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GregP

Current state of headless tremolo options...?

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So my current project ("nearing" completion which means a few more months at my current pace...) involves repurposing a Floyd Rose as a trem for a headless guitar. Anybody out there can tell you even before embarking on such a project that results will ALWAYS be sub-optimal if for no other reason than the lack of coarse tuners. But it was a fun project and I'm happy to be bringing it to completion.

However, my interest in headless guitars is re-sparked and I've done some digging around. After my current experiment completes, I am considering firing up a "proper" headless project. Headless units are hard to find. Not sure if I'm allowed to link to e-commerce sites (especially ones selling inexpensive Chinese hardware) so I'll skip for now and hope that vague descriptions suffice. Here are what I'm able to locate as of right now:

  1. original Steinbergers are hard to find. Their latest guitars aren't trem-based, so even repurposing (for example) a Synapse means no trem.
  2. MusicYo licensed stuff seems to be out of production and unavailable right now. This USED to be the go-to cheaper option
  3. Hohner has licensed stuff which MAY be available if you order directly from their European site. Cannot order directly from their U.S. site
  4. The ubiquitous "Overlord of Music" headless bridge is found on eBay and other sites; it is cheap and cheaply made, but could present a viable option for a non-deluxe headless guitar. Seems similar to Steinberger stuff, and has integrated spring in a large unit
  5. A less ubiquitous unit bearing a stamp "Licensed by KD patent" is constructed differently and is less aesthetically pleasing IMO, but features roller saddles (partly offsetting the problems with the Overlord's all-pot-metal construction). Not seemingly Steinberger-compatible, but similar in construction with integrated spring and trem-locking feature
  6. An even less ubiquitous unit bearing a stamp "Licensed by patents" is more Floyd-like, with knife edge and studs and a good ol' spring claw setup (rather than integrated spring). I THINK this one would require additional routing (it is a full rectangle rather than a fat T-looking thing like a Floyd rout) but could otherwise been seen as similar to a Floyd but with worm-gear coarse tuners instead of fine tuners. Very interesting-looking!
  7. An AMAZING-looking but expensive selection from Coherent Sound In Light (some of the Sophia bridges are headless-capable but don't seem to include a nut assembly). We're talking $350-500 (or more) USD for the bridge. But looks fantastic

I have experience with exactly zero of the above, and I'd be interesting in hearing more about the various options. Especially curious about #6 but I think I'd have to be able to provide a link so that users could say "Oh yeah, I've tried that one". Still curious about the Overlord of Music one because although it's expected to be a bit of a POS I'd like to know if it's at least "fine". I wouldn't want to install complete unworking garbage on a guitar (especially if it turned out to be a failed experiment) but I'm OK with "It does what it says on the tin."

Of course, if you have come across other headless *trem* options (non-trem are somewhat easier to source and there's less to worry about) I would be curious to hear about your findings!

Cheers!

 

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Hi Greg,

There is "Technology 4 Musicians" that sells bass and guitar headless bridges, but they are not cheap. See http://www.technologyformusicians.com/htbridge.php?lingua=2 for headless tremolo bridges.

They sell individual bridge saddles, fixed bridges (only 6 strings) and tremolo bridges (6/7/8).

Here are the prices (tremolo bridges):

CHROME: €240 (6 strings) | €265 (7 strings) | €290 (8 strings)
BLACK: €245 (6 strings) | €270 (7 strings) | €295 (8 strings)
GOLD: €250 (6 strings) | €275 (7 strings) | €300 (8 strings) 

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2 hours ago, GregP said:

The ubiquitous "Overlord of Music" headless bridge is found on eBay and other sites; it is cheap and cheaply made, but could present a viable option for a non-deluxe headless guitar. Seems similar to Steinberger stuff, and has integrated spring in a large unit

I believe this is a knockoff of the Steinberger trem used on their Spirit range of guitars. I see lots of people blanket panning these Overlord of Music bridges on the net sight unseen, but no real objective opinions on them, good or bad. Might be a good opportunity to buy one, install it and see exactly how it performs. I'm aware that @Andyjr1515 is using an OOM headless fixed bridge for his latest bass build, so maybe he has some insights?

