Choosing the right type of bridge for your electric guitar is an important decision. The vintage-style Fender Synchronised tremolo and Floyd Rose are both great options, but which is the best? In this article I’ll be discussing all their pros and cons and comparing them head-to-head so you can decide which bridge is the most suitable.
The Quick Answer
Floyd Rose bridges lock the strings in two places (the bridge and nut), which improves tuning stability and makes it more suitable for dramatic tremolo arm movements compared to the Fender vintage-style synchronised tremolo. However, the Fender tremolo makes it easier and faster to change the strings.
|Fender Vintage-Style Tremolo||Floyd Rose Bridge|
|Arguably more resonant and has better sustain||Better tuning stability|
|Suited to subtle vibrato effects||Designed for dramatic tremolo arm usage|
|Quicker to change the strings||More complicated to change the strings|
|Found on most Fender and Squier Stratocasters||Seen on a variety of guitars including Ibanez, Jackson, ESP etc.|
Fender Vintage-Style Synchronised Tremolo
The Fender Vintage-Style Synchronised Tremolo bridge was first introduced in 1954 on the Stratocaster electric guitar. This was designed to achieve subtle vibrato effects by adjusting the pitch down. If you want to adjust the pitch up and down with a Fender tremolo then you’ll need to float it.
Check out this YouTube video to hear the difference between a floating vs non-floating Fender tremolo and how to adjust it.
How Does a Fender Tremolo Work?
- Attaches to the body using either 2 or 6 screws.
- The saddle positions are altered individually by screws on the back to adjust the intonation.
- The height of the bridge is adjusted using the screws on the side allowing the action to be adjusted.
- The strings go through to the sustain block in the cavity of the guitar and come out of the holes in the saddle.
- The tension of the strings is controlled by the strings in the cavity.
There are two main types of Fender synchronised tremolo: 2-point and 6-point.
Six-point tremolos came first and are arguably more resonant, whereas 2-point tremolos are seen on more modern Stratocaster models and are easier to set up and adjust. The 2-point tremolo is more responsive and sensitive compared to the tenser 6-point tremolo system.
Check out my comparison of 2 and 6 point tremolo bridges to learn about their advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and Cons of Fender Tremolo Bridges
|Clean looking design||Needs to be floated to adjust the pitch up and down|
|Easier to change strings compared to a Floyd Rose||Lack of tuning stability when using the tremolo arm dramatically|
|More simplistic design is easier to adjust and set-up than a Floyd Rose||The 6-point tremolo is stiff and not very responsive|
Floyd Rose Bridge
The Floyd Rose Double Locking Floating Tremolo bridge was first introduced in 1976. It works similarly to a Fender tremolo bridge however, the Floyd Rose allows you to lock the strings at two points on the guitar: the bridge and nut.
The strings are inserted into the bridge’s locking saddles and then fixed into place at the back of the bridge. The locking nut has 3 metal plates which secure the strings in pairs.
In order to tune the guitar without issues, you’ll need to tune the strings in the following order: low E, high E, A, B, D, and finally G, so you are essentially tuning the outside strings first and working your way in.
The advantage of having such a secure tremolo system means that the tremolo arm can be moved more wildly to achieve dramatic effects such as “divebombs” as popularised by Eddie Van Halen.
Pros and Cons of Floyd Rose Bridges
|Double locking design keeps the strings in tune more||Harder and more time-consuming to change the strings|
|Well-suited to dramatic effects e.g. divebombs||Complicated to adjust and set-up|
|Seen on a variety of guitars and easily purchased after-market||Less sustain and resonance compared to other bridge types|
Now we know the basics about both bridge types, let’s compare them in the following categories:
- Tremolo Effects
- Tuning Stability
- Changing Strings
If you want to use the whammy bar (tremolo arm) more aggressively then you are much better off with a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge instead of a vintage-style Fender tremolo bridge.
Fender tremolos were originally designed to achieve subtle vibrato effects by pushing down on the tremolo to adjust the pitch down. You can float your Fender tremolo to allow you to adjust the pitch upwards as well, but it’s not possible to use it very aggressively without it going out of tune.
That’s why you’ll often see metal guitar players with Floyd Rose bridges as it allows them to create dramatic effects similarly to players such as Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen.
Check out this YouTube video to see some cool tricks you can do with a Floyd Rose.
Floyd Rose bridges keep the guitar in tune more compared to Fender tremolo bridges. The Floyd Rose system has a locking nut which means that the strings are locked in place at two points to ensure the guitar will return to pitch even when the tremolo arm has been used aggressively.
The Fender synchronised tremolo relies on the regular bone/ plastic nut to keep the strings in place and this is inferior compared to the Floyd Rose’s design.
However, unless you’re doing wild moves on your whammy bar, both bridges should keep the guitars in tune very well. It’s only when you get into more extreme territories that you’ll benefit more from the Floyd Rose.
It takes longer to change the strings on a Floyd Rose bridge compared to a Fender Tremolo bridge, but only by a few minutes if an experienced guitar tech is doing the process.
Both types of bridge make string changes more complicated and time-consuming compared to hardtail bridges so beginners usually struggle with the process and guitar techs often charge slightly more to change the strings on a floating bridge.
The idea that one bridge type sounds better than another is definitely up for debate, and as with most things tone-related, it’s personal preference. Some players find that Fender Tremolo bridges have a bit more resonance compared to Floyd Rose bridges. This is usually more noticeable when comparing a 6-point Fender tremolo to a Floyd rose.
Floyd Rose bridges look a lot more aggressive and take much more space up on the body of the guitar compared to Fender Tremolo bridges. Some players aren’t a fan of having so much metal on the nut and bridge as it does make the guitar look like it’s designed more for metal. However, some players love the aggressive look that a Floyd Rose gives their guitar. It’s all personal preference!
Which Guitars Have Floyd Rose Bridges?
Here is a list of Fender and Squier Stratocaster guitars which have a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge:
- Fender Player Floyd Rose
- Fender American Ultra Luxe Floyd Rose
- Fender Tom Morello
- Fender Dave Murray
- Squier Contemporary
Here are some other guitar brands which also use a Floyd Rose on some of their models:
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