All Types of Vibrators Explained

Regardless of your experience with sex toys, check out this in-depth look at the different types of vibrators that could bring you one step closer to ecstasy.
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I’m going to be honest with you here – I’ve always had a fascination with masturbation. Whenever my friends and I would go to the mall, we’d always make a beeline for the novelty section of Spencer’s Gifts. That is because we knew there would be a whole section of naughty products to ogle.

Now, I’m probably showing my age with this admission. However, back then, it was a time when there were not so many different types of vibrators. The most shock-worthy sex toy they had in the store were those hard plastic vibrators that, by today’s standards, look pretty bland.

We weren’t naïve kids. We knew what they were meant for. It’s pretty amusing considering those vibrators were, at one time, advertised to help with a variety of problems women have, They were said to improve a woman’s complexion, tone the skin, relieves tension, backaches, muscle spasms and “jittery nerves.” That is thanks to the “very soothing, pleasurable, pulsating relaxation!”

While I don’t know how well a vibrator can help my complexion, I’m a firm believer in the power of sex toys – specifically vibrators. It doesn’t matter what type of vibrator it is, be it one of my favorite rabbit vibrators, a clit vibrator, a vibrating dildo, or a bullet vibrator. Each toy has a way of taking the art of masturbation to a whole new level, and I am living for it!

Today, I want to shed some light on the different types of vibrators available. I will explain how much they tend to cost, who can enjoy a vibrator and so much more. If you had any vibrator-related questions, you’ve found the right place to have those questions answered!

History of the Vibrator

Did you know that the first vibrator was invented by an American doctor named George Taylor in 1869 and was aptly named the Manipulator? Unlike the toys we know and love today, the Manipulator was a steam-powered, coal-fired device that was used to treat a condition called “Hysteria,” which was a blanket diagnosis given to women who experienced (but not limited to) “fainting, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, nervousness, and ‘a tendency to cause trouble for others.’”.

The actual engine (yes, engine!) was stored in an adjacent room and on the other side of the wall, you’d find the attached dildo – think of it as a primitive sex machine. It wasn’t until the 1880s that the first electric vibrator was invented and patented by a British doctor named Joseph Mortimer Granville.

It was believed that by using devices like these instead of manual stimulation (essentially doctors diddled their female patients under the impression that an orgasm (or hysterical paroxysm as it was known as at the time) could “restore a woman to full health.

Fortunately, thanks to Granville’s electric vibrator, women were able to treat themselves at home. However, the real intention of the vibrator was veiled. Advertisements called them a “personal massager”, and the wording used in said ads had a seductive tone to them so people knew the real purpose of the devices.

Types of Vibrators Explained

Vibrators have come a long way from the Manipulator and thankfully there’s a bunch of different kinds of vibrators available – after all, variety is the spice of life, right? I certainly think so! Whether you’re trying to round out your toy chest with various types of vibrators or you’re looking for your very first vibrator, here’s a rundown of your options:

  1. Classic Vibrators
  2. Clitoral Vibrators
  3. Rabbit vibrators
  4. G-Spot Vibrators
  5. Dildo Vibrators
  6. Wand Vibrators
  7. Butterfly Vibrators
  8. Anal Vibrators
  9. Male Vibrators
  10. Thrusting Vibrators

Now, let’s examine each type of vibrator more closely:

1. Classic Vibrators

Classic Type of Vibrator

A classic vibrator looks like a modern version a vintage vibrator. The classic vibrator tends to be cylindrical and feature rounded head for easy penetration or even clitoral stimulation. These vibes can feature some kind of texture or ribbing to give it a different feel. These vibrators can either be battery powered or they can be recharged via charging port. If you’re looking for a simple classic-type vibe, the Lovehoney Flash seen on our “Best Quiet Vibrators” list is a good option, especially if you prefer clitoral stimulation.

