#1
I have never been any good at making use of the whammy bar but I happened to come across this Dimebag Darrell lesson on youtube. It kind of made me want to at least give it a try so I have been practicing. I find it really hard to achieve that squeal. I watched Dime do this very closely and I notice he holds his thumb over top of the lower e string while he flicks off the other then slowly releases his thumb at the same time. I find using my thumb really uncomfortable so I have been trying to do it with my index finger. One out of every ten or twenty tries I do actually hit a squeal but it is pretty awkward to do. Most of the time I am missing and it sounds like a drunken Kerry King warm up or something. Am I whipping the whammy bar too hard or maybe not hard enough? What I am finding is that I have a better chance of hitting the squeal when I pull down on the lower e string and flick off the g or whatever in a really fast motion. The way Dime does it is really hard for me and it kind of hurts my finger if I don't pull down. He seems to keep his thumb in that spot the entire time but release it about half way and moves his thumb while also using the whammy bar. How do you guys like to do it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgtZ7oOCmdM
#2
I'm not into this squealing business much myself, but from what I gather, the thumb isn't involved at all.

From what I can see: What he's doing is flicking the string he wants (you can do this with your left or right hand) while the whammy bar is depressed to a pitch he wants (i.e. if he wants to start on a 'G', he's flicking the 'A' String but depressing the whammy until he gets down to a 'G' note), OR he'll fret the starting note and flick the string. Whatever gets him the pitch he needs.

Then he's lightly touching either the 5th, 7th, or 12th fret on that same string to create a harmonic and then using the bar to find the high pitch he needs and then give it all that wavy goodness.

Try it open once without the whammy bar or fretting a note. Pick an open high e string. Now very very lightly touch the string at the 12th fret. Don't fret the string. Just touch string lightly. Do you see how that was the same as playing a 12th fret harmonic?

That's the essence of what's he doing. He's just using the whammy to find a starting pitch and an ending pitch. Add distortion and whammy to that and you have ridiculous squealing

I think he explains it a little weird, but that's what it looks like he's doing.

Also, protip: Other frets work for natural harmonics other than 5, 7, and 12. 2nd fret, 4th fret, 9th fret, and 10th fret although they're much quieter. With some distortion I think you can make them work to your advantage.

EDIT: I'm messing around with it right now and the ring finger on my left hand seems to be the most useful/economic for flicking the string for one of these squeals. Try all the fingers and see what works best for you

EDIT 2: I can totally see how you could use the thumb for the low pitch, but it seems like a pain in the ass. If you can get it going, I think you could use it to get a nice deep low pitch with the bar before you flick and squeal.

It seems like the best option there is to flick the low E with your thumb and then deaden it with your thumb as you hit the harmonic with your pick, which seems closer to what you were saying in your original post. I guess keep trying it without the bar until you get it.
Last edited by mjones1992 at Oct 12, 2014,
#3
pretty sure the left hand thumb isnt really involved in the squeal part. Looks like he is just using the thumb to mute the low strings

u can google for "Brad Gillis" if u want to see the originator of that style of whammy harmonic squeal. Also of course VanHalen did the whole tapped harmonic thing way back when


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ_9od0AAos
#4
i think the technique is called a "pinch harmonic" and if it is, then the picking thumb is involved.

it hovers just above the string you pick and if you do it right you can get a lovely squeal on the go.

as for 'teaching' or describing how to do it, frankly and sadly i can't, i just seem to get lucky and get them down 50% of the time (the other 50% i try and cover it up... badly)
Belief is a beautiful armour but makes for the heaviest sword.
#5
For pinch harmonics, keep in mind that they're similar to natural harmonics that you do at 5th fret, 7th fret, etc. What I mean by that is that pinch harmonics also work at certain positions along the string, not just anywhere. Learn how far from the bridge you should "pinch" the harmonic with your pick hand based on how far down the neck you're fretting the note. It doesn't have to be exact to get it to work, but the closer you pinch the string to its sweet spot for that note, the more articulated the harmonic will be. Takes a lot of practice to get that sort of feel for them.
#6
Quote by Dempsey68
as for 'teaching' or describing how to do it, frankly and sadly i can't, i just seem to get lucky and get them down 50% of the time (the other 50% i try and cover it up... badly)

This describes my entire playing technique.
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#7
You just need to hit the note first, divebomb it, and then on the way back up with the tremolo, quickly flick the string like you would do for a natural harmonic.
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#8
It's not easy to see, but if you check at 3:35 or so and 4:00 he slows it down and shows exactly what he does. Pick the string, he's using his middle finger, then lightly tap the harmonic he wants with either middle or ring finger, whichever is in the right spot, the whammy bar is whenever you want to use it, thumb is just being used to muffle the top strings. Watch it at that time frame a few times and you should get the hang of it. I've been using that technique for a long time, usually at the octave though and using my right hand, I've never tried it the way he's doing it using his left. I picked it up by watching Van Wilks onstage do it one night. He shows earlier in the video doing the same thing at the octave, similar technique, but he uses his right hand to tap the harmonic at the octave. But he does it really quick and it's not easy to catch how it's done. The main thing is to tap the string lightly, not fret it.

To do pinch harmonics, that's a different technique, hold the pick so it's just barely sticking out between thumb and forefinger. Pick the note and make sure the thumb rubs the string lightly at the same time. This works in several places above the pickups, you'll have to experiment with it to learn where. The best place is between the neck and neck pickup and just the other side of that pickup. I've been working on doing pinch harmonics while finger picking, it's really hard to do but I learned I could do it on my acoustic by accident. So now I'm trying to get it down where I can do it intentionally...Not easy to describe, I have to hold my thumb just right to get it to work, but by using the 1st knuckle to barely rest against the string I can do it if I pick the note just right. It works about one out of every 30 tries...

You can also do another one, at harmonic intervals to the note, by picking the note and using the index finger to lightly touch the string at the same time at the harmonic spot. So you're picking just above the fret where the harmonic is, and touching the string at the same time.

Here's Van Wilks doing this at 0:38

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAGRc5bNdRQ

Same song, again at about 0:30 but you can't see it as well. Also at 1:29

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrMdU_jCC9A
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Last edited by Paleo Pete at Oct 12, 2014,
#9
Quote by NWD2100
I have never been any good at making use of the whammy bar but I happened to come across this Dimebag Darrell lesson on youtube. It kind of made me want to at least give it a try so I have been practicing. I find it really hard to achieve that squeal. I watched Dime do this very closely and I notice he holds his thumb over top of the lower e string while he flicks off the other then slowly releases his thumb at the same time. I find using my thumb really uncomfortable so I have been trying to do it with my index finger. One out of every ten or twenty tries I do actually hit a squeal but it is pretty awkward to do. Most of the time I am missing and it sounds like a drunken Kerry King warm up or something. Am I whipping the whammy bar too hard or maybe not hard enough? What I am finding is that I have a better chance of hitting the squeal when I pull down on the lower e string and flick off the g or whatever in a really fast motion. The way Dime does it is really hard for me and it kind of hurts my finger if I don't pull down. He seems to keep his thumb in that spot the entire time but release it about half way and moves his thumb while also using the whammy bar. How do you guys like to do it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgtZ7oOCmdM


That squeal is pure Eddie Van Halen

It's based on touching the 4th fret, G string, very lightly, to create a harmonic. Touch and pick at same time. Once you've got that sounding ok, then add in whammy bar, starting depressed, and do the touhc, pick and whammy release all at same time. Then pull up whammy bar beyond neutral, and wobble it up and down (still above neutral) to get final vibrato.