Some call it a whammy bar but the scientific term is tremolo system. These on board mechanical effect systems can be used to vibrate the pitch of a note or chord that has been played. “Dive Bomb” tremolo techniques have been popular in music since Hendrix, shredded away on stage at Woodstock and even back in the rock-a-billy era in the 1950’s. Artists like Edward Van Halen have made the tremolo system standard issue for soaring rock anthems. So who makes the best?
Manufacturers of guitar hardware such as tremolo systems have struggled for decades trying to design a system that allows for extreme use while retaining the proper tuning aspects of the entire guitar system. The strings stretch and relax, the tension is raised and lowered countless times during practice sessions and shows and each time the strings drop slightly out of tune. After a song or two the entire system needs to be reset and in some cases even have the bridge set with a strobe.
Today tremolo system manufacturers have taken into account every aspect of engineering, right down to the steel strings stretching and have calculated the most precise articulating system possible. Here is a list of the top 5 most advanced tremolo systems available today:
1. Fender BladeRunner – A basic tremolo system
2. Floyd Rose Double Locking – A very popular and more accurate system w/fine tuning
3. PRS – Paul Reed Smith makes very accurate yet expensive tremolo systems
4. Ibanez Edge-Zero – One of the most accurate and affordable systems available
5. Kahler – Very affordable and moderately accurate system
These tremolo systems cover a lot of ground when it comes to price and accuracy. Ultimately you will have to decide which system feels the best for your style and is most comfortable to work with. In a lot of cases the guitarist can compensate for slightly out of tune notes with a plethora of playing technique options. If you use the tremolo system a lot then you will want to focus on accuracy while light usage on a more affordable system will have a trade off of less accuracy.