Why a vintage 6-hole trem?

heydenkm

Active member
Messages
30
I'd really like to know what the advantages are of the 6-hole trems.  I understand the reasons people buy Floyds--tuning stability for radical use due to the locks at both ends of the string.  I understand the application of the the Wilky/Fender 2-point trems--better tuning stability for light use due to low friction at two knife-edge contacts.  I understand fixed bridges offer a rigid connection to the body allowing for good transfer of vibration and improved sustain.

I don't understand the benefits of the 6-hole trem.  I have read that the six contact points, where two flat surfaces are interfacing, cause friction that CAN make the trem stick slightly off pitch.  My understanding was that this was the reason Fender started using the 2-point trems.  Isn't even the mere potential that you could have tuning issues reason enough to go with a 2-point system?

Yet these trems are still actively used in new guitars.  Callaham is even making a pretty penny selling some nice ones.  Is it just the "mojo" factor--the retro coolness of it?  I am sure that many users will say the tone of them is better because there is better vibration transfer through the six contacts.  Does that really offset the potential for tunining issues?  Is it just that they don't use the trem so they never run into tuning issues?  If this is the case, why not just go to a fixed bridge?

I have been a Floyd guy for years.  The first guitar I had--a Heritage from Sears--had a 6-hole trem.  When I won a Japanese Fender Strat in high school that had a 2-point trem, it seemed like a great upgrade to me and I never went back.  I started using Floyds in college and for the music I was playing at the time they seemed to be a necessary and useful addition.  Now that I am older, I find myself more into country and (what some might call) oldies and a more classic bridge would be plenty for me.

Should I just stick with the Wilky or Fender 2-point trem or is the 6-hole really a better alternative?  Do most users set them up to float or are the tight down to the body?  I find that if I want to add subtle vibrato or something with the trem, having it screwed down makes it more difficult to grab the bar and give it a wiggle.  I don't think that I am ready to go fixed bridge yet, so I need to figure out which trem would make the most sense.  I'd like to order a body sometime soon.  I have a pickguard filled with Fralin Blues Specials just sitting in a box and I can't wait to try them.

Thanks for any guidance you can provide.
 

MUYFUE

Senior member
Messages
881
My overall preference is the Floyd, but for Strats, I take the Wilkinsons over the 6 point trem. For me it's an issue of what the bridge is 'rocking' on. With the 6 point trem, its resting on the sides of screws, but with the Wilki it has a sharpened pivot.

My vote is the Wilki, but a LOT of folks here prefer the Vinatge 6 point design, especially the Callaham one. I'd look at their site. http://www.callahamguitars.com/bridges.htm. It's designed very well.

Pretty soon, some of the guys and gals who love the 6 point design should chime in with their experience. 
 

heydenkm

Active member
Messages
30
Superlizard said:
Why a vintage 6-hole trem?

For superior Strat tone.

Can you elaborate why it is superior?  Do you have the tuning issues that are possible?  Given the variability of 6-hole trems, do some sound better than others and what are the characteristics that contribute to the superior tone?  Are stamped saddles better or worse?  Do you need to have a larger trem block?  Is this just a "vintage is better" kind of thing--if you want to get the traditional Strat sound, you need to have a traditional bridge?  If that's the case, probably my overwound Fralin's wouldn't apply.

Do you tighten the springs to put the trem onto the body?
 

NLD09

Senior member
Messages
719
here's another good question. If the 6 screw trem is better as far as sustain and all that, then where would the wilkinson 5+1 system fit into all of this? maybe it's the best middle ground.


however i find the sustain on my wilkinson to be much better than my vintage strat style, and the tuning stability is extremely superior. however other factors like tuners could be an issue as well.
 

MUYFUE

Senior member
Messages
881
I agree that the tuning stability on the Wilki is very reliable. I do have locking Schallers on it too...

My other strat has the regular stock trem and tuners and it goes out of tune more often.
 

Superlizard

Senior member
Messages
2,514
heydenkm said:
Superlizard said:
Why a vintage 6-hole trem?

