With his 1977 introduction of the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo, Floyd Rose, the man, revolutionized the guitar tremolo and added a new dimension to a guitar player’s arsenal of tricks and licks.
Over 25 years (and a million divebombs) later, he may be set to do it again, with the introduction of his Speedloader bridges.
Accompanied by Rose’s Speedloader strings (the only strings that work on Floyd Rose guitars), they form a system that allows for quick changes by eliminating the tuning keys, tools, and the need for a re-tune. The system also incorporates Rose’s TremStopper, which lets you block the trem with a simple turn of a screw.
Floyd Rose guitars have a headstock, but no tuners – just a nut that accepts the Speedloader string. Each has a bullet end (like Fender Super Bullets) that fits into the nut and the pivoting saddles. The strings are made with a tolerance of .002″ and cut to precise lengths. The company included an extra set of strings, so we experimented. They’re right; one person can change the whole set in less than one minute. In fact, we did it in 45 seconds.
After installation, one strum revealed the guitar needed only a slight fine-tuning. Still, we were impressed. Rose also offers a hardtail version of the Speedloader bridge for those who don’t use a tremolo but want the convenience of the quick change and tuning stability.
The Model One guitar we tested featured a double-cutaway poplar body with a nicely bursted three-tone finish, maple bolt-on neck with a 12″ radius rosewood fretboard, and a trio of balanced Gold Floyd Rose alnico single-coil pickups controlled via five-way switch and a master volume control. The guitar does not have a tone control.
Hardware includes a machined chrome Floyd Rose Speedloader tremolo bridge, black Dunlop straplocks, and recessed metal neckplate and tremolo spring cover.
The neck has a very comfortable, slim C shape, medium jumbo frets, a satin polyurethane finish, and a nut width of 1.65″. The headstock has a unique-but-elegant shape with a teardrop cutout in the middle, and a black paint job with a gold Floyd Rose Logo. We were enthused to see a headstock, even though the guitar doesn’t need it or use it. Still, it adds a visual symmetry and helps as a reference when playing. “Headless” guitars sometimes require a mental adjustment to play, because you have no stopping point at the end of the neck, which makes for a tendency for the hand to “fall off” the end of the neck.
The three single-coil pickups have black polepieces and are configured much like a Strat, though the bridge unit is not angled. Controls and pickups are mounted on a three-ply white/black/white pickguard with black mounting screws and a funky V groove running through it. The overall look is classic, but with modern look.
We tested the Rose through the Chicago Blues Box combo and a Crate V5212 combo. The guitar has a refined, slinky feel with low action, polished frets, and a clean setup.
Through the Blues Box, the pickups had a clean, crisp bell tone that was well-balanced in all five pickup positions and from string to string. The two out-of-phase positions were also nice, with a spacious sound that maintained good note separation – even with some overdrive. The pickups had plenty of gain through the overdrive channel of the Crate, very crunchy without being harsh, although a tone control would have been nice to mellow out the pickups for a more jazzy kind of tone. The single volume control tapered nicely, and is placed very well to do volume swells.
Overall, the Floyd Rose Redmond is meticulously crafted, has a well-balanced, excellent-sounding set of pickups, plays effortlessly, and of course has the best tremolo system out there.
Floyd Rose Redmond Model One
Features Speedloader Bridge, meticulous fit and finish, Gold model Floyd Rose pickups
Price $2,400 (retail).
Contact Floyd Rose Guitars, 6855 176th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052, phone (425) 861-7089, www.floydrose.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sep ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.