5 Best Floyd Rose Alternatives That Money Can Buy

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  • What is a floating bridge?
  • What if you don’t want to use a Floyd Rose bridge?
  • What if you don’t want or need to use a tremolo bridge?

If you’ve ever agonized over keeping your electric guitar in tune after some heavy shreddage, you might have found yourself considering switching to a Floyd Rose bridge.

Don’t get us wrong- the original Floyd Rose bridge revolutionized the heavy metal world when it was first introduced.

The locking tremolo (we have a guide on this) with whammy bar made it so guitarists could bend and sustain notes in their solos without the guitar going out of tune.

However, the Floyd Rose tremolo bridge can be tricky depending on your playing style, and it can be challenging to change strings.

Thankfully, there are other tremolo systems out there, so we’ve rounded up a few options if you’re looking for the best Floyd Rose alternative.

What Are The Best Floyd Rose Alternatives?

We’ve rounded up five of the best tremolo systems for electric guitars similar to the original Floyd Rose bridge, but with slightly different features and benefits.

Most of these require little to no modification of your guitar to install. If in doubt, call up your local music shop or music retailer, and they can set you up.

This list is just a starting point, as there are many options out there. However, we consider these five options to be the best Floyd Rose alternatives:

  1. Schaller Lockmeister (Our Pick) 
  2. Bigsby Vibrato Series (Best Value) 
  3. Kahler Tremolo System (Premium Option)
  4. Wilkinson VSVG 6-point Tremolo
  5. PRS SE Floating Bridge Tremolo

1. Schaller Lockmeister 

OUR PICK
Schaller Lockmeister

The Schaller Lockmeister locking tremolo can be mounted to the guitar body with studs or directly to the body, giving you a range of options for customizing your ax just the way you like it.

Why We Love It:
  • Improves tone and sustain
  • Maintains superior tremolo function and intonation
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The Schaller Lockmeister locking tremolo can be mounted to the guitar body with studs or directly to the body, giving you a range of options for customizing your ax just the way you like it, without a lot of extra work.

Its dimensions match that of the Floyd Rose bridge, so you can swap bridges easily.

Features

  • The steel base plate improves tone and sustain
  • All metal surfaces are coated to prevent corrosion
  • Available in a variety of surface finishes, block sizes, and nut sizes for any type of guitar

Review

Schaller manufactures a variety of guitar bridges and spacers so you can easily replace your Floyd Rose with something new and different.

The Lockmeister series is their latest offering, with the Lockmeister 6 for 6-string guitars and the Lockmeister 7 for 7-string guitars.

If you’re looking to replace your floating bridge or fixed bridge with a Schaller Lockmeister by mounting it directly to the body, you can get a replacement kit that has studs with wooden threads.

One of the gripes of the original Floyd Rose was that the tremolo arm would often work its way loose and need to be periodically tightened.

On the Lockmeister, the tremolo arm stays tight even when you’re mid-divebomb into a sick solo.

2. Bigsby Vibrato Series

Bigsby B-5 Vibrato System

When you're looking for that smooth dipped-chord or note sound, look no further than the Bigsby B5 vibrato.

Why We Love It:
  • An iconic vibrato sound
  • Made from rugged and sturdy aluminum
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If you’re just looking for a simple vibrato system with a whammy bar and you don’t need to make any major moves during your guitar solos, the Bigsby Vibrato series will get you there without making a dent in your wallet.

It works by using a rocker mechanism. A spring-loaded tremolo arm pushes the strings down, and the strings wrap around a steel bar so they all remain stable and in tune.

Features

  • The simple design is great for blues and classic rock players who just want a no-frills tremolo effect without the maintenance of a Floyd Rose
  • Can be easily adjusted with Allen wrenches
  • Comes in two different series, Lightning and Kalamazoo, with six different sizes to fit a variety of guitar bodies (including hollow-body electric guitars)

Review

While you can’t really do a lot of flashy divebombing guitar solos with this one, the Bigsby Vibrato definitely gives your sound a retro vibe (no pun intended) while still being quite versatile for its price point.

You will need to slightly modify the body of your electric guitar to install this vibrato system, but Bigsby makes it easy to do so by including all necessary hardware and instructions.

Some models use a simple hinge that goes on the back of the guitar and others are mounted on the front of the guitar with a hinge and screws.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the Bigsby Vibrato is a tailpiece and not a full bridge, meaning it works in conjunction with your current bridge.

If you are looking for a bridge replacement and want one which works with the Bigsby Vibrato, these are the most common models used:

  • Gretsch Rocking Bar
  • Gibson Tune-o-Matic
  • any Tune-o-Matic style roller bridge (locking bridge models are available in this design as well)
  • Fender Jag or Jaz bridge

3. Kahler Tremolo System

Kahler Tremolo Systems
Why We Love It:
  • Stable
  • Easy to control
  • Locking nut for stability
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You can install a Kahler tremolo bridge without modifying the body of your guitar because it takes up less room than a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge.

It’s easier to restring your guitar since the strings feed straight through the bridge. The upwards and downwards tremolo action can be set however high or low you want it.

Features

  • Has a locking nut for stability
  • Has fine tuners for easy tuning and adjustment
  • Uses a rotating cam system so it can fit any body shape

Review

Floyd Rose licenses their double-locking tremolo system for use with any manufacturer, whereas Kahler’s tremolo systems are exclusive to the Kahler brand, so the quality is consistent and you know what you’re getting.

The Kahler tremolo bridge was first built in 1981 at the height of heavy metal mania, so it was perfect timing.

The Kahler bridge is built on a rotating cam system that raises or lowers the pitch of the strings without losing contact with the guitar’s body, making it more stable than the Floyd Rose fulcrum system, and easier to control when using a whammy bar.

