Rock Guitar Lesson 8

Use Whammy Bar to Spice Your Guitar Playing

A whammy bar (it's also named a tremolo arm or tremolo bar) is a lever near the bridge usually installed

only on electric guitars. It allows to change a pitch of all the strings simultaneously and get it back to the

normal that gives a plenty of possibilities to perform cool guitar tricks, sounds and effects.

Despite whammy bar so often called as tremolo bar, arm or system iit's noway connected to tremolo guitar effect

and it doesn't help to produce any tremolo.

tremolo arm

tremolo bar or whammy bar


Not all the electric guitars have a tremolo bar system. It depends on specific model of the guitar.
For example Les Paul, Fender Telecaster guitars usually do not have it.


Basic whammy bar tricks are dip and dive.


To perform a dip, take any note or power chord and while it rings slightly push and release a whammy bar.

watch video example



To perform a dive do the same thing as with a dip but now press the lever much deeply so

the strings will dramatically reduce a pitch.


watch video example




Dips and dives also can be played in inverted lever position

so in time of pushing on it the strings will raise the pitch

(only works with two sides bar systems such as Floyd Rose)

while pushing on the bar in the regular position lowers it.



Raising pitch also possible in regular whammy bar position but instead of pushing on the lever it should be pulled up.


Also the whammy bar is a perfect instrument for performing  vibrato. With the bar you can vibrate natural harmonics

that is impossible to do with finger vibrato, or vibrate whole chords.



Tab notation for whammy bar tricks:


In simple guitar tabs dip and dive have following notation:


\n/ - whammy bar dip;

/n\ - whammy bar inverted dip;

\n - whammy bar dive;

/n – whammy bar return;

n/ - whammy bar up;

n is an amount of semitones to dip.

It also can be marked as text within a tab such as: dive w/bar, dip w/bar and etc...

It's really not that important to play exactly how it's written in the tab,

be free to play with your own style, what sounds good is good.


In magazines, books and advanced guitar tablatures, dip and dive marked as:


dip tab notation

Inverted dip

Inverted dip tab notation


Dive tab notation

Dive and return

Dive and Return tab notation

The number near the line or curve mean how low or high string pitch should be changed with a tremolo arm.

(the same thing as "n" character in simple tablatures)


Also it can be just a line without  a number.

Dive and Return tab notation

In this case the author meant that the pitch change doesn't have a concrete parametre.