Do people play vibrato with pitch wheel?


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I never thought about this until recently, but I've always thought the pitch wheel was pretty useless for fast/consistent pitch changes like vibrato. I've alway used it for scoops, falls and glisses. I've always assigned vibrato to mono pressure, triggering a pitch LFO. I often subtly modulate the LFO rate to make it a little more organic. But the drummer in my current band is also a pro keyboardist, but he'd never used aftertouch before, and was confused by how I was getting vibrato "without doing anything", he said he always did vibrato with the wheel. I couldn't tell whether he meant with the pitch wheel, or a MOD wheel LFO. If he's using the pitch wheel (though he uses joysticks, which are better, and I don't have), I'm REALLY impressed, as I've TRIED to vibrato with the pitch wheel, but it always sounds terrible.

Do people really do that? Are there ways of actually making legitimately good vibratos with the pitch wheel? Ribbon I could definitely see, and I have a Seaboard, which is PERFECT for playing real finger vibrato, but I just can't imagine doing it on the pitch wheel.
 
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I'd bet he's using the MOD wheel to adjust the depth of an LFO modulating the oscillator. That's what it's designed for, I think.

You could always ask him . . . .<g>

. CHarles
 
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It's done often, here's an example.


Now, granted, Korgs don't have a "wheel" but the principle is the same. At 5:53 you can see Corey Henry flicking the joystick to get vibrato. At 5:49 (and in lots of other spots) he ALSO uses the "mod" aspect of the joystick for vibrato as Charles mentioned above.

And here's Jordan Rudess discussing using a pitch wheel for vibrato - from 2:40

 

happyrat1

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Yeah, most people are using the mod wheel for the vibrato effect.

Personally though, I almost never touch either the mod wheel or the pitch wheel when I'm playing, preferring instead to use my ribbon controller for pitch and other effects.

My reason is simple. Most pitch wheels have a crappy potentiometer design that fails when it's used and abused by some people and I'd rather not shell out $150 for a replacement part on my keyboards.

The ribbon, on the other hand, is almost indestructible and gives me a full three octave range on pitch bends and slides.

My advice is to pick up an aftermarket ribbon controller and see what you can do with it.

Gary ;)
 
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As you know Gary I'm predominantly a Korg and Roland user - so haven't touched a pitch or mod wheel for a while. In fact my SV-1 hasn't even got real time pitch and mod controls!

But I'm ALWAYS fiddling with my joystick!

 
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Yeah, ribbon makes a lot of sense, since you're not fighting a spring, and joysticks seem more comfortable. Not gonna bother adding anything, however, since the Seaboard is basically a 4 octave ribbon with amazing touch sensitivity for dynamics. But I was curious, on traditional boards, whether this was a thing or not. I tried practicing on it years ago, and it didn't seem physically very possible to get smooth like I can on other instruments, but maybe I just need to practice it more!

I think finger position makes a big difference. when I'm doing bends, I typically grab the center of the wheel with my index finger and thumb, and use my whole arm and wrist for bending, which is comfortable for slow and precise things. I notice that when Jordon does vibrato he ignores the central divot and flicks the upper portion with his thumb. I've done A LITTLE of that, of all things when I'm harmonizing the leads on "Boys are Back in Town", and it worked alright. I'll try practicing it more, but man is it unnatural feeling!
 

John Garside

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The modulation wheel is not designed specifically to modulate vibrato, but is often so assigned on keyboards without aftertouch. It can usually be reassigned to more or less any MIDI controller (CC#), e.g. a filter for wah.
Again, on most keyboards with aftertouch, that is assigned by default to vibrato, but can be reassigned to whatever you want. The mod wheel will be assigned elsewhere depending on voice selection.
It's not unusual for VSTi to use the mod wheel to control expression or breath controllers. i.e. CC#11 or CC#2.
 
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Wow! Cowboy, thanks for sharing that Snarky Puppy track. I need to listen to more of them. I only have one album "The World is Getting Smaller", and it didn't quite click with me somehow, but this is fantastic! Gonna have to nab "We Like it Here'. That solo is tasty. Corey Henry sorta reminds me of a cross between Joe Zowinul and Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard) both two of my favorite keyboard players.
 
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