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track no 17

Ten Top Trem Tricks

Wiggle stick, wammy bar
all and welcome to the first instalment of our new GT Tips feature. As most of GT consists of

Guthrie Govan insists ifs what your right arm's for!

- call it what you will, but

few ways you can use a whammy bar

song transcriptions, we thought it might be useful to run a smaller-scale feature looking at the more general topics we wouldn't have scope to cover elsewhere in
the mag and offering a few playing ideas and tips related to each. This month, we kick things off with a


(vibrato bar/tremolo arm/wigglestick) to spice up your playing, and examples of how each would be notated in GT. I've put together ten examples on the CD, demonstrating the general sound of each idea and hopefully encouraging you to find ways of incorporating whammy bar

vocabulary into your own playing style.

Ex 1 shows the most obvious usage for your trem - adding subtle vibrato to a note. Some, players (Eddie Van Halen, for instance) prefer to tighten the spring tension on their guitars so that the bridge plate rests on the body of the instrument, permitting only downwards pitch-bending. An advantage of this approach being that if you break a string in a live situation, the other five will stay in tune, helping you get to the end of the song with the minimum

embarrassment! However, a 'floating bridge' setup (one following both upwards and downwards travel) will give a smoother, more vocal-sounding vibrato, as heard in the playing of Hank Marvin, Jeff Beck etc. Try playing with the bar resting in the crook of you R/H little finger, so it's there when you need it!

Ex 2 is the logical extension of Ex 1- vibrato with more extreme upwards and downwards travel, as you might expect to hear in Gary Moore's 80s work, or in pretty much anything by Steve Vai. Bear in mind that a locking trem such as the Floyd Rose unit is more sensitive than a traditional Fender-style system, so experiment with different degrees of heavy-handedness!
Ex 2
wide TA vib

Ex 3 demonstrates 'scooping', which can be achieved by pre-bending the bar down, hammering a note with the L/H and simultaneously releasing the bar so the note 'glides' up to pitch. The CD example should give you a good idea what this technique sounds like. A great many guitarists have experimented with this particular trem manoeuvre and incorporated it into their style. Check out players like Brad Gillis (Night Ranger) Steve Lukather (Toto) or the late Allan Murphy (SFX, Go West, Kate Bush, Level 42) for more 'scooping' ideas!

Ex 3

TA gliss

uu V'\J


-JA J-T '

TP > 7



/ /


Guitar Techniques

June 1997

Ex 4 shows what happens if you do the same thing but this time pre-bending the bar up rather than down, for a slightly more bizarre effect. It's a technique used from time to time by players like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Allan

TA gliss

Try turning the bar round (so it faces away from the strings) and 'bouncing' on it for a more pronounced effect; also try applying this technique to
exotic scales such as the Spanish phrygian ( 11>2 3 4 5

l>6 1>7 ) for that 'snake-charmer' sound...

Ex 5 is all about 'gargling', an effect which is achieved by depressing the bar slightly and then sliding your R/H towards the left so it comes over the end of the bar in a sudden 'flicking' motion, causing the springs to overcompensate, when they return to their resting position and making the note quiver, (check out 'Blue Powder' on Steve Vai's Passion And Warfare album, for some superlative gargling). For this to work your trem needs to be set up in a 'floating' position, and it also helps to have a tight fit where the arm slots or screws into the main bridge assembly, for minimum 'play' between the upward and downward ranges. (I find the most effective vibrato systems for this are the PRS trem and the Ibanez Edge locking system which both permit totally clunk-free whammying if well-maintained.)

Ex 6 is what Joe Satriani dubs the 'lizarddown-the-throat' effect and it's achieved by sliding a note up the string whilst simultaneously lowering the trem so that the pitch of the note remains constant(ish) and a fluttering sound is created. You'll have to be pretty familiar with your trem - tension and setup, for instance - before you achieve exactly the right result, but who knows what you'll discover for yourself while you experiment! Check out ice 9' on Joe's Surfing With The Alien album for the classic example of this noise.

Ex 6

gliss 1 TA gliss J,

a J HZ



TA gliss




5 4 -




TA vib TA gliss


TA gliss

TA vib






Ex 7 shows how some of our earlier ideas can be applied to a chord shape, to mimic the sound of a slide player - a trick honed to perfection by scaryyet-tasteful Shrapnel guitarist Michael Lee Firkins. Use your imagination here; don't be scared to let notes ring into each other and remember that holding down a different chord shape effectively gives you the equivalent of a different open tuning without the hassle of having to retune... It may be helpful to have your 'country' head on, too!

Ex 8 illustrates how the whammy bar can be used to mime the sound of a keyboard player using a pitch-bend wheel - think Jan
Hammer! To play this example, hammer on at the 9th fret, then pull off to the 7th whilst raising the pitch by a tone using the bar, so the note remains the same, then release the bar as you hammer back onto the 9th fret... and so on. Once again, it will probably take a little while before you can pull this one off fluently and the CD should help point you in the right direction. A good exponent of this technique is Winger's Reb Beach.
June 1997

Ex 8

TA gliss

TA gliss

JL \ r J-f1 JgLJJ

-, ,

p -

__ __ ____ __ _ _ _ _____


Guitar Techniques

GT Tips!
Ex 9 is the sort of whammying noise you can hear at the start of Van Halen's 'Good Enough' on their 5150 album. To achieve this sound effect, play a pinched harmonic somewhere (the G string is a good place to start) bend it up with your left hand and slowly release it whilst quivering frantically with the whammy, finally 'divebombing' the note down in pitch until the string goes slack. Slight variations in this technique will bring you into the sort of police siren (see Ex 10), horse whinnying, missile dropping sound effect zone. Should you feel it necessary, you could probably simulate an entire Nintendo game soundtrack single-handed by using this technique alone!
Ex 9

widel/K vib


Art harm I 1

u =


slow LD

TA gliss




Ex 10 involves playing a trill with the fretting hand whilst manipulating the pitch using the trem. Doing this slowly and subtly gives the sort of 'Doppler effect' made by a moving vehicle with a siren; accentuating the divebomb factor slightly should remind you of recordings like Hendrix's 'Voodoo Chile'. This technique is bound to fall foul of the fact that the oldfashioned two-tone sirens are gradually being replaced in favour of the 'wailing banshee' variety! Right - 1 hope this has given you some new ideas, and do drop us a line if you have any suggestions for topics to be covered in future GT Tips features! GT

Ex 10


slow TABD