Dive bombing is a guitar technique in which the tremolo bar, also known as the whammy bar, is used to rapidly lower the pitch of a note, emulating the sound of a bomb being dropped.
Types of dive bomb? There are three main types of dive bombs which include the Standard Dive Bomb, the Harmonic Squeal and the Reverse Dive Bomb.
In this article we cover these in more lots more detail…
1. What is Dive bombing?
Dive bombing is a guitar technique that is performed with a vibrato bar (whammy bar), and is used to bend notes. The tremolo bar allows you to vary the pitch of a note being played. This can be either by pushing the bar towards the neck or pulling the bar away from the neck.
- Pulling towards the neck – the pitch gets lower
- Pulling away from the neck – the pitch gets higher
The dive bomb technique will always include pushing the whammy towards to neck so that the pitch gets lower. When the technique is performed correctly when it creates a sound resembling a bomb dropping (hence the name).
2. Types of Dive Bombs?
When dealing with dive bomb, you may see that Guitarist can freely shift the pitch of the sound and change the direction either downwards or upwards, or hitting a harmonic.
There are three main types of dive bombs see below…
Standard Dive Bomb
The standard dive bomb is used to shift the pitch of the sound downwards. You will need to slowly push the whammy bar towards the fretboard.
Just to bear in mind the slower procession you take, the longer the sustain of your dive bombs will be
There is also another common technique used to create dive bomb, where the guitarist will hit a harmonic (usually a natural harmonic) instead of a normal fretted or open note to create a squealing sound.
The shinning stars in this technique are K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Jeff Hanneman and Dimebag Darrell.
Reverse Dive Bomb
Another type of dive bomb technique is reverse dive bomb. As you can guess it goes in the opposite direction to the standard dive bomb. You will need to push the whammy bar away from the fretboard which will raise the pitch of the sound.
3. BEST Bridge for Dive Bombs?
This techniques works best when using a locking bridge system with a floating tremolo, such as a Floyde rose bridge system.
The locking tremolo whammy bar is very helpful in preventing the strings from going out of tune (which is a common problem). This is because as you press on the whammy bar alters the tension of the strings.
This altering of the neck tension can affect the balance of the neck with can cause a string to flatten or sharpen slightly. As well as the loose strings can cause string slippage.
4. When is this best used?
It is usually used for emphasizing the transition between song parts, especially in solo parts. Which create a build upto the next section.
They also be used to add effect and generally make a guitar section sound more interesting.
The most recognized talents can be counted for Jimi Hendrix, Dave Murray, Herman Li, Eddie Van Halen, Brian May, Joe Satriani and Tom Scholz of Boston.
5. Common Misunderstandings when doing Dive Bombs
- Dive bomb technique is not something created by “wah-wah” pedal, as many people can mistakenly think so. The pedal is used to simulate the noise remaining at the same level until we return this tool back to the starting position or turn it off. While in the dive bomb technique, we actually deal with the dropping pitch instead.
- Do not pull the whammy bar too fast because it can make the guitar go out of tune, or in some cases, break a string. Remember that the Floyd Rose has already put a consider amount of pressure on your strings, and all you need to do more is just slowly pull the whammy bar when doing dive bomb to avoid both damages and unwanted noises. Be patient and keep practicing until you find out at which speed it will produce the best sound.
6. Little Bit of History
Like many other things related to skills, there is not much clear information about how and by whom dive bomb technique is created, but it first marked its first steps in the 60s by an artist named Jimi Hendrix and James Marshall.
Hendrix (his born name is actually Johnny Allen Hendrix) who was considered as the father of this technique because of his contribution to its development. Jimi Hendrix was born in 1942, Seattle and labeled as one of the greatest guitarists in rock music’s history.
His talent in dive bomb technique gained him much reputation and earned him the passage to the Hall of Fame. In his famous performance “Star Spangled Banner”, he took the solo lasting approximately 1:29 minutes in dive bomb technique, which could not be easily mimicked by anyone at that time.
7. Famous Performers
Even though Jimi Hendrix is the one considered as the father of dive bomb technique, there are many other famous performers used it and improved it from the initial days. Some of these artists are Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani, whose names you may hear about many times as legend in this field.
Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen (or Edward Lodewijk van Halen in his born name), born in 1955 in Netherlands, is always regarded as one of the all-time greatest guitar players in rock history. When he was seven, his family moved to United State and settled in Pasadena, California and he became naturalized U.S. citizens since then. His first prize was actually won in piano instead of guitar, but his endless passion toward rock music led him to the electric guitar. Although he was not the one who created dive bomb technique, he had an enormous contribution to its popularity and development as well as reinvented its method of execution with his exceptional guitar skills. Eddie usually used dive bomb as an opening part for most of his solo performances and his “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” is highly recommended for your reference.
Joe Satriani (or Joseph Satriani in his born name), born in 1956 in New York of Italian descent, is counted for one of the best American rock musician, composer, songwriter, and guitar teacher ever. His students, such as Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Rick Hunolt, Kirk Hammett, Andy Timmons, Charlie Hunter, Kevin Cadogan, and Alex Skolnick were also as famous as their instructor. Joe Satriani is a 15-time Grammy Award nominee and has sold over 10 million albums, making him the best-selling instrumental rock guitarist of all time.
He was inspired to play guitar at age 14, after hearing of the death of Jimi Hendrix, who had an enormous impact to his dive bomb technique, and had significant contribution in the reinvention of this technique with his extremely precise and unique playing style, which is usually performed after verses and bridges. His performance of “Made of Tears” is highly recommended for your reference to fully understand his style.
Practice makes perfect! When performing the dive bomb the important thing to remember is take it steady and really listening to the bending notes. When done correctly the dive bomb is really a cool and worth technique as it adds flavor to your playing.
I hope that you can feel interesting and passionate with your playing path everyday, good luck!