When does one actually need a tremolo bar?

I’m curious about what genres or styles of play actually make use of a tremolo/whammy bar. I think I recall Justin saying (though I can’t remember where) that he basically never uses one himself, and “blocks” all his guitars that have tremolo bridge systems. If a guitarist of Justin’s caliber never uses a tremolo, this really made me wonder if I would ever use one, and if so why; I can’t really seem to find a lot of instructional information about this anywhere. Any tips?

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I think it is a good question to ask! Not a whammy person myself, but my thought is that in the early learning stage, forget about it. Later on, add it in if you think it is fun for you.

It is all about fun, what moves you and how you want to do this guitar thing. Don’t stress about it, as you gain skill and experience you will figure out how it fits or doesn’t. Just don’t waste your time with it until you feel ready. Plenty of other things to work on.


I second jamolay’s reply :+1:

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Hi Andy,
I guess when your name is Joe Satriani or …Brian Larsen :smile:

And when you liked it ofcourse,

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As a side note, it makes me crazy (as a language pedant) that it’s called a tremolo bar, since what it creates is vibrato, not tremolo.

Anyway, I’ve had my Dean Zelinsky Tagliare for over six years, and I’ve never attached the bar.


I never thought id use it but it turns out to be great for Top Gun anythen and Better Call Saul Intro. Typically in both its either used to add vibrato or a slow dive and release like a bend.

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Because Jeff Beck!

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I couldn’t live without mine :wink: Use it all the time, for subtle stuff mostly… so, no, not just dive bombs :slight_smile:
It’s a lot easier to get subtle and slow vibrato with the bar for me. There are also a bunch of cool effects you can do with the bar. For expressive playing I think you need one…

One thing I forgot to mention, but there is one main difference between finger vibrato and bar vibrato - when applying finger vibrato you can only move the pitch up from the fretted note. As you vibrate your finger to both sides on the fretboard you’ll basically create a curve with the correct pitch at the bottom.

With the trem bar you can create symmetrical pitch changes around (above and below) the fretted note, something that I really like the sound of. Very musical IMO.

I would invite you to check my latest YouTube video for a bunch of examples of both finger and trem bar vibrato. Check out how they sound different: Another Brick In The Wall Pt2 (PULSE) Solos cover - YouTube


On my fender strat I removed the arm and then lowered the bridge down flush.
Underneath the plastic plate on back the springs are located, then slacken springs.
I did slip a small block of wood behind as well (belt and braces so dont damage anything)
I never used it apart from messing about .

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Oooh, teasing me without a tag is naughty, naughty :laughing:

On a serious note, everyone taking up electric guitar needs a wiggle-stick/jengel stengel!
The first thing any newbie wants to try out, even before learning the smoke on the water riff is press the distortion pedal and pull the whammy bar :rofl:
One day, I’ll learn how to Jeff Beck it


I knew you had to look here sooner or later… :laughing:

And Andy,… just read the rest of the comment as cabaret… :smile:

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Give it a try @brianlarsen. It’s fun. Keep the trem in your hand and play some lead, triads or double-stops. There are some cool things that can happen organically just with your natural hand motion. Yes, there will be some drunken South Pacific islander sounds, but some cool things will happen as well. If it is fun and you like the sound, you can work on controlling it a bit more. It’s just another tool in our tool kit.


I have a fixed one too (I liked it, but never used), and it’s harder to change strings with closed backpanel, as the bridge isn’t aligned with the cutaway :frowning:

But perhaps it should be mentioned that this is the case for a floating bridge, right?

Correct. Personally I don’t find it useful to have the bar installed in a non-floating setup though, then I would rather consider the instrument a hard tail. The reason being, if you’re “decking” the trem system with springs, then you’re likely adding so much spring tension (to avoid the bridge lifting off and the strings going flat when bending) that even for a dive-only operation the trem bar will feel too stiff to be useful. Just my opinion :wink:

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I’ve no experience with trems. The one guitar I have with a trem bridge, I’ve screwed the spring claw screws all the way in and have it as a fixed bridge :joy:

hi all.
I was curious as to why the trem bar is still on there if ( like me ) you have lowered the bridge flat?
I took the bar off before lowering the bridge as my bar, if screwed in too far, the end protudes beneth the plate.
I also loosened the springs in the back cavity and fitted a small block of wood between lower bridge plate and the body.
I may be missing a point slighty if I read your post wrong. :slightly_smiling_face:


It’s probably more likely that I did not express myself clearly :wink:

I agree with you, if you fix the bridge flat - then I would take off the bar.

However, my own preference is a floating trem system… I use the trem bar a lot when playing.

Hi Kasper.

I think it’s maybe my herbal medication. :innocent:

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The Shadows lead guitarist, Hank Marvin, made excellent use of his tremolo. Apache is a good example but here are a lot more :grin: