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Floyd Rose: Still The Best Tremolo Bridge System Ever?

by vaughn skow November 30, 2018 3 min read

Howdy fellow guitar guys and gals.  As is often the case, I will start this blog with a little trip back in history.  It was about 1980, and I decided I just flat HAD to have a guitar with a Floyd Rose, hey like I said, it was 1980!  In my little town in the middle of nowhere, no Floyds were to be found, so I call a music store on the east coast to see what was available.  They just got in a few Kramer's with Floyds, and the price was right.  One small issue: these were the Floys Rose models WITHOUT fine-tuners.  What the heck?  So I asked "does that mean I'd actually have to use an allen-wrench to loosen and re-tighten the locking nut every time I tuned the guitar?  The answer blew my mind:

Yes, but as long as you don't break a string, these guitars will easily make it through a set without needing to be tuned!

Say whaaaat?  Seemed to good to be true, but they offered to refund the full price, including all shipping, if it didn't work out.  And so, it was a below-zero day in December when the UPS truck delivered said guitar.  Unboxed from it's thousand-mile journey I plugged it in and ... yep, it was perfectly in tune.  A good start indeed!  Over the next few years I drug that guitar through every bar in the region, yanking on that wang bar like my life depended on it; and sure enough, except for the rare string-break ... she stayed amazingly in tune ... plus, it was sooo responsive.  It was heaven.

Fast-forward a decade,

I'm in Nashville making my living as an engineer/producer with no need for what I saw as an "80's guitar", and so I sold the Kramer.  As the years went by and I began playing more and more guitar, I kept trying every golly-gee-wizz trem that came out, and for the most part, I pretty much landed on either a standard vintage Fender bridge, or the Wilkinson VS-100 (when they were still US made).  But truth be told, neither could accomplish the nearly impossible feats a true Floyd can, no other trem can conger up the insane dive-bombs and horsie sounds and then return to perfect tune.  And so I bought another Kramer with a Floyd ... but wait, it wasn't REALLY a Floyd, it was a "licensed" Floyd.  UGG!  Total trash, never in tune.  Lesson learned: only a REAL Floyd Rose is worth having. 

Avoid Fake Lisensed Floy Rose

So when a US made Jackson Kelly with a true German made Floyd was offered to me at a great price I bit.  Excellent guitar, GREAT trem, but not realistic for every-day playing.

Jackson Kelly with GERMAN FLOYD ROSE

Earlier this year something wonderful happened.

A Fender Player Series HSS Floyd Rose Strat made it's way into my family.  This guitar has now sat next to the sofa for several months, played nearly every night for an hour or three.  I tune her once in a blue moon, and marvel at how it stays remarkably in tune through temp and humidity changes.  Plus the shear beauty of the floyd, truly no trem is so responsive and ... well ... perfect.  At this point I'll point out that the floyd on this guitar is a Floyd Rose "Special", but that does NOT mean it's not the real deal, the Special's are made of the same superior materials and to the same exact tolerances, but assembled in South Korea, not Germany.  It took nearly four decades for me to come back ... to a Floyd Rose.  Feels like home.

Fender Players Series HSS Floyd Rose

One last note: if the Floyd is the perfect trem, then that Player Series Strat may well be the perfect Strat!  Look for a blog on the Player Series soon!

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