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Tremolos on basses: Whats the point?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Lowner, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Lowner


    May 14, 2005
    Over Here
    This guy at my local guitar shop decided to build his own bass and he is putting a tremolo sysytem on it. I have seen a few basses with them, its just that I dont understand the point of them on basses. To me its like a screen door on a submarine. Is there a purpose for tremolos on the bass?
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    never had one and can't say as I've heard one I know of but there are periodic posts on them so obviously some players find them useful enough to bare the expense. There are plenty of guitars without them for that matter. I would suspect it would have considerably less application for bass than guitar. The fact they are seldom seen on bass is probably a most telling indicator. Nothing I have personal experience though so pure head stuff.
  3. question: why is this thread here?

    there are threads about tremelo or "whammy" bars...but not in this forum...
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I tell anyone who has a problem with my whammy bar to listen to Victor Wooten or Dave LaRue, then I tell them to bite me. Not really anyone else's call why I have one on one of my basses, nor is it my problem that someone else has a problem with it.
  5. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    Name a song Victor Wooten has a whammy bar on? He plays Foderas and I've never seen one with a whammy.

    A better example would be funk rock or psychadelic stuff. If you like bands like RHCP or Primus, you'd want one. They can do crazy effects and wobbles. Les Claypool uses his all the time. Listen to "My Friend Fats". Not incredibly hard or innovative, but effective.

  6. yes...it will decrease the tension of the strings to make the note that you are playing go down in pitch.
  7. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Particularly awesome for harmonics. Vic used it frequently at the clinic.
  8. The poor guy apparently didn't know... :rollno:

    Edit: Some go both ways(up & down in pitch)- at least some guitar ones do; not sure if any or all of the available bass ones do, but I would like a bass w/a whammy bar. :eek:
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    You have now....
  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Dave LaRue (Steve Morse Band) used to have a tremolo on his Specter basses. I don't know if he still does. I will say this, he is a monster bassist. I have to respect his choices with regard to his bass setup. If a tremolo is useful to him, more power to him. I wish I played half as well as he does.
  11. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    "Turtle Rock" from the CD Flight of the Cosmic Hippo ,where Pacman got the pic he posted above.

    You're welcome.

    Lowner, I've edited your title to something more descriptive. Generic, nondescript titles are usually newbie telltale signs.
  12. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Dood, you must be a future guitarist. If it's on the floor you'll call it a vibrato. So why do you call it tremolo when it's on the bass?
  13. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    Vibrato on bass can add a lot to the sound, however the same effect can be acheived to a lesser degree by slightly bending the neck (ala Sheehan)
  14. Bending the neck however is NOT something to mess with unless you know what you're doing.
  15. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    A whammy bar, whether on bass or guitar, is a vibrato device by definition, since its purpose is to alter the pitch ("sharp/flat"). A tremolo effect affects the amplitude ("loud/soft").
  16. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    There's a guy in town here, Barry Dunaway..used to play with Malmsteen...has one of those things and can do some jaw dropping things with it.

    From a practicality stand point..he can pretty much dead on fake a fretless
  17. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Exactly. However, all electric basses and guitars have tremolo built in. It's called the volume control. :smug:
  18. Tryxx

    Tryxx Sputnik Forums: Bass Mod

    Jun 1, 2005
    Hurst, Texas.
    I'm honestly afraid to bend the neck on my bass, I'm afraid I'm going to break something. That's why I got a bass I couldn't do it too, no more temptation! :p (Modulus, by the way.)

    I think if I had a fair amount of cash just lying around I'd invest in one, it seems practical in some situations, but tell I can simply afford it, it probably won't happen.
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Not on his Bongos, but all his 4-string MM Sterlings have Kahler whammys. Quite frankly, I'd bet the only reason his Bongos didn't have Kahlers is because they weren't back in business until this year, because all his basses had them before. Next time I see him, I'll have to ask him about that.

    As for the name thing, when I first started playing in the 70's, it was called a vibrato bar. Then Floyd Rose came out with his "Tremolo Systems" and all of a sudden it's called a tremolo. But it is, indeed, a misnomer. Which is why I just call it a whammy. If you say tremolo bar, it's wrong, and if you say vibrato bar, nobody knows what you're talking about, but everyone knows what a whammy bar is.

    And yes, you can do an amazing fretless imitation with a whammy bar. And while you can do slight dives by bending the neck, you can also strip out your neck bolts or snap your neck right off. Ask Billy Sheehan how many times he's had to fix the bolt holes on his necks.
  20. I think people have forgotten that you can do vibrato on the bass without a whammy bar.

    There's a sliding technique, where you use your whole hand and slide back and forth. You can also bend the note like you would a guitar. You can even use your 1st finger to anchor the note and do a trill with your 2nd finger (Sam Sims is really good at this). You can even, if you're strong enough, just shake the hell out of the bass when you play.

    Whammy bars are accessories on basses, just like cruise control on cars. Maybe not the best analogy, but you have to learn how to drive before you can use cruise control.

    My 2 cents...(which buys nothing these days)