The Right Way To Practice Vibrato Technique For Guitar

by Mike Philippov


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The sound of your vibrato determines how good your overall guitar playing sounds.

Mastering vibrato is about:

  • Making the physical aspect of the technique as efficient as you can. This helps your hands produce great-sounding vibrato with ease.
  • Tracking progress with vibrato, so you have objective proof of how close you are to mastering this technique.

Part 1: How To Make Your Vibrato Technique As Efficient As You Can

There are 4 principles of efficient vibrato playing that make this technique easy to do.

Some guitar players take vibrato technique for granted and try to do what feels natural. Others get lost in paralysis by analysis of technical details and become afraid to practice.

Vibrato technique is about focusing on 4 basic fundamentals. This video shows what they are and how to master them:

Tip: Vibrato requires quite a lot of strength and physical tension from your fretting hand. Don’t be afraid to squeeze the guitar very hard when doing vibrato. Relax the tension in your hand after the vibrato is over. This avoid a buildup of tension throughout your body that gets in the way of faster playing.

Part 2: How To Track Your Progress With Vibrato

Great vibrato achieves perfect balance between its speed and width. Use a metronome to test consistency and speed of your vibrato and get objective proof of your progress with this technique.

This video shows how to track progress with your vibrato technique:

 

Go here to watch the second part of the video about practicing vibrato on guitar.

Follow the steps below to integrate vibrato training with your other practice materials and improve your guitar playing faster:

  1. Track the speed at which you can do vibrato in the same way you track speed with general guitar technique exercises. Although your vibrato doesn't always have to be in strict time when you apply it in music, you must have the “ability” to make it very controlled if needed. This allows you to select the most perfect way to apply vibrato in your guitar solos. In addition, tracking your vibrato top speed tells you exactly how this technique is improving in your guitar playing.

  2. Record yourself playing vibrato into your computer and listen to it at half speed. This gives you great feedback about how in tune and consistent the bends of the vibrato are in relation to the click. This becomes particularly important as your speed increases.

  3. Don’t practice vibrato on guitar in isolation (on only a single note) all the time. Practice it in the context of various licks and phrases, focusing on timing and control. There is a big difference between simply doing vibrato well on a single note and doing it in the context of a musical phrase. Each skill needs specialized practice.

  4. When you improvise over backing tracks, intentionally do vibrato on guitar in different note values (quarter notes, eighth notes and triplets). This step is different from practicing to a metronome, because you think differently when soloing over an actual musical context vs. playing to a click (or drum beat).

Don’t lose sight of the big picture in your quest to achieve speed with vibrato. Slow and controlled guitar vibrato that fits the music always sounds better than a fast and out-of-control one. Don’t increase the metronome tempo until you are certain that you are playing vibrato in time and in tune.

This process helps you improve your guitar vibrato and makes your guitar playing sound better every time you play.

Learn more about correct vibrato practice for guitar.

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