Floyd Rose Tremolo: What Is It And How Does It Work?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 3, 2022

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Floyd Rose Tremolo is a great way to add some dynamics to your playing, but it can be a little daunting to get into. There are a lot of parts to this system, and they all need to work together in a SPECIFIC way or you’ll end up with problems.

The Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo, or simply Floyd Rose, is a type of locking vibrato arm (sometimes incorrectly called tremolo arm) for a guitar. Floyd D. Rose invented the locking vibrato in 1977, the first of its kind, and it is now manufactured by a company of the same name.

In this article, I’ll explain what a Floyd Rose Tremolo is, how it works, and why it’s so popular with guitarists of all styles.

What is a Floyd Rose Tremolo

Everything You Need to Know About the Iconic Floyd Rose Tremolo System

What is a Floyd Rose?

If you’ve ever been around a guitar, you’ve probably heard of the Floyd Rose. It’s the most recognizable and praised invention in the guitar industry, and it’s a must-have for any serious shredder.

How Does it Work?

The Floyd Rose is a double-locking tremolo system, which means it can stay in tune even after you’ve gone wild with the whammy bar. Here’s how it works:

  • The bridge is mounted on a base plate that’s attached to the guitar body.
  • The strings are locked into the bridge with two screws.
  • The bridge is connected to the whammy bar, which is connected to the tremolo arm.
  • When you move the whammy bar, the bridge moves up and down, which changes the tension on the strings and creates the tremolo effect.

Why Should I Get One?

If you’re looking for a guitar that can keep up with your wildest shredding, the Floyd Rose is the way to go. It’s the perfect choice for any serious guitarist who wants to take their playing to the next level. Plus, it looks super cool!

What’s the Deal with the Floyd Rose?

The Invention

It all started in the late ’70s when one Floyd D. Rose decided to revolutionize the guitar industry with his double-locking tremolo system. Little did he know that his invention would become a staple in the world of rock and metal guitarists.

The Adoption

Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai were some of the first to adopt the Floyd Rose, using it to create some of the most iconic guitar solos of all time. It wasn’t long before the bridge became a must-have for any serious shredder.

The Legacy

Fast forward to today and the Floyd Rose is still going strong. It’s featured on hundreds of production guitars, and it’s still the go-to choice for those who want to get the most out of their whammy bar.

So if you’re looking to take your guitar playing to the next level, you can’t go wrong with the Floyd Rose. Just don’t forget to bring your dive bombs and pinch harmonics!

Understanding the Parts of a Floyd Rose

The Main Components

If you’re looking to get your rock on, you’ll need to get to grips with the parts of a Floyd Rose. Here’s a breakdown of the pieces that make up this double-locking system:

  • Bridge and tremolo arm (A): this is the part that attaches to the body of the guitar. It’s where the strings get their groove on. The tremolo arm can be removed if you’re feeling extra rebellious.
  • Mounting posts (B): these posts hold the tremolo in place. A Floyd Rose tremolo is a ‘floating’ bridge, which means it doesn’t rest against the guitar. These mounting posts are the only point of contact the bridge has with the guitar.
  • Tension springs (C): these springs are installed in a back cavity to counter the tension of the guitar strings. They basically pull the bridge down while the strings pull the bridge up. One end of the screws attach to the bridge and the other end attach to the spring mounting plate.
  • Screws to mount springs (D): These two long screws hold the spring mounting plate in position. It’s possible to adjust these two screws to get the perfect tension.
  • Spring mounting plate (E): the two or more springs attach to any of the five mounting positions. Changing the number of springs or the mounting position of the springs changes the tension and how the tremolo feels to play.
  • String retainer (F): this bar rests over the top of the strings on the headstock to hold them in position.
  • Locking nut (G): the strings pass through this locking nut and you adjust the hex nuts to clamp the strings down. This part is what makes a Floyd Rose system ‘double-locking’.
  • Hex wrenches (H): one hex wrench is used to adjust the locking nut and the other is for adjusting the tremolo to hold the other end of the strings in position or to adjust the string intonation.

Getting to Grips with the Parts

So, you’ve got the lowdown on the parts of the Floyd Rose system. But how do you put them all together? Here’s a quick guide on how to get your rock on:

  • String retainer screw (A): Loosen this screw with a hex wrench to remove strings and tighten it to clamp down on new strings.
  • Tremolo bar mounting hole (B): Insert the tremolo arm into this hole. Some models will screw the arm in position, while others simply push straight in.
  • Mounting space (C): This is where the bridge rests against the mounting posts on the body of the guitar. This point and the point on the other side of the bridge are the only two points of contact the bridge has with the guitar (apart from the springs in the back and the strings).
  • Spring holes (D): A long block extends below the bridge and the springs connect to holes in this block.
  • Intonation adjustment (E): Adjust this nut with a hex wrench to move the saddle position.
  • String saddles (F): Cut off the balls of the strings and insert the ends into the saddles. Then clamp the strings into position by adjusting the saddle nut (A).
  • Fine tuners (G): Once the strings are locked into position, you can adjust the tuning with your fingers by turning these individual tuners. The fine tuner screws press down on the string retainer screws, which adjusts the tuning.

