Is a Whammy Bar Supposed To Be Loose?

Whammy bars add a new layer of depth and uniqueness to a guitar. From dive bombs to subtle vibratos, it opens the doors to new creative approaches for guitarists. Every guitarist has a different approach to whammy bar loosenes. Some use it stable in one position, while others let it fall down with gravity. So, how should you adjust yours?

There is no golden rule on how loose a whammy bar is supposed to be. This solely relies on personal preference. Some guitarists like it staying in one place, others like it moving freely. It depends on your playing technique and how you want to use the whammy bar.

However, there are some limits to the looseness of whammy bars, as you do not want it to be as loose as it is falling down the guitar. You can use the whammy bar as loosely as possible without it falling down the socket.

Throughout this post, I’ll explain how loose a whammy bar should be, how to fix it if it’s too loose, and what causes it to loosen over time.

How Loose Should a Whammy Bar Be?

A whammy bar can be as loose as you want it to be. There is no rule of how stiff or loose a whammy bar should be, as it only depends on your personal taste, playing style, and approach. Just be careful not to loosen it to the point that it keeps on falling down the socket. Any other setting is just fine.

How Do You Fix a Loose Whammy Bar? 

There are four main whammy bar styles that have different ways of adjusting the stiffness of the tremolo bar. Fender-style, Floyd Rose, Bigsby, and Jazzmaster/Jaguar style bridges are the main types. So, let’s take a look at them individually to learn more about the adjusting processes.

Fender Style Tremolo

Fender-style bridges come with a screwing whammy bar. This means you can put the whammy bar into its socket in the bridge and turn it around to make it tighter. You can easily adjust the tightness you want with the screwing whammy bars.

However, if it does not reach the desired level of stiffness, you can wrap Teflon tape around the part that goes into the hole, and it will make the whammy bar much tighter. 

Another option is to use tension springs, which are small springs to put around the tremolo bar end, going into the bridge hole, which actually serves the same purpose as the Teflon tape.

Also, some Fender-style bridges come with a small nut or screw on the backside of the bridge (the opposite side of the neck) that is used to tighten or loosen the grip of the tremolo bar. The type of screw changes from model to model, but generally it is a 1.5mm (1/16″) screw.

Floyd Rose Tremolo

Floyd Rose tremolo bars often come with a cap that is attached to them, and it is used to tighten or loosen the whammy bar. Basically, after placing the bar into the hole, you put the cap to the male part of the cap around the hole and turn it around to make it stiffer.

You can again use the Teflon tape approach, but this time, instead of the bar, you have to put it around the male part around the hole in the bridge where the cap is placed and rotated.

Jazzmaster Style Tremolo

Jazzmaster tremolo bars are found mainly in Fender Jazzmasters, Jaguars, and sometimes on Mustang models. They do not have a screw and are directly placed into the hole on the bridge. They are quite loose by default, and to make them stiffer, you can use Teflon tape, wrapping it around the whammy bar end, the part that goes into the hole.

Another option is to use a hammer to widen the tremolo end slightly so it holds onto the hole more firmly. Be careful with this approach, as overdoing it can cause too much stiffness, and it is hard to reverse.

Bigsby Tremolo

Bigsby tremolo systems are different than the rest of the tremolo bar world. Their tremolo bar can not be taken out as they use a different stable system. They also look pretty different than the rest. If you find out the tremolo bar on a Bigsby system is floppy, it most probably has to do with the bolt on the backside of the tremolo.

On Bigsby systems, there is a metal bar and a bolt under the tremolo where the tremolo holds onto the bridge. In order to reach that, you have to remove the strings and lift the tremolo towards the opposite side of the neck. You will see the bolt there, and tightening the bolt will make the whammy bar stiffer while loosening it will lead to a more floppy whammy bar.

Final Thoughts

Setting a whammy bar to the right tightness for your play style can make a world of difference. Depending on your playing style, you can go for a loose tremolo bar for divebombs and excessive use or a tight one for small vibratos and nuances. 

Depending on your tremolo system, there are many different ways to loosen or tighten your whammy bar. The Teflon tape approach generally works for most of them to tighten the whammy bar except the Bigsby. So, use these approaches to adjust your whammy bar according to your liking!

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.


I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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