The tremolo arm is a metal rod that can be connected to the bridge of an electric guitar and is one of the most fun features to create unique sounds.
By pushing down on the tremolo arm, the pitch of the note can be changed. However, there is a lot more to using the tremolo arm than just hitting a note and pressing it down!
With proper control and technique, you can use it to generate sounds that are out of this world when combined with effects like distortion and chorus!
Guitar vibrato, when they are pulled up and down in quick succession.
Pitch bend, when pulled and held in one direction.
Portamento, where your whammy bar is used to slide between pitches.
Fret a note down on the guitar neck.
Point your whammy bar directly towards the headstock.
Play the note and then gently push the bar down towards the body of the guitar.
If you have a Fender or Bigsby bridge, point the whammy bar towards the bottom of your guitar (away from the headstock). Then play the note and gently push down on the whammy bar.
If you have a floating bridge, leave your whammy bar pointing at a comfortable angle, and pull up on the bar.
In order to play a vibrato note using the tremolo arm, you need to have an electric guitar with a floating bridge. All you need to do is to play a note and move the whammy bar backwards and forwards quickly to create a shuddering effect.
*Note: Some types of guitars (e.g. those with Fender style or Bigsby style bridges) will be ruined if the tremolo arm is pulled upwards.
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One of the main problems with using the tremolo arm is that it can cause your strings to go out of tune easily. Using a guitar with a Floyd Rose locking tremolo arm will fix this problem.
Alternatively, you can also overcome the problem by lubricating the area where the strings rest in the nut. All you need to do is to buy a tube of ‘Nut Sauce’ from a guitar supply shop and apply a tiny bit to each string as indicated by instructions on the tube.
You could also remove the strings from the nut and use a soft greylead pencil to ‘color’ the string rests. The lead deposits will act as a lubricant in the nut.
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