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10 Songs That Use Floyd Rose Tremolos and Techniques

By Shawn Leonhardt for Guitar Tricks and 30 Day Singer

The Floyd Rose Tremolo is still used by guitarists who wish to have the ability to bend, flutter, warble, and aggressively change their pitch. (Watch out beginner guitar players!) However, the height of popularity was the hard rock and heavy metal guitar centric songs of the 80’s and 90’s. While there are many examples of songs and bands that use this locking vibrato arm setup, here are 10 songs that highlight the techniques of the Floyd Rose.

Cult of Personality by Living Colour 

This song has some great examples of all the techniques used on a Floyd Rose, and initially nothing too extreme. About a minute and a half into this politically charged tune we get some nice wails but in character for this funk metal style band.

However after the three-minute mark, guitarist Vernon Reid provides a perfect display of all the pivoting bridge has to offer. His playing becomes more frenetic as the second solo progresses and becomes an insane mix of vibrato, dive bombs and every guitar technique imaginable.

Satch Boogie by Joe Satriani

The Satch Boogie is Joe Satriani’s most famous piece with a well-known guitar solo. The song starts innocently enough with a blues like riff and a hard rocking sound, but it quickly dives into unique chord movements and techniques.

The song progressively gets more impressive with a mixture of picking styles and insane bending of the Floyd Rose. The song isn’t just a great example of the tremolo bar use, it is a study guide for any shredding, tapping, and how to be a master of the guitar fretboard. 

Limelight by Rush 

Rush wrote this song at a point of being disenchanted with fame, but it certainly doesn’t let the crowd down. And this was released in 1981 well before the Floyd Rose was known for being an 80’s shred machine. Alex Lifeson is the sole guitar player of Rush and excellent at handling the whammy bar for both rhythmic and lead aspects.

It is around the 2:40 mark that we see Lifeson start his solo that shows how great the Floyd Rose is. Granted compared to some other 80’s artists it is a little more subdued, as shred hadn’t become a thing. This song shows that the vibrato arm doesn’t always have to push limits to sound incredible.

Through the Fire and Flames by DragonForce 

This song came out in 2005 and is a great example of all the previous decades shredding wrapped up into one heavy piece. The guitar player Herman Li is known for teaching about the Floyd Rose, and this song is one of many showing he knows what he is talking about.

Unlike some of the other songs on this list there are no specific points that feature the Floyd Rose, the crazy pitch changes are kind of always occurring! He and fellow guitarist Sam Totman have some incredible solos and riffs in this fantasy-like heavy metal music.

Photograph by Def Leppard 

This 80’s hit has a nice mixture of arena pop rock with a nice shredding solo from Phil Collen. It’s the perfect amount of popular chord progressions with just a hint of aggressive pitch bending, another great example of the Floyd Rose helping both rhythm and lead parts.

It is at the 2:35 mark in this song that the vibrato arm gets the solo going but it is mixed in with regular playing. For those that feel the pitch bending can go too far at times, Def Leppard tunes have just the right amount!

Cemetery Gates by Pantera

Dimebag Darrell was not only a Floyd Rose user, but he is also often credited with making the squeal so popular. The squeal is made by hitting a harmonic node at the same time of pulling and pushing the tremolo arm, and Dimebag was a master at it.

The song starts out with some intense wails and pitch bends, but that is barely a hint of what is to come! DImebag uses many Floyd Rose techniques throughout the song and solo but it is at the end after the 5-minute mark that he plays insane voice to siren like squeals.

Sister Christian by Night Ranger 

Brad Gillis of Night Ranger was one of the earlier users of the Floyd Rose, so like Alex Lifeson he was playing before the shred era began. Night Ranger mixed more pop and arena rock in with their music like Journey and Def Leppard. So if you prefer light use of the vibrato arm this song may be more suitable.

The hard rocking part of the song is subdued for the first couple minutes before culminating in a heavier sound. It is around the 2:30 mark that we get a nice glimpse of the Floyd Rose in action!

Erotic Nightmares by Steve Vai

Steve Vai is a virtuoso guitar player that has a sound that mixes progressive and heavy metal genres. A good portion of all the songs he plays makes use of the Floyd Rose and its techniques, and this one is no exception.

Unlike some of the rock songs here this is another example of string and vibrato mastery the entire time. There is no one part that is heavy on the pitch bending and dive bombs, the whole song is worthy of study for any Floyd Rose player.

Dr. Feelgood by Mötley Crüe

Considering the song is about chemical use, it is no surprise they use the pitch bend to create a wavy like trippy effect in the song. Mick Mars was another guitarist known for his Floyd Rose techniques, and this classic has some great examples especially right around the 3-minute mark.

The only issue that arises with this song is that it is in Drop D tuning, and Floyd Rose players know that new tunings are not the same as regular guitars! However, the extra work was clearly worth it as this heavy and driving song is one of the most popular metal hits of the 80’s! 

Eruption by Van Halen

And of course this song ends the list! Van Halen in general has an entire catalog of music that depends upon the Floyd Rose. But of course the famous “Eruption” is the go-to example for insane pitch bends, vibrato, dive bombs, sweeps, shreds, and every guitar technique. In this song Eddie Van Halen is one of the greatest advertisers of the Floyd Rose Tremolo ever!

There are way more songs that use Floyd Rose Tremolo techniques, but these stand out historically and were very popular. If you listen closely to any progressive, hard rock, or heavy metal and you hear some extreme vibrato and pitch bending there is a good chance that the guitarist has a Floyd Rose equipped!

By Shawn Leonhardt for Guitar Tricks, the original platform for online guitar lessons