Frequently, customers who visit the Tool Shed will say, “I’ve never been in a store like this before!” They’ll look around for a few minutes and then shyly say, “I’m looking for a vibrator. What’s the best one?”
And every time this happens, we have to give them a very disappointing answer. “There is not a single best vibrator. There’s only the vibrator that’s best for you.” And while that sounds like some kind of new-age Yoda-type answer, it’s also the truth. There are so many kinds of vibrators on the market. And there is an almost infinite variety of human beings. Picking a match is a little more complex than buying the most popular (or the newest, or the most expensive) vibrator on the market.
Rather than buying whichever vibrator is suggested by your friends or favorite fashion blog, it’s a good idea to ask yourself some questions about your needs/desires and make a choice based on your answers.
• What’s your budget? Vibrators are available at a wide range of prices, and you’ll probably be able to find something that works well for you without going broke. As a matter of fact, if this is your first vibrator, it’s a good idea to buy something more affordable. That way you won’t be out a ton of money if it’s not exactly what you want. As you gain more experience with sex toys, you’ll be able to really pick out things that are just right for you. That’s when you want to consider making a bigger investment.
• How is it powered? There are battery powered vibrators, rechargeable vibrators, and vibrators that plug into the wall. Think about your living situation and what will work best for you. People who share a room with a roommate may not be comfortable plugging in a vibrator to recharge it. Other folks have a hard time remembering to keep batteries around the house. And a lot of older homes have a real shortage of outlets leaving folks to contemplate how their plug-in vibrator will ever reach their bedside.
• What body part do you want to stimulate with the vibrator? Fun fact: Often we think of vibes as “lady toys” but vibrators can be a lot of fun for folks regardless of their gender or genitals. We assume they’ll probably feel good on the clitoris or inside the vagina (and they usually do!) but they can also feel great on nipples, behind the knees, on the shaft of the penis or under the testicles. If you plan to use the vibrator on a small, external part of your body (like nipples, clitoris, penis, etc.), consider a small one that can be easily controlled. Bullet vibes are a great choice for this, as are vibrators that fit right over your finger. There are other small vibes that are also specifically designed for external stimulation as well.
If you want to use the vibrator to penetrate the vagina, you’ll probably want a longer toy. It can be difficult to really maneuver small vibrators during penetration. Some have a straight shaft and others are angled for g-spot stimulation. There are also vibrators that can stimulate the clitoris and penetrate the vagina at the same time. These dual stimulating vibes are often referred to as rabbit vibrators.
While you can use most any kind of vibrator on the penis, a few are specifically designed for that very purpose. Vibrating cock rings are great for couple’s play, and strokers with built-in vibration can be fun all by yourself or with a friend!
For folks who want to use a vibrator for butt play, you’ll want to find something with a nice wide base to keep the vibe from being pulled into the rectum during play.
• What does the vibration feel like to you? Vibration can occur along a whole spectrum of pitches and intensities. Some vibrators have what we refer to as a high-pitched or buzzy feeling. Others have a lower pitch or more thumpy feeling vibration. Both kinds of vibes will work for certain people, but none work just right for everyone. The best way to answer this question is to come into the store, turn on a vibrator and feel the quality of the vibration for yourself. (Aside: If you live near Milwaukee and you’ve never been to the Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, you should definitely go. It’s sort of a sex toy wonderland, stocked with vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, cock rings, and many, many other things! We’re set up to allow people to handle the toys before purchasing to help you make the best choice for yourself. It’s also staffed entirely by sexuality educators who are there to answer your questions about our products, and also about your sexual health and wellness.)
If you don’t live near a store that allows you to do this, check out some online toy reviews and pay attention to how the writer describes the sensation. Hey Epiphora, Joan Price, and Dangerous Lilly are all sex educators I trust to write honest and complete reviews.
• Is bigger and stronger actually better for you? Toys like the Original Magic Wand have been around for decades. These wands (also known as massagers) plug into the wall and are very powerful. They’re so powerful, in fact, that many people are able to quickly reach orgasm without even taking their pants off! Just turn it on and hold it on the desired body part, and there you are! Wands and massagers have their dedicated fans for sure, but it’s important to note that some people simply don’t need that much power. Vibes that powerful can sometimes make you feel numb or move you too quickly through your arousal process.
• Do you have other considerations? Folks with kids or roommates often want a toy that is very quiet. Some people deal with chronic conditions like carpal tunnel, so they need something that doesn’t have a lot of reverb when they’re holding it. If a person has limited mobility of the hands, they’ll may need a toy with buttons that are easy to push.
If you spend some time reflecting on these questions and doing a little research, you and your new toy should have nothing but positive vibes to share! (Get it? It’s a vibrator joke.)
Important note about the Tool Shed: We’re operating with restrictions during COVID-19. All customers must wear masks over their mouths and noses. We’re not allowing groups of more than two people, and we’re limited to four total customers in the store at a time. During busy times (nights and weekends), you may need to wait in line outside of our store.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her an email at email@example.com and she’ll get back to you with an answer.