New Floyd Rose FRX Retrofitting Tremolo Instructions - YouTube
Floyd Rose is a cool guy and all, but I can tell that instructional videos just aren't his forte. I kept having to rewind and try to pause at the exact right part to see certain parts of the bridge, and the whole, "I forgot to tell you to take this off earlier," part had me groaning, since I spent ten minutes trying to figure out why the bridge wouldn't flutter. I'm hoping this is just a feature of the early runs, and the production packaging comes with a full set of installation instructions, with diagrams. It's not really hard to install, but it takes a bit of fiddling to get everything dialed in. More on that later.
The bridge is essentially the familiar steel base plate that sits on a steel base frame. The kit comes with both metric and standard studs. I don't know which my guitar needed, since I just picked the two that fit.
From the bottom, you can see the heavy coil spring, and the rod with tapered end that fits into a notch in the bottom of the base plate. You can also see the hard rubber feet in the front.
Here is the behind the nut lock. It is the same locking plate and pads found on a standard locking nut, minus the nut slots at the front. It butts right up against the nut, unlike a Kahler that locks about a quarter of an inch away from the nut. Since the truss rod cover had to be removed, it includes an integrated cover assembly, complete with a cheeseball logo. I'll be contacting Budman to make me a blank one.
Here is my Les Paul Studio with the bridge and tailpiece removed, and the Floyd base frame studs screwed into the tailpiece inserts. The bridge inserts are not used.
Here is the base frame installed on the guitar. At this point, the tensioner is backed full out. Per instructions, I cranked the rough intonation adjustment set screws fully forward. I eyeballed the height of the rear studs and the front feet.
Here is the bridge set onto the base plate. I adjusted the tensioner just enough to bring the rod into contact with the bridge. This was really, really annoying, since the front of the rod just wanted to drop to the surface of the guitar. The video mentioned absolutely nothing about this part.
Here is the string lock installed on the guitar, which was attached with two small screws. Side benefit: I put the stock Grovers back on and moved the Hipshot locking tuners over to the SE 245, where they were very sorely needed.
From this view, you can see the small thumb wheel that restricts pull-ups. This made stringing up and dialing in the bridge a breeze; just screw it up until the bridge sits where you want it, string up, and tune up. Then, back it off, and adjust the spring tension until the bridge is back in tune. This eliminates the need for a D-Tuna or Tremol-No.
Here is the spring tension adjustment on the back of the base frame. When you're used to removing a rear cavity cover and messing with two cumbersome Phillips head wood screws, this Allen adjustment is fast and convenient.
Here is the bridge on the guitar. The saddle placement was nearly dead on. Since I use a 10-52 set down one half step, tuned with Peterson's sweetened guitar temperament, I'm confident it would have been spot on for equal temperament on a Gibson straight from the factory.
Where the rod meets the bridge is just out of view. These stubby string lock bolts have me wondering if they'll work on standard OFR, since it would mean you could swap the Schaller on early 90s Jackson Pros with an OFR.
Here is the new push-in arm assembly. In short, this system is AWESOME, better than both the Ibanez push-in arm with it's cheap bushings, and the clunky collar of the OFR. Just smooth rotation and it stays where you put it. So far, it feels as smooth as the Gotoh/Wilkinson screw-in bar. Time will tell, but with no bushings on the bar, there will never be a need to replace the arm.
From the front, it's the same saddles, knife edges, and trem studs that we're all used to.
This screw hole is for a bolt that activates a leaf spring the pushes against the sides of the base plate and frame. It acts a trem stabilizer, giving the bridge a stiffer feel and a notch at the zero point. It eliminates flutter and keeps the bridge from moving much when performing pedal bends.
Here's the bolt:
The finished product:
The part that the installation video didn't mention is how important it is to get the height of the rubber feet at the front exactly, perfectly right. If they're not down far enough, the trem flutter and tuning stability go away, since the front of the frame keeps moving slightly. Too tight, and the base frame is canted up, making the playing position wonky. Those feet slowly compress into shape slightly over the course of a couple of weeks, so I've spent some time doing slight adjustments.
Overall, I'm happy with the result. The guitar doesn't sound noticeably different, and unlike the original top mount Floyd from the late 80s, it doesn't kill that famous Les Paul sustain. The bridge is really spongy, similar to the feel of an OFR with two springs and a set of nines. In the future, it would be cool if they made heavier tension springs, to emulate higher spring counts. The bar feel is pretty much exactly what you'd expect, and for a guy who prefers TOMs sitting up off the top of the guitar, the height is absolutely glorious. The range of motion is slightly more limited, though, so I sacrificed the stick all six strings to the pickups dive for a healthy pull-up range.
A special message for my good buddy Flex the Detractor: