Page 1 of 2

Whammy Bar - Concept

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:22 am
by Jackhammer
Im just wondering , could someone explain how the whammy bar works , the basics and how it manages to adjust the pitch of the note.

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:40 am
by RAI
You push the bar "forward", and that releases the tension on the strings (pitch going down), you pull "back" on the bar and you increase the tension on the strings (pitch goes up).

:)

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 8:45 am
by Ryan Layton
yeah, whammy bars work almost like tuning pegs on the headstock. when you push the bar towards the body of the guitar, it loosens the strings, just like de-tuning a string. when you pull the bar back (away from the body) its like tightening the string with the pegs. the whammy bar of course isn't used to do anything for your tuning but its cool as hell and thats just how it works.

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 9:36 am
by GuitarMaster
JackHammer - Let me explain!

When using a string as a vibrational tool to produce a sound, there's two variables which determin the pitch of the sound.

One is the length of the string - When you fret a guitar string, you are changing the length of the string, thus changing the pitch.

The other is the tension in the string. This is a measure of the pulling force at each end of the string. But how do we use this second variable on the guitar to choose a pitch?

The vibrato bar! (or whammy bar for slang).

Vibrato is a change in pitch. One will often here people (such as the idiotic Floyd Rose) call it a tremelo bar. This is totally incorrect, because tremelo is a change in volumne, not a change in pitch.

The vibrato bar is used to release or increase tension in your strings by decreasing or increasing the pulling force on the strings at that end.

If you press the bar down towards your pickups (or pickguard), you are lessening the tension, thus lowering the pitch. If you press the bar backwards towards the guitar cord input, you are adding tension and increasing the pitch.

So, there are the two ways to alter the pitch of a string (string length and string tension). You fret the guitar to do the first, and you use the vibrato bar to do the second!

Make sense?

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:48 pm
by shader
Factors that affect a string's vibrating frequency:

- Tension
- Length
- Density
- Cross-sectional area
- Temperature

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 1:11 pm
by GuitarMaster
shader wrote:Factors that affect a string's vibrating frequency:

- Tension
- Length
- Density
- Cross-sectional area
- Temperature
I said a variable, not a factor. Big difference. Factors don't involve this thread, variables do.

Plus - Density, and temperature are factors in a mediums alteration of a frequency, they are not factors in a strings virating frequency.

Major difference there, easily to be confused but hope you know understand.

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 5:31 pm
by shader
no, the density and temperature of the string. Take a physics class.

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 6:00 pm
by GuitarMaster
shader wrote:no, the density and temperature of the string. Take a physics class.
I sense you trying to start problems, unless you truly think you are right. Seeing as how I have a masters in astrophysics from UCLA, you picked the wrong person to say that comment to.

I trust readers will understand more than you!

The only two variables in your guitar JackHammer are your strings vibrational section length, and your strings vibrational section tension. Obviously you understand you can't change your strings density! And the temperature of a string doesn't change the pitch, it changes other factors which in turn change the pitch, so it is not considered a factor in the frequency of a string.

I guess Shader doesn't understand variable versus factor, and resonant medium versus guitar string. I hope you get it JackHammer!!

Sorry for the confusion by the other poster! I hope this still makes sense!

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 6:26 pm
by RAI
Thank you guys for taking this topic from a simple question to something quite unnecessary....

:cry:

Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2003 6:37 pm
by GuitarMaster
RAI wrote:Thank you guys for taking this topic from a simple question to something quite unnecessary....

:cry:
Yeah well, he said tell him how it manages to change pitch, which is by changing tension - one of the two!

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2003 7:08 am
by Jackhammer
Thanks , but one more thing ;)

Graphically could you show me the essentials on how the whammy bar works (which forces are going in which directions) :)

Posted: Thu Dec 25, 2003 9:40 am
by GuitarMaster
Jackhammer wrote:Thanks , but one more thing ;)

Graphically could you show me the essentials on how the whammy bar works (which forces are going in which directions) :)
Taking the time to draw these and then upload them is a pain. Let me try here.

1. Guitar with tuned strings sitting alone.

A. force one - the strings, as they tighten, are pulling on the vibrato system, pulling paralell to the neck, and towards the headstock

B. since a simple rule of physics is in equilibrium (nothing accelerating) the forces in a dimension must be equal, the vibrato system is pulling in the opposite direction on the strings. it is pulling parallel to the neck but AWAY from the headstock.

C. these two forces cancel eachother out and cause equilibrium.

2. releasing tension with vibrato

A. when you point the vibrato bar parallel to the strings and pointing towards the headstock, then press down on the bar so the tip touches the body. what you are now doing is lessening the tension 1B that the vibrato system was pulling on the strings. because the vibrato is pulling at a much less amount, the strings also push at a much less amount. the two tension are still equal - and thus equilibrium still exists. since the tension is the second variable for your strings, the pitch goes down

B. next we can do the opposite. if you point the bar paralell to the strings but pointing away from the headstock. then press the bar down towards the "bottom" of the guitar where the cord plugs in. What you are doing now is making the vibrato system pull MORE on the strings. again because of equilibrium the strings must pull back at an equal amount. because the vibrato is pulling more, the tension is increase. thus the pitch goes up!

make sense?

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2004 3:01 pm
by Super_Pools
congrats on the explanation m8, n im not tryin 2 knock ya or out, but all that was really needed in this thread were the the 1st 2 posts - the guy just wanted the idea of how it worked, not a 3 hour lecture :wink:

wondering...

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2004 3:12 pm
by GuitarStrings
I wonder if this GuitarMaster is a Master...
He better call himself NothingMaster lol

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:54 pm
by Super_Pools
ooooh cheap shot