Some of us are more sexually demanding than others.   We demand more from our lovers than your average person.  We desire obedience, and often, employ hardware and other accessories to enforce it.

As a Stratocaster player, I can tell you one of the greatest features of it is the tremolo bridge.  (Which yes, is technically a vibrato system, and the vibrato on Fender's amps is technically tremolo, but…I'm just going with what they call it and PU-LEEZE, don't call it a whammy bar!)  If you don't understand vibrato systems for guitars, you can go here and bone up.  

Now, if you think about just how many people have used Fender Stratocasters over the past half a century or so, you'll think the tremolo bridge must be pretty damned good, right?  WRONG!   The tremolo bridge on Stratocasters is one big fucking headache!   Cool ass shit?  Yep.  Big fucking headache?  Yep.   Confusing you?  Maybe.

 

Tremolo systems come with inherent problems.  Just like lovers, they seem to have minds of their own.   The main problem being that once you pull the strings sharper or flatter using the tremolo arm, all you have to bring the strings back to pitch are 3-5 springs in the rear tremolo cavity (depending on model).  Not only that, but you're fighting against the friction of the strings sliding against the nut, the saddles, the string tree, etc.   (More on what can help those contact points in another episode.)  Now, unless you're one of those guitarists who make me want to throw things at you on stage because you don't seem to give a rat's ass one way or another if you're in tune might not care, but the rest of us DO!  Tremolo systems SUCK when it comes to bringing your guitar back to pitch after a dive, bend, or shimmy.

Not to mention, since the bridge is "floating" on springs, if you break a string, the entire guitar goes out of pitch.  You can't keep playing at all!

Over the years, solutions have come around.  Most notably the Floyd-Rose vibrato system, but it comes with its own sets of pluses and minuses.   I'm just here to discuss the Fender Stratocaster system.

Jerry Garcia loved the sound of a Strat he named "Alligator" that was given to him by Graham Nash but hated the inconsistency of the tremolo returning to pitch so much he nailed the bridge down to the body of the guitar.  (See photo above.)

You and I no longer have to go that far in keeping our lovers in line.  While I admire his firm hand, I still like my tremolo and want to keep using it.  I just want it to behave!  

The solution I found most agreeable to me is a little piece of bondage gear called a Tremol-No.  

A Tremol-No is a small device installed into the rear tremolo cavity of your Strat that allows or restricts her bridge's movement based on your wishes, all with the turn of a few thumbscrews (literally).

Setting one simply allows the tremolo bridge to float freely as it always has.

Setting two locks the bridge in place, basically giving you a hard-tail Strat, increasing sustain, making tuning easier (because the bridge isn't floating when you tighten or loosen strings), allowing the other strings to stay in pitch if you break one, and all the other benefits of a hard-tail compared with a tremolo bridge.

And setting three, which is my personal favorite.   Setting three puts the tremolo bridge in "dive only" mode.  The strings will pitch down, but not up.   This has some very distinct benefits.  

  1. You can still vibrato your guitar.   Down only, but if you want to pitch up, you can always do it from the fretboard (you can't go down on your fretboard (yeah, I said it)).
  2. When a string breaks, the other strings will still stay in pitch because the tremolo is locked from going any looser.
  3. Most importantly, in dive only mode, once you've tuned your guitar and dive, to bring the guitar back to almost perfect pitch (or at least where it was), you can give a slight tug on the tremolo arm until you feel it stop, thus bringing it back to the place it started!   

There are tremolo blocks and other such devices on the market, but when it comes to cost, ease of installation, number of settings, ease of switching between modes, and just the sheer "damn, it works" factor, I can't say enough about this little guy and recommend it to all Strat players who wish to keep their lovers submissive to their demands.

Category: Gear Porn