Violin/violin vibrato


In regards to the previous question about vibrato I'd like to know if a guitar players vibrato technique and a violinist vibrato technique are the same thing. I've played guitar for years and just started violin recently. My guitar vibrato technique sounds good to me while playing the violin but looks or feels nothing like what the violin players on you-tube show to do for the basics of learning violin vibrato.  can do t using my fingers only while the videos show and tell about moving hand/wrist back and forth and others mention moving entire formarm to play vibrato. Is my way of playing o.k. for violin?  I realize I could possibly wear the bridge grooves a little by doing this but it's easy and cuts the learning curve some.

Hi Uncle Duke,

Thanks for your question.  I'm afraid I'm not an expert in guitar, so I don't know for sure.  I do play a little, and a violin vibrato does work on the guitar (sort of), but I suspect that professional guitar players use more of a twisting motion to pull the string from side-to-side (perpendicular to the string), whereas violin vibrato is in a motion which is parallel to the string.  We don't have any frets to get in our way, after all.

Still, if you've mastered vibrato on the guitar, then you'll have a feel for the speed and appropriate use of vibrato, which is a big step in the right direction.

As far as using the guitar vibrato on the violin, I'd almost need to see what you're doing to give you an answer.  As far as wear to the instrument goes, I'd be more concerned about the fingerboard than the bridge.  Aside from that, I suppose if you're getting the sound you want, go for it.  But, it's worth learning the proper technique as well.  It's really not that difficult once you get a feel for it.  I've never seen a violinist pull the string from side to side, like I'm imagining you do for the guitar.  It could be interesting to experiment.

Regarding the motion of the arm and wrist - yes violinists do use the whole arm in vibrato.  Actually, we tend to think of the wrist motion as "wrist" vibrato and the arm motion as "arm" vibrato.  Self-taught students often use only arm vibrato and need to expand their motion to use the wrist as well (for health reasons if nothing else).  A good vibrato uses both and alters the amount of each according to the situation.


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James S. Fisher


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I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins,


I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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