Whammy bar is a nice guitar tool that provides a lot of fun when you use it. Sometimes you just want to grab it and do a dive bomb. You may ask yourself, OK, but who should I listen to, in order to hear that crazy whammy bar stunts? Also, you may wonder what songs make the best use of whammy bar.
Famous Artists That Use Whammy Bar
First, let’s go through few of top guitar players known for their usage of whammy bar.
1. Joe Satriani
Joe Satriani is one of the well known guitar virtuosos out there. And if there’s a list of artists that use legato, tapping, arpeggio, volume swells and many more – he would be on every list.
That’s because he has, as a guitar virtuoso, mastered all of guitar techniques. There’s nothing that man cannot do on a guitar.
With that in mind, it is natural to pick him as a whammy bar master. Surfing With The Alien, Summer Song, If I Could Fly and many more famous pieces he made all use whammy bar playing.
Having that in mind, it is very useful to listen to Joe Satriani in order to master your use of whammy bar.
2. Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck is one of the most influential guitar players in rock music. Author of many great instrumental pieces, many of which are slow bluesy ballads, is also known for using low of different guitar techniques through one song.
Where Were You? is perhaps one of his best works in which whammy bar is used a lot.
He managed to show us that whammy bar doesn’t have to be applied only on fast paced and upbeat tempo music. Anyway, scroll down to see what’s so special about his masterpiece, Where Were You?.
3. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix. Only those two words are enough to describe what do we mean. He is guitar boss, guitar master and guitar God.
Not only because he had super guitar techniques he used, but mainly because he experimented. Without him, the use of guitar would perhaps be much less exciting.
He, as a greatest guitar player ever, was obviously master of using whammy bar, also. Check out his legendary performance at Woodstock in 1969, where he played national anthem, here.
4. Bob Bogle
It would be very unfair not to include Bob Bogle to this list, as he was one of the pioneers of whammy bar.
As the lead guitar of The Ventures, he influenced a lot of upcoming guitar legends, like John Fogerty, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Walsh and many others.
You just have to hear this very nice medley, here.
5. Eddie Van Halen
Van Halen is a wild, flamboyant guitar master. You just cannot exclude him from this list. He is famous for his wild, wild crazy soloing.
Therefore, it does not come as a surprise to know that he is also a whammy bar master. Check this wild and crazy guitar solo he plays on a stage, here.
6. Steve Vai
Steve Vai learned from the best since he was a young boy. His teacher was Joe Satriani. As his most famous student, it’s not unusual for him to be a whammy bar master.
Not only he use a whammy bar when plucking a string. He also often use whammy bar at the same time he plays sweep picking! Amazing, isn’t it?
Later in the text you’ll see how he ingeniously managed to mimic a horse neigh with whammy bar, in his legendary composition Bad Horsie.
Top Songs That Use Whammy Bar A Lot
Here’s the list of some really cool songs you can play while using a whammy bar. No doubt you’ll enjoy them!
1. Surfing With The Alien by Joe Satriani
This great instrumental rock classic is so much fun to play. Its groovy ongoing upbeat rhythm makes you play it over and over again. It’s like driving a muscle car in a fast lane.
In the middle of the song there’s this famous solo that has its authentic whammy bar signature. I remember myself hearing it for the first time. I felt like I was the main character of some superhero cartoon or comic.
I’ve never heard anything like that before. So creative, and yet so authentic. That moment when you learn to play it with ease is the moment you know you’ll make everyone’s jaw drop in the room.
Check it out on Youtube, here.
2. Bad Horsie by Steve Vai
Steve Vai, another guitar master. Soon as one sees the title of this piece, the image of horse comes in mind.
Well, soon as you hear first seconds of this, you’ll understand perfectly why this is perfect for whammy bar usage. I don’t know if there’s any example of a guitar mimicking horse neigh sound.
Steve Vai’s whammy bar sounds just like a horse neighing. Ingenious, isn’t it? Who would come up with that idea? It just proves that there are limitless possibilities in guitar playing.
Hear this piece on Youtube, here.
3. Bunch of Slayer Songs
If you’re a metalhead, perhaps the Slayer is a band for you. It’s understandable that some don’t like that harsh Slayer signature sound.
If you, however, do find it interesting, you could also pay attention for whammy bar use in their songs.
Both Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman use whammy bar a lot. Especially when they solo.
