As many guitarists know, the tremolo arm found on some guitars isn’t really a tremolo system at all.
Tremolo is amplitude, or volume, modulation; vibrato is pitch modulation. The so-called tremolo mechanism on guitars is actually a vibrato system, because it’s designed to modulate pitch.
Regardless of the science behind it, Leo Fender called his guitar vibrato system “Synchronized Tremolo,” and we’ve been stuck with the misnomer ever since—though that hasn’t stopped us from coming up with several other names for the device, include whammy bar, twang bar and so on.
Phillip McKnight digs into the subject matter with his video titled “The Tremolo System That Doesn’t Exist.” He suggests that Fender may have used the name as a marketing concept to help sell guitars equipped with the device.
“Maybe using the term ‘tremolo’ was a way of saying, ‘Hey, like “Rebel Rouser” [hear it below]—Duane Eddy—you know, that sound.’”
Phillip also offers some tips and advice for using your guitar’s whammy bar, twang bar, or whatever else you like to call it.
Check it out, and visit Phillip’s YouTube channel for more of his videos.