Stanley Clarke's vibrato

Discussion in 'Ask the Berklee Bass Department' started by lovethegrowl, Dec 18, 2013.


  1. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl

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    I went to Berklee (mid 70s). Trumpet was my first instrument but I loved bass guitar. Once I asked Steve Swallow for private lessons & he explained, "bass performance majors only". (Wish I changed the major, & he had short jet black hair & a beard--has it been that long?)

    Anyway, I remember seeing Chick Correa perform at Symphony Hall (Dec. '74 or Jan.'75) & Stanley Clarke had his new Alembic bass. I was blown away! My question is a bit banal & I apologize. But how could one accomplish that. Sheer strength? How did he do it?
  2. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl

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    I'm sorry, I meant how did Stanley Clarke accomplish such a wide, fast, ferocious, guitar like vibrato with such big strings?
  3. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl

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    P. S.
    Say hi to Charlie Lewis, I studied with him 78-80.
  4. Steve Bailey

    Steve Bailey Supporting Member

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    big hands.. Stanley plays vibrato a couple of ways, the traditional upright technique, and the "BB KING". I would suggest that you YouTube some stanley and see for yourself. I picture is worth a thousand words in this case.,
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Ya, giant hands + a tiny bass with light strings + a strong background in playing upright.
  6. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa

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    Didn't he have at least one bass with a tremolo bridge ( which is more of a vibratro than a tremolo ) ?
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    The only one I ever saw with a vibrato was the one on the cover of "I Wanna Play For You." It had a Bigsby on it. I think he used it on one song on that album and I never saw it again.
  8. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl

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    I still say it was sorcery. When I saw him he had that Alembic with a skinny neck. Not enough room on that thing to wobble the pitch w/o dragging the strings clear off the fretboard. And those wobbly harmonics like on School Days!! Sheesh.

    Well, how he does it is moot. I'm getting a tremolo bar for my bass. Now, what type of hardware do I purchase make my fingers go real fast?
  9. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa

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    I just found two picture from his last solo CD where he has a bass with a tremolo bridge with the help of Google image
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Interesting. I found one pic of it. Looks like the same bass, too.
  11. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

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    Hit the harmonic and then push down on the string up at the headstock, behind the nut (in between nut and tuning machine). Instant Stanley!
  12. Kragnorak

    Kragnorak

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    This is close, but not quite correct. Stanley is a very large human with tons of hand strength from playing upright. When you see him play up close you notice that the bass-to-human ratio is similar to what you see on guitarists. Stanley simply reaches over to the headstock itself and manipulates the whole neck with a beautiful and singing vibrato!

    When you push down on the string behind the nut you can only make the note go sharp. Stanley's headstock vibrato sounds more in tune than that because the note can go flat as well. (good vibrato centers around the desired note)

    Set-up makes a difference in this technique. I only have only bass that has such a bendy neck. On that one, I wrote a riff where I hit an open A and bend it down to A-flat and back to A in rhythm. I haven't been able to achieve Stanley vibrato yet - when I bend the neck sharp I often go too far and the strings slap against the frets and stop ringing.
  13. jamminology101

    jamminology101

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    Stanley is definitely a big dude but another reason that his basses look almost like a guitar in his hands is because his alembic signature model is a short 30.25 or 30.75 inches long vs the more traditional 34 inch scale of most electric basses...
  14. Kragnorak

    Kragnorak

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    This is true, and I don't mean to exaggerate, but when he plays upright bass it almost looks like a normal person playing electric. And his picking hand is so strong that he often pulls through perpendicular rather than parallel. When I look at his right hand in this video, I think it looks fairly similar to mine when I'm doing flamenco-esque stuff on my acoustic bass guitar:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py3jT0uaZw0
  15. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl

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    Surprised people are still answering. I just purchased a 30" small scale fretless. If only they'd make a good small scale 32" 6 string. Much easier to play. I am 5' 5 1/2", have a wide hand span, but not the strongest fingers.

    Now I just put a Wammi bar on my 6 string. I can get a vibrato too, even w/harmonics.
  16. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl

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    Addendum! The Wammi bar was put in. I just assumed that I could easily get the ferocious Stanley Clarke vibrato, or something close. Nope. It sounds like a "surf guitar" vibrato, not even close. That's what I get for assuming. (Though I get nice wobbling harmonics.)

    I have noticed that some players (e.g. Marcus Miller) have a one fingered over the fret trill that's nearly as effective (expressively) as Clarke's vibrato. Tal Wilkenfeld does it as well as anybody. Guess I'll have to cultivate that to sound more convincing.

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