A “whammy bar,” usually known as a tremolo bar, enables you to apply vibrato to notes using your picking hand. Whammy bars are connected to the bridge of the guitar, and when you push on them, the bridge pivots, causing a fluctuation in pitch. Squier is a more affordable make of guitars from Fender, and many of the models can be used with a whammy bar. Installation is the same for each.
Locate the hole for the whammy bar. The hole is in the bridge of the guitar, near the high “e” string. The bridge of the guitar is on the main body and supports the strings as they run up from inside the body. Ensure there is a small spring inside the hole. If there isn’t, you will need to put one in, but you should have received several springs when you bought the tremolo.
Insert the screw end of your whammy bar into the hole in the guitar's bridge. If your guitar doesn’t have a hole for the whammy bar, installation may not be possible. Generally, the Stratocaster makes have a spot for the tremolo bar, but the Telecaster style bodies may not have the hole. Telecaster bodies can be identified because only the lower edge of the body is cut away where it meets the neck. On Stratocasters, both are cut back.
Turn the whammy bar clockwise to install it. It will screw into the hole. Do not screw it in as tight as you can sometimes snap the bar off into the hole. Also, if you over-tighten it, the bridge can lock up, which means the bar will do nothing.
Play a note and gently push the bar inwards towards the body of the guitar to test it. The bridge should mover slightly as you press the bar, and the pitch of the note will change. If the tremolo isn’t working, you may have over tightened it. Unscrew the bar slightly by turning it counter-clockwise.
Remove the tremolo bar when you are storing and transporting the guitar. Installing a tremolo bar only takes a minute, and it may get broken in transit if left attached to the guitar’s body. Not only does it make your axe more awkward to transport, but if it breaks off in the hole, it isn’t always easy to get it out. Even if it doesn’t break, the tremolo will undoubtedly be accidently pressed in if you’re travelling, and this can knock your guitar out of tune. Take the precaution and remove it when you put your guitar away.
Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.