Whammy Bar on Guitars

A whammy bar is, also known as tremolo bar, or vibrato bar, is a metal bar that a player uses to change the pitch of a guitar.

Most electric guitars have a whammy bar. Their goal is to simplify the creation of vibrato effects, where the string pitch is changed up and down slightly.

Whammy Bar Models

Here are some models:

The Vibrato Effect

Vibrato is a common effect using in music with distinct instruments. For example, violinists will perform vibrato by slightly moving their fingers up and down the neck of the instrument.

The vibrato effect is very useful to create longer and more interesting sounding notes. A long note without vibrato effect may sound to unnatural and flat. A note with vibrato seems for warm and interesting.

Creating Vibrato on a Guitar

Guitar players frequently employ the vibrato, but on acoustic instruments players to vibrato manually.

The easiest way to create vibrato is to quickly move your finger on the fretboard. This will generate pitch changes that sound as a vibrato.

Quick lateral changes or vertical movements on the string generate the effect of manual vibrato. Both ways will work, but will sound a little different. A good guitar player needs to master both ways of creating vibrato.

The Whammy Bar

With electric guitars and steel strings, it is a little more difficult to perform vibrato. The strings are heavier than nylon strings, which makes the vibrato less effective.

For this reason, electric guitars introduced whammy bars to make this easier.

A whammy bar is essencially a metal bar attached to the bridge, which makes it move up and down and change the string pitch.

Whammy Bar Models

There are several models of whammy bars in the market, which depend on the type of bridge used.

For example, Stratocaster guitars have a bridge that is ballanced by a system of springs. This complex bridge makes the whammy bar really simple: it is just a simple metal piece attached directly to the bridge.

Other guitars need more complex ways to perform the same function.

Vibrato and Tremolo

Whammy bar is another name for tremolo bars. This is a kind of misnomer, because a whammy bar creates a vibrato effect, not tremolo.

The vibrato effect is a small change in pitch, up and down. The tremolo effect, instead, is a quick volume change, up and down. This can be done using a guitar pedal or amp that provides this effect.

Although tremolo is not the correct word, you will sometimes find it as the word to describe the whammy bar as a tremolo bar.

Learning More About Guitars

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