I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to the newest Jeff Beck album, Louder Hailer. This week’s lesson is focused on incorporating the whammy bar into traditional sounding guitar lines. Jeff Beck is a master of working all of the controls on his guitar to get a giant range of sounds. My favorite of these is how he is able to get a pseudo slide guitar effect using the whammy bar. This lesson will teach you five ways to use your tremolo bar to expand on common blues guitar phrases. By using small half and whole steps whammy bar dips in combination with slide guitar shapes and picking hand techniques you can get a very interesting and unique sound.
The first lick uses a rake in an open E style tuning shape to get a slide guitar sound. The lick begins with a very quick roll up a B major triad which is something you can hear a lot of slide players use. Derek Trucks in particular likes to rake with his finger across the strings leading up to his intended note. After the triad, the whammy bar is used to dip a half step. This hits the b5 (blues note) and really gives the line a bluesy feel.
The second idea is a scale line that also utilizes half step whammy bar dips. To my ears half steps with the whammy bar sound more natural than larger intervals. Try playing other scale ideas and incorporate whammy bar dips wherever there is a half step interval!
The third lick uses the whammy bar dip in the opposite direction. Instead of bending the note down, you prebend the whammy bar and release, bending the note up to the intended target. The line is capped off with a fast pentatonic legato phrase.
The fourth lick again features the open E roll from the first lick as well as another prebend with the whammy bar.
The final lick uses a lot of quick pull offs to end the solo with a lot of excitement. It ends with a small half step dip that leads to the tonic (B).
Hopefully these ideas can help you incorporate the whammy bar into some of your lines. If you are interested in more of this kind of sound check out Jeff Beck, Scott Henderson, and Jimmy Herring!