Sometimes, learning how to tune an electric guitar can be a bit more troublesome and tricky than with a good ol’ acoustic guitar. With electric guitars, there are more things to consider when tuning, and one of these considerations is the whammy bar. What, exactly, is a whammy bar?
What is a whammy bar?
In knowing how to tune an electric guitar, it is also important to know and understand what a whammy bar is. A whammy bar (also known as a tremolo bar or vibrato bar) is used to add vibrato to the guitar’s sound. By adding tension to the strings from the bridge or tailpiece, the vibrato effect is achieved. Many famous guitarists have used the whammy bar – Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd are just some of the influential artists who have used the whammy bar in their respective genres, and these artists have greatly influenced countless other guitarists after them.
A whammy bar/tremolo bar/vibrato bar “bends” the pitch of the sound, which accounts for the great effects we hear from our favorite guitarists. This effect is widely used in many different ways in different genres of music. However, knowing how to play their music and knowing how to tune an electric guitar are two very different things.
How To Tune An Electric Guitar 101
First of all, to know how to tune an electric guitar, you have to understand that its mechanism works a bit differently from that of an acoustic guitar, especially if you have a floating bridge. One common issue is that once you have locked the strings in place, any further tuning will have to be done via the whammy bar itself and not by turning the tuning pegs, which makes it as bit difficult for some. This is because for the whammy bar to be perfectly positioned (that is, not riding too low on the guitar and not jutting out too high either), the strings in front and the springs at the back of the guitar have to be synced in the pressure they exert on the whammy bar – this means that you have to adjust both the strings and unscrew the cover at the back of the guitar to adjust the springs there, too.
In knowing how to tune an electric guitar, when the floating bridge goes up too high, you may have to unscrew the cover at the back of your electric guitar (a Phillips screwdriver should do the trick) and tweak the springs there until you see the floating bridge at the right position.
How To Tune An Electric Guitar – The Little Trick
Also, in knowing how to tune an electric guitar, especially one with a floating bridge, it is important to note that sometimes, the strings will need retuning a few times before they reach that perfect pitch. A little trick here on how to tune an electric guitar is to tune up about half a step higher so that when you lock the strings in place, they will loosen up just enough when adjusted to the pitch you actually want it to be in.