Why Your Vibratos Suck
A little introduction to what vibrato is
Vibratos - which comes from the Italian word vibrare meaning "to vibrate" is a key phrasing element. In guitar playing, vibrato is used to add feeling to your playing. Without phrasing elements, playing can feel robotic and stale.
Vibratos are common to vocal and string instruments and consist of two variances. The amount of pitch changes from the beginning note to the variation. And the speed in which it's executed.
Reasons Why Your Vibrato Might Suck
This article is for those of you who know how to do a vibrato. It could be a standard vibrato or a bend-vibrato you are using. And somehow it just doesn't sound right yet. Whether you are playing your favourite song or during an improvisation. You can't quite put your finger on it.
Let see some of the reasons why this might be.
The Pitch Variance
Your pitch variance is not consistent
When you do your vibrato, you are not consistently hitting the next note. Whether it's semi-tone above or a tone above. It should be consistent and while travelling back down to the original note.
Practise playing your vibrato slowing. Making sure when you bend the string, the note that sounds is the one you want.
Your vibrato is out of tune
When you bend your string, it's not going to the right pitch. It's not in the right key, and so it sounds out of tune.
The other reason it can sound out of tune is that you are not returning it back to the original pitch.
When you practise slow, ensure you return the string in a controlled manner back to its original place.
The speed of your vibrato is not consistent
Based on the music, or your own taste. You may have a preference for slow or fast vibratos. Whichever one you choose to play need to have the right rhythmic structure. The speed of your vibrato reflects how smooth your vibrato is.
Practise your vibrato to a metronome to different time signatures. Using quarter, eighth notes, triplets, sixteenth notes. Practise getting it consistent, so that when you use it. You can get the right consistency for speed.
The speed of your vibrato is not in time with the music
Whether you decide to do triplet vibratos or quadruplets vibratos. It's important that it is in time with the music. Starting from a definite point and ending at a definite point.
When you do quick vibratos, all this slow practise to help to make sure the quality of your vibrato doesn't deteriorate. You want to have control over that note, to make it sound as expressive as you want.
Your vibrato is not appropriate for the music
Besides the points above which may affect the quality of your vibrato. You want to make sure your vibrato fits into the music you are playing. Whether it's the speed of your vibrato is too aggressive for a soft piece, or too slow for a fast piece. Or your vibrato is stopping too soon when it calls for an expressive moment. You want to convey the right emotion with the right vibrato.
Practise this by imagining yourself singing the vibrato. Or imagine how the vibrato would sound in your head perfectly with the piece. Before you play it. And then try to get your vibratos to be as close to your imaginary vibrato.
Ear training is important for you to be able to hear the quality of your vibrato and ensure it is always in tune. This is why beginner guitar players will not be able to tell the difference in different vibratos. But an advanced player definitely can.
Your vibrato is dying out
When you do your vibrato, it's ending before you've even got started.
This is to do with the pressure on your vibrato, staying consistent. So the vibration of the strings does not get lost through dampening.
Your vibrato isn't distinct to you yet
You have worked on your own vibrato that you are comfortable with yet. So when you come to use it, it's not consistent. It takes time to make your vibrato sound great. So it doesn't sound like a buzzing bee and sounds weak. To create your own signature vibrato. Listen to your favourite players and try to mimic their vibrato as practice. Then try variations of vibratos yourself experimenting with the pitch and speed. Making sure that everything you do is intentional. And most important, use it fluently and confidently with the rest of your playing.
If you would still like help on your vibratos or would like more advice about other areas of your guitar playing. And you live in London, get in contact with us to find out how we can help you with your guitar playing.