Bigsby tremolo bars, also known as whammy bars, vibrato bars, and tremolo arms, are a beautiful piece of spring and metal that can alter the sound of your guitar. First, let’s distinguish tremolo and vibrato, because though the terms are frequently interchanged, they are different things. Tremolo and vibrato may seem identical, but they are separate entities and they get mad when you confuse them.
So don’t say “Mary Kate” when you mean “Ashley”. A Bigsby, as it turns out, actually creates VIBRATO, though everyone calls it a tremolo bar. (So, wait, is that Mary Kate or Ashley? Oh god, I’m so confused…)
Now that you know that vibrato is a change in pitch, let’s examine how a Bigsby works. A Bigsby attached to the bridge of a guitar, and changes the pitch of the strings by actually lowering or raising the bridge. When pushed down, the bridge lowers and thusly lowers the pitch, and up means up and up. Just don’t go too far up or you’ll bust it– there is less flexibility on up-bends. What gives Bigsby its unique flavor is that its spring-loaded. This makes it more suited for slow and subtle bends, and helps your guitar stay in tune better than a floating bar, which more directly shifts the bridge. (Some Fender vibrato bars also have a spring, such as on our Jaguar)
In conclusion: Vibrato? Put it on the pizza.