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Your Vibrato: Adding That Personal Touch

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    Fig. 1

    Why learn Vibrato?

    You may already know how to perform a vibrato, but here’s how to do it in the context of blues improvisation!  Learning this gives you the tool in bringing out your own personality in your playing.

    Rock Vibrato Like B.B. King

    “The Butterfly Vibrato”

    B.B. King, well known for his “Butterfly Vibratos”, knew how to add his own touch of style. He catches the string with the side of his pointer finger beside his nail. You may see the indention on the side of your finger after doing this. You’ll realize the motion of playing B.B. King’s vibrato mimics a butterfly fluttering its wings.

    The sound should be nice and smooth,  though it’s not required to be so pronounced all the time. You can perform a vibrato anywhere, anytime, on the fretboard, or the beginner box. It has its own sound.  The thickness of every string will dictate how the vibrato sounds.

    Different ways to play Vibrato

    Try adding vibrato with all of your fingers, or a combination of fingers(slow or fast) A vibrato can sound many different ways.  If you’re staying on a note for a second, adding vibrato will do the trick.

    Important for blues music!

    Vibratos may seem basic, but these techniques are very important to learn, especially for blues! It’s what to look for. Other great techniques for blues are hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.

    Improving vibrato style

    Practice your pentatonic boxes, and slap a vibrato or two in there as well. Otherwise, the playing will be very wooden and lack the personality you need to imply to create a great vibrato.

    Vibratos do not have to be done in single notes. As done in the video, Kenny ‘borrowed’ two to three strings- be creative!


    Keep the vibratos in mind while practicing improvisations. It’s an important aspect of playing.