Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Posts 1 to 50 of 103
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    In my young jazz career as I transcribe solos I can't help but notice the absence of vibrato, particularly in traditional jazz guitar.

    Coming from a rock, pop, and blues background, where you can't survive without several varieties of vibrato, I find myself still struggling to restrain my vibrato. I mean, I get it, a big wide vibrato seems really out of place in jazz, but come on, no vibrato at all? Where the note just dies flat? Is that really the tradition? It still tweaks my ear to hear a phrase end and there is absolutely no movement while the note drops off a cliff.

    I'm really trying to develop my taste for it but it's difficult to swallow.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    I'm sure peeps will chime in with examples of players that use vibrato, as well as bends or even distortion, but others will tell you that the arch top, clean, warm, vibrato-less tone is the sound that has evolved to be what it is. And like all kinds of evolution, it's random..... I agree that is odd that it has turned out this way, especially given that since Charlie Christian we envy the horn player's range of expression, which includes extreme glisses, bends, shakes, vibrato, growls, flutter toungeing etc etc. But I suppose no champion came along to change the rules significantly enough, so techniques like the above mentioned remind us more of the Blues or Rock genres, for better or for worse...

    If a player comes along one day that turns the jazz guitar world on it's head, bends, whammy, etc , and captures the imagination of all the young up and coming players, then these things will start to sound "right" to everyone..... maybe....

  4. #3

    User Info Menu


    If it doesn't link to the time, try 1:26. Nice, subtle vibrato. Wes's whole solo here is a masterclass in playing with superb taste and restraint IMO.
    Last edited by jckoto3; 04-04-2014 at 09:38 AM.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Jim Hall used a Whammy pedal to create odd interval sounds.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by jalapeno
    Jim Hall used a Whammy pedal to create odd interval sounds.
    Jim "Buckethead" Hall?

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Ted Greene had an almost constant vibrato.


  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Thanks jckoto3, that's nice. I feel another transcription is in order. That is beautiful.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Check out great Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine, he plays with a lot of vibrato. Sometimes a little too much IMHO.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    He's certainly not traditional, but Bill Frisell uses vibrato, among many other effects (especially loop effects), to great purpose, e.g.,

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Do your own thing. If vibrato is part of your playing, include it.

  12. #11
    To me the lack of vibrato is what I like the least about jazz guitar. Guitar has so much more life with vibrato than without. I grew up as a classical violinist and can't understand why there isn't much vibrato in jazz guitar. it's all over the place with the horn players. Look forward to more in this thread.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    How about Benson?

    Vibrato gets used a ton these days. It's pretty rare to hear anyone that doesn't use it, at all.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    There are different types of guitar vibrato. I think straight ahead jazz guitarists more often use the subtler kind, where you either waggle finger(s) towards the bridge and back or shake the whole guitar, rather the blues/rock one where you move the string up and down vertically on the fretboard.

    You can see Tim Lerch doing this at the start of this video:


  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    I like a slow vib
    I don't like the rapid vib thing

    its just taste though , and there's no accounting for it

    but vib it deffo not taboo ...

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    vibrato is part of the guitar tradition. George Barnes and George Benson both use quite a bit of vibrato as do many jazz guitarists.

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by manleyman123
    To me the lack of vibrato is what I like the least about jazz guitar. Guitar has so much more life with vibrato than without. I grew up as a classical violinist and can't understand why there isn't much vibrato in jazz guitar. it's all over the place with the horn players. Look forward to more in this thread.
    Interesting. One thing that turns me off about string instruments in classical music is the overuse (to my ear) of vibrato, it comes off to me as a trick to mimic intensity.

    I think in jazz guitar one reason why vibrato is not used a whole lot (in say a clean archtop setting) is that the decay is quick. But some archtop jazz guitar players, especially those that have a great sound, do use a slow vibrato to sustain notes. Peter Bernstein is a good example, eg here he uses a slow vibrato on long notes, sometimes just bends a note as it dies to squeeze some more out of it

    Last edited by pkirk; 04-04-2014 at 07:24 PM.

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Yeah agree with the above comments that subtle vibrato in jazz guitar is quite commonplace. As for incorporating a blues/strat/clapton/carlton/etc. vibrato into straight ahead jazz guitar playing - I think one of the reasons it's not done that much is when playing standards you often don't get a lot of time to sustain a note before the harmony changes and you need to switch to another arpeggio/scale. I really dig Bill Frisell, but his approach isn't that applicable to bop tempos and changes - I think he intentionally chooses slower tempos and songs with more open chord progressions so he can really hold those notes and make them sing out. My2c

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Some great responses, thank you.

