In the mid 1950s, Leo Fender and his crew spent countless hours on the design and manufacture of their revolutionary new Stratocaster tremolo bridge. And in the 60-plus years since its introduction it has, in many cases, been taken for granted when it comes to a guitar’s tone and playability.
With their new high-quality replacement Strat bridge, Killer Guitar Components of Gloucester, Massachusetts, seeks to highlight the difference that quality materials and precision machining can make in a guitar’s tone.
The KGC Killer Trem replacement Strat tremolo system features a ton of components milled from solid high-quality brass stock, including bridge plate, saddles, saddle intonation screws, mounting screws, and even the spring claw. The bridge plate is milled of solid brass block (rather than your typical bent steel) and has heavy chrome plating as well as a precision bevel cut for perfect zero-point return.
The block is made of solid aircraft-grade aluminum and features KGC’s Flop-Stop tremolo arm system and a stainless-steel screw-in tremolo arm. KGC’s system allows the player simply to screw in the arm and position it right where they want it without dealing with it flopping around or contending with that tiny trem arm spring or set screw that keeps loosening up. In addition, the solid-brass saddles feature stainless-steel height-adjustment screws that don’t dig into your hands when palm muting, as well as solid-brass intonation adjustment screws.
We installed the KGC Killer Trem into a late-model ’50s-reissue Strat. The installation took 75 minutes, including the setup and string change. We were immediately impressed with not only how well all the components fit into the guitar but how well they were finished – super-precise machining, no burrs or sharp edges, and nice high-gloss deep-chrome plating.
And all of that high-quality brass rang like a bell. Coupled with the smoothness added by the aluminum block, it made for an abundance of sweet, warm overtones and sustain both acoustically and with the guitar plugged in. The Killer Trem’s precision machining allowed it to operate very smoothly with a great feel and offered great tuning stability, even with repeated use.
Whether you are building your own Frankenstrat or just want to unlock the tone and playability potential of your favorite Strat, the KGC Killer Trem could be a key piece of the puzzle.
This article originally appeared in VG May 2016 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.