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Blade Runner by Supervee; report from recent install

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by melodiusthunk, May 16, 2011.

  1. melodiusthunk

    melodiusthunk Bronzd & Supported Member Silver Supporting Member

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    I originally posted this under the effects, strings & things section, then realized it probably belongs here. My apologies if any are due.

    Just thought I would let people kow about my recent experience installing a blade runner Vibrato bridge onto what started out (several mods ago) as a 2010 American std strat. I have no affiliation with SuperVee, nor did anyone ask me to write this review, just thought I should pass along my experience for others contemplating a Strat bridge change

    The 2010 Fender trem block is a sintered amalgam of powdered steel & brass, whereas the blade runner block is FULL-SIZED and milled from a single billet of aluminum alloy and subsequently anodized. The string seats are also moved towards the rear of the block. A further innovation is to do away with the 2 post pivot, which is replaced by splitting the bridge into two pieces, joined by a flexible string of spring steel. The forward edge of the bride is securely screwed down onto the guitar, while the second, and largest part of the bridge is free to pivot about a line defined by the spring steel flexure. Simple, brilliant design!

    The end result of these two innovations are:

    1. In a word, the tonal improvements are just phenomenal, beyond what i could have expected. Tremendous in crease of sustain at all strings (I noticed this even before plugging in).
    2. Improved sensitivity & accuracy of vibrato action. Gone is any feeling of "clunkiness" that used to be the old norm.
    3. The guitar feels considerably lighter than before, yet provides much richer sustain and transmission of note harmonics. Woo Hoo! :dude

    Oh and I should not forget to add the Vibrato arm has an adjustable pivot tension, so you can have the tip right were you want it when you need it.

    Only minor nit was the use of black screws rather than chrome on the gold plated, but I realize this is a matter of personal taste; one could probably ask for chrome when ordering.

    Overall, i feel this upgrade was at least as significant to determining final tonality of this instrument as the choice to replace the stock fender pups with Fralin Unbucker + Blues Specials; maybe even more significant.

    From comments others have written concerning this and other aftermarket trem block upgrades, and now my own experience, it appears that the use of a full size, non-sintered block is critical to getting the best tone from a Strat, if one defines best by the presence of increased sustain and harmonic complexity.

    Can't say enough good things about the blade runner, so I am going to shut up now and go play my aks...
     
  2. SW33THAND5

    SW33THAND5 Member

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    thanks for the review


    i have been looking at those
     
  3. melodiusthunk

    melodiusthunk Bronzd & Supported Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks, despite a couple of really stupid typos, I hope the main point came across.

    Scott
     
  4. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Well it either increases sustain "OR" resonance but the string energy is the string energy, it either stays in the string ( sustain )or dissipates in the body ( resonance.)
     
  5. zul

    zul Supporting Member

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    I have given a couple of positive reviews regarding this vibrato unit and presently putting it through its paces live.

    It is difficult for me to ascertain as to which component contributes to the increase in volume and resonance between this unit and a trad strat bridge because there are too many different variables. The blade design itself might be the contributing factor, or maybe the front plate being in constant contact, perhaps mass of the block as oppossed to materials used. Point is we do not have an alternative block to compare it to presently. And until we do, it is difficult to assert that block composition is the defining variable. Hate to play devil's advocate to a unit I love, but just a thought.
     
  6. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    Theoretically, there could be a difference in energy lost as heat/friction.
     
  7. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Yes and a bendy bit of spring steel is likely the culprit of more of that that a traditional six screw. Add fatigue and this is probably no better than a two post .
     
  8. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Volume "OR" sustain not both if Physics means anything to you.
     
  9. zul

    zul Supporting Member

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    to Eagle1,

    I am trying to understand this a little better; with no sarcasm intended. Physics 'mean' something to me only in the fact that I certainly am not trying to 'disrespect' it or treat it callously. Am more than willing to be humbly corrected.

    I heard a volume increase when I changed to the bladerunner. That was easy to confirm in the studio. However, I also feel that the guitar vibrates and resonates a lot more too; only in the fact that I literally feel it vibrating a lot more againts my person and when I put my palm directly on the top. Certainly not scientific in any way. And my bandmembers more than agree when we play live. Rock and roll can be also be refreshingly unscientific. It also translates when I record and compare the lenght of the sustain of open and fretted notes. A little more scientific but not by much.

