How to Play Vibrato

Vibrato produces a ‘rapid slight variation in musical pitch producing a tremulous effect’.┬áLet’s see how to play vibrato on a guitar.

Vibrato can be achieved by pulling downwards on a string (using a similar technique to bending) with varying force. Take a look at the diagram below:

Vibrato on a Guitar

While pressing down on a fret, rotate your wrist back and forth using the point where the forefinger makes contact with the side of the neck as a pivot point as shown above. The thumb should be used to counteract the force generated by this movement. If done correctly you should repeatedly be pulling the string down then moving it back into its resting position, fluctuating the pitch of the string.

Listen to a slow vibrato:

Listen to a fast vibrato:

You can play vibrato using any of your fingers, but you should always use the same technique mentioned, i.e. use the forefinger as a pivot etc…

Vibrato on an Open String

It is possible to vibrato on an open string on some guitars. This is achieved by an alternative method to the one discussed above.

To vibrato an open string you must first pick the open string and then use your finger to apply fluctuating pressure on the string above the nut. Therefore this method will only work on guitars without a locking nut.

Guitar Tab Notation

This diagram shows the standard notation in guitar tabs. Note that it can also be denoted with a v above the tab.

Tab notation - Vibrato

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