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Author Topic: Bending and Vibrato  (Read 5683 times)

Offline simonlock

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Bending and Vibrato
« on: October 23, 2007, 08:36:16 AM »
I admit it. My bending and vibrato suck. I'd really like to improve these two areas so i thought I'd enlist the help of my friends and peers.

I've always done my vibrato and bends from my fingers only. When it comes time to do a bend or vibrato I'll flex my finger muscles and press the string against the frets and bend or wag the string with my fingers. I'm having a hard time converting to the wrist action that most good benders use. Probably mostly because I've been doing it my way for so long.

If you're good at it please answer this. Do you press the string any harder against the fretboard or is the best articulation achieved when the wrist is loose and the string pressed only as hard as needed to sound?

Simon
Vancouver,BC
 

Bending and Vibrato

Offline Strandwolf

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2007, 10:09:31 AM »
Vast topic, as there are many types and techniques. I suck at the kinds I've tried to emulate. I think I saw an article in an old Guitar Player mag that seemed pretty authoritative, but I can't remember the specifics--sort of recall that various vibrato-ists were interviewed, including B. B. King, who expounded on the nature of his signature trill for the hundredth time. Or, maybe the article author just dredged up quotes from previous interviews in compiling the article, based on lots of people's insights, including his own. Otherwise they wouldn't have published it. Here on this forum, though, I tell it like it isn't, with aplomb and impugnity. [:D]

 Anyway, my advice is to set up a practice guitar with very light strings and/or tune down. Say, 008, 009, 013, 018, 026, 036--real rubber bands. Then you get the motion for the sound (if not the tone) you seek without the finger pain.

The speed and the stretch of the 'wobble' can be played with. I'd die for some vibratos I've heard--it's a real art in itself, and very distinctive/individualistic, including in how often it is used--you wouldn't want to overflash it--just tease every now and then so that folks will think--wow, was that a fluke or can he do that at will--c'mon do it again! Tease 'em...leave 'em aching for more.[:D]

Yeah, there's lots of vibratos. Some with just finger, some with wrist, elbow, shoulder, toes.

Oh, and another think, for bends, don't have too low an action, a flatter fretboard is better than a highly curved one, and try to slip the bent string under or at least against the strings it runs into, instead of squashing them down on the fretboard. It means more resistance, maybe, or maybe less if you slide your finger tips under the G and D stuhrings with that B in yer bonnet, but you'll have more control on the vibrato of the bend at the new higher pitch, and less inadvertent noise generated by the strings supposedly not in play.

Here's a basic practice: on the B string at the 8th fret you would normally have a G. Make the E-shape A chord at the 5th fret, take your 4th finger, the ring finger, the one between your pinkie and your bird finger, put it on the G-spot, and bend that critter up a tone to A, and wobble yourself into bliss. Thinking scientifically as I am wont to do (what's the alternative? artistically? Ugh) your A would be at roughly 440cps. Go back and forth from Aflat to Asharp at various tempos. Analyze which muscles help out, and which should best be left at rest during the procedure. See how your ring finger runs into the next string(s). Consider taking up the diddy-bo.
Try a vibrato a half step up. One and half...do not touch the whammy bar. Try a vibrato/pitch raise down in position III instead of from V.

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« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 10:30:10 AM by Strandwolf »
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Bending and Vibrato

Offline prjacobs

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2007, 12:27:05 PM »
I think that listening to singers in addition to guitarists can help. Some have slow vibratos, some fast.  The slow ones come from the diaphragm, the fast ones from the throat.  I would recommend trying not to use the fingers for a vibrato, which will slow it down.  Fast vibratos, to me, sound nervous.  The most stable fingers for me are the ring finger (3), and the middle finger (2).  I tend to support the ring finger the best. I would start with whatever feels most stable for you and use the entire arm, or the forearm.... whatever works, to produce a slow vibrato.  The larger muscles will ultimately be easier to control.  With bending, I've found that many less experienced guitarists do not bend up to the destination pitch before vibrating the string.  Getting to the correct pitch is the first priority.  Again, experiment with the larger muscles.... And get down with your bad self.  Think of singing.  Don't drive yourself nuts.  It's a feel thing.  Just let it evolve.  Find your own way.  (I sound like an episode of Kung Fu...:)
 

Bending and Vibrato

Offline Paul Marossy

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2007, 12:37:55 PM »
quote:
The most stable fingers for me are the ring finger (3), and the middle finger (2).


