Vibrato is one of the most important guitar techniques that you must master if you want to sound like a pro. All the most skilled players have great vibrato, while most other players just think that this skill will improve on its own (without practice). Actually your technical vibrato MUST sound good, otherwise your overall guitar playing will sound like crap.
To develop an amazing sounding vibrato, you need to cut the technique down to the bare essentials, work on developing each one in isolation, and then start integrating them all together.
The following are five key tips that will get you on the right track to master vibrato and make your guitar sound amazing:
One. Understand exactly what you are looking for
As you practice vibrato, know for sure what sound you are looking for and what sound you don’t want.
A really amazing vibrato and a really bad vibrato are nothing alike. Amazing vibrato is forever:
– Played with control
– Tuned up
– Suitable for the context in which it is used
(Really bad vibrato is nothing like all these things)
Keep in mind that your vibrato shouldn’t be used in the exact same way all the time. It can be used in a totally different way depending on your style of play and the context in which it is being used. Work to discover which style of vibrato achieves the particular emotion you want to express, and try to create it each time you practice.
Two. Make sure the physical meets the mental
Playing the vibrato physically is not that difficult. You just have to use your thumb as an anchor around the neck around the neck and rotate your forearm / wrist to produce vibrato. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to train your hands to create the exact sound you hear in your head.
So what can you do to make this easier? If your vibrato doesn’t sound the way you want, ask yourself, “What’s wrong with this?” Is the vibrato faster than I want? Is it too slow and narrow? Am I out of tune? These are the kinds of questions you should continually ask yourself if you want to improve.
To quickly improve your hearing for hearing when someone is using excellent vibrato, do the following:
1. Pay close attention to how your favorite guitarists use vibrato when playing.
2. Imitate the vibrato of your favorite singers with your guitar.
3. Work to switch between awesome vibrato and bad vibrato by intentionally playing it too narrow, too wide, too fast, out of tune, and so on. By doing this, you can easily identify when you or anyone else is playing poor vibrato.
Three. Develop a solid vibrato for bent and unbent notes
As soon as you can play great vibrato on unbent notes, use the same approach to make the bent notes sound totally awesome.
Complete each of these steps:
Step 1. Determine a note that you want to start with and choose the key to which you want to lean. As an example: start at the tenth fret of the G string, then bend to the twelfth fret pitch.
Step 2. Take the opening note and fold it.
Step 3. Once you have matched the desired pitch you are leaning to, let it play for a second.
Step 4. Take back the string and apply vibrato to it.
Step 5. Follow the steps above several times.
Step 6. Switch to a new part of the fretboard that is not near the area where you just played (such as playing above the 20th fret or on the lower strings around the lower frets) and repeat this whole process again. Do this for several minutes.
Kiln. Find out how to use “delayed vibrato”
You don’t always have to apply vibrato as soon as you hit a note – instead, give the note a moment to play … and bang! … apply vibrato. This will dramatically improve your writing in the following two ways:
1. Delayed vibrato draws more attention to the vibrato itself and makes your performance sound more intense.
2. Using this type of focus with vibrato will prevent you from rushing and using the technique in an out-of-control way.
That said, there are definitely times when using vibrato right after hitting a note sounds good. However, it is ten times easier to do this in a consistent and controlled way when you know how to use delayed vibrato.
Five. Work on integrating vibrato through variations
Developing your technical vibrato separate from everything else is simply not enough. You have to learn how to add variation to your vibrato to match the music you are playing. Think of a short guitar lick and work on creating tons of phrasing variations (changing the way the notes are played). This will help you seamlessly integrate vibrato into your guitar playing.