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Learn How To Use Vibrato

Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series - Lesson 7/12

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Welcome to video seven in the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series. In this lesson, I’m going to help you kick your self-expression up another notch with a technique called the vibrato. Learning vibrato will really help you develop your own sound as a lead guitar player. Look at B.B. King for example. If you hear even just one note with his vibrato, you can tell right away that it’s B.B. King.

Just like a singer has their own natural vibrato with their voice, you’ll need to find and develop your vibrato sound. I believe that the best way to do this is to listen to your favorite guitar players and take note of how they use vibrato. Pull all the best parts from your favorite players and begin to make them your own, continuing to develop your own sound. For me, my favorite players for vibrato are Eric Johnson and Ty Tabor.

There are endless techniques for vibrato, so I’m going to show you the two ways that have worked best for me. Let’s start at the sixth fret of the B string using your pinky. The first technique for vibrato is like bending the guitar string up slightly, but over and over. Just like I showed you in the bending lesson, I have a little pivot between my thumb and my wrist.

The second way I want to show you I actually learned from Eric Johnson. When he does vibrato, he releases his thumb from the back of the guitar neck and uses his entire arm to push up on the string. In the video, you can see when I use this method my whole arm is working on the vibrato.

I honestly use both of these different methods to play vibrato, just depending on how I want the vibrato to sound. Try out both ways, experiment with how you want your vibrato to sound, and find what feels comfortable for you.

Vibrato is a very expressive technique, and there are two different elements of vibrato that you can use to change the mood or vibe of your music. The first element you can change is the speed of your vibrato, keeping it fast or slow to match the mood of your music. In the video, you can see that changing the speed of my vibrato makes a big difference in the overall sound.

The second element that will help you develop your voice with guitar playing is the width of your vibrato. Your vibrato can be narrow and subtle, or very wide across the fretboard. You can choose how wide you play your vibrato depending on the moment, and depending on how you want to sound.

Vibrato is a very personal technique, and there’s no right or wrong sound to it. Experiment with this technique to figure out what works for you and how you want to develop your vibrato. Pull up any of the jam tracks to practice with, and have fun trying it out. Watch the video to see an example of my vibrato to the minor scale jam track.

In the next video lesson, we’re going to go over the last technique in the Lead Guitar Quick-Start Series. We’ll look at the legato technique, which consists of hammer-ons and pull-offs. If you have any questions about vibrato technique please post a comment down below. See you in the next lesson!

Next Lesson - Hammer-Ons & Pull-Offs
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