I know this is a silly question, but I couldn't help but wonder it. Is there a way to play vibrato on the piano? If not are there pianos out there with this feature?

  • 2
    Very easy on a synthesized piano... Not so much on a real one!
    – topo morto
    Mar 21 '19 at 0:00
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    Indeed there are several electronic keyboards out there that have keys that are sensitive to finger motion and can be programmed to add vibrato. If you've ever watched Radiohead play on their Nord keyboards it'd be quite evident.
    – John Wu
    Mar 21 '19 at 4:32
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    Fender Rhodes through a Leslie produces a sort of vibrato. Impossible using an acoustic piano - unless the strings are tuned honky tonk style.
    – Tim
    Mar 21 '19 at 7:18

Whilst you cannot do vibrato on a conventional grand or upright acoustic piano, recent developments do make vibrato possible on the Fluid Piano. Too many details to list here.


Vibrato is impossible on the piano. The closest you could come is with the growling effect using the damper pedal, but this can be risky.

Vibrato is a standard technique on the clavichord, where it is called Bebung. This is possible due to the direct mechanical connection to the tangents which strike the strings. This possibility was a casualty of the development of the piano's escapement mechanism.


In the era of extended techniques, nothing is truly impossible anymore. At the expense of a nice sound and precise pitch, you can change the pitch of the note you are playing by pressing a finger or a suitable object on the strings. Obviously, if you wiggle it around you get a sort of vibrato.

There are quite some modern pieces that require altering the pitch of strings like this, however I haven’t heard any that require vibrato.

Touching the strings with your fingers may cause them to rust.


For electronic instruments you get what is modeled. If it's available, it's available. If not, you can try with some pedals/effects in the signal way.

For a real acoustic piano, there may be a very subtle effect by doing "vibrato" on the key strongly sideways. It's not exactly a vibrato (namely a periodic pitch change) but a change in the character of resonance. Whether they key is actually the best point for "warping the piano" may be questionable but it feels sort of natural to the player.

And maybe the mere act of the player being occupied with doing this "vibrato" already transfers its mood to the listener...


Flutter the sustainer pedal or rapidly repeat the vibrato note on the keyboard. Very fast.

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