I concur, although I can use any of my fingers to get some vibrato... [8D]

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« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 12:58:20 PM by Paul Marossy »

Bending and Vibrato

Offline Strandwolf

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2007, 01:14:02 PM »
When bending up on the b string I always use the ring finger and it's a lot easier when the index and middle fingers actually oomph it along.

Speaking of vibrato, with added tremelo, check out this woman's probably totally untrained but to my ears poignant warbling (hope the link works)

http://www.sirshambling.com/sounds/susan_king/Where%20Will%20I%20Find%20Him.mp3
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Bending and Vibrato

Offline simonlock

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2007, 05:24:16 PM »
Uhh I geuss my point was missed. I can do vibrato and have no finger pain doing it my way. I don't really suck to the point that i need GuitarPlayer lessons to teach me how. I'm looking for real insight from someone that ROCKS at it.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
 

Bending and Vibrato

Offline jamrcat

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2007, 05:53:37 PM »
Strength is the key for me. I always use my index or ring finger because I have the most strength in those, which equates into control for me. None of my other fingers have enough strength - though I can do bends and vibrato's with all including my thumb! [:I]

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« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 05:54:10 PM by jamrcat »
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Bending and Vibrato

Offline jamrcat

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2007, 05:58:42 PM »
I want to add: when I was a teen in my first show band, a very astoute player ( I'll leave his name out as to not be too tacky)commented that he thought I used too much bending in my leads. The real reason was I was using bends as a way of covering up my lack of knowledge of scales etc. I forced myself to not use bends and vibrato less and attempt to be more tasteful, which equated into more intelligent playing! [8)]

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Bending and Vibrato

Offline Strandwolf

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2007, 06:01:04 PM »
quote:
Originally posted by simonlock

Uhh I geuss my point was missed. I can do vibrato and have no finger pain doing it my way. I don't really suck to the point that i need GuitarPlayer lessons to teach me how. I'm looking for real insight from someone that ROCKS at it.

Simon
Vancouver,BC



Search on youtube. There's hundreds of instructional videos for scales and stuff, so maybe....

Report back if you stumble upon a really good one.
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Bending and Vibrato

Offline simonlock

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2007, 07:28:18 PM »
I'm really looking for the mechanics of what it feels like. I can do vibrato and bending with very little pressure but it takes a lot of concentration and my tendency I think is to press too hard. I mean we really only need to use force in the direction the string needs to move and about an 1.5ozs to hold it against the string. I think the tendency is to apply more force against the fretboard than what is needed. Possibly in fear of having that nasty sound when we mess up a bend and the string slips.ewwww. I've found I can't play many Vai or Satch songs because I learned them 15 years ago and still to this day play them with the same muscle memory. I just avoid playing them now.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
 

Bending and Vibrato

Offline prjacobs

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2007, 08:45:34 PM »
Simon,
Bite the bullet and just don't use your fingers for a while and create vibratos with the wrist, forearm, arm and shoulder, as I mention above. What do you have to lose? If you move your fingers, you're disconnecting the rest of your arm from the process.  You ask about mechanics, and using just the fingers, if you'll pardon me, could be your mechanical mistake.  Perhaps just trying to create a sound you like without bending would be a good way to start.  Listen, and see what you don't like about your present vibrato. Some players seem to be better at sliding up to a note rather than bending it.  
Action does play a big part.  If your fingers are slipping off of the strings, then your action is too low.  There's always a trade off.  Speed vs. vibrato.
 

