What tremolo systems work well with (oblique) bends?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by spencerbk, Nov 1, 2005.

  1. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    I've had a Strat with a Wilkinson trem forever - but I like to do oblique false-pedal steel bends alot, and with the Strat the notes I'm holding always went sourly out of tune. I've leaned heavily on my Tele and 335 for the last several years, but I always miss having a bar ...

    I recently played a Jazzmaster reissue for the first time - and I loved it! Partly the pickups - but largely because for whatever reason, the guitar stayed in tune as I bent one note and held two down (and then I could use the vibrato bar on the chord). If the chord did go sour, it was slight enough that I could live with it. I suppose it is because the Jazzmaster trem is more "stiff" than what I've used before, but I can live with that.

    As a start to think about a future guitar (I get my master's degree in May and deserve to celebrate) - what types of tremolo systems could I consider that handle oblique bends better than what I'm used to?

    I suppose I should mention I'm really not looking for Van Halen style dive bombs or anything.
     
  2. Kevan

    Kevan Member

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    There are a lot of great trem systems out there, but the regular players (excuse the pun) are the Fender Standard, the Wilkinson, and the Floyd Rose. These are all great trems when placed in the hands of the right player. And depending on what you want your trem to feel like, you choose the right one.

    The key to any guitar with a trem is proper setup and maintenance. There's more going on with trem-equipped guitars, so you'll spend a little extra time taking care of it. Who here would be pissed because they have to hand-wash their Lamborghini as opposed to taking it to the automatic car wash? :D Me neither.

    There are a few devices available (and one coming VERY, VERY, VERY soon) that can help with tremolo stability and getting you closer to being in-tune when you want those oblique bends.

    The TremSetter from Hipshot is a spring-loaded device that applies pressure 'both ways', and is supposed to help keep your trem at a "zero" point. Setup properly, it can come really, really close. I've never had it pull one of my trems back in tune after a string break (not sure it can really handle returning a full 5th. LOL), but others have had some success. The thing that always drove me nuts was the detent, or notch, when I went to use my trem. Doesn't exactly facilitate a smooth use of the trem (up or down).

    There's something much like it from ESP Guitars, called the Arming Adjuster. It's basically a smaller version of the TremSetter, and presses against the inside face of the block (instead of that coat-hanger-like rod in one of the spring holes). This one's only been out for a little while. I haven't had a chance to test it yet, and probably won't: I don't enjoy drilling into my guitars. At all. Ever.

    Remember: the above two units are SPRING LOADED. That means they will more than likely affect the "feel" of your tremolo system.

    Now, there are several tremolo locking devices out there, but the only one that doesn't require drilling into your guitar is the Tremol-No. It's currently being produced and should be available any week now (sorry guys- that's as much info as I have right now). The Tremol-No allows you three modes to your trem-equipped guitar: Hardtail, Dive-Only and Full Floating. Of course, you can only have full-floating if your guitar was built that way to begin with; I'm not doing any Copperfield stuff here. LOL

    Since the Tremol-No is *not* spring-loaded, it won't change the "feel" of your trem. When it's unlocked, it'll feel just like your Strat always did.
    And unlike the spring-loaded devices, the Tremol-No is only 'on' when you turn it on/lock the thumbscrew(s).

    It'd be nice if you had a local friend or shop that had a couple of guitars with these devices in them to test (of course), but if not: figure out what features & benefits you most want, and pick the device that's right for you.

    If you have any questions about the Tremol-No, feel free to email me.
     
  3. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    Any of them that are set so that you can lower the pitch but NOT raise the pitch. If the trem is solid against the body with spring pressure you can use as much spring pressure as you need to keep the trem there when bending. Of course when you use the bar you will have to over come this stiff spring pressure. The trick for you will be to find a compromise you can live with.
     
  4. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    Kevan -

    Thanks for the info. I've read hype of the Tremol-no on other boards and I think it may be a nice option for my aforementioned strat.

    In terms of the "next guitar" - I think I may experiment with trems like 908SSP is suggesting so I can have an "always on" tremolo that lets me do the bending I want, like my brief Jazzmaster experience. However, I hadn't considered that "any" tremolo could be set up like this ... so thanks for planting that idea.
     
  5. Kevan

    Kevan Member

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    Spencer- you're very welcome.

    I probably should have mentioned the "5-springs and crank the claw" method that Alex did. :D
    For some folks, that method works fine. I always had trouble breaking trem bars when going that way.

    We'll get your Strat hooked up ASAP, and good luck on the rest of your quest.
     
  6. 85db

    85db Member

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    Kevan,

    Thanks for the useful info.

    >>The TremSetter from Hipshot... The thing that always drove me nuts was the detent, or notch,>>

    When you say "detent or notch" do you refer to something introduced by the TremSetter?

    >>There's something much like it from ESP Guitars, called the Arming Adjuster.... I don't enjoy drilling into my guitars.>>

    I thought that TremSetter requires drilling as well.
     
  7. Kevan

    Kevan Member

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    You're very welcome.
    Yes. The detent/notch isn't there normally. The TremSetter is adjustable from "very light", to "very heavy". In order to hold the trem in postion for most oblique bend-type stuff and recovery from a string break, the detent/notch becomes very noticable. There are other factors involved in that as well- string gauge, spring selection/number, etc.
    I should have clarified that in my first post:
    Both the TremSetter and the Arming Adjuster require drilling into (and/or routing of) the guitar.
     
  8. HHB

    HHB Member

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    can't you just add a spring or tighten the claw a little on the strat? I've used that approach for years and have both trem bar and in tune bends, here's a Wilkie set flat to the top of a Hamer Mirage, stays in tune perfectly

    http://www.bigblockdodge.com/Wang Bar Jam.mp3
     
  9. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I have a G&L Legacy. There's nothing I can do with its whammy to throw it out of tune. I played another Legacy that was the same way. They're way more stable than any Strat I've ever owned.
     
  10. HHB

    HHB Member

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    the Legacy is float only, no in tune country bends, but a great trem indeed
     
  11. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I don't notice other strings going out when I bend. I had a guitar with a Floyd that was terrible for that, but it's not a problem with the G&L.
     
  12. Kevan

    Kevan Member

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    There are a lot of variables going on with trem-equipped guitars, and specific performance success depends on the setup of that particular guitar.

    -Some guys like a very light trem, which is very responsive. Conversely, when you bend one string, the rest go flat.
    -Some guys like a firmer trem feel. Those aren't as touchy, and can sometimes hold a trem in position to pull off in-tune double stops.

    The descriptions above can apply to both dive-only and full floaters (those G&L trems sure are nice. heh heh).

    It really depends on the player, the playing style, and the setup of the guitar.
     

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