How to Use the Whammy Bar on Heavy Metal Guitar

Let musician Alex Skolnick teach you how to use the whammy bar on a guitar in this heavy metal guitar lesson from Howcast.


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Learn how to play heavy metal guitar on your own time, at your own pace, and in the comfort of your own home, with these free online guitar lessons from Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick.




Alright. I'd like to talk to you very quickly about using the bar, sometimes called the whammy bar, sometimes called the vibrato bar. And it's something that's overdone a lot, so you have to be careful with it. I actually stopped using it very early on in my career. But, it's fun to play around with it once in a while, and if you're checking out the styles of guitar players like Jeff Beck, or Dave Gilmour, it's an integral part of their playing. So what they'll often do is play melodies, and take a note and just enhance it with the bar. Something like. So there you can really hear the vibrato, that definitely gives it a vibrato bar feel, makes it kind of anthemic. Jimi Hendrix took the bar to whole new places. He would do a lot of stuff with feedback and harmonics. So an example of that is, if we take the natural harmonics, say on the 7th fret, I can play with the bar, and it's going to make a really cool sound. Check it out. So that also has to do with the amp feeding back. I'm going to just do a couple more examples, and listen to how the amp feeds back, and listen to how I take the feedback and use the bar to enhance it. And let's see where it goes. Alright, that's it. I hope you've enjoyed this lesson on the vibrato bar and the whammy bar.


  • Alex Skolnick

    Alex Skolnick is one of the most diverse guitarists of his generation. Best known for the thrash metal band Testament (which he joined at 16), he has performed with Ozzy Osbourne, ranked high in guitar magazine polls, achieved a BFA in music from New School University and gone on to make a mark in jazz (Alex Skolnick Trio), acoustic world music (Rodrigo Y Gabriela), symphonic rock (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and much more. Alex pens the popular blog Skolnotes on his website,