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Apr 6, 2021 - 4:38:25 PM
124 posts since 4/2/2019

How hard could vibrato be? Wiggle your finger while playing a note. Simple enough, lol. Who can’t wiggle a finger?

I started playing violin in December and wanted to get started developing some vibrato, too. I figured it would take a while to get it sounding decent, so didn’t want to wait too long to start working on it. When you’re 61, patience isn’t necessarily in abundance - might not be that many years ahead, so every minute counts!

I knew from all the YouTube videos that it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but I’ve still been amazed at just how hard it is to learn! One video made a good point - your fingers are pointing in one direction, but your strings lie in a different direction.

I’ve been doing the suggested exercises for a while and this week I finally got the beginning of an actual vibrato. Still needs lots of work (like my violin playing in general), but it has been such a thrill to hear the beginning of a vibrato! There’s hope! (There’s more hope in my particular case since I don’t aspire to play classical music, so I just need a touch of vibrato here and there.)

Apr 6, 2021 - 8:22:09 PM

2253 posts since 10/22/2007

I'd almost say, forget about it. Don't let it get to be a crutch to fudge intonation.
One day you'll be playing some tune where you have to hold a note for a whole beat or longer. You'll rock your fingertip back and forth to make it sound more interesting. More or less out of boredom. There you go, vibrato, unconsciouso. : )

Apr 6, 2021 - 9:00:14 PM
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124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by farmerjones

I'd almost say, forget about it. Don't let it get to be a crutch to fudge intonation.
One day you'll be playing some tune where you have to hold a note for a whole beat or longer. You'll rock your fingertip back and forth to make it sound more interesting. More or less out of boredom. There you go, vibrato, unconsciouso. : )


Definitely don't plan to use vibrato to hide intonation problems. I just love a little vibrato for a bit of flavor, especially on waltzes.

Apr 6, 2021 - 11:43:56 PM
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Jimbeaux

Germany

378 posts since 5/24/2016

Basically what no one ever says is that vibrato is nearly impossible until your hand is completely relaxed with a very light touch. And at that point, you almost have no need to "learn" vibrato, because it will come naturally. Trying to learn vibrato won't hurt, but focusing on relaxed playing will help absolutely everything in your playing, vibrato included.

Apr 7, 2021 - 6:12:34 AM

360 posts since 6/11/2019

Hard to develop at 61, IMO. Finger joints are stiff, at least mine is, from years of farm labor, chain-sawing, cattle-working, etc. Fat fingers and thick, unyielding forearm tendons. Hard to make fingertips move unless the fingerboard is made of sandpaper. There's a reason you see those players with heavy vibrato have skinny arms and fingers.

Don't give up, though. I have developed a decent-enough wrist vibrato that doesn't shake the scroll. Just takes a lot of practice on it. Hard for me to do an 'arm' vibrato, though, due to the aforementioned lack of friction on the fingerboard. That, and my mandolin callouses make the fingertips slick and simply slide down and up the string instead of staying put and wavering.

BTW, there's tons of vibrato posts and comments in the archives if you search. I bet even farmerjones is in a few of them.

Apr 7, 2021 - 6:25:14 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Hard to develop at 61, IMO. Finger joints are stiff, at least mine is, from years of farm labor, chain-sawing, cattle-working, etc. Fat fingers and thick, unyielding forearm tendons. Hard to make fingertips move unless the fingerboard is made of sandpaper. There's a reason you see those players with heavy vibrato have skinny arms and fingers.

Don't give up, though. I have developed a decent-enough wrist vibrato that doesn't shake the scroll. Just takes a lot of practice on it. Hard for me to do an 'arm' vibrato, though, due to the aforementioned lack of friction on the fingerboard. That, and my mandolin callouses make the fingertips slick and simply slide down and up the string instead of staying put and wavering.

BTW, there's tons of vibrato posts and comments in the archives if you search. I bet even farmerjones is in a few of them.


I think people are reading the subject line and not my post. I AM making good progress on vibrato. It's taken more work than I would have ever guessed, but it's working! :)

Apr 7, 2021 - 6:29:22 AM
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360 posts since 6/11/2019

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock
quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Hard to develop at 61, IMO. Finger joints are stiff, at least mine is, from years of farm labor, chain-sawing, cattle-working, etc. Fat fingers and thick, unyielding forearm tendons. Hard to make fingertips move unless the fingerboard is made of sandpaper. There's a reason you see those players with heavy vibrato have skinny arms and fingers.

Don't give up, though. I have developed a decent-enough wrist vibrato that doesn't shake the scroll. Just takes a lot of practice on it. Hard for me to do an 'arm' vibrato, though, due to the aforementioned lack of friction on the fingerboard. That, and my mandolin callouses make the fingertips slick and simply slide down and up the string instead of staying put and wavering.

BTW, there's tons of vibrato posts and comments in the archives if you search. I bet even farmerjones is in a few of them.


