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Saturday, December 8, 2012

THE ELECTRIC GUITAR BRIDGES: TREMOLO (PART 2/2)



CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1/2

On the first part of our article we focused our attention especially on Fender Tremolo Bridges, but also Gibson guitars featured a noticeable amount of technology through the years, starting from the Bigsby bridge, that we have already seen.

The first attempt of Gibson at producing a proprietary bridge resulted in the Gibson Vibrola, which basically was a Bigsby Clone, with all the mechanism set outside the guitar body, but through the first years of the '60s the company kept on developing the project, giving birth to the Gibson Vibrato
The Gibson Vibrato was mounted on some SG model (which at the time were still called Les Paul),   and consisted on a long tailpiece that ended at the bottom of the guitar, with a whammy bar mounted on its side; the excursion of the bar was very low and the unit didn't have much success, but it'considered a passage to the more famous Gibson Deluxe Vibrato, produced from 1963, which had more fortune.

The Gibson Deluxe Vibrato finished what the first Gibson Vibrato started: to create an efficient Tremolo Bridge alternative to the Fender standard. The Deluxe version was a shorter and more effective version of the first Gibson Vibrato, and was featured mainly on the semi-hollow models of the brand, while the Short Version (called Short Vibrola) was mainly featured on the solid body models. These bridges have been offered always as an optional on Gibson guitars, while on the Fender models, the two point Synchronized Tremolo became a standard, so now the classic Gibson guitars that features a non-fixed bridge are considered a valuable collector item.

While other brands tried to develop their own tremolo standard almost all of them failed to gain success, but between the end of the '70s and the beginning of the '80s a new kind of Tremolo Bridge gained worldwide exposition, becoming a new standard on most of the guitars played by the raising heavy metal bands of the time: the Floyd Rose.

The Floyd Rose tremolo system is an "extreme" version of the Fender Synchronized Tremolo, featuring an extended excursion that allows the player to perform dramatic pitch drops, generating effects such as the "dive bomb", while retaining the original tuning.
The "secret" lays on a locking plate on the head nut, tightened with a hex key to fix the strings at this point after tuning. This provides extra tuning stability, but as an unwanted side effect it also prevents further adjustment of the pitch using the machine heads.
To refine the tuning without unlocking the nut, the player can use the fine tuners provided as part of the bridge mechanism on all but the earliest units.
This unit has been brought to world success by bands as Iron Maiden and Van Halen, plus it's a standard used by numerous guitar heroes such as Steve Vai, and as today it's still featured on high end guitars of almost every manufacturer, with no modification from the original project.
Licensed Floyd Rose versions are available for lower price guitars, or some guitar manufacturer produced its own Floyd Rose "proprietary clone", such as the Ibanez Edge or the Steinberger TransTrem

CLICK HERE TO READ PART 1/2

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