Video Guitar Lesson 10: Tremolo bar acrobatics; its uses, tricks, tips, rules and advice
- What’s this metal bar attached to the bridge of my guitar and what can I do with it?
- How can I use it and yet not fear that all my strings will immediately go out of tune?
- How do you get all those growls and high pitched sounds that were so prevalent in 80s rock guitar music?
- How do I make sure that I maintain subtlety when using my whammy bar?
- How do I get started with Jeff Beck style vocal sounds in my playing?
If these questions interest you and you want to refresh some ideas and techniques with your trem bar, then keep reading and make sure to check our video and audio out for this lesson.
(see below for timings for both this video and the audio version)
In this lesson, Dan and I revisit the tremolo or whammy bar to go over some of the subtleties of using it to best effect. Dan starts this lesson by giving an overview of the different types of tremolo systems and then we get stuck into some different ideas and uses of the whammy bar to gain different effects. First we look at the subtle warble idea to add some shine and sparkle to your playing (we also return to this as a means of gaining vibrato high up on the fretboard at the end of the lesson). Then we take a look at some ideas widely incorporated into Jeff Beck’s style. Next we look at scooping between notes. Finally we look at the more extreme techniques of dive-bombing to catch harmonics, pinch harmonics and the ‘gurgling’ sound.
The tremolo bar is something which I really struggle with and I am always really impressed by Dan’s seemingly effortless approach with it. I think that the issue for me is that I don’t really incorporate the whammy bar into much of my actual playing frequently and so I really relish the opportunity to practise using it and gain the benefit of Dan’s great mentorship in this area.
Some things which I am really going to take away from this lesson are that:
- I will try to occasionally limit myself to using the tremolo bar instead of bends, slides, vibrato and other techniques for shifting the pitch of a note when practising over a backing track and in my improvisations.
- I will try to use the tremolo bar subtly in my playing to create that shimmery tone and gentle warbling shine.
- I will continue to develop using it to scoop between notes and really get this technique down.
- I really want to look at point 2 (a to c) again to develop some Jeff BEckisms into my playing! I love Jeff Beck and need to get me some of that vocalisation which he draws from his guitars in his solos. It’s divinity itself!
For more on tremolo bar systems see this useful blog: https://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-tone-garage/top-10-tremolo-systems
Tremolo bar systems:
All the best, Gary and Dan
Timings for the SoundCloud audio version
|00:05:47||I show Dan where my trem bar skills are (or are not)|
|00:06:19||An exploration of the different types of trem systems|
|00:08:46||Uses 1) A gentle ‘warble’|
|00:16:35||Point two: you donon’t need to move the bar as much as you think|
|00:17:03||2) Some Jeff Beckisms|
|00:18:24||2a) Dipping down the pentatonic|
|00:23:35||2b) similar idea – modulating the pitch up|
|00:25:17||2c) putting the two together|
|00:27:38||Moving down the bar for better control|
|00:30:03||3) Scooping into notes|
|00:32:53||3b) A variation is to scoop up between notes|
|00:34:36||3b) Scooping up to the semitone gaps in the Phrygian Dominant|
|00:38:20||4) Divebomb on the G String catching the harmonic on the way back up|
|00:43:56||Getting a pinch harmonic and using the trem|
|00:46:14||Gurgling action of the trem bar by twanging the springs suddenly|
|00:50:06||Remember the golden rules / summary|
|00:50:52||Final idea – using the trem as a vibrato when playing high up the fretboard|
|00:51:58||Most strat trem systems and tuning stability|
Timings for the YouTube video version
|00:05:14||I show Dan where my tremolo bar skills are (or are not)|
|00:05:46||An exploration of the different types of trem systems|
|00:08:13||1) A gentle ‘warble’|
|00:16:02||Note: You don’t need to move the bar as much as you think|
|00:16:30||2) Some Jeff Beckisms|
|00:17:51||2a) Dipping down the pentatonic|
|00:23:02||2b) similar idea – modulating the pitch up|
|00:24:44||2c) putting the two together|
|00:27:05||Note: Moving down the bar for better control|
|00:29:30||3) Scooping into notes|
|00:32:20||3a) A variation is to scoop up between notes|
|00:34:03||3b) Scooping up to the semitone gaps in the Phrygian Dominant|
|00:37:47||4) Divebomb on the G String catching the harmonic on the way back up|
|00:43:23||Getting a pinch harmonic and using the trem|
|00:45:41||Gurgling action of the trem bar by twanging the springs suddenly|
|00:49:33||The golden rules / summary|
|00:50:19||Final idea – using the trem as a vibrato when playing high up the fretboard|
|00:51:25||Most strat trem systems and tuning stability|
Wrist Grips Website: http://www.wrist-grips.comGuitar Gear Mentions:
Last two lessons for new arrivals or those who want to brush up on this content
Keep watching listening and getting in touch. We really want to hear from you! Keep an eye out for some improvements to our video setup coming shortly which we’re really excited about.
You may want to check Dan Davies out in action. You can find a video I made of Dan and his band Full House on this YouTube channel: Full House Brighton Band (more to come with improved video and some different approaches to the audio).