For superior Strat tone.

Can you elaborate why it is superior?  Do you have the tuning issues that are possible?  Given the variability of 6-hole trems, do some sound better than others and what are the characteristics that contribute to the superior tone?  Are stamped saddles better or worse?  Do you need to have a larger trem block?  Is this just a "vintage is better" kind of thing--if you want to get the traditional Strat sound, you need to have a traditional bridge?  If that's the case, probably my overwound Fralin's wouldn't apply.

Do you tighten the springs to put the trem onto the body?

A good Strat will "krang" when you hit a chord.  You know, you hit a chord and it krangs or bites just right.  It cuts with treble, but is never harsh.

IMO, the 6-hole with the stamped saddles gives that schweet Strat "krang" on the top end.

The American Standard Strat-type block saddles (regardless of manufacturer) impart a harsh, thin "ping" on the top end.

Overall, I'd say the saddles play a huge factor with a particular trem's tone; moreso than the number of mounting screws (whether 6 or 2) ... (as well and is commonly known, the block affects sustain).

I have a Callaham 6 holer in one Strat (Warmoth), and Callaham retrofit replacement parts (saddles, block and arm) for my Am Std Strat 2-point trem on another Strat (Fender body, Warmoth neck).  Callaham parts are by far the best I've purchased; both in tone quality and in machining quality.

I have both of mine set to "float" - I can pull up a tone with each.  This raises the action some, but I prefer some space under the strings for better facilitation of bending and vibrato.  They do go out of tune with heavier use, but no more than say a semi-tone outta whack... this doesn't bother me.
 

heydenkm

Active member
Messages
30
Sounds like your 2-point trem with Callaham saddles is pretty similar to the new American Standards with the stamped saddles.  Are those the "best of both worlds"?  Fender claims to have made some other improvements to the block and other parts of the trem, too.

Still interested to know if most 6-hole trems are set up to float or tightened down to the body.

With regard to the Wilky, I had two in two different Carvins.  One was a Fishman Wilky and I found it kind of wimpy and not overly stable.  The other was retrofitted before I bought it to a Stew Mac/Gotoh Wilky (VS-100, or whatever).  That one was pretty sweet.  It was always pretty stable (even though I never really tried to get carried away with it) and some of the design improvements on it made it feel more substantial.  The arm actually screwed in--the bottom was internally threaded--and that made it feel less wiggly.  I was thinking that I might go with another Gotoh, but I do like the look of those new Am Std. trems.  If the stamped saddles are really better, that might be a good choice.
 

blue313

Senior member
Messages
2,824
heydenkm said:
Still interested to know if most 6-hole trems are set up to float or tightened down to the body.
Most of the ones Ive seen have been tightened down, or had 5 springs and were tightened down.  Mostly due to the easy alternate tuning ability and overall stability of the pseudo hardtail. (Either that or they lost the bar and are too lazy to get another  :laughing7: ).    A proper floating setup will give you about a half to a whole step of up pull.
 

jeffgtr

Active member
Messages
46
Or,one thing not mentioned here- the 6-hole trem used on the PRS. Fantastic feel and sound to those. Slightly modified from the "classic" strat 6-hole, in how the edge/surface is where it is screwed on, though.
I've grabbed one of these trems up for use in a future build of my own,after trying one on a PRS.
Ive got both Floyd's and strat- 6-holer's- apples and oranges,really. Not much point in trying to compare them.
As for any advantage? apart from tuning stability, I think it just comes down to a player's preference for feel,etc.
 

rockskate4x

Senior member
Messages
1,601
Am I the only one who noticed that superlizard likes to use the word KRANG when describing vintage amp designs, trems, etc?
 

nathan a

Senior member
Messages
1,836
I like the vintage 6 hole trems, tightened down with 3 to 5 springs. I don't use my trem very much, so I don't want it to ever move without my instruction, and when I do use it, I want to have to WORK at it! I like the stiffness, oddly enough. And yeah I do like the look, too.
 

