Techniques to Vary Vibrato

  • Vibrato motion using a squared hand position.
  • Vibrato motion using a slanted hand position.
  • How opening and closing your fingers helps alter vibrato speed.
  • Decide which hand position, square or slanted, is best for you.  Use it  everywhere–in the lower positions and in thumb position. Avoid mixing the two approaches. A consistent angle up and down the instrument brings consistency to  the sound of your vibrato in all registers.
  • Your basic technique should be rooted in only one of these left hand schools, but as music is infinite in its combinations of notes and positions, the rule must sometimes be broken. Chords, for example, often require a squared position; notes above fourth position but with the thumb behind the neck, are more comfortable in the slant.
  • Keeping the same finger angle during shifts also improves consistency in shifting.
  • When you need a fast vibrato, keep your hand compact and fingers close together. Allow the fingers to gently touch each other.
  • When you need a slow vibrato, allow a little space between your fingers.
  • When using a squared hand position, your vibrato motion feels like a forearm rotation.
  • When using a slanted hand position, your vibrato motion feels like a forearm pump.  The pump motion feels like opening and closing your elbow joint, with your elbow parallel to the fingerboard.
  • Your ear alone can tell you whether your vibrato motion is appropriate to the dynamic (wide or narrow) and the music (relaxed or intense.).


The choice of angle and the positioning of your fingers will help you vary your vibrato speeds. Paul Katz

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