The Best Way To Test Your Guitar Vibrato

Author: Ed Cupler


Mike Philippov -  professional guitarist, recording artist and music instructor.Have you ever tested your vibrato technique progress? Most guitarists have never done this and in fact, don’t even realize that this is very possible to do in a tangible way The truth is that you not only can but also MUST track your progress with this technique in order to make your lead guitar playing sound as expressive as possible. Knowing how to observe if your vibrato is getting better can make all the difference between your guitar playing sounding AWESOME vs. sounding ‘average’.

There is a very simple and powerful test you can take right now to know just how good your vibrato technique is on guitar. You can also use this method to track your progress with this area of guitar phrasing over time.

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To get started, check out the video below where I will illustrate the procedure of this test. Make sure to study this video clip before continuing:


Visit this page to see the next part of this (free) video on practicing guitar vibrato.

Now that you have seen the process of tracking your progress with vibrato, identify your maximum speed of playing vibrato in a controlled way. When you have that established, follow the steps below in your upcoming practice sessions to regularly monitor your improvement with vibrato on guitar:

1. Keep records of the tempos and rhythmic values that you use to practice vibrato just like you do for all of your general guitar technique training. Of course when you play real guitar solos, your vibrato doesn’t always have to “be” in strict time, but you must have the technique to MAKE it be in time if the music calls for it. It is this level of control that will enable you to play vibrato expressively in your guitar licks.

2. Spend some time recording your vibrato practice sessions and then listen back to the recordings at “half tempo” (this can be easily achieved in any computer recording program). Doing this will make it easier for your ears to perceive the nuances of how your vibrato sounds in real time. Most guitarists never analyzed their playing in that much detail and doing so leads to many new discoveries on how to make your guitar playing better.

3. Don’t spend all of your practice time (for vibrato) practicing on only 1 pitch. You must also work on this skill in the real-life application scenarios of guitar licks and solos. Although this seems obvious, many people get stuck in practicing a certain technique in isolation without applying it into the real world.

4. When soloing over jam tracks, experiment with playing vibrato using a variety of note values on the pulses/bends of the technique (you can hear me demonstrate this in the video). This is NOT the same as simply “practicing to a metronome” because your mind will work (and listen) in a new way when soloing in a musical context vs. playing in isolation.

Finally, don’t forget the reason why you are going through this approach in the first place: to make your guitar playing sound GOOD. This means don’t become obsessed with “how fast” you can do vibrato at the expense of its other elements. Vibrato that is slow and musical will always sound better in the context of music than a faster one that isn’t controlled. The point is: don’t sacrifice the quality of sound of the vibrato when chasing speed.

Make time for following the steps above several times per week during your guitar practice sessions and it will be hugely beneficial for making your guitar playing sound better than you ever thought possible.

About the author:

Mike Philippov is a professional guitarist, recording artist and guitar/music instructor. His pedagogical guitar columns are read by guitarists around the world. His instructional music website contains articles, tips and help for guitar players on overcoming the most common problems faced when learning to play guitar.

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