Tremolos, or whammy bars, are part of an electric guitar’s mechanical vibrato system. They change the tension of the strings at the bridge or tailpiece to give your playing added vibrato and character. Musicians use the terms tremolo bar and whammy bar interchangeably, as “whammy” is an onomatopoetic slang term that originated in the 1950s to describe pitch bends. At LAWK STAR Guitars, you’ll find tremolo systems for your guitar by Floyd Rose.
Despite their name, tremolo bars don’t actually produce a tremolo, or trembling, sound, as you hear with a marimba. Instead, whammy bars produce vibrato, a pulsating sound that creates a pitch, or frequency, variation.
Tremolo Bar Buying Guide
The best type of tremolo, or whammy, bar depends on the type of sound that you want to produce. Popular types include:
Bigsby: Bigsby systems are often mounted on the top of a guitar and are based around a rocker bridge. Bigsby systems have shorter pitch-ranges and produce vintage, shimmery tones. When used heavily, the strings fall out of tune.
Stratocaster: Stratocaster systems allow you to mount them flush with the guitar top or the space beneath. Because it doesn’t lock, you can freely tune the instrument. The vibrato system offers greater stability and pitch range than a Bigsby system.
Locking tremolo: Locking tremolo systems, like Floyd Rose, are popular for rock, metal and general guitar shredding. The system locks the strings into place, so you don’t have to worry about going out of tune. Instead of subtle pitch changes, the locking system excels at dive bombs and pitch raises.