 

2 hours ago, GregP said:

A less ubiquitous unit bearing a stamp "Licensed by KD patent" is constructed differently and is less aesthetically pleasing IMO, but features roller saddles (partly offsetting the problems with the Overlord's all-pot-metal construction). Not seemingly Steinberger-compatible, but similar in construction with integrated spring and trem-locking feature

One of my previous builds used the fixed version of this bridge, and despite the quirks and foibles, (some words on the subject here), it's actually not too bad. It won't win any awards for precision, looks or build quality, and I wouldn't want to use it on a premium build, but it's still a surprisingly serviceable unit. Whether this translates to the trem version is up for debate. Again, I see no rational argument for or against them floating around.

 

2 hours ago, GregP said:

An even less ubiquitous unit bearing a stamp "Licensed by patents" is more Floyd-like, with knife edge and studs and a good ol' spring claw setup (rather than integrated spring). I THINK this one would require additional routing (it is a full rectangle rather than a fat T-looking thing like a Floyd rout) but could otherwise been seen as similar to a Floyd but with worm-gear coarse tuners instead of fine tuners. Very interesting-looking!

Don't believe I've seen this one. Got a link?

 

2 hours ago, GregP said:

An AMAZING-looking but expensive selection from Coherent Sound In Light (some of the Sophia bridges are headless-capable but don't seem to include a nut assembly). We're talking $350-500 (or more) USD for the bridge. But looks fantastic

Have also seen this a couple of times. There's probably no reason why you couldn't just buy an aftermarket Schaller or Floyd locking nut to clamp the strings and tune up from slack using the bridge tuners. That's fundamentally no different to how the T4M or Strandberg hardware is strung up.

JCustom make some modernised versions of the Steinberger trem bridges. I believe they're the same ones that are used in the Keisel headless instruments. Headless USA sell them, but they're not cheap.

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Thanks for the reply, guys! Will check out that source.

I got a detail wrong (will update original post)-- the "licensed by KD patents" stamp actually appears on the knife-edge one as well, though I'm sure I've also seen it on the Steinberger-ISH ones. Here are some links even for some of the ones you know about, to hopefully clarify for other readers (here in a separate post in case I'm accidentally breaking any rules... also warning in advance to future readers that these links WILL expire some day...):

Ugly not-quite Steinberger-ish one: http://bit.ly/2sQN7ek (this one has just "Licensed by patents"

Less Ugly not-quite Steinberger-ish one: http://bit.ly/2s2EYrd

Nicely compact knife-edge one: http://bit.ly/2r40K8Z (well, the headpiece is kinda ugly... but I don't mind the bridge!)

You're right about the CSL bridge to a certain extent. Though I've discovered that by a headless guitar not "sharing" the tension up to a tuning post, you can have strings slipping with a cheap Floyd nut (mind you, if you're buying a Sophia, you're well past buying cheap parts). Some of the aftermarket headless nuts would do the trick, though, or a custom solution more like what Strandberg does. The Steinberger "string adapter" after a Floyd nut would also offer the necessary friction to prevent the slipping.

One of the cool things about "Less Ugly" and "Nicely compact" above is that they use a mechanism at the bridge that accepts the plain string end, so the ball is at the headpiece and requires no further "locking". But the tradeoff is that it's not truly a "locking" system anymore. As long as the "coarse" tuners are fairly fine and stiff it probably doesn't make a HUGE difference, though.

 

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Side note: some of my searching just brought me to Pinterest... which in turn revealed a whole new realm of weirdness and delight in the headless world. Ever hear of a Washburn Wonderbar? Also saw some sort of Floyd Rose-based monstrosity (for now, link here: http://ebay.to/2rSZFVu) ... there are a lot of really creative things out there.

 

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