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Shred Academy - Free Guitar Lesson by Jeff Treadwell
some point we all ask ourselves: "Okay, I'm playing the same
notes as this guitar player, BUT WHY DOES HE SOUND SO MUCH BETTER
THAN ME?!" Well,
most people I think would assume that he sounds better because
of all his expensive equipment, but the truth is, the reason why
he sounds better is probably because of his superior vibrato technique.
am sure you have heard the phrase "the tone is in the fingers"
right? Well that is what it means! Vibrato is the art of pulsating
the pitch of a note to make it sound more dramatic. In guitar
terms, that would be bending the note back in forth in order to
make it sound more expressive. So why is this important? Simply
put, most guitar players do not understand the importance of having
a good vibrato.
When I began
playing guitar, I had a fender strat and a fender amp with about
half the gain of your average practice amp. Since such a tone
is so unforgiving, I hard to work extra hard to make things sound
"right." I also had an older brother who kept telling
me that everything I was playing was crap, and that I had to work
on my bends and my vibrato.
I have seen
players on You Tube that can sweep up and down the neck, but when
they bend that note at the end, it sounds like a cat dying. You
want to sound like you are in control of your instrument because
you want to sound GOOD. No matter how fast you can shred or sweep,
if you cannot make that last note scream, you are not in control.
If you do not have control of the notes, no matter how insane
your chops are, your playing will still come across as "amateur-ish."
go further, lets examine some of the technical aspects of performing
vibrato. First of all, many people have asked me which direction
you should bend the strings. Generally, I have found that it is
easiest to bend the string 'down' (toward from your palm) on the
low E, A, D, and G strings, and to bend the string 'up' (away
from your palm) on the B and high e strings. I have, however,
seen many players bend the G string 'up' instead of 'down', so
that's a matter of what works for you. But the reason why you'd
want to bend the B and high e strings 'up' is because you wont
have to worry about pulling the strings off of the fretboard.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that the vibrato motion should
be done with the wrist, not the fingers. This will give you more
control of the motion.
I am asked often is how much should you bend the note during vibrato.
Up until I was first asked this I never really though about this,
I just let my ears guide me. After close examination though, I
have generally found that most the time I bend the notes a half
step. However, you will want to vary the pitch and speed of the
vibrato depending on how you want your phrases to speak. So I
guess my answer to this question is: You got ears, use 'em.
look at the right way to do vibrato, and the ways people do it
wrong. Generally, I have found that vibrato sounds best when it
is done slow and wide. The most common error players make when
performing vibrato is that they do it way to narrow, and way to
fast. Also, when your bending the note, make sure you bend it
at an even pitch and an even rate. Also, make sure to return to
the original pitch of the note after each bend, or else it will
sound out of tune. This can be especially difficult when performing
Bend-Vibratos. (That is when you bend the note, say a full step,
and then apply vibrato with the note still bent), but with enough
practice and dedication, it because part of your fingers muscle
memory and is second nature.
look at an example of good vibrato vs. bad vibrato with an 'A'
note on the G string
begin with this sounds terrible, and if you walk into a guitar
center, I guarantee you'll hear someone doing this. This is far
from musical because the vibrato is too fast, narrow, and is out
of tune. The
second half is much better, listen to how this note "sings"
compared to the other example.
clarify this, I will play an entire melody line. First it will
performed poorly, then it will be performed well.
The most important
thing to keep in mind while applying vibrato to bent notes is
that you return to the original pitch of the bent note after every
bend in the vibrato. Also, notice how the vibrato was gradually
sped up to add intensity.
lets try a "Zakk Wylde" style pich harmonic on the 5th
fret of the low E string
much better is sound when you shake the string nice and wide.
It really carries the harmonic and gives it attitude. If you play
this riff without the killer vibrato the harmonic just sounds
like a lifeless out of key note.
When you first
start to practice your vibrato you will notice that it actually
takes a lot of strength to do. Here are a couple tips I have that
can help you build your strength. If you have two guitars, try
putting thicker string gauges on one of them and practice your
vibrato on that one. I remember I had a friend with 11 gauge strings
on his guitar, and every time I saw him I'd take his guitar and
practice some bends on it. Once I played my own guitar a while
later, bending strings felt effortless. Of course, if you do not
have another guitar handy, I would recommend detuning the guitar
a semitone and work on getting the vibrato motion down.
learning when to perform vibrato it is equally as important as
knowing when not to perform vibrato. Using vibrato too much will
make your phrases sound like a mess while using it too little
will make your phrases sound to dull. The best way to improve
at this is to experiment and to examine the playing of other players
with good vibratos. In the end, however, the best way to learn
how to do a good vibrato is to learn from other players who already
have it! For starters, here is a list of my personal favorites:
Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden
Gus G from Firewind
Michael and Chris Amott from Arch Enemy (Check
out their Live Apocalypse DVD for the ultimate lesson on vibrato)
Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth (listen to his
solos in The Grand Conjuration and The Baying of the Hounds, this
guy's the master)
Jeff Loomis from Nevermore
Glen Drover from Megadeth
look for any of these guys in You Tube or look for their band's
DVD's and watch their technique, that is how I learned. Also,
you do not have to limit yourself to guitar players, many vocalists
and other instrumentalists (such as violin and cello players)
have amazing vibratos. For example, check out Kamelot's vocalist
Roy Khan, he has amazing vibrato. Try to learn from as many different
sources as you can, and find what works best for you.