Want to make your licks sound like expressive musical ideas using top-tier guitar vibrato technique?
Vibrato is instrumental for creating tons of expressive emotion on guitar...
...but many guitarists unintentionally ruin their licks by making one of several common guitar vibrato mistakes.
Fixing these mistakes keeps your guitar vibrato sounding great so your guitar playing has tons of feeling and sounds 100% pro.
It doesn't take a very long time to develop killer vibrato when you know what to practice and which mistakes to look out for.
Learn what you need to do right now to make your guitar vibrato sound perfect by watching the video below:
Playing with vibrato out of tune is the quickest way to ruin your guitar licks and solos.
It makes your guitar playing sound amateur, "off" or just sloppy.
How do you know if your guitar vibrato is in tune?
You do not stop anywhere in between the original pitch and your intended target pitch while bending the string/ applying the technique. This applies when you are either returning to the original pitch or on the way to the target pitch.
Make sure your vibrato stays in tune by picking the target pitch first as shown in the video.
Next, pick the string and bend it to match the target pitch. Eventually, bring everything together so you don't even need to prepare to bend to the target pitch.
Use A Creative Mix Of Different Guitar Vibrato Approaches
There are many creative ways to use guitar vibrato technique. Learning how to use vibrato with variety enhances the phrases in your guitar playing and solos.
Don't make the common mistake of only using one or two approaches with this technique.
This is what a lot of players do and it gets old very quickly.
Plus, learning different ways to apply the technique is a lot of fun!
For example, two types of guitar vibrato include:
Wide and fast: Wide refers to the interval distance between the original and target pitch being one step or more. The rate at which you fluctuate between those pitches what fast refers to. This guitar vibrato approach feels very intense and expressive – great for the first or final note in a guitar phrase.
Narrow and medium: This means the vibrato is less than 1 step between the original and target pitch with a rate that is moderately paced. This is great all-around vibrato to use to enhance various notes within a phrase.
Add Drama To Your Bends With Vibrato That Is Delayed
Making your bends sound amazing is simple when you use guitar vibrato. However, you have more creative options to work with than you think...
Bends give you the opportunity to improve the timing of your vibrato for added expression.
What do I mean?
While bending a string, add vibrato to the note at the highest point of the bend, but do it in the following manner:
Strike the string to articulate the note.
Waiting a moment...
...THEN add vibrato.
I call this approach using “delayed vibrato”, and it sounds very expressive!
…But don’t use it every time. Mix this in with the other approaches you learned above.
Even something as awesome as this can quickly become repetitive if you use it more than once or twice within a phrase. At first, get used to this approach by applying it to the first and/or last note of a lick. Then slowly continue from there to apply it into your overall guitar playing until it feels natural.
Here are some great general idea to keep in mind when soloing and using vibrato:
1. Delay the vibrato while playing emotionally important notes in a phrase.
2. Leave more space in between musical ideas during licks and solos to give yourself time to think of what to play next.
3. Don't play guitar licks and solos by cramming as many notes into them as possible. Allow some notes to just hang there and ring out by themselves - practice using guitar vibrato variations to enhance these notes.
Now get quick tips to help you improve your lead guitar playing and integrate them together with vibrato in your practice schedule:
While you play guitar licks and solos, focus on playing high-quality phrases that flow smoothly together.
This works well when you are playing a longer guitar solo that eventually plays a reocurring lick to come back from the break section. The point is that when the solo is over, the listener can still recall how the solo sounded by hearing the main theme you kept coming back to and having it stick out in their minds (due to it being connected to another part of the song outside of the solo).
As examples of what I'm talking about, check out songs by some of your favorite lead guitar players to see how they use types of themes and variations or melody creation in their soloing.
Notice that sometimes although there are a lot of different techniques being used in these songs, yet you can still sing the main melody and identify the track just by hearing it.
To develop your guitar soloing to another level, practice getting good at developing a single phrase before switching to a new phrase - rather than playing every phrase once and constantly trying to reinvent the wheel every few seconds (a common mistake).
Want to get better at playing lead guitar technique fast, clean and consistent? Take guitar lessons - Here is what my students have to say about the results they've receieved from their guitar lessons:
“Before I took lessons with Tom Hess, I wanted to learn how to do some sweep picking and I also wanted to fill in a few gaps that I thought I might’ve had in my playing. And also I was feeling a little bit frustrated with not knowing where to take my playing. I didn’t really know how to get better. I felt like I reached a plateau, so that’s why I sought out Tom.”
I’ve had a few other guitar teachers before I took lessons with Tom, and most of them weren’t very good. And after reading a few articles online that Tom had written, I could tell that this guy was going to be the teacher for me.
The biggest thing that I really like is the actual guitar lessons themselves. I’m finding that I’m learning new things that I never even considered every single time I get a lesson. Something new to apply to my playing each time. But of course, I really enjoy the forum as well, because thanks to the lessons with Tom, I’ve been able to meet people from all over the world who have similar experiences and similar goals, so that’s been really motivating as well.
Before I took lessons with Tom I really didn’t like improvisation. I knew scales, and I knew kind of how they applied over chord progressions, but I just didn’t like it. Since taking lessons with Tom, some of the lessons are focused on that specific issue, and now I feel really comfortable about getting up in front of people and playing over any type of… in any key any backing track, I feel pretty comfortable doing that.
Tom actually knows what my goals are and gives me specific lessons that will help me achieve those goals. Other teachers that I’ve had before just do it their way… it’s either their way or the highway. And they don’t really care about what I wanted to do, and they didn’t really listen, and they didn’t really look into what I was doing or what my interests were and didn’t really play into that.
