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Seemingly ages ago when my friend Kevan told me he was working on a way to essentially make it possible to turn your tremolo on and off, I thought it was really neat. Honestly, I didn't expect anything to come of it, but I was excited nonetheless. Then one day he told me he had a working version of it. Prototypes were starting to appear in the hands of my fellow guitarists. People I knew were starting to give praise to the device. I was getting more intrigued. The idea is so simple it almost makes you feel stupid for not coming up with it, yet it is very refined and nicely put together. In a way, I'm not really surprised that no one has done this before. I mean, it's just common place that if you want a trem you buy a guitar equipped with one; if you want a fixed bridge, you buy that kind of guitar. Expecting to have both is blasphemy.
Now that I got the cheesy part out of the way, I'll get down to business.
I really wanted to try the "Standard" version of the Tremol-No™ for my lone floating bridge guitar. I was once a big fan of the Floyd Rose® variations, but as time went on I started playing far more chords than whammy dives, and my whammy equipped guitars started to sit. I slowly sold most of them aside from one of the prizes of my collection, the Ibanez® JEM2KDNA. Mine being one of 300 made, containing a mans blood in the paint, I couldn't part with it. I don't play it much either, sadly. It's kind of embarrassing being I'm hardly a collector but I own a guitar that retailed at $5,000 that does nothing more than look pretty. I just can't get much use out of the trem. Strumming chords with a hard picking attack causes some strange overtones as strings go slightly out of tune. Doing bends of course makes life miserable for tuning as well. Don't even think about alternate tunings without spending a few hours trying to set the guitar back up. So I'm left with a guitar that would play really nice, if only it weren't for the cumbersome bridge. Don't get me wrong, I still like to play with the trem now and then, but for maybe 95% of my playing, it gets in the way. That's where I'm hoping Kevan comes in...
I then locked the thing up. Without using much force (think hand tightening a bolt on your car) the unit locks down pretty tight. You can still move the trem, but you have to really try to do it. If you picked your guitar up with the bar it would likely go out of tune. This is just what I'd say is an average tightness though, you can tighten further by spending an extra 2 seconds with the screws. I didn't think much of things at first. Chords sounded a little brighter at first, which was pretty obvious... but I just wasn't too excited about things. It was just a feeling of indifference. So I put the guitar down until I could let my feelings settle and come back to give it a better test.
The real neat part was when I removed the lock screws from the nut of my guitar. Even more improvement in tone. Sustain moved up to the acceptable range (standard double-locking trem is unacceptable to me). Things got better from there when I went and messed with the tuning. Anything from a simple drop-D to any alternate tuning you want to think of. Just as simple as it would be with a true fixed-bridge. Pretty impressive.
So I'm not going to say that this is the greatest invention since tapped beer, but it is pretty cool. I can't say for sure, but I will probably keep my guitar in the locked position almost all of the time now. I will certainly be playing it more often now that it is more usable to me. If I build/buy another floating bridge guitar, I will be installing a Tremol-No™. Oh, and though I haven't tried it yet, I am pretty certain this will make string changes far easier and it should be a much more effective method of stabilizing the bridge than my trusty "dirty-sock-ol-no."
The text and images above are ©2005 Jay Ratkowski.
Used with written permission.
Patents #7,145,065 & 7,427,703
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