2. Clitoral Vibrators

Clitoral vibrators are a type of vibe that’s designed specifically to stimulate the clitoris. These types of vibrators can be shaped like a bullet like the We-Vibe Tango seen on our “Best Bullet Vibrators” list, have suction capabilities like the Lelo Sona seen on our “Best Clitoral Vibrator” list, or be small enough to fit on the tip of your finger like Fingo’s Tingly Finger Vibrator seen on our “Best Finger Vibrators” list. These vibrators can be rechargeable or battery operated. In my opinion, any woman who likes to have toe-curling orgasms should have a clitoral vibrator.

3. Rabbit Vibrators

Rabbit Type of Vibrator

These types of vibrators are designed to stimulate both the vagina and the clitoris at the same time, or you can stimulate one or the other, thanks to the two independent motors inside of the toy. Despite the name, not all rabbit vibrators have bunny ears on the clitoral stimulator as the Lovehoney Jessica Rabbit does. They could have butterfly antenna like the Love Rider or could feature a rounded tip like the Lelo Soraya – all of these were reviewed in the “Best Rabbit Vibrators” list if you want to get the low down on how these toys work. Rabbit vibrators tend to be rechargeable or battery operated.

4. G-Spot Vibrators

G-Spot Type of Vibrator

A G-Spot vibrator is an internal vibe that features a curved head that will be used to stimulate the ever elusive G-spot. There are two types of G-spot vibes: the rabbit G-spot vibrator like the Fifty Shades of Grey Greedy Girl Rechargeable G-Spot Rabbit Vibrator that appeared on the “Best Rabbit Vibrators” list, which stimulates both the G-spot and your clitoris; or it could look like the Doc Johnson Lucid Dream #14 that is designed to work with your anatomy to really hit the sweet spot. If you’re new to G-spot stimulation or vibrators in general, I like the Lovehoney Power Play that appeared on the “Best G-Spot Vibrators” list because it’s designed to only stimulate the G-spot and not give you a sense of fullness that can sometimes happen with vibes with a thicker shaft. These toys can either be battery operated or recharged via USB.

5. Dildo Vibrators

Type of Vibrator

Vibrating dildos give you the look and feel being penetrated by a penis, but it vibrates. Some of the vibrators in this category will feature a suction cup base like the Doc Johnson Jeff Stryker, it could feature a remote control like the Emperor 7 Vibrating Dildo or it could even have a clitoral stimulator included, like the Lovehoney Triple Tickler Dildo Vibrator – all of which were reviewed in our “Best Vibrating Dildo” list. As a beginner, riding a big vibrating dildo may be outside of your realm of comfort, so I recommend starting off small with the Little Softee Beginner’s Realistic Dildo because it’s not too big, it still has that phallic shape with veins, and it’s just easy to use. Vibrating dildos are usually battery operated – I’ve yet to find a rechargeable option.

6. Wand Vibrators

Wand Type of Vibrator

In my opinion, wand vibrators are the absolute best type of vibrators because they are POWERFUL! If you’ve watched any porn and they whipped one of these suckers out, you know the woman in the flick is going to be dripping by the end of the shoot. The most powerful wand vibrators will plug right into the wall like the Doxy Wand Vibrator or the Original Hitachi Magic Wand, but there are pretty impressive USB rechargeable wands too, like the Hitachi Magic USB Rechargeable Wand or the Lelo Smart Wand – all of which were reviewed in our “Best Wand Vibrators”. Although these vibrators can’t be used internally, the powerful vibrations make up for it 10 fold.

7. Butterfly Vibrators (or Vibrating Panties)

Anal Type of Vibrator

When you want a hands-free experience, you can’t get much simpler than wearing vibrating panties. These panties can be like your average pair of sexy panties with a bullet vibrator in the crotch, a la Secrets Plus Vibrating Panties or they could rely on straps that wrap around your abdomen so that a “butterfly” can stimulate your clitoris, as seen with the Venus Butterfly seen in our “Best Vibrating Panties” list. The only drawback to some wearable vibrators is that they may feature a wired remote, which limits where you can play or if you can wear it during sex.

