While there are plenty of different tremolo options out there to pick and choose from, one of them stands head and shoulders above the rest of the pack – particularly with legendary performing guitarists, including guys like Eddie Van Halen.
We are talking of course about the Floyd Rose.
An absolutely legendary tremolo, the right Floyd Rose can totally transform the way that your guitar sounds almost immediately.
Unfortunately, with a couple of different Floyd Rose tremolo options out there to pick and choose from these days, it can be tough to really zero in on that perfect addition to your favorite instrument.
But that’s why we put together this quick guide!
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly what makes the Floyd Rose tremolo system so special, the early history of this key accessory, as well as the major differences between the two most popular trem options from Floyd Rose these days – the Original and the Special.
Ready to dive right in? Let’s do it!
Thinking About Getting a Floyd Rose?
The original Floyd Rose – we are talking about the musician here, not the tremolo that would later carry his name – was not only an amazing guitar player but he also loved to tinker and toy with these instruments, too.
In 1976 he pioneered a design that changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll forever when he cooked up the locking vibrato, a component that lived (almost from that moment) on Eddie Van Halen’s guitars forever as soon as it was released.
Featuring a revolutionary new system utilizing a double blocking design that provides a lot of extra stability when tuning compared to other trem/vibrato options out there, this particular add on changed the game forever.
In 1977 Floyd Rose decided to start selling these accessories as Floyd Rose Original configurations, producing and manufacturing them in Germany – where they are still made today.
This is the OG double-locking tremolo system that continues to utilize fine-tuning capabilities so that you don’t have to fiddle around with any nuts when it’s time to tune your guitar.
Floyd Rose Original vs Special: Differences
Both feature almost identical design elements, however, the Floyd Rose Special utilizes zinc alloy in its construction, whereas the original uses classic steel saddles and a brass sustain block. It’s also worth mentioning that the Specials are made in Korea, while the Originals are made in Germany.
But how do these two trem options stack up against one another you ask? Let’s dive in.
Breaking It Down
Floyd Rose Original vs Special: Performance
As far as performance goes, when they have been installed properly in your guitar, most musicians really can’t tell the difference between either one of these options when they play.
Sure, every now and again you are going to get a lot of people that tell you that they definitely can hear the difference between Original and Special setups – but you have to have a really delicate trained ear to pick up the super subtle differences here.
Now, at the same, there are definitely some people out there that feel that the Special is significantly lighter than the Original because of the use of zinc alloy. That makes plenty of sense, especially considering the fact that the Original is using steel saddles instead of zinc saddles.
Other players feel that the Special doesn’t have the same kind of responsiveness or the same kind of “flutter”. But ultimately most players agree that this comes down to how you play your guitar rather than anything to do with the trem itself.
There are always going to be some reliability questions when you’re talking about different materials being used to make up core components of anything that goes on guitars – and the same argument can definitely be made here.
On top of that, Germany has a legendary reputation for fine engineering and manufacturing that South Korea (historically, anyway) doesn’t quite have yet. There are some people that just love to see that “Made in Germany” stamp.
The real issue here, though, is that the Special set up just doesn’t have the same kind of stability or the same kind of security after it has been installed as the Original.
Play a couple of shows with both of these installed and you’ll notice that one comes loose and starts to wear a lot faster than the other.
Floyd Rose Original vs Special: Value
The Special is significantly less expensive than the Original.
The materials are cheaper to source, manufacturing costs are cheaper in South Korea, and so it’s little surprise that you end up with a lower price point here – sometimes 50% less than the Original.
For some musicians, that difference is all they need to hear – especially when guitarists have to spend so much money on other guitar parts, maintenance, and other high-quality accessories like strings and studs.
For others, though, nothing can come close to delivering the same kind of mystique that the Floyd Rose Originals can. No premium price tag is going to chase those kinds of buyers away.
Used by more professionals throughout the world than any other. No copy can duplicate the double-locking design of the Floyd Rose Tremolo System that allows you to lock your guitar in tune at the nut and at the bridge.
The difference in overall performance or sound quality isn’t worth shouting about. However, if durability is a concern for you, the extra cost of the Original might be worth it. All in all, though, you really can’t go wrong with either of the Floyd Rose designs.