    I agree that the modern players seem to use it with some regularity. It seems, as it has been suggested, that in some styles there is barely any room for it as in the clip of Wes above but you can definitely hear it very subtly in a couple of places.

    The relatively rapid decay of an arch top probably contributes as pkirk suggests. It's just not a factor.

    except for melody work you rarely hear the boppers hold notes longer than a quarter note. And silence itself seems to be very much a part of the phrasing characteristics of jazz soloing. Which is a major difference from rock or blues where you have these long notes held out and tied to the next note or phrase.

    Then you have Santana known for lots of sustain with some of the most subtle vibrato ever. I mean he would hold a note pure and clean for a minute yet it wouldn't sound flat.

    Im digging the subtle vibrato thing but sometimes I wonder if I've ruined my ears with vibrato and I can't tolerate a held note allowed to decay unembellished...

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Btw....this is one of my favorite clips of Jim Hall. The subtlest, slowest, most beautiful vibrato on the planet..



  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kaye
    Btw....this is one of my favorite clips of Jim Hall. The subtlest, slowest, most beautiful vibrato on the planet..


    The "subtlest, slowest" . . everything "on the planet".

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Django uses quite a lot of vibrato and bending - even though he's playing over chord changes, a lot of the gypsy jazz repertoire has more space between chord changes than bop/straight ahead. And the GJ guitars are strung with lighter gauge strings as well.

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    Maccaferri notes dies even quicker than on archtops though ..... Django was more about bends

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    I've listened to some George Barnes now. He really has a pretty unique vibrato and does a lot of bends and trills too.

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    I never realised that Jimmy Raney uses subtle vibrato constantly until those videos of him started appearing on youtube. It's not that obvious when you just listen to the recordings, but I suspect it contributes something to his sound.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    Also check out Jim Mullen, he uses quite a lot of vibrato.

  27. #26

    User Info Menu

    Nothing is taboo. It's jazz, after all.

  28. #27

    User Info Menu

    Try classical vibrato instead of blues vibrato (you move the finger very slightly horizontally instead of vertical/pitch manipulation a la Clapton)

  29. #28

    User Info Menu

    I grew up on blues and rock and disliked the sound of classic jazz guitar when I first heard it. But now I like that sound. I know that some vibrato is used in jazz, but for one who grew up on Albert King, Clapton, Beck and Hendrix, it doesn't seem like a lot. But I don't miss it anymore. I just don't.

    To paraphrase Flannery O'Connor, "A jazz guitar player can do anything he can get away with---but no one's ever been able to get away with very much."

  30. #29

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by jds1978
    Try classical vibrato instead of blues vibrato (you move the finger very slightly horizontally instead of vertical/pitch manipulation a la Clapton)
    I think that any vibrato is pitch manipulation . . isn't it? Vocalists have been using it for centuries to cover up "pitchyness" in long tones. Whether or not they do it intentionally or unintentionally is another conversation altogether. ;-)

  31. #30

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    Ted Greene had an almost constant vibrato.

    This is tear jerking territory...WOW

  32. #31

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kaye
    Btw....this is one of my favorite clips of Jim Hall. The subtlest, slowest, most beautiful vibrato on the planet..


    The master and his plectrum!...L...

  33. #32

    User Info Menu

    yeah, the hard bop era was probably the nadir of vibrato in guitar playing. although segovia's heavy vibrato also went out of fashion among a lot of the younger classical players then, too.

    vibrato is sometimes a crutch for poor intonation or technique. it may also not be entirely coincidental that vibrato became less popular among jazz guitarists just about the time that bending and heavy vibrato were really on the rise in rock and blues.

    there were huge controversies over vibrato in early 20th-c classical music, and there's a lot of musciology research on those battles. i don't know of any comparable work on vibrato and jazz guitar, though.

  34. #33

    User Info Menu

    According to about half of American couples, no.

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonzo
    According to about half of American couples, no.
    That would probably be the female half of the couples?

  36. #35

    User Info Menu

    I'm not a fan of it in jazz, but it can work when it's subtle. I have often heard it overdone by non-pro jazz guitarists, and when I catch myself doing it but I'm pretty quick to snuff it out or at least get it out of the rest of the solo. In my head, I think it works best if it's followed up with something very clearly jazzy, something bop-ish.