Bending and Vibrato

Offline simonlock

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2007, 09:40:27 PM »
I'd like to become more proficient with bending and vibrato. pr, from the wrist is just what I'd like to master. It just feels so alien. And again I get around better without bending. I'll slide or legato so much I barely feel the need to bend. In fact I could go without bending almost all together. I just feel guilty for not taking advantage of such a major technique.

Simon
Vancouver,BC
 

Bending and Vibrato

Offline Strandwolf

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« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2007, 09:55:14 PM »
Simon, you might give a listen to Michael Bloomfield's rendition of 'Albert's Shuffle' on the Super Sessions with Al Kooper.

Synesthesiatically, it's kind of like a lava lamp. Bloomfield was a vibrato maestro.

Simon: mother humpin' load righchere:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBIC5wfFqSM

&...
This cat plays a Diane Allman signature Gibson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lheaHVEPEGg

He gets his sweet vibrato with the index finger mostly quavering slowly, steadily, toward the high E string side of the fretboard, rather than pushing up towards himself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lheaHVEPEGg
« Last Edit: October 23, 2007, 10:17:51 PM by Strandwolf »
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Bending and Vibrato

Offline bno

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2007, 10:14:34 PM »
Okey, here's another two cents (there's approx. 76 cents to the semitone).  Use a handful of different vibrato and bend techniques.  There are two reasons, 1) each has its own nuance and 2) the way to avoid repetitive stress issues is to avoid repetitive stress.  

For instance:

Classical/jazz guitar vibrato - done by rolling the finger(s) back and forth along the length of the neck, in effect shortening and lengthening the string - subtle, kind of phasey, nice for chords and slow legato melodies.

That flappy hard rock guitar solo thing - using the first knuckle of your index finger as the fulcrum and fretting a note with your first or second finger, take your thumb off the neck and 'flap' or waggle your hand at the wrist - very fast and deep, like a Leslie, somewhat of a cliche but very effective in the right style.

Push, Pull and Push/Pull - my favorite, the three variants, I do it with my whole arm, the fingers don't really move, sometimes I'm actually shaking the neck - I have a fair amount of control over the speed and depth, can be done with all fingers, you can push on the higher strings and pull on the lower, or a combo push/pull on the middle four.  I get more of a sax or vocalist speed and depth.  Great on all string guages and guitar types.  

As you note, they are done not with the fingers but with the wrist or arm.  The finger frets the note, and your arm and/or wrist works the note, either rotating around the radius/ulna and/or using your bicep to move your forearm up and down and/or waving the wrist.

On bends, depending on string guage, I rotate the wrist to push or pull the string.  On heavier strings I do have to get the finger joints involved.

Another thing to note, piano players can't bend notes and yet by doing what are called crushed note phrases they can give an sense of bending through blue notes.  You can do the same on a guitar by doing slides up or down through two or three frets.  Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, B.B. King, et al.

In other words don't try to change what you already do, just add to your bag of tricks.  I'm guessing you're not happy with what you're getting either because you do it the same way every time and you're bored with it or you don't have the expressive control you want.

And to answer you question, my arm has to be relaxed and free to move, the finger pressure is firm and even to keep the tone clean without a lot of pressure into the back of the neck with the thumb.  The only difference between vibrato and dry is that the arm or wrist is moving.  At least for me.  This is actually a very personal thing and one of the essential elements to developing your own style and tone.
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Bending and Vibrato

Offline Paul Marossy

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Bending and Vibrato
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2007, 06:22:59 AM »
quote:
Push, Pull and Push/Pull - my favorite, the three variants, I do it with my whole arm, the fingers don't really move, sometimes I'm actually shaking the neck - I have a fair amount of control over the speed and depth, can be done with all fingers, you can push on the higher strings and pull on the lower, or a combo push/pull on the middle four. I get more of a sax or vocalist speed and depth. Great on all string guages and guitar types.


I think this is the method I use most of the time. Works real well with feedback and an Ebow, too. [8D]

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