The Contortionist Sucks

Guest Columnist: Ben Eller of the “This is Why You Suck At Guitar” YouTube Channel on Why Your Vibrato Sucks

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by Ben Eller

There are lots of questions that keep us all awake at night. “Why don’t I have more friends?” “Why do all my plans always seem to fall through?” “Why doesn’t my stepdad ever look me in the eye?” “Why does my dog stare at me when it humps its pillow?” “Why does it burn when I pee?” The answer to all of the questions is so simple it may shock you, Suckamaniac: it’s because your vibrato… is utter bullshit.

Much like we can tell the age of a tree by its internal rings, we can judge the overall maturity and growth of a guitarist by the way they wiggle the strings beneath their fingers. Someone who can sweep pick faster than Yngwie in a speedboat but applies pissy, shrill vibrato to a high note at the climax of a solo instantly sounds like an immature hack. But then when we hear someone like Gary Moore peg a single note with deep, sonorous vibrato, the sound produced reeks of virtuosity and control FAR more than the billion notes Shreddy Krueger just played us. You simply MUST have your vibrato under control if you want to sound like you know what you’re doing. And that’s what we are going to do today, Susanne.

There are several styles of vibrato you will learn today, young Shredi. Grab thine finest axe, and join your ol’ Uncle Ben as we explore the Wonderful World of Wiggles. We will check out the popular (yet oftentimes nauseating) finger vibrato, wrist vibrato (the choice of any true gentleman), side to side vibrato (Beyoncé’s goes to the left exclusively), and the rarely seen circular vibrato technique (also known as Vaibrato). Then, we will wrap up with a handful of pro tips to improve your vibrato, whichever style you choose! We will talk about keeping vibrato in time, keeping everything in tune, and how to get rid of that embarrassing rash. So step on up, grease your guitar down with your favorite axe lubricant (I make my own from rendered shark fat), and let’s get shakin’.

Ben Eller is your biological stepdad. You’ve heard him play solos on Whitechapel’s self-titled and Our Endless War albums. You’ve seen him on tour with Unearth, Andy Wood, and Whitechapel. You’ve seen his popular YouTube channel. He’s taught you guitar lessons via Skype. And now he’s standing right behind you. He plays big time rock bass in his rock and roll band Far Far Away and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @benellerguitars

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