If a whammy bar is the primary feature you're concerned with, know that you have plenty of great options, many of which we'll cover in this post. However, it's also important to note that you not only have multiple guitars with whammy bars, but you also have multiple types of whammy bars to choose from.
Primarily there are two types:
- Traditional floating tremolo
- Locking tremolo system
We'll include guitars that use both in this recommendation list. But first, let's talk about the difference between the two.
Traditional Tremolo Bridge
First, the traditional floating tremolo - like you would see on a Fender Stratocaster - is the more common and simpler of the two. However, it's also more likely to come out of tune and can't be worked as hard as the more complex locking tremolo systems.
Locking Tremolo Bridge
A locking tremolo usually comes in one of two forms:
- Floyd Rose bridge/tremolo system
- Edge Zero bridge/tremolo system
Both these systems lock the strings, once at the headstock and at the bridge. Then you have small turning knobs that allow you to tweak the tuning after the strings have been locked. Locked strings can't really be tuned by the tuning machines on the headstock.
This allows for heavier tremolo use and "dive bombing" which is a term for pushing the whammy bar way down and then slowly letting it rise back up.
With the locking tremolo, strings are extremely unlikely to come out of tune.
Now that we've covered the technical details, let's get moving with our list of the best guitars with a whammy bar.
1. The Fender Stratocaster
The Fender Stratocaster is one of the most popular and iconic guitars ever built, and almost always ships with a whammy bar in a traditional floating tremolo bridge. Within the Stratocaster series, you have two types of bridges to choose from:
- Two-point synchronized tremolo bridge
- Six-screw vintage style tremolo bridge
Both styles use a whammy bar. The vintage design is an older type of bridge that they use in a lot of Fender reissues that uses six screws to attach to the body.
Note that the more expensive Stratocasters are nicer and will be more likely to stay in tune, which is worth considering since the tremolo system on the Strat is usually not a locking system.
There are a couple versions of the Stratocaster that actually implement a Floyd Rose locking Tremolo.
2. PRS SE Custom 24
PRS's SE line of guitars are far cheaper than their mainline models, and the SE Custom 24 comes with a whammy bar and a traditional tremolo bridge. It doesn't "give" quite as much as the Stratocaster bridges, but in our experience the PRS tremolo bridges tend to stay in tune a little better.
Six screws and a saddle system are used to anchor the strings, so even a small amount of work on the whammy bar is going to get you a nice vibrato effect.
Alternatively, you can buy a PRS guitar and then pay extra to have PRS install a Floyd Rose system.
Or you could just go with the next option.
Read more: PRS SE Custom 24 VS Standard
3. PRS SE Custom 24 "Floyd"
The PRS SE Custom 24 "Floyd" is essentially the same as the base model PRS SE Custom 24, but with the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system installed instead of the traditional floating tremolo bridge.
On the PRS body the Floyd Rose system looks great and adds a lot to the guitar aesthetically.
Plus, it gives you a locking tuning system that is almost impervious to getting knocked out of tune.
If you like the percussive sound and response of the PRS body and the flexibility of a true whammy system, the "Floyd" version of the SE Custom 24 should be hard to pass up.
4. Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR
The Schecter Hellraiser is a modern guitar design with an EMG pickup at the bridge and a Schecter Sustainiac pickup at the neck position. You get the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system to complete the menacing look in a guitar that's built for heavy distortion and modern rock riffing.
We like the Hellraiser series for those styles, but if you're also looking for a whammy bar, the Floyd Rose on this particular guitar really sweetens the deal.
5. Ibanez Prestige Series
Ibanez created the Edge Zero tremolo system which is a locking setup similar to the Floyd Rose.
In fact, looking at the two, you'll have a hard time tell them apart, so we view them as essentially one and the same.
The Ibanez Prestige is one of Ibanez's higher-end electric guitar lines, built for speed and - like the Schecter Hellraisers - modern guitar tones. There are also versions of some Prestige guitars that only have a traditional floating tremolo bridge, so we'd recommend looking for one with the Edge Zero system, if you're really serious about getting into the whammy bar game.
We'd recommend the Ibanez Prestige RG5320 in particular.
6. EVH Wolfgang Standard or Special QM
Most of the EVH Wolfgang series guitars use a smaller-looking Floyd Rose, which is an EVH branded version with the locking tremolo system. It's a more affordable guitar than most on this list, particularly if you stick with the EVH Wolfgang standard version.
The Special QM is a good option as well.
7. ESP LTD Kirk Hammett Signature
Kirk Hammett's signature guitar gives you EMG Bone Breaker (active) pickups and a Floyd Rose 1000 whammy system.
It's definitely a heavier-sounding guitar, made for more modern styles with plenty of appeal for lead and rhythm guitarists alike.
The all-black makes for a nice aesthetic as well.
8. PRS DW CE Floyd 24
On the more expensive side of the spectrum, Dusty Waring's signature PRS comes with a Floyd Rose 1000, and is perhaps the best guitar with a whammy bar on this entire list.
It also has two Mojotone Tomahawk humbuckers and looks absolutely fantastic.
This is yet another good option for fans of heavy metal and modern rock music that want to get some good whammy bar work out of their guitar.
9. PRS Silver Sky
The Silver Sky is the PRS version of John Mayer's Stratocaster, which they created after he left Fender as a sponsored artist. It has a bridge that's similar to the Stratocaster, but of course designed by PRS and feels just a bit sturdier than the Fender version.
It's not a locking system, but it does give you the whammy bar and a decent amount of movement.
If you like the PRS brand with the Stratocaster feel (which John Mayer obviously does), it's a good way to sort of get the best of both worlds.
These guitars give you more than just a whammy bar.
They give you the reliability of some of the best guitar brands around, great features, playability, and a high standard of overall quality. We recommend not buying simply based on a single feature, but making sure you get the features you want in the context of a good quality guitar.
We're able to recommend all these guitars easily, without hesitation because of their overall quality and value, not just because they happen to have a whammy bar.
Use it as a guide to inform your purchase and to help direct you as you shop.
Questions and Comments
If you have questions about the guitars we've listed or our selection process, feel free to reach out via the comments section below.
We'll check in and do our best to help out.
See you there.