8. Anal Vibrators

Vibrating Panties

If you’re an adventurous sort and you like anal stimulation, then anal vibrators may be right up your alley. These vibrators usually look like a traditional butt plug, but you can find more unique shaped ones like the Fifty Shades Darker Carnal Promise that we reviewed in our “Best Anal Vibrators” list. These vibrators can be rechargeable, but usually, they will require dry-cell batteries. A lot of people like to use anal vibrators prior to engaging in anal sex because it’ll help relax the anus, thus making penetration a little easier. Oh, and this should go without saying, but always use a good amount of lube!

9. Male Vibrators

Male Type of Vibrator

What? You thought women were the only ones who could enjoy vibrators? Nope, not at all! In fact, there’s a whole market out there for male vibrators or prostate vibrators. These vibrators aren’t as large as the types of female vibrators, but they’re inserted into a guys anus to stimulate the prostate, like the Lelo Hugo. However, there are also vibrating cock rings like the Lelo Tor 2 that not only gives the guy pleasure, but it also feels pretty damn good for her, too. For something a little different, check out our “Best Male Vibrators” list and read our review of the Dr. Joel Kaplan testicle vibrator.

10. Thrusting Vibrators

Thrusting Type of Vibrator

The final type of vibrator worth mentioning is the thrusting vibrator

Thrusting vibrators do exactly what their name suggests – they thrust! While all types of vibrators can be used in a “thrusting” manner, what sets these vibrators apart from the rest is that their motor is designed for this type of thrusting movement by design.

If you enjoy the feeling of being filled with vibratory goodness, then you will love thrusting vibrators. Personally, I prefer vibrators which have some form of clitoral stimulation. However, I know many of my friends love thrusting vibrators, so giving them a try is definitely worth it.

How Do the Different Types of Vibrators Work?

As the name would imply, a vibrator is “a device used for massage or sexual stimulation,” but the real question should be how do they work? Janet Lieberman, the co-founder of the sex toy company Dame Products, did an interview with Refinery29 where she describes the components of a vibrator:

Motor

The motor is what actually makes your vibrator vibrate. When the motor is turned on, it twirls an off-centered weight around inside the vibe. The force generated from the twirling causes the toy to vibrate.

As Lieberman states in the article, the motors in your favorite vibrator isn’t like the motor in a remote-controlled toy car. The motor in that toy car is designed to be balanced so that it’ll go in a straight line, as smoothly as possible.

A vibrator’s motor, on the other hand, is designed to be off balance and that’s the key to making your toy so fun to play with. “You can have a really high-powered, buzzy vibrator, a low-powered buzzy vibrator, a high-powered rumbly vibrator, or a low-powered rumbly vibrator, all based on the motor you pick,” Lieberman says.

Most vibrators use the traditional rotary motor system, but there are other companies who are trying out other mechanisms. Hot Octopuss has created a “guybrator” called the Pulse III that uses oscillations to bring on the orgasms.

In an article featured on Mic.com, Adam Lewis, the co-founder of Hot Octopuss, explained how he came up with the idea for the Pulse, “I came across this medical report that talked about the technique used to help men with spinal cord injuries.  I was reading this report, and it talked about this medical vibrator they used that had an oscillating pad — it doesn’t vibrate; it’s much more [of a] three-dimensional motion. It’s more like a piston, a sort of up-and-down motion.”

Power Source

In order to make that motor work, it needs power. It’s important to note that how the toy is powered will have an impact on how it performs. Some wand vibrators, like the Doxy Wand Vibrator, featured in the “Best Wand Vibrator” list, need to be plugged into the wall, therefore it makes sense that a wand vibe tends to be some of most powerful types of vibrators.

The downside to these vibrators is that you’re pretty much tethered to a wall. Sure, you could use extension cords but unless they’re being used for impromptu bondage, I prefer to keep the cords out of sexy time.

If you’re not interested in keeping playtime strictly in the bedroom and portability is the name of your game, then the Happy Rabbit Rechargeable Vibrator or the Magic Wand Rechargeable Vibrator, both of which appeared on the “Best Rechargeable Vibrator” list are cordless vibrators that use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. To recharge, simply plug your toy into the USB cord and let it go for a few hours and then you’ll be set to go! Of course, then you also have the classic battery operated batteries.

