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what's the difference between a lawnmower and a soprano saxophone?




OK, you have my permission to include any instrument that creates bass sounds. Not that you needed my permission.


I'm working on vibrato techniques on my didgeriedoo, does that count?


Saying that you use vibrato on guitar does seem just a wee bit off topic for a poll on a bass players' forum.


But who am I to say?

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As far as I can tell, there are three kinds of vibrato that can be used on a bass. Correct me if I'm wrong.


1) The kind of vibrato that a lot of blues players use. You push the string side to side so it sort of grinds against the fret. This bends the string up and down and gives a nice vibrato. Of course it works on fretted bass.


2) The kind of vibrato where you slide your finger up and down the neck along the string. This doesn't work too well on a fretted bass unless you have a really light touch and move your hand really quickly.


3) The kind of vibrato used by classical string players (I think). This is where you plant your finger on the note, get a good grip between your finger and thumb, and wiggle your wrist. This works on a fretted, but of course it works better on a fretless.


Those of you who are classically trained or play blues guitar may be able to explain these methods and perhaps other methods better than I.


I use all these methods at various times.

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String teacher lurking:


Actually, the classical type vibrato has 2 categories; wrist and arm. Wrist is the preferred type for violin/viola instruments...but I can't really do it on one of those. It is pretty much impossible for URB and cello.


URB and Cello players almost exclusively use "arm" vibrato...which is where the entire arm "rolls" while the elbow stays still.


The traditional arm vibrato works on a fretted instrument, but only a little bit. It's primary action it pulling the string flat and sharp by stretching it against the bridge and nut.


There are a couple of other ways I've seen vibrato attempted...I don't recommend.


You can pinch a string against a fret, and then sharpen the note by pushing it against the fingerboard and relaxing...


You can flex the neck of a bass enough to get a vibrato.


You could add a whammy bar.


By and large, I mostly use the string bending vibrato across a fret, and the arm vibrato borrowed from URB.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.


Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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or I guess you could grab the heastock and pull it back and forth (don't try this at home or on your own bass :D ).


Or perhaps you could install a whammy bar :eek:


Or be like John McLaughlin (a guitar player I know, :P ) and put scalloped frets on your fingerboard. He could get vibrato by pushing down on the string, kinda like a sitar.


Or not, YMMV

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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or I guess you could grab the heastock and pull it back and forth (don't try this at home or on your own bass ).
Why? I do it all the time to creat vibrato on harmonics. It's like a poor man's whammy bar.


My neck's made of maple, though. Don't try this move on a mahogany-necked Les Paul!

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It seems this could have been a two category answer with a very high majority in the yes. I answered yes and that doesn't mean that's all I do. The answer "sometimes" to me is yes. If someone asked me if I used bass effects, my answer would be yes not sometimes, even though I don't use the effects that often. What did he say? :freak:



I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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JeremyC roat:

I create vibrato on harmonics by pushing down on the string above the nut. It's a little easier on the bass than bending the neck.
I use that technique as well, but only when I want to bend a single note. For a whammy-bar-like wobble of a whole harmonic or chord, I just grab the headstock or push the neck from behind....I'm not too worried because a little movement goes a long way, pitch-wise...and I'm still moving the neck less than it moves by itself when I change strings...


As for vibrato in general...use it sparingly and tastefully and you'll make your bandmates smile. Use it all the time, and you'll make your bandmates seasick. :D

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I rarely use vibrato on fretted bass; I'm not agin' it, I just rarely find myself wanting it. Fretless is another story--I use vibrato unconsciously, just a little rocking of the hand, to give notes a bit of expression (that's why I got a fretless, more expression). I have to concentrate *not* to use it with sustained notes on fretless!


I guess I see them as different instruments & I've unconsciously developed different playing styles on each.

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Scalloped frets is where you shave away wood from the neck between the frets. Now when you play a note, the string only touches the fret, it doesn't touch the neck at all. You can now bend a string by pushing harder. It requires tremendous control over the pressure you use to push down the strings.


Sitars have always been set up like this. I believe that on a sitar you can get almost any note at any fret by pushing harder and bending the string.


John McLaughlin is a guitarist who has played alot with scalloped frets.

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I play an old Stingray fretted with maple neck. I recently strung it with Thomastic Flats and I find it very easy to vibrate. I use classical, wrist and arm. The vibrato is of course narrow, with the frets,sounds like lite chorus. I think it's the smoothness of the strings and their quality.

Whammy Bar aficionatos should know that Hipshot Products just came out with a bass vibrato.Besides the vibrato it reportedly increases sustain bocu.

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