Vibrato and the Fretless Bass Guitar, Part 2
Thanks for coming back for the second half of our Vibrato lesson. If you have not yet read the first part, I recommend you do so at Vibrato and the Fretless Bass Guitar, Part 1.
Characteristics of Vibrato
Now that you understand what vibrato is and the two primary techniques for using it, it is important to consider the various characteristics you can control to alter the sound and mood of it.
There are two primary characteristics of vibrato based on how you execute it.
Think of this as “extension”, particularly for bending strings. Extent describes how much you choose to vary the pitch. Essentially, it is how much you bend the string or how wide the sliding range is, depending on which technique you choose to use.
Much more intuitive than “extent” for the casual observer, rate is literally how fast you vary the pitch. Sometimes you will want to slide or bend the string slowly across the root note, while other times you might want to speed it up.
Together, extent and rate can alter the tone and emotion of vibrato a great deal. For more mellow or finesse pieces, you want to coax the vibrato out of the string. To do so, you might want to have a slow rate and extent. Or you might want to have a slow rate and even vary the extent across bars. You can really do some nice things by mixing and matching here.
For more aggressive or emotional pieces, you likely want to crank the vibrato out. That often leads to faster and wider vibrato techniques. I like to mix in bends and vibrato at key points in the song, and even change the attack on my picking hand to further flavor up the music when it is called for. You could mix in different picking techniques as well.
You get the point. The only limitation to how you employ vibrato emotionally is your imagination. Try different things when you are jamming alone or with your band before taking it live, and you’ll surely work out some new (and often SUPER fun) tricks.
Know When to Say When
I love using vibrato for many reasons, most of which have been mentioned in these two blog posts. But as they say, “Too much of a good thing…”
As with any flashy or other advanced technique, use discretion when deciding whether to employ vibrato or not. How many times have you gone to see a live band with an outstanding guitarist or bassist, only to get annoyed that they use some flashy technique like artificial harmonics or rapid-pace slapping and popping far too much?
If your answer to the above is “Never”, then you are one of the few. Most listeners, whether they understand music theory or not, can tell when someone is wanking and when they are playing good, quality music. In other words, don’t be a wanker.
On that note, this brings us to the end of our vibrato lesson. Do you have any additional tips that might help my readers use this technique more effectively? Who have you seen that uses this the best?http://fretlessbassguitarsite.com/2011/08/vibrato-fretless-bass-guitar-part-2/http://fretlessbassguitarsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/800px-Flatwound_01.jpghttp://fretlessbassguitarsite.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/800px-Flatwound_01-150x150.jpgHow-To'sfretless bass,how to,lesson,technique,vibrato