Can You Add A Whammy Bar To Any Guitar? (Explained For Beginners)

Yes, you can add a whammy bar on virtually any electric guitar now even. You can now add a whammy bar on an acoustic guitar which was thought impossible just some years back.

In this blog, I will show you in detail how adding a whammy bar is possible to almost any guitar now and answers some important frequently asked questions about them.

Can You Add A Whammy Bar To Any Guitar

How To Add A Whammy Bar On Any Guitar?

Adding a whammy bar is not that difficult, but it does require some skills and knowledge of the instrument. It’s also very easy to access a good workshop or repair shop where they do these things for a living. But most people don’t, so here are my tips:

1. Make sure there’s a hole for the whammy bar in the guitar bridge (the metal piece on the body of the instrument where the bottom of the strings are attached).

Some guitar models lack the necessary hole. Look on the side closest to the high-e string for it.

2. Insert the screw-like end of the whammy bar into the hole on the bridge (assuming you have one). Screw it in clockwise until it’s snug but not so tight that it’s immovable.

It should still be able to twist with relative ease. While it’s in its resting position, make sure it’s where you want it to be.

3. Strumming a full chord and then pulling down on the whammy bar towards the guitar’s body is a good way to test it. Listen for the sound you’re looking for, but don’t press down too hard.

It’s not essential to press it all the way down until it hits the guitar’s body, and doing so too often might harm your bridge.

If you have a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster, you should get the whammy bar installed by a music retailer. Many whammy bars appear to be the same, yet they come in various sizes and fittings.

To hold the whammy bar on a Les Paul guitar, you must add a tailpiece onto the bridge and body.

Detachable whammy bars (Floyd Rose and Fender design) and whammy bars with a tailpiece are the two major styles of whammy bars (Bigsby).

Because each guitar is unique, the procedure for fitting a tailpiece may vary. For example, while a Les Paul and a Gretsch model may appear identical, the installation of a whammy bar differs.

But What If There Is No Hole For The Whammy Bar?

There are many guitars out there without holes for the whammy bar. This means that you need to find another solution.

First, you have to replace your guitar bridge with a whammy bar guitar bridge. To do that, you may need to carve out some wood in your guitar body so that the whammy bar bridge will fit in. 

If you are not confident in doing this, you should go to a workshop or music store that will help you out. 

A whammy bar or tremolo bar is usually larger or needs a larger space to work as it will need to bend around. So, if your guitar does not come with a tremolo bar, you need to do some word work for it so the tremolo systems can work. 

But What If I Don’t Want To Modify Or Carve Out My Guitar? 

If you don’t want to drill or make any carving in your guitar body, there is another way. 

There is a whammy bar called a bigsby bridge that can fit without doing much drilling to your guitar body. 

Here is a video on how it works. 

There is also a new technology to add a whammy bar in an acoustic or on any guitar. This new technology is a digital whammy bar and is called Virtual Jeff. 

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Adding A Whammy Bar?

First, it gives your guitar a “growly” sound when you strum a chord and then pull down on the whammy bar. Many guitar players believe this effect is desirable and is often used in rock and roll and blues music.

It gives the guitar a meaner, edgier sound. When you press down on the whammy bar, you are compressing a spring inside the device. When you release the pressure, the spring will expand back to its original shape.

The compression of the spring causes a change in the frequency of the signal traveling through the metal rod attached to the whammy bar.

Accordingly, the note’s pitch will rise or fall depending on whether you are pressing down or not on the whammy bar.

When you press down on the whammy bar with a certain force, you will get a different result each time. This means that you can create a unique sound each time you play a chord.

For example, when you press down more force when you strum a G chord, you will get a higher-pitched note (sharpened) when you release the pressure.

Another thing that the whammy bar does is, it acts as an adjustable vibrato unit. Using the whammy bar will create a pitching change similar to what a true vibrato would do. 

How Does A Whammy Bar Works?

A whammy bar is basically a lever that allows the player to bend notes up or down by pressing them against his finger while playing. It works like a spring-loaded plunger which, when pressed downwards, bends the string upwards.

The opposite happens if the player presses the lever upwards. This way, he/she can play higher notes than usual without having to press harder with his fingers.

What Are The Different Types Of Whammy Bars Available Today?