stubhead

Senior member
Messages
4,669
I would be pretty bothered if my guitar went a semi-tone out of tune when I use the bar - that's one whole fret. :icon_scratch:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semitone
As a matter of fact, a lot of people can notice intervals like that. Maybe enough krang makes up for it.... :eek:ccasion14:

All the things that make up a vintage Strat are why it sounds the way it does. Jeff Beck gets fantastic results with his modern, two-point American Standard, with the blocky, bad, thick solid-steel saddles, I guess he doesn't spend enough time on the forums to learn he's supposed to suck with it. IMO, he's the only person who should be issued a license to whammy.... though Vai is getting a little better. And I like mine, I just don't inflict it on anyone except the cats.

If you're going to get serious about it, you do have to go over and over your scales, practicing whammying up and down precisely to specific notes on each string, and most people can't be troubled. It usually seems to detract from whatever a player was trying to do, just previous to grabbing the bar.... but they are fun. My fave semi-metallic guys Loomis & Petrucci both have uber-expensive signature models with whammies, but they never use them? Hendrix was notoriously out of tune, live gigs were... an adventurer.... There are a few setup tricks, but they mostly have to do with the nut, I think. Eric Johnson has even gone over his whammy-tuning tricks in interviews, but he goes out of tune every time he uses it. :icon_scratch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE80W5xYbTI

He's fine till he grabbed the bar, then he's out for the rest of the show.
 

jackthehack

Senior member
Messages
5,630
The Google ads added to that video playback are hilarious; too bad it's too late for Halloween, or you could order the official Jimi Hendrix Burgundy Velvet Jacket:

http://www.globalrebels.com/jimihendrix/BURGUNDY-VELVET-COAT/productinfo/HEO19004BG/

I may have to get one anyway....

They have a Fender section too:

http://www.globalrebels.com/fender/

...but you're only allowed to buy items if you're at least as gay as the model on that page...
 

-CB-

Senior member
Messages
5,427
I really dont think Leo and the boys at Fender (Freddie and George) ever envisioned using the "Fender Synchronized Tremolo" for shifting pitch more than about two steps.  Popular music just hadn't hit that evolutionary point at the inception of the feature.

Fender went to the knife edge probably for marketing reasons more than technical ones.  Something different, giving them a "one up" on the competition.  I dont use the whammy on my Strat at all, but do use the Bigsby I stuck on the ES-333 (the brown one).  No dive bombs, just a little bluesy wiggle from time to time.
 

Superlizard

Senior member
Messages
2,514
Or as they call it, the talent bar... just grab it and instant talent.   :icon_jokercolor:

I've heard that Fender created those crap zinc block Am Std trem saddles specifically for Jeff Beck; as his hand would get
cut up on the vintage saddles (he supposedly uses his hand "heel" at times besides the bar).  

Nevertheless, while an (and always) amazing player, his modern tone is a shadow of what it used to be.

Heavy use will get me in the "up-to-a-semitone-outta-tune" ballpark... then again, I don't yank the bar much unless I've had too much
Mountain Dew and feel like making noise.

Kinman (pickups) had a nice setup guide to *guarantee* 6-hole stay-in-tuneness as long as you just divebombed; unfortunately his site
requires a log-in now otherwise I would post link.  I'm sure I have it stashed away on my backup somewhere along with all my other info.
I have tried this particular setup, and I can say it does as advertised.  It involves tuning up a certain way and is a bit more elaborate than
just tuning to pitch and going.

No doubt though... if you need to wank and pull on the bar a lot, a 6-hole prolly ain't your best bet.  But if you want better Strat tone, it's the
only way to fly.
 

richship

Senior member
Messages
306
I like Jeff Beck's whammy move where he pulls of a string and grabs the bar briefly on the way up and lets go. I had wondered what that sound was before seeing him in Philly close up this year. As for tone, I'm pretty sure he's getting what he wants.

Kind of on-topic, has anyone tried roller saddles on a Strat?

Rich
 
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