Can I Put A Tremolo Bar On My Guitar? The term “tremolo” refers to the modulation effect that creates rhythmic changes in volume. In contrast, the “tremolo arm” is a vibrato that varies pitch. The use of the term “tremolo bar” on a vibrato device is then a misnomer, but it has stuck!
A Must-Read: Best 12 String Guitar Under $2000
Yes, of course, you can install a tremolo arm on your guitar! When you install the GETMusic 6MM Screw-in Electric Guitar Tremolo Arm, for example, you’re not just getting changes in pitch. You’re also getting dramatic tension and rhythmic complexity from your guitar, as well as in conveying emotion and setting the mood.
How It Works
Known as a whammy bar, a tremolo arm is a device attached to electric guitars and intended to bend its strings. The likes of Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix used it in creating tension in their dramatic solo guitar performances. Guitarists in the rock and roll, country, and soul genres use it in creating a unique sound, too.
As previously mentioned, a tremolo bar creates vibrato, not tremolo, despite its name. The changes made by a whammy bar isn’t in terms of volume but a variation in pitch. It is an essential differentiation that beginners should know to set realistic expectations of what it can and cannot do.
A whammy bar works by increasing and decreasing the tension on the strings and, thus, sharpening and flattening the pitch. If you apply pressure on the whammy bar, it loosens the strings’ tension resulting in a flattening of the pitch. If you pull the tremolo arm away, it increases the strings’ tension and sharpens the pitch.
How It Is Installed
It’s fairly easy to install a tremolo bar on your guitar. Here are the steps:
- Examine your guitar to check if it’s designed to accommodate a whammy bar. If it has a small hole on its bridge, then it can hold a tremolo arm.
- You can attach the whammy bar to the guitar on your own. You will find plenty of YouTube tutorials about the process. Depending on the tremolo bar, it should be screwed on tightly or inserted into the slot.
- Take your guitar and the whammy bar to a professional guitar shop. You may be able to attach the latter to the former, but when in doubt, trust the professionals. It is because many tremolo arms appear similar but are actually of different sizes and fits, while others require tailpiece installation. Others are detachable bars, such as with the Fender and Floyd Rose styles.
- Always test the connection between the tremolo arm and the guitar. Incorrect setups can causes issues with your guitar’s bridge.
You may want to learn more about the techniques in maximizing the tremolo bar. If you do, you can start with Ultimate Guitar Techniques: Tremolo Bar Techniques, a book that goes into detail about tremolo effects. You don’t want to install the whammy bar and then not know what to do with it, after all.
To summarize, as with all other guitar accessories, a tremolo bar can be relatively easy to install on your guitar. But it’s just a tool designed to make your performance better with every practice and gig. You must then learn its best use, from reading books to practicing with it, even experimenting with the music.