10 Little Vibrato Exercises in

E Hungarian Minor


I chose this key but you can choose any key and any form of the minor scale you want.

You can apply the vibrato to any of your licks. The real lesson is in the note values and being able to produce good vibrato and pinch harmonics EVERY TIME!

I gave you a lick and then did 9 different variations on it by using different fingers and different notes to do vibrato on.

If you have never done vibrato you may get frustrated. Shoot for measure 1 only. Then when you get a good grasp on that you can come back for more.

If you are more advanced try to go through the whole exercise. I promise you your vibrato will come out much nicer when you apply it in context after this lesson.

After this lesson you will feel more confident and know how long to do vibrato for and with what note values.


Pinch Harmonics

If you’ve never pinched before its not easy. You have to persevere and get your thumb and the pick to bounce off of the string ever so quickly, after you have hit the note. Its really not much more than that.

My teacher at the time, Tom Hess, sent me a lesson on it that made it too complicated for me. I simply learned by doing it a million times. Literally.

Although Tom was and is a great teacher, he wasn’t the teacher for me in the long run. The same thing happened to me with vibrato. He just explained it to me in a way that didn’t make sense to me.

That being said, keep trying. As you can hear in the audio, my pinch harmonics have improved vastly as has my vibrato. What I really learned from Tom was that vibrato was IMPORTANT! and up to that time I had not even considered my vibrato. So I am grateful to him.

I simply stuck and stayed then came back the next day and tried again and again and again. Then one day it came to a point where I could pinch any note on the fretboard as well as do vibrato on any note on the fretboard.

Its tricky to do both on a note, in a musical context. This lesson should help destroy any complications you have had in the past.

But like I said, you must persevere.

Here are some tips on how to get started practicing pinch harmonics.

  • Plug in your guitar and use hi-gain. For now, the higher the better.
  • Hit the 12th fret on the 4th string.
  • Slightly below the neck pickup, tap the string with your thumb. Play around with it until you get the harmonic to come out. So hit the note with a pick (12th fret), then tap slightly with your thumb below the neck pickup, releasing it right after it touches the string. Its really slight. 
  • Now speed up the time in between the note and the tapping of your thumb to the point where its simultaneous.



Things to keep in mind when practicing

  1. Go slow.
  2. When doing vibrato you must let the note come back to the original note so relax when you do the vibrato but do it firmly. In other words your finger (whichever it is that you’re doing vibrato with should be firm in doing so) but your shoulders, neck and arms must be relaxed.
  3. Pay attention to the fingering. The exercises are there for each of your fingers to do vibrato. (all 4 included) (yes, pinky vibrato is there too) I want to teach you the way of the masters and the masters can do vibrato with any finger. Don’t argue, just do it. Strengthen that sucker.
  4. When you’re doing these exercises, each measure is to be done 5 times in a row without a mistake.
  5. In actuality it will be 15 times because you will be doing each measure 5 times with different note values on the note that signifies vibrato. In other words, 5 times with quarter note vibrato, 5 times with 1 quarter note triplet and 5 times with 8th notes. Listen to the recordings to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about.
  6. The above is for each and every measure.
  7. Work on this for about half hour or until your fingers give out.
  8. Do not continue if you experience pain. Come back when you don’t.


Remember the rules…5x each with all 3 note values on the vibrato note. (2 qtr notes, qtr note triplets, 4 8th notes)

The 4th measure has the 3 notes on the 4th string palm muted. You can palm mute each and every measure at your discretion. This is not really a palm muting lesson but you can implement it as in measure 4. I think it sounds really cool and I’ve heard Joe Stump do it and It sounds really cool.

The following audio was recorded with a maple neck and EMG pickups on high gain. Each recording is 15x. 5 with each of the 3 note values. (qtr notes, a qtr note triplet and 8th notes.)

The vibrato length for each measure lasts 2 beats at 169 bpm. 4 8th notes for each measure followed by vibrato for 2 beats in which I use different note values.

Listen to the examples for a better understanding.


measure 1


measure 2


measure 3


measure 4


measure 5


measure 6


measure 7


measure 8


measure 9


measure 10







Your vibrato strength will be determined by the amount of time and effort you put into this.

For further lessons on this topic or any other topic regarding the guitar go here. 

See ya’ next time…

photo by:

frank cordoba