guitar whammy bar

EXPLAINED: Can You Take A Whammy Bar Off A Guitar?

Does you guitar have a tremolo arm or whammy bar that you don’t use a lot or at all?

Maybe you just want to remove it.

Can you take a whammy bar off a guitar?

Yes.  It’s easy to remove a whammy bar.  Depending on the type of tremolo bridge you have on your guitar.  Some types, like a Floyd rose, just pop off when you pull it out of the hole.  Others, like a vintage tremolo on a Fender Stratocaster just need to be unscrewed off.

What Is A Whammy Bar?

A whammy bar (sometimes called a trem arm or tremolo arm) is a device that is used to adjust the pitch of your guitar’s strings, by moving them up or down. This is called “whammy pitching” because the tone of the instrument changes dramatically.

Not all guitars have a whammy bar, but most have some kind of tremolo bridge that holds the guitar strings in place. If you have a tremolo bridge, or tremelo system, then you have a whammy bar.

Is A Whammy Bar Worth It?

The short answer is yes.

Depending on your style of music, it can be VERY important.  Some hard rock and metal guitarists will not even consider purchasing a guitar without one.  You can say that they are like a ten-speed on a bicycle, but the missing cog makes the difference between pedaling slow (or not at all) and flying straight down the road.

Using A Whammy Bar Effectively

Once you have a whammy bar, there is no such thing as safe. The possibilities are endless and it takes practice to find the right use for each one, just like with any other item.

Whammy Bar Uses:

  • Adding side-tone to your sounds.  Use your whammy bar to make a sound that would otherwise be very hard to achieve with the tone knob and/or pickup selector (i.e., adding a treble-cut effect).
  • Changing the pitch up or down an octave.  This is useful for playing out-of-key songs like “Freebird” (Led Zeppelin) which you need to be able to play without having to fake it.
  • Changing the pitch anywhere in between two notes on your instrument when using your natural tone.  This is useful when you want things like hammer-ons and pull-offs, which normally only work with the higher of two frets.
  • Playing the same note but with different tone.  Playing the same note but with a different tone creates mood – for instance, playing a major chord on its root note then using the whammy bar to go down half-step can create an unexpected lowered vibe.

Do I Need A Tremolo Bar On My Guitar?

No, technically you do not need a whammy bar to play your electric guitar.  But, if you plan on using the tremolo system like it is designed, you will need one.  Usually a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge and a vibrato unit (like a Fender Strat) needs a tremolo bar to use the effect properly, because it is exactly balanced in the bridge.

Still, there are some semi-hollow bodied guitars that do not have this type of bridge and if it’s an old guitar, you may wonder if such feature is really necessary.

Related reading – Can you add a whammy bar to any guitar?

Are Whammy Bars Bad For Your Guitar?

No.  If anything, it’s an essential feature of your guitar to enhance your sound.  If you want to hear the difference of experimenting with the whammy bar on your electric guitar then try it out on some songs that you like or that you find inspiring, find some videos on how to use this effect properly and listen to the difference.

This will help you understand more about this effect and will also give more insight into why some people like it more than others, so you’ll probably be able to understand the song better than before.

Can You Play Without Tremolo?

Yes.  There are several kinds of guitar players that don’t use the whammy bar at all, because they don’t like it or because they think they can play better without it.

For example, if you are a beginner player, you might find it easier to learn how to play without any effects for now, so you will be able to concentrate on developing your skills.

Can You Put A Tremolo Bar On An Acoustic Guitar?

No.  A whammy bar is intended for electric guitars, not acoustics.  That’s because acoustic guitars do not have a tremolo system installed.

Conclusion

There are many ways to enhance your guitar’s sounds, but some are more important than others.  The whammy bar is one of those more important items if you are looking for more freedom to express yourself through your instrument. But, you can remove it if it is something that you don’t use.

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