  37. #36

    User Info Menu

    Going to music school they got me to stop the "rock guitarist" vibrato when playing Jazz. I think the more subtle vibrato is more vocal like.

  38. #37

    User Info Menu

    I've always loved Johnny Smith's vibrato. So subtle, and beautifully placed.

    Django Reinhardt has a great vibrato too -- very distinct.

  39. #38
    OK i'll be the anti-vibrato advocate.
    All the above examples of tasteful and effective use of vibrato above notwithstanding, to my ear it sounds cliche and old-timey. If that's what you're going for, then by all means, vibrato yourself silly.

    Played with an alto sax player in a small group for a bit, and he would wail on that thing with all kinds of vibrato and it just sounded like he was channeling the ghost of Benny Goodman. Nothing against Benny G., but it just made me cringe. Sounded very contrived to me, and I often imagined sweet, sticky syrup bubbling out of his horn.

    I come from a blues background, like many of us, and have adopted BB King's trill maneuver and all kinds of other tricks to push those emotional buttons. I use them all when i play blues/rock - it's part of the fun.

    But when I play jazz -- attempt to play jazz -- I seek to avoid all those contrivances and seek/hope to drive emotion with the purity of the music. Admittedly, there are plenty of jazz cliche's as well. But that vibrato just sounds so cheesy to me, like reading a romance novel rather than Chekov.

    But that's just my ear: Love flat-tone Miles. Hate chorus-effect Metheny.
    Now get off my lawn, you rotten kids!

  40. #39

    User Info Menu

    It's all a matter of taste and judgement. No fixed rules. It depends upon the music and context.

  41. #40
    destinytot Guest
    Good question and thread.

    I think judicious use of slow* vibrato can complement effective use of volume and dynamics (with or without amplification).

    For example, Jim Mullen makes his guitar 'sing' by means of skilfully-controlled vibrato:


    I'd say vibrato is part of Jim Mullen's 'signature sound'. While I appreciate the way Eric Gale, Cornell Dupree and David T Walker use vibrato, I really admire the fact that Jim Mullen brings that sound to straight-ahead playing.

    And then there's George Benson:


    I really enjoy and appreciate Jim Mullen's tasteful quotes in solos, and it was pleasing to hear Mornington Lockett quotes both 'Singin' in the rain' and 'Alfie's Theme' in the above clip. (I also admire - for different reasons - that other rare gift that Gary Potter has: the ability to have audiences in stitches of laughter with mid-solo musical jokes.)

    But, to return to the question of vibrato, I feel that Hal Galper's brilliant insights into "Time & Tone" have implications for the choice of whether - or when - to make use of it. In this clip, he talks about the importance of focusing on the duration of each note, especially its end:



    *PS I'm reminded of singers whose voices are pure (fast) vibrato. When such voices are also 'bright', the sound is far from pleasant.
    Last edited by destinytot; 07-27-2014 at 10:06 AM. Reason: spelling & clarity

  42. #41

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kaye
    Btw....this is one of my favorite clips of Jim Hall. The subtlest, slowest, most beautiful vibrato on the planet..


    I didn't notice at first, but he uses a pedal a couple of minutes in.

    And Scofield has a beautiful vibrato/bends/sustain/various use of expression.
    Last edited by srlank; 07-27-2014 at 12:29 PM.

  43. #42

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitarbean25
    This is tear jerking territory...WOW
    Wow 2 !

    I like the "problem" he refers to at the end- where he talks about wanting to go into some minor key (keys?) excursion but he was busy evolving the (amazing ) multi voice counterpoint Jazz/Classical thing and he's talking to the audience of Guitarists about it....
    Nice problem to have.
    Beautiful Art.

  44. #43

    User Info Menu

    I like a slow small vibrato - helps the notes sustain a bit without affecting the intonation.

    Peter Bernstein does this. Maybe picked it up from Jim Hall?

    Keep it in time too - very important. You should be able to vibrato in the subdivisions. Try 8th note vibrato, for example.

    By the way the in time vibrato thing is important for a great rock sound too... Time and tone are tremendously interlinked subjects.
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-27-2015 at 08:30 AM.

  45. #44

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by ecj
    How about Benson?

