Trem King Ridgewood NY

The beauty of the Trem King is that it delivers the main advantage of a floating bridge—namely, the ability to encircle anote with vibrato that moves below and above the centerpitch—without the notorious mechanical headaches that accompany mostfloating bridges and other vibrato setups.

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Trem King TK-1 and TK-2

If you thought building a better mousetrap was hard, try reinventingthe whammy bar. It’s not a challenge many entrepreneurs have the guts,brains, and vision to take on, but Canada’s Sheldon Lavineway—whobrought you the split-block dual-trem bridge known as the DoubleWhammy—seems obsessed with evolving the wiggle stick. His passion haspaid off, because his latest creation, the Trem King TK-1 ($159retail/$129 street), is one of the more innovative re-imaginings of thevibrato system since the introduction of the Floyd Rose locking tremthree decades ago. The beauty of the Trem King is that it delivers themain advantage of a floating bridge—namely, the ability to encircle anote with vibrato that moves below and above the centerpitch—without the notorious mechanical headaches that accompany mostfloating bridges and other vibrato setups.

For example, as is not the case with fulcrum trems, you can lean or even pound your picking hand on the Trem King bridge, and, because its bridge plate is affixed to the body with screws, the saddles will never tilt, and the strings won’t go sharp. Nice. The genius of the Trem King is that its only moving part is the trem block. (The strings load through it, and wrap around its rounded upper edge as they head to the saddles.) Yank on the TK’s unique Grip Tip vibrato arm, and the block swivels below the plate via sealed bearings. As the tension changes, the strings slide with pedal- steel-like grace over custom low-friction Graph Tech saddle pins. Even dual-tension floating-bridge setups (trems with a Hipshot Tremsetter, Ibanez Zero Point System, or other supplemental spring device in place) can’t come close to this level of bridge stability.

Speaking of the dual-tension approach, it’s through the same physics that the Trem King’s block remains immobile until the bar is engaged. As a downward bar bend is released, two springs pull the block back to center. At all other times—with the exception of upward bar bends—one of those springs has an additional function: It pulls on a crossbar that rests against the block and holds it stationary when the string tension is increased during standard bends. This is great, because it means oblique bends stay in tune. (Yup—like on a Les Paul or a Telecaster, a fretting-hand bend on one string won’t pull a stationary note on another flat.) Similarly, the Trem King lets you tune the low string down a whole-step for dropped-D tuning without having to retune all the other strings. It’s pretty cool to be able do this stuff on a floating system!

Wang bar extremists should know that the Trem King is not particularly suited for huge dive bombs, soaring Vai-style squeals, or Jeff Beck-approved floating-bridge gurgles, as it simply doesn’t have the pitch range and specific mechanical quirks such antics require. In fact, I found that during absurdly violent torture tests, it was possible to actually cause a spring to shake loose on the Trem King (which, for the record, is something that ca...

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