Carl Verheyen: Whammy Bar Setup SecretsPosted: October 9, 2012
A few years ago I had a gig playing in a band that mostly played the biker bar scene. It was a really fun gig, but demanding at the same time. We took no pauses between songs, usually wedging 15 to 18 songs into a set. It really kept the atmosphere rocking and the party rolling, but also made guitar changes impossible. I chose a Stratocaster style guitar with a humbucker in the bridge and a vintage style tremolo as my main axe for the gig. It was able to cover the mix of classic rock, country, and blues without a hitch… until an unfortunate event happened.
One night, a rather burly biker offered me a shot of my choice if I could (I am slightly embarrassed to admit this) play “Eruption.” Well, I couldn’t turn down a shot (or a dude of such mountainous stature) and performed the deed. Much to my surprise, I actually remembered the damn thing after not having played it for about 15 years. Much to my dismay, it was so well received the rest of the band voted in favor of making it a part of our show.
As many guitarist know, “Eruption” has several massive, string flapping, whammy bar dive bombs. My vintage style tremolo held up fine under normal use, but slamming the bar down pushed it beyond it’s usable limits making the tuning go ugly. At first, I was going to leave out the parts that required whammy bar abuse, but that would be like a Happy Meal without the toy. Buying a guitar with a locking tremolo for one solo was not logical, I didn’t have time to change guitars anyway. Not knowing what to do, I did what most of us do when we have a perplexing situation. I Googled it.
After reading a few websites that basically regurgitated the the same setup procedure put out by Fender, I came across this video. Carl Verheyen’s suggestions have made my tremolo significantly more stable. Even after several severe bar dips, my guitar usually stays in tune.
Now that my tremolo is much more stable, I never hesitate to use it. It has made playing certain styles of music such as rockabilly and surf music much more enjoyable now that I can add those characteristic vibrato licks without the fear of going out of tune. Best of all, it required no new parts or modifications, just a screwdriver and a little time.