It’s really motivating to get to know people who are also students of Tom. It’s really good to have positive-minded musicians around even if I’m just talking to them online, or if I meet them in person, either way it’s still really motivating.
The forum has helped me because I am able to ask any music theory related questions or technique questions and I get those answered very very quickly. And I also like to participate in discussions and help share my knowledge as well with other people, which when I do that I feel that it’s reinforcing the things that I know as well, so it helps with my music theory knowledge when I share as well.
Greg Trotter, Melbourne, Australia
“I just love guitar lessons with Tom, he literally takes the time to make a specific lesson plan and sends you lessons as you need it.”
My last lesson I took with a local guitar teacher before joining Tom, I was struggling with a sweep picking pattern, which was the 5 string root major, I was really struggling to get the rolling technique down. I took it to my guitar teacher and I was like “Help me with this, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” This is his exact phrase: “At high speeds, it doesn’t really matter if you can play it clean or not, no one can hear it anyway.” At that point, I was just like, “Ah man.” But thankfully, in that same message, he mentioned Tom’s name. Then the doors opened. That very night, I went home and looked at every single lesson Tom had, had my guitar in hand, every YouTube lesson on you know “correct motions”, “play this over chords”... just applied it instantly, and it was instant results within an hour... just from his free stuff. I was like, oh man, I’ve got to do lessons with this guy.
I remember when I first started out with lessons, I instantly jumped on the forum to greet myself, and it’s amazing how there’s like 30 responses. Just like, “Hi welcome.” and stuff... “Hi Dan, great musical tastes”. That made me feel really at home and welcomed into Tom’s forum and community. Every time I’ve had an issue when I was first starting out be it like theory or technique, there’s always been someone there who’s helped. Otherwise it could’ve been this potentially awkward process where I’d have to wait a whole week to get an answer from my teacher, who even then may not have answered it correctly and may have never solved it. Whereas there are guys on there who have been with Tom and have been through exactly what I’ve been through. They know exactly how to help, in what order, what information you need... it’s just a friendly atmosphere really.
Dan Mayhew, Stowmarket, UK
“Before I started taking correspondence lessons I was basically stagnant in my playing. I had kind of reached what I thought was a pinnacle and I started looking for what’s next, what’s bigger and better… and I just happened across Tom’s lessons and since then I’ve realized that this plateau that I was feeling was way down here and now he’s helped me tremendously. I know I can do things on the guitar that I could’ve never dreamed of five years ago.”
I chose to take guitar lessons with Tom over anybody else because a) Tom is a professional musician, and I want to learn from people who are making a living as a musician and b) he just had a wealth of knowledge that he freely gives to you to kind of say here, you know here is the golden nugget.
The biggest change in my playing that has happened since I started taking lessons with Tom is playing like a true musician, phrasing like a true musician, and kind of separating myself away from all the wannabes.
So if I were to compare Tom’s correspondence lessons with just taking private lesson in a local market, it’s night and day. For one thing, Tom’s lessons are easy to understand, they’re very in depth and they’re tailored to what you want to learn… versus private lessons, a lot of times the teachers are using their students as guinea pigs to figure out how to teach… and Tom’s not doing that, he’s knows what he’s doing.
Thoughts when I started with Tom were “Is this going to work for me?” because it was definitely not the norm. And my thoughts now are “Hell yes it’s going to work”, because you see results.
Tom’s goal-oriented approach has helped me, I guess break horizons and get results that I could’ve never gotten before. Only because he helped me flesh out how I want to play and how to get there. He gave the goals and the path to get there, and it’s been excellent. Tom is like he says, an ordinary guy, but he’s doing extraordinary things, and I know in my life that’s what I want to do. I just want to be an ordinary guy that is impacting lives, and that’s been huge from Tom.
Ty Morgan, Phoenix, Arizona
“I started lessons when I was a young kid. I was in school. I had a casual teacher, but he only taught us chords, like basic stuff if you want to learn like 3 chord songs. But I wanted more than that, so I went to a local guitar teacher. But he also gave me the same thing. But after like 5 or 6 years of lessons, like I found myself, like if I heard a backing track or something, I couldn’t play with someone. I mean I didn’t feel like a musician, I feel like someone who can just move his fingers from like fret 1 to fret whatever. But with Tom, he’s giving me the tools to become what I want to become, become the musician I want to become. And this is exactly what I want.”
Tom Hess was basically the only guy on the internet with the credentials and the reviews, and basically everyone recommended him. He even had his own students webpage. All his students were like established guitar teachers and professional musicians and they had their own sites and I contacted like 7 of them, and they all recommended Tom Hess, and that’s why I joined him.
I like taking lessons with Tom because he gives me what I want. It’s not like something general for everyone. Like if you want to learn blues, he gives you lessons for blues, but I want to become a metal player and also a neoclassical player, so he’s giving me exactly what I need and what I want. And if I have a problem I just post a thread on the amazing forum, and I get like answers, not just short answers, but really detailed answers. I feel like I am taken care of, I don’t have to worry about anything. If I just follow everything word for word what Tom gives me in all of the lessons, that’s if I have time, because they’re so big, I mean every lesson, people think it’s overpriced, but each lesson, if you want to master it, take everything out of it, is going to take you like 4 weeks of 2 hours of work every day.
Mohamed Karim Koleilat, Beirut, Lebanon
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