Tremolo Tricks!

Posted on March 24, 2012

This week we are going to do some not so musical type things.

Tremolo bar, wang bar, whammy bar, call it what you will but the use of this effect in the rock guitarist’s pantheon is downright magical in the right hands.

I pulled the old 80s guitar with the whammy bar off the rack here and realized I had not forgotten all those funny noises I used to make to annoy my bandmates between songs and now I share them with you!

1) Racecar sound – this is a sound I learned from Brad Gillis from 80s band Night Ranger. The guy had a knack for coming up with weird tremolo stuff and this one is no different. You will need a ton of gain for this one. With volume off, hit the natural harmonics located over fret 7 on the E, A, and D strings and let ring. With your left hand grab the bar and depress. With the right hand you will control the volume via your pinky. As you start letting the bar raise, gradually bring up the volume. The gear shifting is done with the bar and is accentuated with the volume swells.

2) Elephant – this is a sound that Ed Van Halen came up with. There are different variations of this I have heard but I do it by having volume off and hitting natural harmonics on fret 5 on the D string, fret 5 on the G string and fret 7 on the B string. Let the harmonics ring. Similar to the racecar sound use the left hand to raise the bar as you simultaneously raise the volume with the right hand pinky.

3) Spaceship – this is another Brad Gillis sound I learned off my old flexi disc that came with Guitar Player magazine back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Flick the G string with your index finger to make it ring and lower the bar and at the bottom touch fret 5 over the G string to sound the harmonic (without picking it) and raise the note back up to pitch. Once you are at the original pitch grab the bar with your left hand while similtaneously using the middle finger of your right hand to press the big E string into the pickup pole piece repeatedly. Gradually lower the bar while doing this and you will know what Sammy Hagar heard the night the aliens took him away.
:)

4) Lizard down the throat – Joe Satriani is the progenitor of this effect. Place your left hand index finger on fret 1 of the G string. Strike note and slide up guitar toward pickups while at the same time depressing the trem. bar attempting to keep the note the same pitch. This creates a bizarre warble that is a great effect to lead into a solo with.

5) Cricket – Not sure but either Steve Vai or Brad Gillis came up with this technique. You must have a floating tremolo for this to work. Tighten the tremolo so that it sticks in one position. Face bar backwards away from bridge. Now, play some notes on the higher frets on the treble side strings such as fret 15 on the little E string. Once you play the note, flick the bar with your right hand. This effect can be pretty cool if done right.

Enjoy and see you here next week!

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