How To Master Expressive Guitar Vibrato Technique


By Tom Hess


I have zero doubt that:


Vibrato technique is the most critical technique to develop if you want to sound like an excellent guitarist.


Why is this exactly?


Because notes that have no vibrato quickly becoming boring and lifeless.


I learned this when I was a young guitar player trying to build my chops.


I had the skills to play with speed, but I quickly learned that did not understand how to play with passion and emotion.


What did I do? I did these two things:


I started taking guitar lessons with an experienced teacher and looked to my favorite singers for inspiration to develop my vibrato style.


So, I came up with ten easy steps for mastering vibrato fast.


Watch this video to learn them now:


Now you know the basics, so let’s take your vibrato technique to a new level. Use these tips to do it:



Advanced Guitar Vibrato Tip #1: Use More Than One Vibrato Style


What is the fastest way to make any guitar solo sound better?


Use vibrato differently within it.


Use vibrato instantly after the string is picked. Delay your vibrato. Delay vibrato then re-articulate the string. Use wide vibrato (1 step or more). Slow vibrato. Vibrato together with rubato. And combinations of everything mentioned here.


It’s not difficult.


Check out this video to see how this tip improved the sound of one of my students’ guitar playing:



Advanced Guitar Vibrato Tip #2: Study Your Favorite Singers’ Phrases


This improved my vibrato technique more than anything.


What you do is the following:


Transcribe your favorite vocal melodies to guitar and use your technique to emulate the singer’s sound as best as you can.


Don't worry about the placement of your hand here. Focus on getting the very best sounding vibrato.


(Let your ears guide your hands to use the best motions.)


Want to see what I mean?


Fabio Lione is one of my favorite singers.


Check out this video with Fabio and I where we improvise melodies together:



Advanced Guitar Vibrato Tip #3: Master Vibrato On bent Strings


Bent note vibrato is not as easy as playing vibrato as you would on unbent strings.


But when you play it the right way…


…it sounds beautiful and amazing like nothing else you can do on guitar.


The hardest part of bent note vibrato technique is:


Keeping the bent note as your target pitch.


Plus, you have three different ways to play bent note vibrato:


  1. raising the pitch higher than the bent note.


  1. lowering the pitch lower than the bent note (you need a guitar with a floating bridge to do this).


  1. moving the vibrato both above AND below the bent note.


Moving the vibrato above and below is the most difficult of the three (and the most impressive in my opinion).


Watch this video to see what I am referring to:


Want to more bent-note vibrato advice? Check out this lead guitar playing video by one of my students Mike Philippov.



Advanced Guitar Vibrato Tip #4: Use Vibrato While Playing Chords


Many guitar players like playing lead guitar above playing rhythm.




People often struggle to play chords in a way that sound expressive and interesting.


This is one reason why lead guitar seems so much cooler than rhythm to a lot of people.


But what if it were possible to use lead guitar technique to enhance your chords? Is that something that can really be done?


It sure is.


Check out this free video demonstration to learn how to do vibrato on chords and sound expressive when you do it.


Bonus idea: you can add vibrato to make your double stops sound cool also (using a floating bridge is the best approach here).


Watch this video to see some examples of double stops with vibrato:


Now that you know how to play with top-tier vibrato technique, the next step is to find the mistakes in other areas of your guitar playing and fix them.


How do you do that? Answer:


Download this no-cost guitar cheat sheet and make organizing your guitar practice much easier.



Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a professional guitarist, composer, and an online guitar teacher. He is a trainer and mentor to guitar players from around the world in his guitar lessons online. Follow Tom Hess on Twitter for free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources and more guitar playing articles.