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Whammy Bar

Often incorrectly called a tremolo tailpiece (Fender and other companies used the terms tremolo and vibrato interchangeably over the last six decades), the “whammy bar” most often refers to the use of a vibrato tailpiece to lower the pitch of a note dramatically. Most vibrato tailpieces can do a full step or slightly more, though a Floyd Rose tailpiece can actually cause the strings to drop until they’re completely slack (which some don’t feel is particularly musically useful, though it’s attention-getting). The first “whammy bar” was the Bigsby, though it had to be used judiciously so the strings wouldn’t go out of tune. However, later designs by Fender, Kahler, Floyd Rose, and Paul Reed Smith, among others, do a better job of keeping everything in tune.

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