Most of us know what vibrato is. But do we understand how and where to place it? Are we even aware of the degree of attention proper vibrato requires? I've worked in and out of many music stores in my time I know there to be two types of vibrato; 1. Smooth, soothing and appropriate 2. Fast, buzzy, and over anticipated. We've all heard the difference with our own ears and we understand the impact it has on our impression of the guitarist.
I'm only harsh with this particular subject because I cannot stress just how much unattended vibrato will affect your style in the long run. If you think you've perfected the art of vibrato in your playing, let's take another look after fully applying these teachings.
I tend to see vibrato as a wide and movable stream. Whether before, after, around, or in between phrases, It just has to flow. We need to work on the flow of it in context with the music. One way to understand vibrato in context is to practice it to the meter. Sounds weird but let me show you how I apply this concept to my own playing.
What we want to shoot for here is fluidity. Think about some of the most famous soulful singers you know. Most of them use a very wide and controlled vibrato. Meaning it isn't very fast or harsh sounding, it just fits the music. If you're looking into improving your legato technique, you wanna think about expanding the length or wave of your vibrato. For this I use the meter as a guide.
For instance, if I'm playing on a straight 4/4 beat, I'll move my vibrato emphasizing the 8th note beat. Not to say that I'm conscious of this every time I play, but it's a great place to start making your new improved vibrato more or less a nervous tick. We'll talk about that in the next example.
Have fun and remember to move with time in mind!