There’s no particular song to be recommended. Whammy bar is used in almost every Slayer solo.
4. Speed King by Deep Purple
Speed king. That famous, angry beginning serves as a perfect overture preceding interesting, quiet organ chord progression.
As you can hear it, at first this beginning may sound somehow incoherent. But that’s the point! Ritchie Blackmore here uses various guitar techniques, and among these he uses whammy bar, also.
Anyway, it is interesting progressive rock piece you should consider learning. It is fun to play, nevertheless!
5. Tornado of Souls (Solo) by Megadeth
You cannot call yourself a metal fan if you didn’t hear that famous solo take by Marty Friedman in Megadeth’s legendary piece – Tornado of souls.
It is perhaps one of best heavy metal solos of all time. You just gotta love that beginning of the solo when Marty uses his whammy bar. He managed to create that feeling of lost and confusion by heavy dive bombs made by whammy bar.
It is, indeed, strange and interesting feeling, just like you’re lost in a tornado, searching for the meaning.
Truly remarkable. Hear it from Youtube, here. It starts on 3:08.
6. Where Were You? by Jeff Beck
Another great example of whammy bar at its best. Jeff Beck’s Where Where You? is a hypnotic and melancholic instrumental masterpiece.
Just like the title of this piece suggests, it is a piece of art that resembles that feeling of loss and disorientation. It is not too hard to play, technically, but it have a ton of feeling in itself.
That whammy bar usage, when the note is fading away, gives you a sensational feeling of searching for meaning. Jeff Beck ingeniously created that feeling precisely by using a whammy bar at moments when a note is already fading away.
He successfully set up an ambient of constant fight and cry for help. In my opinion, this is what this piece is about. Being lost and searching for help and meaning in this shallow life we’re living.
Hear it on Youtube, here.
7. Wicked Game by Chris Isaac
Whammy bar, lot of reverb, wild west ambient. On top of that, reflective lyrics about dangers of falling in love. Here, a whammy bar comes like a perfect fine touch.
Here, Chris Isaac is weeping how he doesn’t want to fall in love with a girl, as he suspects she’s going to break his heart. However, falling in love is not something we can choose.
Here, whammy bar creates this feeling of drowning yourself in that magnetic feeling of attraction you cannot escape.
Anyway, who says that you have to use whammy bar only when the rhythm is fast paced and upbeat. This is the perfect example of whammy bar operating at slow tempo.
Hear this great song on Youtube, here.
8. Third Stone From The Sun by Jimi Hendrix
What is to be said of Jimi Hendrix that hasn’t been said already? His playing is present in every list that has to do something with guitar playing.
Jimi Hendrix is, consensually, the best guitar player of all time. It is not unusual, then, for him to be a master of whammy bar. Here, in this piece, you can hear him experimenting with his guitar.
This is what he always did, anyway. Experimenting. Finding new ways to express himself through electric guitar.
Although there’s no original version for this piece, due to copyright reasons, you can nevertheless hear his piece played by Steve Lukather (Toto).
Hear it on Youtube, here.
9. Knights Of Cydonia by Muse
Matt Bellamy is a guitar virtuoso. If you didn’t check this great band, now it’s the time to do so. Knights of Cydonia is a powerful rock anthem that sounds best when played on stadiums.
Here, you can hear the influence of legendary Ennio Morricone and his famous spaghetti western compositions.
At the beginning, loud and powerful solo melody starts. You can hear strings being played with whammy bar. Along with drums in background, scat singing and trumpets, whammy bar comes like an icing to the cake.
Hear this kick ass song on Youtube, here.
10. Eruption by Van Halen
This list would be incomplete without Eddie Van Halen. This song is perhaps more famous for its use of various guitar techniques, like tapping.
Still, among various guitar techniques, there’s a whammy bar usage present, also. It’s technically not a song, it’s more of a guitar stunt. Anyway, hear it on Youtube, here.
As you can see, there are many guitar players, and songs as well, that use whammy bar a lot. In fact, lot of these songs wouldn’t be as nearly as good if there wasn’t a whammy bar diving performance in them.
Like we said at the beginning of this article, whammy bar is a great tool. The key is to keep a balance. You don’t want to overuse it, as your playing will start to sound weird. Just a fine touch of a whammy bar does wonders.
I hope this article was fun for you to read. If that’s the case, I’m more than happy about it.
Don’t forget to check out other interesting articles I wrote!
Cheers, and rock on!