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Classical Guitar Lessons: Vibrato

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Hello I'd like to use this next lesson
to talk with you about a very special
thing and
one of my favorite things about playing
the guitar.
That's making it sing, and using vibrato.
Now while not every classical guitarist
you hear will use a lot
of vibrato I, I use quite a bit of it.
And and just because for lyrical passages,
especially slow movements it's really just
such an important element to
getting across the lyrical or vocal
quality of a lot of lines.
I'll give two or three examples in this
lesson, but right now, I wanna
really break down exactly what vibrato on
the guitar is and how it's done.
And this is a great fundamental exercise
you to practice the, just the act of
making vibrato on the guitar.
So I'm going to select a note on the
guitar that'll
be more flexible a little bit looser on
the guitar like the 12th fret the,
the center of the string is at the 12th
So it's really more easy to demonstrate
this using a note there.
So I'll use the, the G on the 12fth fret
of the third string and
demonstrate what happens and
what makes what makes executing vibrato on
the guitar,
on the classical guitar different from an
electric guitarist,
say, is electric guitarists tend to
vibrato like this.
[SOUND] Or, [SOUND] or, [SOUND] they may,
they'll maybe move their hand and
they push the string up and down, rather
than side to side.
What that does it results in a sharpening
of the note meaning the note,
the [SOUND] principle note gets sharper.
[SOUND] Whether they [SOUND] pull the,
whether they pull [SOUND] the string up
this way up or down [SOUND].
The note is only getting sharper.
It never goes, it never gets flatter and,
so what we try to do with,
with classical guitar is to try to make it
a little bit more of a vocal effect.
Very, and mo, much closer to what a string
instrument, like a violin or
a cello, does.
Now what they do, since there's no frets
on a cello, for example, or a violin,
is they simply roll their finger.
And they, they, they're on their principle
And then they roll their finger back to
flatten the note,
and then roll it forward to sharpen it.
That doesn't work on a classical guitar
because of the frets.
If I take that same note, and I try to
roll my finger,
as if I were playing a string instrument,
nothing really happens, in
fact I may end up buzzing the note because
I'm rolling my finger away from the fret.
So what we have to do is we have to
actually do something that's a little bit
more labor intensive and so I'll
demonstrate that.
In order to flatten the note, what we're
actually doing is,
we're pushing the string with our hand,
our, and
our tip of our finger, toward the bridge.
I'll demonstrate this with, the wound
It's easier to practice this with, even.
[SOUND] You can even,
[SOUND] if you practice it enough you can
actually make the note really quite flat.
[SOUND] With the, sometimes you have to
make it that flat you have to use your
hand or some of the other fingers to kind
of help you out.
I'm basically pushing the string this way.
Now to sharpen the note.
I'm not bending the note like an electric
So I'm basically, I'm,
I'm holding the string fast to the fret
and then pulling Ii this direction,
toward the nut.
That's is what sharpens the note, and
that's the essential component of vibrato
on the guitar.
Basically a push, pull.
Now that sounds really silly.
Actually it sounds kind of comical, but
it's actually good to practice that,
because it gives you a sense of
the muscles that are involved with
actually making vibrato.
Which is probably why not every guitarist
uses it.
There is some effort involved in it, but
once you get better at it,
more comfortable with it, it really
doesn't require that much effort.
There are two variables that we need to
consider when we
use vibrato on a note we want to consider
the speed of the vibrato.
That's a very fast fluctuation, and this
is a very slow one.
So the speed of the fluctuation is one
thing and then also the variance
of pitch, if you again as I was
demonstrating earlier,
you can really get good at varying the
pitch quite a lot.
Eh, most of the time eh, if you're just
trying to vibrato a note tastefully,
you're not going to use a tremendous
amount of variance and pitch.
You're just going to use a little bit of,
of that.
And then in the, eh, eh,
in the speed variable you're just gonna
use a medium speed.
Something like this.
[SOUND] And that actually doesn't really
require a lot of effort with the hand.
As long as your fingertip is holding the,
the, the string to the fret.
[SOUND] You just need a medium speed and a
little bit of pitch variance, and
you are on your way to making the guitar
Let me give you a couple examples.
In phrasing which we're covering in
several different lessons in
the curriculum you'll see.
Phrasing we talk about direction notes,
and we talk about crescendo-ing to them,
and playing with direction.
Well that's not that, that's,
that's very similar in fact in choosing a
note to vibrato.
In most instances, it's very difficult to
vibrato a lot of notes in a phrase.
But really all you need is one good note.
For example, in Villalobos' Prelude number
three [SOUND].
If I get that music out here, I'm sure I
will find a phrase there.
That needs to sing and, sure enough,
here we are on that first page this lovely
solo vocal line.
Sounds like a soprano to me.
Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,
nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, in measure 13.
We have this.
Just right there,
I mean it's very, you can make
that line sing without
You know, without feeling like you have to
vibrato every single note.
If you play with direction towards your
direction note which is the D, E.
then simply apply vibrato to that one
It really gives the overall impression
that the whole line is singing.
That way you don't feel as though you
constantly have to be moving your hand to
produce vibrato on every note.
Another example is in Capricho Arabe.
This is an instance where you're playing
melody and accompaniment at the same time.
So because your left hand fingering is,
your left hand fingers are holding down
other notes in the accompaniment.
You don't really have a lot of
opportunity, let's say,
to vibrato lots of notes in the melody,
but that's all right.
Because if you're phrasing well and you
pick, you choose wisely a note that you
have time to vibrato on, it can give the
impression that the whole line is singing.
Like this,
and that's about four,
there's a lot of melody notes in there,
but there's only about four that
I actually have time to vibrato.
This one right here,
the second melody note, that A.
which is a good note to vibrato,
and in fact, it says, Tarrega has in the
score a stress,
an accent on that second vibrato note,
and, and
since that second melody note, every time.
Now as we go up here.
[SOUND] I am not encumbered by any other
fingers having to play accompaniment
notes, for the moment, so that [SOUND]
that B is, is ripe for the taking.
And so is the high F.
That F is exposed with just an open
string D underneath it.
And then just after it i have to put down
a bar in order to play the other accompany
but for that one moment,
and there's another good one.
There's another spicy note there on the B
So, if you have that opportunity and you
have some really good notes to,
to make sing, it can give the impression
that the entire line is singing.
And this is for me, a very important thing
you as, as you develop as a musician and
as a guitarist to, to try to incorporate
in your playing.