    Vibrato gets used a ton these days. It's pretty rare to hear anyone that doesn't use it, at all.
    Benson does use some Vibrato and I noticed in an Interview two of his favorite Blues Players are BB King and Eric Clapton.( Clapton elevated Vibrato to another level way back when only a few Players in the World were as accurate and fluid with Vibrato as he ).
    But when I hear Benson ( who is one of the "Bluesiest " and Funkiest straight Jazzers ever on Guitar-
    I get the feeling that he keeps his Vibrato and bends subtle and he gets his amazing
    Blues Feel from his sense of Time and note choices...sometimes he does it really pretty and sometimes he really gets down and dirty ...Benson is also very Bold ..sticking wild little phrases in Ballads Onstage in front of the World...amazing.

    One of the greatest String Benders with full Jazz Vocabulary is Larry Carlton - but I imagine to the true Jazz aficionados as great as Carlton is - it doesn't connect as directly to Charlie Christian- Burrell- Wes Montgomery....etc etc as much as Benson does.

    During the next 10 to 20 years we will probably see some Guys on 7 string who play straight Jazz incorporating more Bends...

    I grew up on Rock and R&B but also played Acoustic a lot...and am a little tired of the Gain and distortion...and I always liked extended chords which sound bad IMO with Distortion so it's interesting for me to hear the Jazz Guys do it all ....with just Notes and Timing .

    Although as you say- with clear gain and great fluid chops...Guitars with vibrato and
    gain can get closer to Sax and Violin.

    I remember a quote from Pat Metheny who said Eddie Van Halen sometimes reminded him of a Post Coltrane Sax player ...

    But no Guitarist has really gone " there" yet...

    I am a Rock/R&B Guitarist so I use a lot of
    Vibrato which can sound great in Jazz Blues ( which I am learning more about- ) the chops part is easy for me but harmonically enriching the Lines and playing vertically and hearing the Tensions and finding them instantly and staying in Time - that's a whole other thing.

    So I am trying to temporarily not use vibrato and just keep the swinging eight notes really tight and it's really more difficult because I can't just pause on the chord tone or extension while I think of where to go next...lol.

    The other thing that really surprises me is it's physically hard to keep a steady stream of swing eighth notes at medium tempos.. and I thought I had some real chops..lol.
    It's easier at fast tempos but medium tempos - and no pauses- is challenging.
    And it's part of the Guitar Vocabulary to me that I want to speak fluently...so no hiding behind long bends and vibrato for now...lol.

    In actual recording/ performance I use melodic cadences which of course have vibrato...and it can be more horn like anyway of course.

    I remember Carlton talking about Joe Pass making students just play dotted eighths over changes to see where they were...

    I see now why he did that because it exposes time sense/ picking technique/endurance/ fretboard and mental musical fluency all at once- nowhere to hide..
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 11-02-2015 at 08:54 PM.

  46. #45

    User Info Menu

    I think this is an interesting question and also entirely irrelevant. If you feel it and you hear it you should use it. I think its unfortunate it has become somewhat taboo. Instrumental music and phrasing borrows to a very large degree from the voice, if not vocal music itself. When most of us hear music we relate to it from our own voice. And the voice vibrates. Who doesn't sing lines from time to time? Who doesn't sing when trying to transcribe? Vibrato is more than merely an ornamentation. It is an expression of emotion and approximates wavelengths and color. Musicians who purposefully eliminate that from their tool box might be being a little shortsighted.

    I've often felt that jazz guitar was miles behind other forms of modern guitar because it has frozen itself in some voluntary time capsule, which in turn isolates itself from new possible fans because of this self imposed, old school exile.

    I've said this often enough - Who cares what other guitar players say or do? Do what comes natural to YOU. That's jazz.

    Jazz has become old, moldy and fixed. There is a great sound that was great in the 50s and even the 60s. It was relatively monophonic, dark, no vibrato. Thick strings. Limited emotional range, but can swing like nobody's business. I love that sound. But I also love the sound Jeff Beck gets, or Robben Ford or Joe Bonamassa or Michael Gregory Jackson or maybe you, I don't know.

    Pedals often are also taboo in jazz. Distortion, and big tonal shifts. Yes there's Frisell, Metheny, Sco, Kurt, Metheny and a bunch of youngsters influenced by them. Things are changing and that's great. Do what you like. Do what's right.

    I used to consciously not use vibrato. But for me it was more what Miles Davis said was taught to him. His teacher told him not to use it. When you get old you'll start shaking anyway. And that vibrato-less style helped define Miles' sound. I ALSO felt vibrato was the first thing that dated a player, noting as you did, the wide vibrato of Goodman and say Lucky Thompson, Webster, etc.. There are certain stylistic things that will date you quick. But I don't think natural vibrato does. Or using that wide vibrato occasionally for dramatic effect, rather than one's regular resting tone. A natural sounding vibrato that sounds like a singing human voice will always sound natural and right I believe.

