IN THE WOODSHED

This month Char­lie Grif­fiths works the whammy bar to utilise a di­verse col­lec­tion of ef­fects, from sub­tle vi­bratos, to bom­bas­tic dives, to singing melodies.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths demon­strates a va­ri­ety of ways to use and abuse your whammy bar.

You can play all of these ex­am­ples with ei­ther a more vintage Strat type trem, or with a Floyd Rose if you have one. The tun­ing sta­bil­ity is usu­ally bet­ter with a lock­ing nut, or lock­ing tuner equipped gui­tar. If you don’t have those, just keep check­ing your tun­ing through­out.

We will be us­ing the whammy bar to both lower and raise pitch, so you will need to be able to pull the bar up as well as down. If you have a Strat type gui­tar, the tremolo cav­ity might not al­low for pulling up on the bar, so you may need to grab a screw­driver to loosen the springs in the back and bring the tremolo plate away from the gui­tar body. Aim to be able to pull up a tone on the sec­ond and third strings as this shouldn’t com­pro­mise playa­bil­ity too much.

The first tech­nique we’ll use is the scoop. This means press­ing the bar down slightly to ma­nip­u­late the pitch of the note mo­men­tar­ily. The scoop doesn’t have a spe­cific pitch, but should be no more than a semi­tone. You can add this to a note that is al­ready sus­tain­ing. Ex­am­ple 1 shows how you can ap­ply the scoop to al­ready sus­tain­ing notes and is a cool way of adding some­thing rhyth­mic, with­out re-pick­ing the string.

You can also add the scoop to the be­gin­ning of a note as shown in Ex­am­ple 2. This gives the ef­fect of the note com­ing up to the cor­rect pitch, which adds a bit of ten­sion and re­lease to a melody. Both of these ex­am­ples also em­ploy a sta­ple of hard rock and metal play­ers like Van Halen or Dime­bag Dar­rell: the dive-bomb, which means drop­ping the bar down as far as it will go, so the slack strings bounce and rat­tle against the frets in an ex­plo­sive way.

Ex­am­ple 3 demon­strates a more sub­tle use of the bar which could be used in most gen­res. Adding vi­brato to chords is a nice way of cre­at­ing char­ac­ter and also dis­guis­ing any slight in­to­na­tion prob­lems that in­evitably oc­cur on our fret­boards. Rather than grip­ping the bar tightly in the hand, try hold­ing it loosely in your fin­gers, so any hand move­ments are made all the more sub­tle. You can ap­ply this to sin­gle notes too; fu­sion play­ers like Al­lan Holdsworth and Scott Hen­der­son are well known for us­ing their

we will be us­ing the wham my to raise and lower pitch, so you will need to be able to pull the bar up an d down

bars to add a vo­cal like qual­ity to their play­ing.

Us­ing the whammy bar to play melodies is one of the trick­i­est tech­niques to get right, but Jeff Beck and Mat­tias Ek­lundh show just how ef­fec­tive this idea can be. The re­sult is very atyp­i­cal for gui­tar and is more sim­i­lar to us­ing a pitch wheel on a key­board. This tech­nique is tricky to get right and re­quires pin­point ac­cu­racy to move the bar to the ex­act po­si­tion and per­fect tun­ing. With prac­tice you should get a feel for where the semi­tones and tones re­side on your par­tic­u­lar vi­brato sys­tem.

Play each ex­am­ple slowly and fo­cus on play­ing the notes ac­cu­rately and in­te­grat­ing the bar as seam­lessly as you can. Once you are com­fort­able, try these ideas play­ing along with the back­ing tracks to hear how they sound in a mu­si­cal set­ting.

NEXT MONTH Char­lie shows how to achieve good in­to­na­tion and vi­brato when Play­ing Slide

Mat­tias Ek­lundh: video mas­ter­class com­ing in GT soon

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