1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Vibrato problem..

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by davegr8house, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. Hello Guys,
    Its been a while since I`ve posted but been lurking on the TalkBass Darkside regularly. Had some personal things that needed attention but now I can turn back into a cyber-nerd. So heres my question. I had my lesson this morning and my Teacher keeps reminding me about my vibrato. I have this habit of..well..I shake the Bass with my left hand which causes the Bow to move which in turn gives a "uncontrolled" vibrato. He also says its to fast..."Its not a cello" :rolleyes: . If I remove my thumb from the back of the neck the Bass stops shaking but its not correct. I understand I`m clamping my left hand but it seems I cant press down the string without "some" pressure. I was wondering if any of you guys have incountered this and what you did to correct it...exercises..etc. I`ve been with my Teacher for aprox. 3 years now and have learned much. He tells me "dont clamp and slow down" which is true but I`m curious as to what may have helped you. Apparently my hand frame is OK its just a bad habit. Thank you..

  2. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Hi Dave,

    Are you sitting or standing?
    I found that as soon as I learned to stand with the bass supported and vertical, vibrato got a lot easier. Try leaning the bass forward if you're standing, so that it presses into your fingers. If you sit, make sure you have it anchored with your knee. Either way, you want to take all the weight off your thumb. Have you ever tried using a metronome at 60, and playing b-c-b-c shifts with one finger? Then speed it up a bit, and narrow the pitch down to a little bit north, a little bit south of C. As you narrow that down, you've got your vibrato! I think your teacher is right, just slow it down, maybe even making it metronomic.
    best regards,
  3. I was taught that the vibrato motion should be as parallel as possible with the string. If this isn't happening, the bass shakes. My teacher always had me practive vibrato "thumbless" to get a relaxed motion.

    A technique I've been using with one of my students is to strap a box of tic tacs on the back of the hand with a rubber band. Away from the bass, but with the left arm in playing position, make a vibrato motion so that the Tic Tacs make nice, positive shake. Learn to the control the tempo of the shakes by using a metronome.

    Then, at the bass but without the bow, lightly placing the thumb on the back of the neck but not touching the string, try to achieve the same motion and get the same sound out of the Tic Tac box. When that feels natural, place a finger on the a string etc, etc. Its not an overnight cure, but she's headed in the right direction.
  4. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    There's a difference between stopping the note by using the natural weight of your arm and squeezing the neck, like what Laurence is saying. Because I use the natural weight of my arm, I can stop notes anywhere around the neck without letting my thumb touch the back of the neck at all.

    Your thumb is just an anchor of sorts, a way to help your hand rotate back and forth without making too wide a vibrato. Yo Yo Ma makes a joke of this sort of effect in the Appalacian Waltz DVD with Edgar Meyer and Mark O'Connor in an "out-take".

    Go to the Gollihur website and find that link that takes you to the U.V. website. There's a demo of a guy doing a vibrato on the bass, and a girl doing a vibrato on a violin to compare. It starts with a shifting exercise like Laurence just said, and that should make the lightbulb go off in your head...
  5. Thanks guys,
    Those are some good ideas that I`ll try. I just feel like I should have "got it" a long time ago and I still deal with it. I play sitting down and I can get away with removing my thumb at times. Do any of you find that string hight from the fingerboard plays a roll in ease of vibrato?
  6. Man, I don't know ANYONE who is satisfied with their vibrato, no matter how well they play.

    I'm starting to look at vibrato as more of an ornament, not something to be played at full throttle on every single note. I heard Edgar Meyer play recently, and he used vibrato very sparingly, even on the more romantic pieces. But when he did use it, it was just in the right place and just the right amount to shape the note or the phrase. This is not to take away from guys like Gary Karr, who has that gorgeous vibrato and uses it a lot, but Meyer's use of it speaks more to my personal sensibility.
  7. I understand what your saying. I just...I just....hell I want to play like Gary Karr. :p
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Of course a lower string height plays a comfort role in stopping the strings, but the mechanics of left hand technique and good vibrato are the same regardless.
  9. I was told it's all about circles and a good way to practice Vibrato was to practice rocking the left hand (good to start with the 2nd finger) and rock the finger backwards and forwards only just pinning the thumb to the neck poviting if you like. Then move on to the 4th and finaly the 1 st finger

    If you want to control the speed usse the metranome and think about how the vibrato can affect the phrasing (generaly speed up at the climax of the phrase? somtimes only use a little if its a long note all sorts of stuff you can do ). If the phrase is repeated to keep things musicaly interesting change the vibrato the 2nd time.

    Most people find the 2nd finger the best for a rich vibrato (has more fat on it!) you can also change your fngering so that the fat finger has the note when it's at the top of the phrase!!

    And of course there is always Miles Davis aproach to vibrato (you don't need it your going to be wobelying enough when you gett old any way!)

    Whatever Enjoy and good luck!


    PS Yes finger board and nut hight make it easy or hard to do good vibrato get your teacher to check out your bass, the string hight may be ok from the finger bd but if the nut is to high it can be a pig to play (I was told that at the top end the string should be no more than about 2 business cards high)
  10. Here's a trick I picked up from some other bass player a while back; go to your local guitar shop and pick up one of those little 'egg' shakers or something similar for a couple bucks. Hold it between the fingers and thumb of your left hand, and practice just shaking it slowly in a vibrato-like motion until you can get a solid rhythm. Sounds a little dumb, but it works pretty well. You can also use it to work on smoothly increasing and decreasing the speed of your vibrato, which I think is an important skill to learn especially for things like solo or chamber work...

    One other thing I like to remember too is to pretend like I'm trying to work the string into the fingerboard, like you want to wear a deep groove into it. The more pressure you have there and the more constant it is the more tone you're going to get. Just remember to apply that pressure with the weight of your arm combined with gravity and a bit of the weight of the bass, don't let the thumb or hand muscle do any of the work.
  11. Thanks for the helpful advice. I`ve been really working on slowing my vibrato down. That to me is difficult to do with control. I just think vibrato as like singing. Try singing a tone with a slow vibrato.....sick cow huh?. All well...practice practice practice ;)