The whammy bar is a fairly common feature on many electric guitars. It is used by many guitarists to create some interesting sounds and to spice up their solos.
But the whammy bar is rarely, if ever, seen on bass guitars. But why is that? And is it possible or even a good idea to have a whammy bar on a bass? Let us find out.
Table of Contents
Can Bass Have a Whammy Bar?
The simple answer is yes, bass guitars can have a whammy bar. There isn’t really anything preventing a bass from having a whammy bar.
In fact, there have been a few famous bassists throughout history that have played basses with whammy bars. The two bassists you might recognize that have had basses with whammy bars are Victor Wooten and Les Claypool.
Why Aren’t Whammy Bars as Common on Basses?
There are two main reasons why bass guitars don’t really have whammy bars.
The first, and biggest reason, is due to the negative effect a whammy bar has on a bass. Because the string tension on a bass is much higher than on a guitar, the whammy bar is going to have a much greater effect on the entire bass.
While it won’t be immediate, a whammy bar is going to slowly chip away at the string tension. This is going to cause your strings to go out of tune much faster than they would normally.
Then there is also the possible effect it is going to have on the bass’ neck. Because a whammy bar effectively pulls and pushes on the strings to tighten and loosen them, this will then cause the strings to pull on the neck.
This can cause the neck to bend much more than it would otherwise. Some bassists also fear that a whammy bar could cause the bridge to be pulled out.
The second reason why basses don’t have whammy bars is simply that it doesn’t make much of a difference to the sound. While a whammy bar will noticeably bend a bass guitar’s strings, the effect won’t be as much as it would be on an electric guitar.
For this reason, many bassists think that the risk and price involved with getting a whammy bar installed just isn’t worth it.
Using a Whammy Pedal
That doesn’t mean that bassists are left with no practical way of using whammy with a bass. A whammy pedal like the DigiTech Bass Whammy Pedal is a great way of getting whammy-like effects on bass.
While a whammy pedal doesn’t provide the same level of control as a whammy pedal, it is still an easy way to get close. DigiTech also has a dedicated Dive Bomb setting so that you can get those deep, bassy booms.
A whammy bar on bass might be expensive and impractical, but it isn’t impossible. And while it isn’t quite the same, a whammy pedal serves as a good workaround for any bassists that are looking to emulate the whammy sounds created by guitarists.