The distance you can push or pull a whammy bar will depend on your electric guitar’s bridge. On a fixed bridge, you should be able to push the whammy bar on your guitar to get it down to a half a step or a step and a half.
Whereas on a Floyd Rose bridge, you can push down for a half step to a step and a half or pull it up to go or three to four steps.
As someone who has played the guitar and bass for over seven years. I can confirm that the whammy bar is an excellent investment for guitar players into playing the rock and metal type of genre. While they can be fun to play and experiment with, having a whammy bar will not make you a better player.
In this article, we will go over a lot of information that will help you get the most out of your whammy bar should you decide to use one. We will cover how tight your whammy bar should be, how hard you can push a whammy bar, and how to make it fit tighter into your guitar. We will also go over bending the strings down and up with a whammy bar.
We will also go over frequently asked questions such as can you break your guitar using a whammy bar? Does the whammy bar lift the guitar’s bridge, how to get it to stay in place, and if any electric guitar can be fitted to have a whammy bar attached to it?
Also Read: Whammy Bar 101: How It Works & Is It Necessary? + FAQs
How Tight Should My Whammy Bar Be?
The whammy bar should be tight enough to stay on the bridge while playing it. It should also be loose enough to grab and move around without any resistance.
You will have to experiment with this setting to get it right for you. The amount of tightness of the bar will depend on how hard you push it, what feels tight or soft to you, and how tight or soft it needs to be in the whammy bar to create the desired effect.
When screwing in the whammy bar, please ensure you do not tighten it so much that you have to exert too much effort to screw it in any farther. Screwing the whammy bar in too tightly can damage the bridge.
How Hard Can You Push a Whammy Bar?
Push the whammy bar hard enough to reach the tone change you desire – usually till it drops half a step to 4 steps (depending on what you are playing). The strength required depends on how tight your whammy bar is.
If it is a traditional fixed bridge, you can push it hard enough to go down a step and a half. With a Floyd Rose bridge, you can press it hard enough to go down three to four steps.
Please remember that you should only exert a little effort to move the bridge by pressing on or pulling up the whammy bar. The bridge should move pretty easily when you press on the bar.
If the bar is not moving far enough, it may not be tightly secured to the bridge. Please refer to the next section for more information to tighten the whammy bar.
Also Read: Will Whammy Bars Detune Your Guitar (& 7 Prevention Tips)
How Do I Make My Whammy Bar Tighter?
Many guitars will have an opening on the back in the area where the bridge is attached that will have a screw you can adjust accordingly to loosen or tighten the whammy bar.
That said, the best option for making your whammy bar tighter is to refer to the owner’s manual of your guitar.
However, there are some options available that you can try if you need help finding a manual online. Your local music store may have some springs you can enter into the hole where your whammy bar screws into the bridge. This can create a tighter fit for the whammy bar itself.
Some guitar players tape it in place with Teflon tape. To try this, screw the arm in until you can no longer move it without moderate resistance, and then tape the bar in place.
Can You Bend Up With a Whammy Bar?
If you are playing with a fixed bridge, you cannot bend up a whammy bar, as a fixed bridge will only move in one direction: down. However, if you are playing with a Floyd Rose bridge, then you can bend it up. A Floyd Rose bridge can bend both up and down.
Q: Can You Break a Guitar Using a Whammy Bar?
Breaking your guitar by using the whammy bar is virtually impossible. The reason for this is that a bridge designed to be used with a whammy bar is also designed to move regularly to increase or decrease the tension on your strings.
If you screw the whammy bar into the bridge so tightly that you risk stripping the threads, you may damage the bridge itself. However, there is no risk of any damage to the guitar itself.
Q: Does a Whammy Bar Lift the Bridge?
Whammy bar does lift the bridge. However, the amount that the whammy bar will lift the bridge will depend on precisely what type of bridge you are using and it’s nothing to worry about.
A fixed bridge will stay in one place and can only move in one direction, which is down. The downward movement of the fixed bridge will lift the bridge back up to its original position after it has been pushed down. The original position is where the strings would stay on the bridge with no whammy bar.
A Floyd Rose Bridge will move in two directions, both down and up. The whammy bar will lift the bridge down and then lift the bridge back up to its original position. On the Floyd Rose bridge, you can also raise the bridge above its original position.
Q: How Do I Get My Whammy Bar to Stay in Place?
You can make a whammy bar stay in place by using a Q-tip. However, If the hole the whammy bar is screwed into goes all the way through to the other side of the guitar, then the Q-Tip option will not work, but there are other options available.
Then remove the cotton from one end of the Q-tip so the cotton comes loose. From here, go ahead and stick the cotton you just removed from the Q-tip and place it in the hole where the whammy bar screws in.
You can take the Q-tip and press the cotton into the hole. From there, screw the whammy bar back into the hole it is intended to screw into. You should find that it stays in place regularly after doing so.
If the hole on the bridge of your guitar goes all the way through the guitar straight through to the back of the guitar, then your best bet is to get some plumbers tape to wrap around the tremolo arm. You can also get springs as well to place in the hole where the whammy bar screws into that will help hold it securely in place.
Regardless of your choice, please remember to keep the whammy bar the same. This can ruin the threading on the bar and inside the bridge itself.
Q: Can You Fit a Whammy Bar on Any Electric Guitar?
Any electric guitar can have a whammy bar on it, so long as it has the proper bridge that can bend and that you can screw the whammy bar into. The bridge can be either a fixed bridge or a Floyd Rose style of bridge.
If your current electric guitar has a different type of bridge, it will need to be replaced with either a fixed bridge that can bend in one direction or the Floyd Rose bridge that can bend in two directions.
If your guitar does not currently have either of these bridges, you may need to drill new holes into it so that it can be fitted with one of these bridges. If you are uncertain if you need to do so, consider taking the guitar to your local music store. An experienced guitar technician should be able to let you know if this is necessary.
In conclusion, we have covered a lot of information that will help you get the most out of your whammy bar should you decide to use one. We covered how tight your whammy bar should be, how hard you can push a whammy bar, and how to make it fit tighter into your guitar. We have also discussed how a whammy bar will bend the strings down and up.
We also reviewed frequently asked questions such as can you break your guitar using a whammy bar? Does the whammy bar lift the guitar’s bridge, how to get it to stay in place, and if any electric guitar can be fitted to have a whammy bar attached to it?
Learning to play with a whammy bar can add a whole new aspect to your guitar playing. Have fun with it!