just so happens I majored in classical guitar. That is typically a different technique than on electric. You can hear the classical technique when applied on electric but it is pretty subtle and not too many electric players use it. Steve Morse does at times.

    For classical you place your finger on the string and move it horizontally. That is, the string itself doesn't move but your finger does by rocking your fingertip back and forth towards the nut and the bridge keeping the string in it's plane. Typically your wrist is locked and your forearm is moving. It is more noticable on nylon strings.

    For electric gtr most guys move the string and the finger vertically towards your face and the floor. There is no one way to do this.

    For example, Clapton takes his thumb clean off the neck and moves his forearm up and down with wrist locked. Others such as BB King keep their thumb on the neck and wiggle their wrist, especially when using the index finger.

    You'll notice that you typically apply different techniques depending upon the finger and the string.

    This is something you'll have to determine for yourself. The most important thing is when you practice, make it sound good to your ears.

    Some guys like very wide slow vibrato while others do short and fast. Personally I like something in between. Some guys attempt to follow the beat. I try to start slow and fairly wide and speed up and less wide as I hold the note out.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    Dude, that's great - classical training, I hit that right, didn't I? Your advice is certainly valued by me and I think after 20 years it's time for me to practice the last 10%. Of course, the first 90% wasn't easy, but the last 10% separates the pros from the others and goes on forever. I suspect I'll never get done with the final 10%, which is great, in a way.

    Thanks so much, time to play!
    Marty
     
  6. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    My pleasure, I live for this stuff. Don't hesitate if you have any questions. Also, let us know how it's going.

    Two other things that separate the men from the boys is muting and especially TIMING.

    Yeah, it never ends and it is great.
     
  7. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    Oh yeah, when I play back our tapes, all my buds say it's great, but all I hear is intonation problems, weak vibrato, and off-timing, but all the notes are right. So, it's the top, extra-fine layer that will take me the rest of my life to learn - can't wait!

    I'll report back....
    Marty
     
  8. amstaf

    amstaf Guest

    Exercise your fingers. Try squeezing a tennis ball.
     
  9. Pointbreakd

    Pointbreakd Member

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    actually not a bad idea. hand strength def has a lot to do with vibrato. Starting slow and then speeding up is good too. I actually take my thumb off which I think gives a lot of control to vertical vibrato.

    If you apply vibrato to the top of bends, def start slow and then speed up. Take a look at some Jimmy Herring tapes. He bends up, holds, then applies vibrato....Unreal.
     
  10. Martyk

    Martyk Member

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    unreal to do it all in tune and in time, and with taste.

    I think this is harder than most people think - harder to get that last 10% down that makes it near-perfect.
     
  11. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    Actually if you watch BB closely when he does the butterfly vibrato his thumb is off the neck. I couldn't figure out for the longest time how he got any leverage but I can at least now approximate it. I'm still no BB (even though my initials are BB).
     
  12. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    I got this little ditty out of a classical book.

    1. Place one finger on each fret on the 6th string (frets 1 to 4). Vibrato using all fingers held down except the 4th finger. Next keep fingers 1 and 2 on the same 6th string but move fingers 3 and 4 to the 5th string. Hold down 3rd fret with 3rd finger and vibrato with 4th finger again. Continue doing this until 1 and 2 fingers are on 6th string and 3 and 4 are on the 1st string.

    After this is done start over keeping 2 different fingers on the low E string. For example anchor the 1st and 4th finger and move fingers 2 and 3 from the 6th to the 1st string applying vibrato on each string.

    Find all the various combinations you can, there almost endless, don't blame me if you end up looking like Popeye though. If this doesn't either kill you, or give you great vibrato I don't know what will.:D
     
  13. Tone

    Tone Member

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    Would this type of vibrato just be all finger, and no wrist?
     
  14. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    If you can find a copy of the incomparable Matt Smith's little instructional book on bending, it has a lot of great stuff of vibrato.
    I think it's out of print.
    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?isbn=0882846213&itm=9

    Also, this is something that is better shown than talked about. Depending on where you live, you can often find a very good teacher who will give you one lesson and teach you something in particular and send you home to work on it for 6 months. This would be a good application.
     
  15. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    This would be finger vibrato, I don't think classical guys do much wrist vibrato but I could be wrong.
     
  16. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    On a nylon string classical gtr the strings are quite responsive.
    The string stays anchored and the finger tip moves to and fro towards the bridge and nut. You don't move the string up and down like on an electric gtr. Your wrist remains locked so it's basically all in forearm.

    I think violinists use pretty much the same technique.

    Note that this is how I was taught, I'm sure there are other approaches.
     
  17. Claptone

    Claptone Member

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    It could be about playing habits to.I used to have crappy habits,then didn't play a whole lot for a couple years, and developed very nice playing habits. When I started up seriuosly again[about a year ago] I put more feel into than trying to just flat copy their tone ,I copied their technique. Some of it is watching others and learning. Alot of it can be talent which is the category I fall under. I don't know a whole lot about theory but I can Vibrato like anyone. Long strong fingers are definite help to play any kind of vibrato. Then again I play for about 2 to 4 hours straight most days.
     
  18. bluesbreaker59

    bluesbreaker59 Supporting Member

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    Here's how I learned:

    Watched the Cream: Farewell Concert, where Clapton gives that little lesson on vibrato and playing some "runs". I watched that over and over and then also after watching it I took out my guitar and played while watching it and emulated moving my hand how Clapton was moving his.

    I also listen and watch lots of BB King and Billy Gibbons, both of these guys have killer vibratos.

    Really my vibrato is my signature, I'm not a fast player at all (I just physically can't play fast) so I just try to hit the right notes, and since I have incredibly strong hands I womp the snot out of em and then shake em to death too.
     
  19. Claptone

    Claptone Member

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    That is a good video ,Strange Brew is better, it just doesn't show that clip you are talking about which is an excellent clip by the way.I just wish they would have showed more of the members playing than just zooming in and out on their heads or all those screwed up shots they do.
     
  20. telest

    telest Member

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    Vibrato has been my weakest point for a long time. Sometimes it's on, other times, not so much. I find I really have to consentrate on it to pull it off well, as opposed to just doing it. Another thing is, if I'm in a live situation with a bit of volume and sustain, I can achieve a smooth vibrato much better than when I'm practicing at low volumes and trying to force it. Relaxation is KEY.

    Steve
     

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