A downside to rechargeable and battery operated toys is that you always have to make sure your vibe is charged (or has fresh batteries) and you don’t lose the USB cord that goes with the vibe. There’s nothing worse than wanting to play but can’t because you don’t know where the cord is!

Yes… I’m speaking from experience.

Printed Circuit Board

I’m the type of girl who likes variety and my vibrators have to have more oomph than just simple vibrations. That’s why I always make sure my vibes have a variety of vibration settings and patterns, like the Lelo Layla 2 featured in the “Best Bullet Vibrator” list. Vibrators with variable speeds, patterns, and vibration strengths are equipped with a Printed Circuit Board, or PCB. The PCB can make a single button perform numerous functions like turning the toy on and off, as well as cycling through the different settings. Keep in mind that if you have a vibrator like the Desire Luxury featured in the “Best Clit Vibrators” list, you have 20 settings to rifle through, which can be a little tedious when you’re in the moment.

Controls

Vibrators can be controlled a variety of ways. Some have dials to which you can adjust to find your perfect setting, some have a single power button (these can be pretty boring, in my opinion), and others will have a few buttons you can press.

Each type of vibrator has a unique set of controls, but it’s usually relatively simple to get the hang of it. After all, you are not controlling an airplane – you are controlling a vibrator. The only kind of vibrator which has rather special controlling features are remote control vibrators – these kinds of vibrators connect via Bluetooth or a remote control, and can be controlled by your partner from afar.

Sounds like fun? Hell yeah, it is!

Materials

Inside of your vibrator, there’s a hard plastic shell that houses the motor, PCB and the power source. The placement of the component’s housing is going to have an effect on the type of vibrations you experience. If the motor is further away from the part of the vibe that comes in contact with your pleasure zones, you’re not going to get as powerful sensations as if the motor was positioned closer to the tip.

In terms of the material used for the actual toy itself, there are a few different options:

  • Plastic Vibrators: Firm, budget-friendly, smooth surface, easy to clean, vibrations transfer easily
  • Latex, PVC, Rubber Vibrators: Durable, great for deep penetration, easy to clean
  • Jelly Vibrators: Transfers vibrations well, but could contain phthalates which you should avoid
  • TPE/TPR Vibrators: Firm but flexible, phthalate free, many vibrators are made from these
  • Realistic Vibrators: Soft outside with rigid inside, meant to mimic the look and feel of skin
  • Silicone Vibrators: Hypoallergenic, non-porous, easy to clean, durable, can feel luxurious
  • Metal Vibrators: Expensive, strong vibrations, powerful motors, easy to clean

Final Thoughts on All of the Different Types of Vibrators

Although Carol Channing states that diamonds are a girl’s best friend in the Broadway version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I can’t help but feel like she’d think differently if she had a good vibrator in her bedside drawer… Or, maybe she did? Who knows!

By incorporating sex toys like vibrators into your sex life can be a fantastic way to explore your sexuality solo or with a partner, and that’s the beauty of the different types of vibrators! There really is something for everyone – even men! Not only is there something for everyone, but you can also find vibrators at all price points. If you’re on a budget, you can find vibrators that are under $20 that work really well. If you don’t mind spending good money for a powerful vibrator, you can find a 24-karat gold vibrator that’ll set you back a cool $3,900!

While I’m not ogling the vibrators at Spencer’s anymore, I do love a good mid-range vibrator that’ll get me off without making me go broke.  But, could you imagine if you lived in an area that made these lovely devices illegal?

In 2014, a Georgian woman, Melissa Davenport, filed a lawsuit against a law in the state that prohibits the sale of sex toys. According to the law, the only way a Georgia resident could obtain a toy is if it was to be used under medical, scientific, educational, legislative, or law enforcement circumstances. In the lawsuit, Davenport’s lawyer stated that because their client suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and the toys were used to help maintain intimacy in her marriage, the law is violating the 14th amendment, which protects a person’s life, liberty, or property from the state.

What’s more alarming is that selling sex toys are prohibited in the entire state of Alabama and Georgia, as well as a few areas in Texas, Maine and New Mexico due to an Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act instituted in 1998. Thankfully, residents in these areas still have the internet to make their orders!