There are many types of whammy bars available today, but they all work pretty much the same way as described above. They have their pros and cons, so let’s take a look at what each one has to offer:

1. Floyd Rose Tremolo or The Locking Tremolo

Floyd D. Rose created the Floyd Rose Tremolo, the first locking tremolo, in 1979. Many people feel that Eddie Van Halen, being one of the most well-known Shredder-style guitarists at the time, was the one who pushed the Floyd Rose Tremolo to fame.

A locking tremolo is still a must-have for rock or metal guitarists nowadays.

The Fender Synch Trem heavily influenced the locking tremolo’s design, with the main distinction being that the strings are held in place for tuning and intonation stability.

The way it works is that you tune your guitar to any pitch you choose, then use the supplied Allen key to lock the nut and bridge in place.

This means you could tune down to Drop D or C while diving-bombing those low notes, and stay in tune.

Because the Floyd Rose Locking Trem is a floating system, its raising or lowering the pitch is easy. This is because the springs “float” between the tremolo and the body in an open region behind the tremolo.

Look no farther than a locking tremolo if you want to obtain those Eddie Halen-style dives and bends.

2. Fender Synch Tremolo

Leo Fender, the main designer and creator of Fender guitars, designed and developed this great tremolo system.

The Fender synch tremolo made its debut in 1954 on the Fender Stratocaster. The goal was to make a tremolo with a wider pitch range and the ability to bend up.

Because the saddle and strings were supposed to move in synchronization like one important movement, it was given the term synch or “synchronized” tremolo.

When the bar was placed to rest, this helped to minimize string friction with the saddle, allowing the strings to return to their normal tune and tension.

The tailpiece is made of a single piece of metal that sits flat in the guitar’s body and has holes at the top to allow the strings to pass through.

It is considerably more stable than the Bigsby because the arm goes through the bridge and into the tailpiece.

Most current tremolos utilized this design to bounce ideas off of and improve with. It is, without a doubt, one of the most influential whammy bars of all time.

3. Bigsby Vibrato

The notion of the whammy bar hadn’t fully reached the general audience when the Bigsby vibrato/tremolo bridge was released.

Merle Travis, a popular country guitarist at the time, was tired of his faulty, spring-loaded Vibrola, causing his instrument to fall out of tune.

Paul Bigsby, a friend of his, was tasked with repairing it. Paul’s “repair” went too far, and he ended up inventing the Bigsby, the first genuine vibrato system.

The main component of the Bigsby Vibrato is a rocker bridge. The strings wrap around a metal bar attached to the tremolo arm instead of passing through holes.

To achieve the pitch change, a guitarist might lower his arm and relax the strings.

The Bigsby is now regarded as one of the most unusual whammy bars in existence. It provides a smooth, user-friendly feel and is commonly seen on antique archtop guitars.

It’s not the best at keeping in tune, and its pitch bend isn’t as severe as some others. Basically, the Bigsby is one of the greatest whammy bars if you’re seeking a smoother, more subtle whammy.

4. Virtual Jeff

The Virtual Jeff, a product of FOMOfx, an up-and-coming Australian guitar tech firm, is the next-generation replacement to the conventional whammy, removing all mechanical difficulties.

As a result, you may use it on both electric and acoustic guitars without having to worry about the guitar’s tuning.

The Virtual Jeff processor manipulates the pitch data from the whammy, allowing you to choose which pitch you reach at the end of a bend, up or down.

Bends are more predictable now, and they may be employed musically as part of a distinctive lick or riff. Every time, Virtual Jeff’s bends are flawless. It’s also adaptable: two settings are available through a footswitch. The user may modify each mode to bend to different pitches.

Conclusion – Can You Add A Whammy Bar To Any Guitar

In conclusion, there are many types of whammy bars. Some have been used over decades, while others are still being developed today. They come in various shapes, sizes, materials, designs, and functions. There are even those who believe that the whammy bar should never exist!

Whammy bars can make your playing sound better, but only if you know how to utilize them properly. 

Jacob Miller

Hi, I'm Jacob Miller, and welcome to AudioOver, a platform designed to help aspiring music producers create music from home. With a musical background inspired by my award-winning father, I've been passionate about music since I was young.

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