Adding Vibrato at the end of a Bend



  • iGougeriGouger Posts: 283
    Thanks again for the advice, everyone. That video Joebuddha posted was nice, and I learned a bit about the blues too.

    Yeah, listening to players you want to emulate is always helpful. I find I am more drawn to the wide and slow vibrato, like Michael Schenker's, Adrian Vandenberg's, Leslie West's.
  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 1,110
    Hopefully I'll get the vibrato video stuff done soon, but in the meantime...

    Applying vibrato to an already bent note is perhaps the hardest form of vibrato, so don't worry - you're not alone. Unlike standard rock vibrato, which involves raising the pitch above the original note and repeating, good bent-note-vibrato is like violin vibrato, in that it dips below the target note and not above it. It takes a lot of finger strength and good muscle memory to get it right, so practice makes perfect  :smile:

    If you aren't already doing it, bend the note with your ring finger and support it with your index and middle fingers. The extra strength from the other two fingers will make a big difference. You can progress to two finger or one finger bends and vibrato later.

    I'd recommend using the push/pull method, relaxing the bent note and then re-bending it, rather than using wrist rotation (which is much harder with a bent note).

    Use your thumb over the top of the neck as a counter balance to the bending fingers.

    You mentioned Michael Schenker's vibrato - that's about a semitone in width. Practise bending the note to pitch, releasing to a semitone lower, then bending back up and repeat. Do it super slowly to begin with, until you're sure you have the pitch nailed.

    The key to good vibrato is consistency. Whether it's narrow or wide, fast or slow, bent or unbent, make sure that the starting pitch and the pitch you are oscillating with are consistently EXACTLY the same. That's the reason people like Steve Morse have such shitty vibrato - it's not because it's too fast or wide, or that they over-bend, it's actually the note they *releasing* to is too sharp. Make sure the high pitch and low pitch are exactly the same. It's up to you how wide you want to make it. Guys like Zakk Wylde or John Sykes do whole-tone vibrato... If you like that sort of thing, go for it... But it's very hard to make that sound musical (but maybe that is not the intention). Schenker and Gary Moore tend to use about a semitone-width vibrato.

    As far as the speed goes, it helps to play along with a beat. Don't practise your vibrato without a tempo to adhere to. Whether it's a slow ballad or an up-tempo rocker, the expression of your vibrato needs to fit the song. Fast or slow, try to make your speed even - so your "micro-bend/releases" of vibrato are happening in time with the music. Try it with half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes - also try it with triplets. Good vibrato MUST bear some relation to the tempo of the music. You can get away with irrelevant vibrato speed with a fast shake - many guys have that super-fast, 1-speed vibrato, but it sounds very nervous... But if you want to use slower vibrato, you NEED to lock in with the tempo, or it'll sound like you don't have control or you don't know what you're doing.

    So practise slowly and evenly, trying to make your bend up the same speed as your release, without pausing. You want the pitch oscillation to look like a sine wave, rather than a sawtooth, if that makes sense  :smile:

    Hope this helps!
    "Practice cures most tone issues"
    - John Suhr
  • Mike_HMike_H Posts: 769
    That's a great explanation Andy. My vibrato tends to have good and bad days, or sometimes during the same song, especially if I am improvising. And bent note vibrato.....well, it is very hard, although I find that lighter strings helps me, maybe it is true for others?
    I find it weird that someone as proficient as Steve Morse has that kind of vibrato, I've noticed it before, either he likes it (doubtful), can't hear it (very very doubtful), or just doesn't care???? To me Zakk and Sykes have totally different sounding vibrato, maybe the pitch is the same, but the speed is way different, I think Sykes sometimes almost sounds like he is just bending the note, but somehow it works, and works great.
  • iGougeriGouger Posts: 283
    AndyG, thank you so much! That was probably the most helpful thing I've read on this thread, so +1 to you.
  • Andy GAndy G Posts: 1,110
    Thanks guys, I'm glad it's some help! :smile: I'll try to get some videos done to better demonstrate it eventually - I am still surrounded by boxes in my new apartment, and I need to decorate... The walls in my studio room are pink/light purple and I'm not sticking out a YouTube video until I've fixed that!  :chuckle:

    I should have mentioned string gauge, as that has a huge impact on bent note vibrato. Lighter strings will make it easier and will lessen fatigue. Whilst working on vibrato, it might be a good idea to use a slightly lighter gauge, or have a second guitar strung with lighter strings, whist you work on getting the pitch and timing spot on without tiring. You can always develop your muscles later - I think it's much more important to develop the ears first.

    And yes - Zakk and Sykes are very different, even if the width is similar. The two of them pioneered that exaggerated "tone-wide-rock-vibrato" around the same time, and now it's become an established technique. That's the awesome thing about vibrato - the variables that you use give so much character and personality. Sykes more than anybody I can think of, took that to an extreme - most guitarists (and singers, violinist, cellists etc) tend to use narrower vibrato the slower they go, and use more subtle, slower vibrato for slower songs, though there's a limit to how slow to go... At some point in the late 80s, Sykes threw those concepts out the window and wrote his own rules. The usual application for vibrato is to add a vocal, human element to an instrument that blends and reflects the music, but Sykes made it a characteristic of his style that actually jumps out of the song and hits you. To be honest, it's actually not vibrato, it's phrasing bends (as you said), especially with the exaggerated timing and pitch. Another tip if you want to emulate Sykes - he often uses triplet phrasing - which also makes it stand out more.
    "Practice cures most tone issues"
    - John Suhr
  • bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 1,638
    resurrecting this topic because i've been working on this lately.  i discovered a player that has the stingin'est vibrato/bend game i've ever heard.  i thought i had this together until i heard Monster Mike Welch. check it:  
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