Floyd Rose vs Imitations
Many electric guitars these days have a Floyd Rose or imitation-Floyd Rose tremolo system installed. At a glance, they all resemble one another. At closer inspection, however, we begin to see some significant differences between them. So, whether you’re looking to purchase a guitar equipped with a Floyd Rose System or you’re in need of a Floyd Rose replacement, we’ll try to provide some assistance by taking a close look at the Floyd Rose and its imitations.
The Floyd Rose Tremolo is named after its inventor, who… is Floyd Rose! This tremolo system allows a player to manipulate the bridge to raise or lower the pitch of a string. The double-locking system clamps the strings at the nut and the bridge and will help to prevent the guitar from going out of tune while the tremolo is in use. It also balances the bridge on two posts so that it “floats.” When the bar is pulled up, the pitch of the string will rise. On the standard Fender Strat, the bar can only be pushed to lower the pitch.
Floyd Rose designed his system in the late ’70s after being dissatisfied with the performance of the standard tremolo systems standard of the time, such as the one on the Fender Strat. Once Rose’s design was perfected, he added other improvements such as “fine-tuning,” which allows players to tune their locked strings by turning special screws on the bridge.
By the mid-1980s the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo System was extremely popular. Its popularity was helped along by guitarists such as Steve Vai, Brad Gillis, and Joe Satriani, among others, who used the tremolo to invent entirely new ways to play the guitar. Guitar World magazine calls the Floyd Rose System one of the “10 Most Earth-Shaking Guitar Innovations.”
Floyd Rose Limitations
Because the bridge is floating, it can be very challenging to tune and may require many passes before arriving at a playable guitar. Tuning can be very frustrating in a live performance situation where a broken string can take a long time to change. There is also no chance of finishing the song before replacing the string as the guitar will immediately be out of tune. The Floyd Rose tuning stability issue was a more significant problem before the introduction of the electronic tuner and automatic string winders.
Bending is another aspect of guitar playing affected by the floating bridge. When string bending with a floating bridge, the bridge will raise and lower the pitch, which means much more work is required to reach a particular tone. More importantly, the pitch of the other strings will drop when we bend a string. So, if we bend one string while another is droning, we will hear the pitch drop. The floating bridge will affect all of our double-stop bends, etc.
The clamps will keep your guitar in tune even after wild whammy bar antics, but when the guitar does go out of tune or a string breaks, you will need to run for your tool bag. Because of the clamps at the nut and bridge, you’ll have to get out your Allen wrenches. Retrieving them can be a minor hassle if you don’t have them handy or if you’ve lost them.
Floyd Rose Models
Let’s take a look at some of the different models of the Floyd Rose Tremolo System.
Floyd Rose Original
As the name suggests, the Floyd Rose Original is the first design, and it was released in the early ’80s. The Original is still in use, and all other versions are modifications of it.
Floyd Rose 1000 and Floyd Rose Special
The Floyd Rose 1000 and Floyd Rose Special are the same as the Original, but have different names in different countries.
Floyd Rose Pro
The Floyd Rose Pro is a low-profile version of the Original. This model allows you to keep your hand closer to the strings when using the bar, and it uses a closer string spacing.
Floyd Rose Speedloader
The Floyd Rose Speedloader is based on the Original but uses a different string changing system — one that’s designed to reduce the amount of time it takes to change a string. The downside to this system is that it requires a particular type of string.
Fender Floyd Rose Bridge
The Fender Floyd Rose Bridge is a model designed to replace the standard Strat bridge. This drop-in replacement extends tuning stability to the Strat with very few modifications.
Ibanez Floyd Rose
Ibanez, along with several other companies, has licensed the rights to create their unique versions of the tremolo system and have come up with several, among them, the Zero Resistance. This tremolo system uses a ball bearing joint instead of the standard knife-edge to balance the bridge on, reducing friction and wear.
There are plenty of other Floyd Rose models, including drop-in replacements for a Tune-O-Matic bridge and seven-string guitars. The Floyd Rose remains as popular today as it did in the ’80s.
There are two kinds of imitations: licensed and unlicensed. Licensed reproductions, such as the ones made by Ibanez and Yamaha, can be of very high quality, on par with the original. Unlicensed models are much more likely to be of poor quality.
Cheap imitations are likely going to use substandard metals and tolerances when building their tremolo system. These inferior materials will manifest themselves quickly, with deteriorating knife edges, potting and corroding chrome, and locking nuts that bend. The soft bridge saddles will also be cut and promptly worn out by the strings. It’s possible that the string not sitting correctly on the saddle can affect your tone as well as reduce the life expectancy of the string.
All of the negatives aside, you can get many good years out of a poor quality Floyd Rose. If you are going to purchase a replacement, or are looking for a way to improve your tone, we recommend using the Original Floyd Rose.
Floyd Rose vs Imitations?
Winner = Floyd Rose Original!
If you’re looking to purchase a Floyd Rose, we recommend taking some time to look at all of the different models available before choosing. We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the Floyd Rose, and if you’ve found it helpful, please feel free to share this post on Facebook and Twitter. For more articles on guitar electronics, visit humbuckersoup.com.