Ball bearings keep the motion smooth and subtle, and the strings stay in contact with the saddle regardless of the bridge position (up or down), so you never lose any tone or volume.

The range of tremolo action can be set depending on your preferences.

Kahler bridges are available in three different finishes (chrome, black, and gold) with a variety of saddle and cam material options, including steel, aluminum, brass, and Teflon glass.

Additionally, Kahler bridges come in either a stud mount or a flat-mount. They’re available for all-electric guitars with 6-10 strings.

4. Wilkinson VSVG 6-point Tremolo 

Gotoh VSVG Vintage Tremolo

This Wilkinson tremolo system is made by Gotoh and splits the difference between vintage charm and modern features.

Why We Love It:
  • Longer base holes for a smoother vibrato
  • Balances vintage charm and modern features
  • Versatile
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This Wilkinson tremolo system is made by Gotoh and splits the difference between vintage charm and modern features.

The VSVG 6-point tremolo has locking saddles and a pop-in tremolo arm, so you won’t have to worry about it coming unscrewed or falling out.

Features

  • Staggered string holes so the strings don’t get caught in the saddles
  • Longer base holes for a smoother vibrato which returns to an accurate pitch every time
  • Available in three finishes: nickel, black, and gold

Review

One of the nicest perks of the Wilkinson tremolo over the Floyd Rose is that there’s a screw key to adjust the string intonation, although it ships pre-intonated, so you won’t have to make too many adjustments.

Depending on the type of guitar body you install it on, you might have to redrill a couple of mounting holes.

You can easily adjust the angle of the tremolo arm with a set screw so it doesn’t hit the 5-way switch on a Fender Strat or the volume knob.

While this tremolo bridge is designed mostly with Fender Strat guitars in mind, it can be used on any other model and can be installed as a floating bridge just like a Floyd Rose.

While it doesn’t have quite the same degree of flexibility, you won’t run into any pitch issues when resting your palm on the bridge, which sometimes happens with Floyd Rose bridges.

5. PRS SE Floating Bridge Tremolo

PRS Molded SE Tremolo Bridge

This PRS SE Tremolo Bridge is the perfect replacement part for your SE guitar.

Why We Love It:
  • Extremely stable for a floating bridge
  • A classic tremolo
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This classic tremolo from Paul Reed Smith is a floating bridge rather than a locking tremolo, so it’s a little different than the Floyd Rose.

However, it’s very stable for a floating bridge and you can still get plenty of range and sustain out of it.

Note that it’s typically only recommended for PRS guitars, although it can be installed on a Fender Strat or Strat-style body depending on the guitar’s specs.

Features

  • Excellent for Fender-style vibrato effects with a whammy bar, but with the stability of a modern tremolo
  • Countersunk mounting screws for extra stability when returning to pitch
  • Made out of brass for extra sustain and warm tone

Review

Even if it’s not installed on a PRS guitar, the PRS SE Floating Bridge tremolo is extremely stable, as the latest Gen III design has a grooved bridge plate that meshes perfectly with the bridge height adjustment screws.

Additionally, the tremolo block is shaped so that the ball ends of your guitar strings sit perfectly flush and will stay in tune for longer.

Keep in mind that the PRS SE bridge can only be locked if you install a block or something like the Tremolo-No unit, which will let you set the bridge “on” or “off” without affecting your guitar’s intonation.

FAQ’s

How do you restring an electric guitar with a floating tremolo?

The most important thing to remember about stringing a guitar with a floating tremolo bridge is that if you need to change more than one string, you should change each string separately to maintain proper tension on the bridge.

The restringing process will be a little different depending on what type of bridge you have.

If you have locking nut plates at the nut of your guitar, take those off first with an Allen wrench.

Then, gradually detune and remove each string from each tuning peg.

When you loosen the saddles at the bridge of your guitar, remember to only loosen the one that corresponds to the string you want to change.

Make sure you keep track of the metal blocks on the bridge that help hold each string in place, as they’re small and therefore easy to lose.

If you’re planning to use a different gauge of guitar strings, you’ll need to change all your strings in order to keep the intonation consistent.

You’ll also have to adjust the bridge slightly since the gauge of the strings will cause it to lean forward or backward.

Depending on what type of floating tremolo bridge you have, you might need to cut off the ball ends of the guitar strings to get them to fit.

Keep in mind that the ends of the strings are color-coded according to which string is which, so make sure you keep track of each string’s color as you work.

Tighten the saddle once the string is in place, then feed the string through the hole in the tuning peg just like you would for an electric guitar with a fixed bridge. Tune up and you’re good to go!

Can you use a whammy bar on a fixed bridge?

Yes, you can use a whammy bar on a fixed bridge, because the whammy bar just lifts the strings up, which is a normal part of the bridge’s design. 

What’s the difference between a floating tremolo and a locking tremolo?

A floating tremolo allows you to push the bridge down or pull it up, which gives you a wider range of vibrato and pitch bending effects.

With a locking tremolo, the strings are clamped at the nut and the bridge to keep them in tune. Floyd Rose patented this concept as a  “double-locking tremolo”.

Keep in mind that this is different from a fixed bridge, in which case a whammy bar will lift the strings but the bridge won’t move.

Wrapping Up

If you’re a newer guitarist, some of this information can be a little daunting.

When you bring your guitar to the shop for a setup (which you should do periodically if the climate changes, since temperature and humidity can affect intonation), don’t be afraid to ask questions about how it all works.

Once you learn the basics of Floyd Rose and Floyd Rose-style bridges, you’ll be able to fully express yourself as a guitarist without worrying about your guitar going out of tune or intonation.