This month I am happy to review the Super-Vee locking tremolo system.
By now most of you know that I’m the type of player that chooses gear primarily to fit the situation I’m in. If I’m in the studio and need a strat sound I’m going to get my favorite strat, and not some guitar that has splitting humbuckers, and I’m also the type of player that is more concerned with functionality over looks.
Now, I know there are two camps when the subject of vibrato systems on a strat comes up.
A) You are either in the traditional camp; which believes that the trem system that Leo came up with over 50 years ago works fine and it shouldn't’t be touched. Or
B) Playing styles have progressed and so should the trem system. It might be ok for vibrato effects, but you can’t dive bomb or do more extreme bends.
I agree with you both, and so did Floyd Rose when he came up with his solution back in the early 80’s. By locking the strings at the nut, and adding fine tuners on the bridge, this would give you the best of both world’s extreme dive bomb capabilities and tuning stability, right? Not right for many players.
The Floyd system doesn’t sound like a traditional trem, and you have to put your guitar through some major routing to install it. I have seen many guitars ruined because guys tried to install a Floyd system. It’s not easy and if you have never done one? It’s easier to just buy another guitar that has one in it already.
Now let’s fast forward to the 21st. Century, you would think in this day and age someone would come up with a trem system for guitar players that combines these two worlds, and doesn’t take a ton of skill and tools to install.
That’s what the guys at Super-Vee set out to do and I’m here to tell you that they have a wonderful product that should be your next purchase.
The Super-Vee system does three things that I believe make it so special.
1) The trem is a direct drop-in/ No routing is required.
2) It uses the best elements of the Floyd system/ locking nut, fine tuners, and tuning stability
3) It sounds like a traditional trem/ your vibrato and sustain is there
That is a huge deal... They have come up with a system that really does solve a problem for so many strat players.
The guys at Super-Vee really did their homework on this thing. It’s a well thought out system that comes in a decorated tin box with all the parts you need to install, great presentation.
The directions are well written and easy to understand at any skill level, but if you are still not sure?
The Super-Vee website is also very easy to navigate and there are many video tutorials.
Like I said, these guys have done their homework.
Instead of me reviewing one of their guitars that have the system on it, I wanted to install one for myself so I could see what it does on a guitar I know really well. So I installed the Super-Vee system on my favorite strat that I built.
The first thing that you will notice is that the bridge is very well made and it’s not as heavy as a Floyd, but it’s a bit heavier than a regular trem. This concerned me at first because Floyds sound thinner than a standard trem and I didn’t want to lose that in this guitar.
The second thing you will notice is the locking nut. This is by far the smartest part of the design. Most locking nuts are bolted at the weakest part of the neck, again making the neck weaker and not sustain.
The Super-Vee nut is still a standard nut with this cool fan piece that guides the strings more naturally to the tuner. The fan locks the strings from the sides after the string is already over the nut. The nut fit into the slot and is glued into place, just like any nut. Shims are provided just incase your nut slot is deeper, and the glue is included in the kit.
You may have to increase the neck angle slightly to compensate the new bridge, but Super-Vee provides you with a shim for that too.
When you remove your old bridge save the screws and the springs; because the Super-Vee is compatible and utilizes these same parts. This is nice because I don’t like new springs in my guitars, they take forever to break in.
The secret to this system is the patented “Pivot” technology. This is what allows the trem to react like a traditional trem. There are no parts or knife edges to wear out. (A.K.A. Floyd system) It also allows you to set the trem up flat or floated.
You do have to cut the ball ends of the strings, but it locks into the bridge differently, it uses a string lock bolt. Each bridge saddle is adjustable, not only for intonation, but for radius adjustments.
The whammy bar screws into place very nicely and the tension is adjustable on the block, a flat head screw driver is all that is needed.
The only minor complaint I have with the Super-Vee is the whammy bar itself. The bar is more of a Floyd style bar than a strat style bar. It sits a little high on the guitar and it’s shaped like a Floyd bar not a strat bar. If you are a traditional strat player, I think you would be put off a bit because it takes a little getting used too, because of the different shape and length of the bar.
If I can offer a suggestion? I would like to see a whammy bar option where you could choose between two different bars. One more traditional in shape and length, also with the plastic shield on the end, and the one they offer now. I had a bar that was the thickness of the Floyd bar but not as tall, and it felt more comfortable.
I have installed many Floyd systems in strat guitars and I can get it done in one full day. Some guys out there I’m sure are faster than me, but one day turn a round is not to shabby. The Super-Vee took me 40 minutes. That’s it!!!!!! From beginning to End!!!!!!
The glue really needed to sit for a couple of hours, but it bonded pretty well and I was able to string it up. The first thing you will notice is that the guitar acoustically is nice and even. The trem is smooth and sensitive. You don’t feel like your having to fight it.
When I plugged the guitar in, the first thing I wanted to check was the sustain. This guitar has nice long sustainable chords. I played clean and started strumming chords. All the chords rand out evenly, and the overall tone was punchier. The single notes rang out better than before and the vibrato effects were more evenly represented. That was an improvement from my standard trem.
Now I was ready to kick this thing into high gear and really start seeing what it can do. I was not disappointed. You have all the attributes of a Floyd system, but I have to say that you don’t get some of the things that some guitar players don’t like about the Floyd system. This system seems to add sustain to your guitar not take it away. It stays in tune great and they give you enough room on the fine tuners to drop the “E” down to “D”.
Please don’t take away from this review that the traditional trems or Floyd systems are not good, they fit a purpose and a function; but if you are looking to upgrade your strat and get more use out of it without having to cut into it? Then the Super-Vee is for you.
If you are not comfortable working on your guitar, but you still want a Super-Vee on your Axe? Send it to them, they offer factory installation and a turn a round time of three days, or take it to your local guitar shop. Most guys that do guitar repairs should be able to knock this out for you.
The guys at Super-Vee are good guys making a clever product. The company is still small enough where you can get that one-on-one interaction, they are all about their customer service.
If you are a traditionalist looking for added sustain and functionality? Or if you want more versatility out of your favorite strat; the Super-Vee tremolo system is one of those products that let’s you have your cake and eat it too.
You can buy direct from the Super-Vee website, a system costs: $229.99
(Prices vary depending on the radius of your guitars fretboard)
Go to www.super-vee.com for more information and while you’re there, check out my demo video, or visit their YouTube page.
Tony J. Pasko
©2009 Tony Pasko & Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email curt@RockHouseMethod.com