    Is it really increased sustain or merely the perception of if because of the increase in volume? And what about the relationship and difference between 'sustain' and 'resonance'? Philosophy major so laypersons explanation would be helpful.
     
  10. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Increased sustain requires the bridge to preserve the energy in the string and is usually achieved by greater mass at the bridge .This keeps more of the energy in the string by the fact that it is harder to resonate a higher mass object ,"BUT "this results in less resonance as more of the string energy is prevented from dissipating through the wood and is in turn reflected back along the string (increasing sustain.)
    Assuming you had a decent bridge before (which you did) it is actually impossible to create extra sting energy without hitting the string harder( It is a balanced trade off.)
    I'm not saying you don't prefer what you have now but your new bridge dose not defy the laws of physics .
     
  11. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    I wonder if, through time, the flat spring will fatigue and create problems?
     
  12. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Of course it will ,all springs fatigue.
     
  13. atquinn

    atquinn Supporting Member

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    Of course it will fatigue? Or of course it will fatigue and create problems?
    :D

    -Austin
     
  14. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    The should have replacement units ready or ship all trems with an extra spare set or two. Just like any pivot style trems, there are replacement posts/screws available.

    Having said that, there are many trem springs from the 50's that are still working fine.
     
  15. tiktok

    tiktok Supporting Member

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    Or at least no worse than they did in the 50's....
     
  16. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    This flat spring is subject to far more stress than any coiled spring would be.
     
  17. melodiusthunk

    melodiusthunk Bronzd & Supported Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Hmmm, not sure I agree with your physics here.:huh My understanding of resonance is that it is fundamentally in opposition to the idea of dissipation, which implies energy damping & absorption into heat.

    Mechanical resonance implies a frequency-selective transfer of energy from one body (the driving source) into another, followed by a relatively long (in comparison with the driving frequency(s)) period in which the resonant body "stores" the transferred energy, before feeding the stored energy back into the driving body. With resonant storage and feedback into the strings, both the vibration amplitude (volume) and the length of time before dissipation occurs (sustain) can increase. I would further expect that both effects would be highly dependent on the relation between the driving frequency (note pitch) and the various resonant frequencies associated with the vibrational modes that characterize the linear system response (determined by structure geometry, materials properties, and also critically upon the extent to which components in the assembly maintain intimate contact with each other). The resonant frequency of any single component will depend not only on its mass, but also on the material's inherent stiffness, usually expressed in terms of Poisson's ratio.

    But really, for about $120.00, one can perform a 100% reversible modification and just hear the difference. That was the main point I was trying to make in my first post.

    Yes the steel flexure may eventually fail, but probably long after a traditional 6 screw bridge has resulted in damage to the compressible wood body of the guitar?

    Scott
     
  18. melodiusthunk

    melodiusthunk Bronzd & Supported Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Originally posted by ZUL: "It is difficult for me to ascertain as to which component contributes to the increase in volume and resonance between this unit and a trad strat bridge because there are too many different variables."

    I agree, but also find it interesting that both Supervee and Full Contact Hardware have chosen aluminum as the preferred material for their blocks, tacking into the wind of what is perhaps considered conventional wisdom. From multiple positive reports of those using steel or brass blocks, I hypothesized that the most critical learning is to use a block machined from a solid billet, avoiding the use of sintered materials.

    I agree that my experience is hardly a fully controlled experiment to settle the question of what design aspects matter most; I am just won over by the improvements in sustain and trem controllability I observed after the swap.

    Scott :BluesBros
     
  19. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Like it or not the louder the instrument is acoustically the less it sustains .
    With electric instruments it is about a balance for tonal reasons and lets face it you can always turn it up.
     
  20. kevinhifi

    kevinhifi Member

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    Quick question for the OP or anyone else who has used a Bladerunner.

    How do you set the angle of the bridge? I like a full pull-up to give me a 1-1/2 step increase on the G-string, as is common practice. Is it preset, or is there a way to adjust it? Or do you still use the springs and claw to do that?
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2011

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