What is a Vibrato?
To put it simply, the vibrato is the change of pitch in your sound. This happens when you push or pull the whammy bar on your guitar (if it has one) and so you change the tension of strings. As the name suggests, this sounds like your sound is vibrating, while you can do all sorts of cool and weird effects and sounds. Some people might confuse a vibrato with a tremolo, but they are two quite different effects.
The differences between Vibrato and Tremolo
We know that vibrato is the change in pitch. Tremolo on the other hand is the rapid change of the volume, something that happens not with your whammy bar, but only with a pedal.Tremolo is also a very interesting effect, as the fast change in volume creates a weird and jiggly, characteristic sound. Vibrato can also be done by a pedal, but usually most people prefer to use the whammy bar which is much more direct compared to tweaking knobs on your pedal to control all the parameters. It’s both simpler and usually better. To sum up, the only common thing that these two effects have is that they fluctuate, vibrato in pitch and tremolo in volume.
The Most Popular Vibrato Systems
1. The Bigsby
Bigbsy is the grandad of all vibrato systems, having a really vintage feel and usually found in guitars that have this kind of vibe going on. You will find it usually on hollow and semi-hollow body guitars, as its about the only vibrato that can be installed on them. You might see them now and then on a solid body one, but most people will try the other, more modern whammy bars on their solid guitar. The Bigsby is not made for extreme effects, but it has a softer and more vintage style of effect, which is great for 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s music.
Leo Fender has invented just about everything that a man can invent about the guitar. A few years after the Bigsby vibrato, he introduced the Stratocaster to the world, which included his trademark vibrato system, changing the way that a guitar can be played. Without a doubt, this whammy bar has been imitated countless times, as it works in a very simple way. Essentially, the bridge of your guitar is suspended by springs and you just have to push or pull the arm in order to perform all sorts of pitch changes that are much more intense and varied than anything that came before it.
3. The Floyd Rose
As I said earlier, the fender vibrato has been imitated countless times. Well, one of these imitations took it one step further and created a design that is preferred by most of the modern electric guitar virtuosos. This is the Floyd Rose, which took the same design principle of the Fender and added to the whammy bar two locking mechanisms, one in the bridge and one on the nut. This transformation to a locking system, lets you perform even the most extreme changes, dive bombs and screams with your guitar, but it will always stay in tune without a problem.