• Andy Gibson

Wiggle Room

There’s only a single thing that can turn me off from a guitarist. No, it’s not a lack of speed, vocabulary, gear, or tone. Maybe I lied - poor tone will do it, but I’ll get to that in a different blog post. To illustrate where I’m going, imagine this scenario:

I’m checking out a band at a local venue. They’re tight, and absolutely crushing it. Halfway through a mid-tempo ballad, the lead guitarist steps forward for the obligatory solo. Opening with a fantastic line, he settles in a slow, climbing whole step bend with stellar intonation and then…

…violently shakes the note with a quick, sharp, rigid vibrato reminiscent of the elderly lady that sits behind you and sings at church. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing in the right application. It absolutely has a place in music and specifically guitar music. The problem is there are a slew of guitarists that do not know where that place is. Maybe it’s an intentional choice, but I’m willing to bet for several players it isn’t - and it likely hasn’t been considered or is a conscious decision. Does that make them poor guitar players? Not in the least bit. We've all approached or will approach this hurdle in our never-ending quest to simply be better guitar players.

Here’s the thing - you wouldn’t shout while conversing in a coffee shop or quiet restaurant. You probably also wouldn’t paint your house with a tire iron or shave your beard with a weed whacker. Using the correct tools and methods in the right environments typically yield the best results. With that said -

Few things can make a single note more interesting and satisfying for the listener than a sophisticated, musical vibrato. Being players of fretted instruments, we don’t have the liberty of utilizing pitches both above and below the note with exception of bending, using a slide, or a guitar’s tremolo. However if you listen in depth to your favorite guitar players, they likely don’t have an issue with it.

A quick and intense vibrato isn’t any more out of place in the wrong scenario than a wide and slow one, which could simply make you sound out of tune. Everything has its place. Spend a day honing in your vibrato technique, record yourself, and listen. You will be amazed at the improvement in your sound as a whole. Excellent, appropriate, well-placed vibrato is every bit as tasteful and juicy as a perfectly marinated steak. The next time you pick up a guitar, use your ears and eat up!

71 views

Recent Posts

See All

WHO'S THE AUDIENCE?

Clearly the attendees in the crowd, you might think. While that’s blatantly obvious, I’d make the case that several - if not most - aspiring professional and young professional musicians don’t ask the

THE TABLES TURN

I’m spending the off-day in lovely (read: cold) Sioux Falls, South Dakota, kicking a flu-like ailment that decided to show up this week. Last night in Lincoln, Nebraska, we had a killer show with one

Copyright Andy Gibson (2016)