I think people are reading the subject line and not my post. I AM making good progress on vibrato. It's taken more work than I would have ever guessed, but it's working! :)


Glad to hear!  I didn't intend to post a 'look at me' comment.  Just wanted to highlight the stumbling blocks that you are probably having to clear in order to get your vibrato.

Apr 7, 2021 - 6:45:13 AM
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124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

Glad to hear!  I didn't intend to post a 'look at me' comment.  Just wanted to highlight the stumbling blocks that you are probably having to clear in order to get your vibrato.


No problem! Vibrato is surprisingly difficult, but it's working for me now! Well, it's STARTING to work, enough for me to have a "Woohoo" moment! :)

Apr 7, 2021 - 1:23:31 PM
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1774 posts since 12/11/2008

When I started getting formal fiddle lessons, my instructor told me that vibrato is never used in Old Time. Indeed, all the scratchy OT recordings he turned me on to had no vibrato whatever.

Nevertheless, I couldn't help but want to do vibrato. After all, it's one of the things I love doing on my electric guitar, and one of the things that frustrates the heck out of me when I play piano.

Anyway, I'll cut to the chase. I flaunted the anti-vibrato stricture and patiently worked at the discipline. In time, I learned that I was doing it backwards -- vibrato-ing upward instead of downwards in pitch, but that just made it so I could do it either way -- Jascha Heifetz style or Eric Clapton style. I'm a happy guy.

Apr 7, 2021 - 1:57:12 PM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

When I started getting formal fiddle lessons, my instructor told me that vibrato is never used in Old Time. Indeed, all the scratchy OT recordings he turned me on to had no vibrato whatever.

I've heard similar thoughts! That being said, I regularly hear (and see) touches of vibrato in a lot of folks who play "old timey" fiddle music. Especially in slow tunes and waltzes, but even then the intensity and speed is a lot less than with classical players. Even in fast tunes, I'm seeing a bit of vibrato at the end of some phrases or sections, and especially at the end of the tune.

Edited by - DougBrock on 04/07/2021 13:58:51

Apr 9, 2021 - 6:59:12 AM

Peghead

USA

1600 posts since 1/21/2009

For me vibrato started with the index finger and progressed in finger order over years. I never focused on it specifically and don't use it too much. As mentioned tension will make it difficult and possibly stressfull especially if you play with a rotated elbow. It seems that everyone does it differently depending on their body and how the fiddle is held. Focusing on the micro adjustments of perfect intonation will also lead naturally to vibrato. It should be under your control and not a reflexive thing (Spazato). Also sounds best when the note is firmly established before it breaks, not as a cover up.

Apr 9, 2021 - 7:39:23 AM

124 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Peghead

For me vibrato started with the index finger and progressed in finger order over years. I never focused on it specifically and don't use it too much. As mentioned tension will make it difficult and possibly stressfull especially if you play with a rotated elbow. It seems that everyone does it differently depending on their body and how the fiddle is held. Focusing on the micro adjustments of perfect intonation will also lead naturally to vibrato. It should be under your control and not a reflexive thing (Spazato). Also sounds best when the note is firmly established before it breaks, not as a cover up.


I'm spending a few minutes focusing specifically on vibrato every day and slowly  getting more comfortable with it. My warmups are mainly about tone, intonation, the bow, and bow/left hand coordination,  but I still spend some time working on vibrato with loose wrist and fingers, consistency for vibrato on long notes, vibrato depth and speed. Fingers are getting more loose and comfortable with the whole thing. It's fun to see the gradual progress.

I'm also watching lots of YouTube fiddlers in general, but also to see how they incorporate vibrato. While vibrato isn't common in fast tunes, I've still been surprised by how many fiddlers still incorporate a very fast and short touch of vibrato in places where I wouldn't even think of using vibrato. A lot of times I'll see their left finger do its little wiggle, but I might not even be able to hear any vibrato! I mainly think of vibrato on long notes in slow tunes. Lots to learn!

Edited by - DougBrock on 04/09/2021 07:39:52

Apr 9, 2021 - 2:22:19 PM
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Jimbeaux

Germany

378 posts since 5/24/2016

There definitely IS vibrato in old source recordings. It's true that it is not so common, though.

Uncle Bunt Stephens and Bill Step used it. I could definitely find others, too. Pretty sure JP Fraley, Walter McNew and Ed Haley did, too.

When you emphasize rhythm and play fast, it's not so noticeable.

Apr 11, 2021 - 6:04:06 PM
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BetteB

USA

120 posts since 12/19/2010

Vibrato sure makes a waltz even more pleasant to hear.

One year I took a break from fiddle and took classical violin lessons. It was a return to what I learned in my childhood. The instructor said it may take a year to develop a vibrato on each finger that you can hold for a long bow, and is consistent.

Like anything else it takes practice, over a long, long period of time. Enjoy whatever progress you make.

The one year with revisiting classical was interesting but didn't last. Fiddle tunes called out again and I said yes.

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