    My two cents.
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 11-02-2015 at 08:17 PM.

  47. #46

    User Info Menu

    Yeah Henry..

    I think swinging eighth notes sound great over Fusion ..R&B ...hip hop ..and House Grooves.

    I always played them but not for long periods and not as strict..

    But coming out of the Steely Dan kind of concept but more Rhythmic ( though I am not a musical genius like Fagen/ Becker) Jazz is a very fertile resource..

    I think Jazz would evolve more if we had Composers doing Harmonically Sophisticated R&B ( like Stevie Wonder did) and sophisticated changes with new Rhythms that people want to dance to....

    We don't have the Gershwins and Cole Porters doing Cool Grooves with sophisticated changes for people to Solo over....so they still use Standards I guess.

    Edit- A few days ago I heard " That's Life" by Frank Sinatra on TV while I was playing unplugged..and I started playing to those Changes and heard most of the Chords very clearly...it's really Blues - I LOVE that III7 Chord ...( Saturday Night Live theme...
    Georgia on My Mind ...right )..
    Anyway I was playing and outlining the changes and also getting dirty and bending notes like Clapton/ Carlton and it sounded very good...pretty fresh.
    The trick for me is to get it this polished- always...lol.
    So Henry Robinette - thanks ..right again.
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 11-18-2015 at 11:56 PM.

  48. #47

    User Info Menu

    I think we all got it wrong. See, terminal vibrato is what makes jazz tasty. Johnny Smith knew this, Jim Hall knew this, Wes knew this, and so did old CC.

    I love David Russell's vibrato in the classical realm the most, but that's partial to me cause I love David Russell's playing

    The Brute had a personal vibrato, LTD had a personal vibrato, and the Bean.

    I think the key to playing with a nice vibrato is to hear that vocal vibrato in your head, in your head, zombie, zombie

    Cranberries?

    Hear it in your head and listen to players who have the vibrato you wanna imitate

    I hate jazz guitar when it's all the same dynamic, and everything sounds like it went through a computer.

    If we totally silence vibrato, then we might as well be playing the piano

    ain't nobody wanna play the piano

    that's not how you pick up the ladies

    ...unless you play that Elton John stuff

  49. #48

    User Info Menu

    Yeah Henry..

    I think swinging eighth notes sound great over Fusion ..R&B ...hip hop ..and House Grooves.

    I always played them but not for long periods and not as strict..

    But coming out of the Steely Dan kind of concept but more Rhythmic ( though I am not a musical genius like Fagen/ Becker) Jazz is a very fertile resource..

    I think Jazz would evolve more if we had Composers doing Harmonically Sophisticated R&B ( like Stevie Wonder) and Hip Hop etc.

    We don't have the Gershwins and Cole Porters doing Cool Grooves with sophisticated changes for people to Solo over....so they still use Standards I guess.

  50. #49

    User Info Menu

    Yes, but I think vibrato also sounds good on straight ahead swing. You just don't hear guys doing it because most don't hear a context for it. Rhythm Changes, Like Someone In Love, Moments Notice. Anytime you hear a sax or trumpet solo using vibrato, it would also sound great on guitar. Coltrane, Cannonball, Brownie, Rollins. Even with a little light overdrive.

  51. #50

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Kaye
    In my young jazz career as I transcribe solos I can't help but notice the absence of vibrato, particularly in traditional jazz guitar.

    Coming from a rock, pop, and blues background, where you can't survive without several varieties of vibrato, I find myself still struggling to restrain my vibrato. I mean, I get it, a big wide vibrato seems really out of place in jazz, but come on, no vibrato at all? Where the note just dies flat? Is that really the tradition? It still tweaks my ear to hear a phrase end and there is absolutely no movement while the note drops off a cliff.

    I'm really trying to develop my taste for it but it's difficult to swallow.
    We all have some natural vibrato and we should not suppress it.
    Regarding the note's endings, I think the trick is to purposely end them before they wear off, while still strong enough, with some vibrato, or without.
    Well, yes, sometimes it's OK to just let it ring out, as a statement, if it does not sound too much out with the next chord..

    Personally, I do not consciously go for vibrato, except for exaggerated effect, pretty indistinguishable from spasmodic tics, of which I'm guilty, but can't help it.

    What vibrato is in my playing, it's there all by and of it self.