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Fender Tremolo Opinions?


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I'm building a strat and I can't decide on the trem type. 6 screws or 2? I've head people say get the vintage one, but when I ask why they say "because it's vintage!" It seems like the two-point makes more sense (because, even though I've owned vintage bridges, I just can't understand how they work, pivoting on screws fully encircled by the bridge plate! Wouldn't it have to dent the body? Ugh... I can see it working, but either the wood or the bridge plate is bending, right? Neither sounds healthy) But I also don't understand why you would want saddles with offset intonation screws. What's your opinion?

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If you feel you can afford it, go for the high-end Wilkinson two-point system. It's the only standard whammy bar I really like, in terms of looks, feel, and stability, and it's fairly forgiving in install because only one of the two posts needs to be right on.

http://www.warmoth.com/hardware/bridges/br...idges_wilkinson

Well, that and the PRS one.

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I've recently purchased a Hipshot trem - seems similar to the wilkinson, but drops into standard post spacing/routes for an american standard strat. I think it looks nicer. Build quality seems spot on. I've only had it on a guitar long everything was going to mostly fit before I started spraying (finish is cuiring right now) so I didn't do a complete set up or anything - but playing it a bit, I'm liking it so far. Seems to have the same deal as the Wilkinson in that only one stud needs to be spot on, although you still want the other one fairly close to the right spot.

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I've recently purchased a Hipshot trem - seems similar to the wilkinson, but drops into standard post spacing/routes for an american standard strat. I think it looks nicer. Build quality seems spot on. I've only had it on a guitar long everything was going to mostly fit before I started spraying (finish is cuiring right now) so I didn't do a complete set up or anything - but playing it a bit, I'm liking it so far. Seems to have the same deal as the Wilkinson in that only one stud needs to be spot on, although you still want the other one fairly close to the right spot.

hipshot looks so much nicer than wilkison bridges. i am ordering the tremelo for my next project, and have the non trem on my first project-the pic is my proofile picture-

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I should qualify my endorsement of the Wilkinson-style trem by noting that I am NOT a traditionalist when it comes to looks on guitars. I don't like body shapes, headstock shapes, or parts that I feel are ubiquitous, overused, or just plain common.

Thus, I really like the look of the Wilkinson bridge because it's so unique. The performance is excellent too (first consideration of course) but the look isn't for everyone who wants a traditional Fender-style trem.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I'm building a strat and I can't decide on the trem type. 6 screws or 2? I've head people say get the vintage one, but when I ask why they say "because it's vintage!" It seems like the two-point makes more sense (because, even though I've owned vintage bridges, I just can't understand how they work, pivoting on screws fully encircled by the bridge plate! Wouldn't it have to dent the body? Ugh... I can see it working, but either the wood or the bridge plate is bending, right? Neither sounds healthy) But I also don't understand why you would want saddles with offset intonation screws. What's your opinion?

I'll try to describe the vintage tremolo without sounding like a total bore on the subject :D

All the screws do on a vintage tremolo is hold it in position, they do not secure it against the body. The front edge of the bridge plate is wedge shaped, the top is level, the underside is angled. Without the strings or springs in place and the bridge plate flat aginst the body the two outer screws are tightened only until they touch the bridge plate then back them off slightly, the centre four screws are left 1.6mm above the plate. The two outer screws form the pivot, the others are for stability.

Until the strings and springs are in place the bridge will flop around. Adjust the balance between the strings and springs until you have 3mm clearance between the rear of the bridge plate and the body. It's the balance between the springs and strings that secures the bridge but because none of the screws are tight the bridge can rock back and forth with the trem arm.

Does that make sense :D

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Take a look at Trem King tremolos at http://www.tremking.com and if you like what you see send me a PM.

Maybe we should start a separate thread with all the different vibrato options out there? It'd be nice to have an overview of what's available.

Meantime, I've been wondering for a while why it's not possible to modify an existing trem?

I think the tremking is right--it's nice to keep that bridge fixed and the saddles in place. But I keep wondering if all that routing and those long springs are absolutely necessary.

I keep looking at the trem assembly I have here (for the next guitar) and I keep thinking that it should be possible to add a pivot point to the tremblock itself. Maybe weld/screw on a piece --a roller of some sort-- that can be attached to the underside of the bridge plate. The bar still screws into the block, but the hole in the plate gets enlarged.

Then all that's needed is a means of adding a spring assembly -- using the existing screw holes in both the plate and the block--maybe some kind of piston type array? (I don't know what exists). Or simply small springs fastened to each part. One of the holes could potentially serve as a block or limiter.

With this kind of set up, the routing would be minimal. Intonation and saddle movement issues are resolved, since only the string moves (like the Trem King). The system could easily be adapted for a telecaster plate too.

Of course, if it were that simple, it probably would have been done...unless it already has?

Anyway, I seem to remember seeing a trem that replaced a wraparound style bridge (not the tail piece) on a TOM style guitar?

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Mick: you're describing one of the many cam-action trems out there (khaler, stetsbar - although the latter moves the entire bridge assembly in the horizontal plane, so no strings moving across the bridge unit, and it's probably what you're thinking of in terms of stud-mounted trems...). Minimal routing, only into the top, etc. Modifying an existing bridge is fine if you're a metalworker, and used to precision machining (you want smooth, clean movements, after all), the range won't be as huge as a dive-bomb routed floyd, making the existing cam action units look pleasantly affordable overall.

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That's right, I forgot about the Stetsbar...of course, I might have 'forgotten' it on purpose, given the price... It's also huge...I prefer the look of the Trem King on that score. The other systems, like the Kahler and Floyd Rose are similarly too obtrusive (for my taste that is). Anyway, I do think it'd be nice to have a separate thread with a gallery of all trem options.

For what it's worth, I like the idea of the string block --I think that chunk of steel definitely helps define the Strat sound (which I like).

Now I'm thinking that one way to go would be to fashion a second plate that attaches to the string block using the existing screw holes. The same screws can hold the spring/s. The added plate would contain the pivot point/roller which gets screwed into or welded onto the upper plate.

One advantage I can think of is that, by adding a plate/roller, it's possible to leave more wood beneath the front and back edges of the bridge --seems to me that wouldn't be a bad thing. This, because the roller or pivot point would drop the tone block down at least a couple of millimeters, but since the plate wouldn't extend beneath the entire bridge...well, you get the idea.

An added advantage--there's probably a way to retrofit this for a pre-existing guitar. A third advantage with the added plate is that you don't necessarily need to destroy an existing bridge while working up a prototype (although that's always fun to do too).

I know a couple of metalworkers/blacksmiths who could probably handle this kind of machining. Although I imagine there's someone in this forum who is capable of this too --anyone want to make a community effort out of it? I'll settle for free parts and a share of the millions in profits you'll generate from this device... :D

Edit: I'm not certain but I think this patent gobbledygook is describing something similar to what I'm suggesting?

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