Vibrato is a musical effect, produced in singing and on musical instruments (like the guitar 🙂 ) by a regular pulsating change of pitch. It’s basically a sound effect which makes a note oscillate up and down.
The standard definition does not, however, cover the true meaning of the vibrato. Mastering the vibrato will bring new meaning to your solos and riffs. It will punctuate a given part of the solo, add texture and depth. Many guitarist actually say that using vibrato will make the difference between a good solo and an epic solo!
TIP: Check out our video guitar lesson on vibratos, it will make learning and understanding it much easier.
How to Vibrato Correctly
- Fret a given note on any string with any finger.
- Move your finger in a way that moves the string up and down, thereby slightly changing its pitch up and down.
- Experiment with hand positioning. The easiest way to carry out a vibrato is to make your fretting hand almost parallel with the fretboard, and wiggle your hand sideways, thereby moving the string up and down with your fretting finger.
- The more you move the string, the larger the oscillation from the original note.
- You’ll need to experiment with vibratos: the speed of the vibrato and the amount you alter the pitch both have a huge affect on what your solo “says”.
- Get all of your fingers used to the vibrato!
Guitar Vibrato Mixed with Other Lead Guitar Techniques
Vibratos are an integral part of the unique style of each and every player. You'll want to not only work at your vibrato in it's purity, but also integrated with other lead guitar elements.
Bend + Vibrato
You can add vibrato to a string you are bending. You have to reach the note you are aiming for with the bend, and apply vibrato to the string in its “pre-bent” position.
As you know, a diad is 2 notes played on different string on a given scale. Power chords are diads for example. Blues players use vibrato on diads often. The trick is to vibrato both strings in absolute harmony, otherwise it won’t sound good. You’ll have to practice that technique a lot to get it perfect, but afterwards, it’ll add a very interesting twist to your playing.
When you are playing a solo, and have reached the end of a given phrase, you can experiment with letting the note ring out by itself, and adding vibrato a couple of moments later. This is a nice, subtle vibrato effect.
A great song to practice these techniques with is our lesson on Slash’s cover of the Godfather Theme, Speak Softly love. He uses huge vibratos, bends and slides, and adds immense depth to this love song.