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Bass Tremolo Bridges

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by mapleglo, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    So I did a search and did not come up with much. Specifically, I'm looking for any personal experiences with bass tremolo bridges. I have a Fender Strat which came with a factory tremolo bridge - in the old days, we used to call them whammy bars - and this one locks, so if you're not using it, it can be locked to avoid going out of tune.

    I've been looking at the Kahler 7410 system, which seem to be the most popular for basses. I'm starting a new build, and I think it may be pretty cool to use a tremolo bridge. I can't imagine that it would be used often, which prompts my inquiry with regard to some kind of "locking mechanism" like on my strat.

    Does anyone know if the 7410 has a "lock"? Does anyone use this bridge, and if so, are there any problems with going out of tune, or lack of sustain? Also, they recommend a teflon nut and "locking" tuners. Anyone have any experience with these?

    Thanks in advance.
    NoiseNinja likes this.
  2. you did a search and came up with nothing because bass tremolo bridges are "of the devil". Be careful what you wish for and Merry Xmas!!!!

  3. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    "Of the devil"? I must have one then :p
  4. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    I made a bass a few years back with a hipshot tremolo bridge. Works very well. You can dive bomb really hard, and it stays in tune. I used a brass nut and roller string trees. I had it up for sale a year or two ago, and made this vid, but no one was interested...

  5. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    Not absolutely sure but I don't think Kahler requires a locking nut. Garth Fielding demonstrates it on the Kahler Youtube website. Also many Kahler set up demos on Youtube.
  6. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Bass Tremolo Bridges..............I heard one story from an owner and bassist. He told me that when doing the whammy on his bass, the E string got so loose that it produced an extremely low note and blew out the speakers in his cab. They just could not handle that extreme low frequency.

    So, I'd be careful with a whammy bridge for a bass!
  7. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    I'm always curious as to the potential usefulness of a bass whammy system. Given that you have to hog out a lot of wood to get even a Kahler trem to fit, is it worth it? Are there many good recordings of them in use?
  8. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I don't mind doing the major work involved with the installation *If* the unit is stable and won't cause tuning or intonation issues through a four hour gig, even if I just use it in one song for one phrase. It's a pretty unique effect for bass, and I think it would be nice to have for an option. I've seen a few YouTube vids, and they seem to work for the 3 minute video. I wonder if they remain stable for the long term however. Thus my inquiry for personal experience. The install is not easily reversible so this is my concern.
  9. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    I used to take lead breaks and solos with my akai uni-bas pedal. The whammy bar was great for this. I was running Ableton with that band with loops and synth bass parts I could drop in when I went up the octave...

    With the my bridge, when the bar is all the way down to the body, the E string only goes down to about C from memory. Maybe that guy had some other bridge.
  10. lovethegrowl

    lovethegrowl Banned

    Oct 30, 2013
    One thing about bass guitar frequencies is that the fundamentals are silent. (That's the case with a lot of instruments such as trumpet.) A low b string at 27.5 HZ fundamental doesn't produce an audible 27.5 Hz wave. It does produce a 55 HZ harmonic an octave above the fundamental
    (Psychoacoustically it is perceived as 27.5 HZ).

    An E @ 42 cycles or so produces a 84 cycle first harmonic. Not very low in the first place. It seems unlikely that the loose e could blow a speaker.

    I am getting my Wammi bar to bend the pitch expressively while soloing, & to get a Stanley Clarke style vibrato. (I don't know how he does it otherwise!. He must be damn strong.)
  11. I had two kahlers in the late 80's... A four string and a 5 string.. Mechanically they work fine..very solid design, I never found much use for them. Nice conversation piece. When you drop the bar all the way down the strings are flapping. You could almost pull the ball end out of the tailpiece. Lol. But talk about adding mass to a bass. That it does. You might google randy coven. He was big into the kahlers and used it a lot .. May have some youtubes so you can see it. Btw. There are no locking mechanisms but it's brings the strings right back to pitch. It rocks back and fourth on a cam. And has three huge springs.. As long as your strings are good and stretched out.. It will return to pitch.
    tomersg likes this.
  12. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Great! This is exactly the kind of feedback I was looking for. Did you notice any trouble with keeping the bass in tune?
  13. I dont remember having any. I always stretch my new strings out until they wont go out of tune. The four was a gibson explorer with a brass nut and the five was a warmoth precision style with a graphite nut
  14. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I used to have a Vigier Passion mounted with a Kahler.
    It worked fine but really I wished it wasn't there.
    I never found an use for it. I'm no Randy Coven and in everyday life it is more distracting than useful.
  15. You might wanna try one out before you alter a instrument or buy a expensive trem . After all was said and done, it wasnt worth it to me!
  16. Straight string pull past the nut really helps keep them in tune. There are a ton of tricks that can help if it becomes an issue(people have been trying to keep strat tremolos in tune since the dawn of time).
  17. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I'd love to try one out but they're pretty rare. I've never seen one locally, but I'll keep my eyes open. I can't imagine that it would be used very often, but I like the effect. On the rare occasion I play my guitar, I rarely use the tremolo bar, but it's nice to have. Thanks again for all the responses - I'll mull this over before I make any final decision.
  18. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    I remember the first time I used mine on a gig, we had a couple of tunes I played in drop D. Between songs, I quickly dropped my E down to D. Within the first two bars I realized that the other three strings were way sharp. The reduced tension had pulled the bridge back... :(

    These aren't great if you like hipshots, or altered tunings...

    I forgot to mention that I installed carbon fibre rods when I was building the neck. It's important to have a good stable neck for these sort of bridges. They go right through 40mm into the headstock for stiffness and stability. I also didn't want the trussrod working too hard. This way, the relief is more stable with the extremes of changing tension...
  19. Tremolos on a bass are a niche item and some people like them and some don't. Like ramps.

    Les uses Sperzels:
  20. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Yeah, this is one of my concerns. Way back in the 70's, in one of my first bands, the guitarist had an SG, with the stock tremolo. It was basically a curved piece of spring steel, with the bridge and whammy bar mounted to it. He could never get that guitar to stay in tune. As soon as he tuned up one string, the rest would go out. And whenever he used the bar, the whole guitar would go out. When I bought my first Strat, in the mid 70's, I specifically ordered one without the tremolo. Like the SG, Fender still had not perfected the system.

    My current Strat, purchased in the mid 80s, has a locking nut,


    and a locking tremolo system. It works great. I can just turn it off (lock the tremolo bridge) by swinging the arm all the way around so it's facing down, and the bridge is locked, just like a guitar without a tremolo.


    (Sorry about the blurry pics, my husband cleaned up yesterday and must have hid the tripod)

    There is no such bass tremolo system available like this that I can find. So my main concern is how badly with the tremolo system effects playability, and will any negative effects cause the bass to play poorly to such a degree that it won't be worth having the system for very occasional use of the system. Searching the internet, I find all kinds of answers to that question, both positive and negative.