Dansm's Guitar Techniques
Vibrato

Vibrato is a technique used to give interest to notes which are held for a long time. The sound created by vibrato is a slight wavering in the pitch, like a rapid but slight bend-and-release. It is rather difficult to do well but is well worth it once you learn how. Vibrato is indicated in tab notation by this symbol:
   +   +   +   +    
e:-----------------|
B:-7~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-|
G:-----------------|
D:-----------------|
A:-----------------|
E:-----------------|
The vibrato indicated is played on the second string 5th fret.
The vibrato indicated above is accomplished by fretting the note indicated in the tab. Then, move your finger quickly back and forth within the fret, as shown in the diagram below. Make sure you keep the string fully fretted at all times. It is easier to bend the string in only one direction on the fret, not in both directions. This is also indicated in the diagram. The direction you choose should depend on which string you are using and on personal preference. When you try this you should hear the pitch of the note moving quickly up and down as you move the string back and forth. For all practical purposes, you are doing a rapid -step bend-and-release for the duration of the note. You can fret the note with any finger you like, as long as you can produce a decent vibrato sound with that finger.




The vibrato notated above sounds like this:
68K wav file
OK, now that you know what it is, how do you use it? Here's an example of the use of vibrato while holding a note:
   +   +   +   +     +   +   +   +     +   +   +   +     +   +   +   +    
e:-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
B:-7h8p7-.---.---.-|-----.---.-------|-----------------|-----------------|
G:-------9---7---7-|-----7-.-9---7~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~-|
D:-----------------|-7h9---9---------|-----------------|-----------------|
A:-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
E:-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
The tab notated above sounds like this:
128K wav file
That's about it for vibrato. They are somewhat difficult to perform correctly, so expect them to take a lot of practice. The hardest part is moving your finger back and forth along the fret while keeping the string fretted. Good luck with this new technique!
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1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 12-7-97