So there you have it – all the parts of a Floyd Rose system and how to use them. Now you’re ready to rock out like a pro!

Unlocking the Mystery of the Floyd Rose

The Basics

If you’ve ever heard of a whammy bar, you’ve probably heard of the Floyd Rose. It’s a type of tremolo that takes the classic Fender Strat sound to a whole new level. But what exactly is a Floyd Rose?

Well, it’s essentially a locking system that keeps your strings in place. It works by locking the strings at two points – the bridge and the nut. At the bridge, the strings are inserted into locking saddles, which are held in place by adjustable bolts. At the nut, the strings are locked down by three metal plates. This way, you can use the whammy bar without worrying about your strings going out of tune.

The Advantages

The Floyd Rose is a great tool for guitarists who want to experiment with their sound. With it, you can:

  • Achieve a vibrato effect by raising and lowering the pitch of your guitar
  • Perform crazy divebomb effects
  • Tune your guitar with fine tuners if the strings sharpen or flatten from extensive tremolo use or temperature changes

The Legacy of Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen was one of the first guitarists to take advantage of the Floyd Rose. He used it to create some of the most iconic guitar solos of all time, like “Eruption” from the Van Halen I album. This track showed the world just how powerful the Floyd Rose could be, and it sparked a whammy-craze that still lives on today.

The History of the Floyd Rose Tremolo

The Beginnings

It all started in the 70s, when a rocker by the name of Floyd D. Rose was inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple. He was fed up with his guitar’s inability to stay in tune, so he took matters into his own hands. With his background in jewelry-making, he crafted a brass nut that locked the strings in place with three U-shaped clamps. After some fine-tuning, he had created the first Floyd Rose Tremolo!

The Rise to Fame

The Floyd Rose Tremolo quickly gained traction among some of the most influential guitarists of the time, such as Eddie Van Halen, Neal Schon, Brad Gillis, and Steve Vai. Floyd Rose was granted a patent in 1979, and soon after, he made a deal with Kramer Guitars to keep up with the high demand.

Kramer’s guitars with the Floyd Rose bridge became a huge hit, and other companies started to make their own versions of the bridge. Unfortunately, this violated Floyd Rose’s patent, leading to a massive lawsuit against Gary Kahler.

The Present Day

Floyd Rose and Kramer eventually made licensing agreements with other manufacturers, and now there are several different models of the double-locking design. To make sure the bridges and nuts could keep up with the demand, the design was updated to include a set of tuners that allow for fine-tuning after the strings are locked at the nut.

In 1991, Fender became the exclusive distributor of Floyd Rose products, and they used the Floyd Rose-designed locking vibrato system on certain humbucker-equipped American Deluxe and Showmaster models until 2007. In 2005, distribution of the Floyd Rose Original reverted to Floyd Rose, and the patented designs were licensed to other manufacturers.

So, there you have it! The history of the Floyd Rose Tremolo, from its humble beginnings to its current-day success.

Everything You Need to Know About the Legendary Double-Locking Floyd Rose Tremolo

The Birth of a Legend

It all started with a man named Floyd Rose, who was determined to create the perfect tremolo system. After experimenting with different metals, he eventually settled on hardened steel to form the two main components of the system. This was the birth of the iconic Floyd Rose ‘Original’ tremolo, which has remained largely unchanged since then.

The Hair Metal Craze

The Floyd Rose tremolo first appeared on Kramer guitars in the ’80s and it didn’t take long for it to become a must-have for all the hair metal bands of the decade. To meet the demand, Floyd Rose licensed his design to companies such as Schaller, who mass-produced the Original Floyd Rose system. To this day, it’s still considered the best version in terms of tuning stability and longevity.

Floyd Rose Alternatives

If you’re looking for a Floyd Rose alternative, there are a few options out there.

  • Ibanez Edge Tremolos: Ibanez have many different iterations of the Edge tremolo, including ergonomic low-profile versions. These are great for players who don’t want their fine tuners getting in the way of their picking hand.
  • Kahler Tremolos: Kahler also produce double-locking tremolo bridges, although their design is slightly different from Floyd Rose’s. They were a main competitor to Floyd Rose in the ’80s and have been popular with some guitarists. They even have 7 and 8 string versions of their tremolo systems for extended range players.

The Final Word

The Floyd Rose ‘Original’ tremolo is a legendary double-locking system that has remained largely unchanged since its inception. It’s usually seen fitted to high-end guitars, but there are also plenty of licensed copies made from cheaper materials. If you’re looking for an alternative, Ibanez and Kahler both have great options. So, whether you’re a hair metal fan or an extended range player, you can find the perfect tremolo system for your needs.

The Difference Between Routed and Non-Routed Floyd Rose Tremolos

The Early Days

Back in the day, guitars with Floyd Rose tremolos were mostly non-routed. This meant that the bar could only be used to lower the pitch. But then Steve Vai came along and changed the game with his iconic Ibanez JEM guitar, which featured a routed design. This allowed players to pull up on the bar to raise the pitch and create some wild flutter effects.

The Popularization of Routed Tremolos

Dimebag Darrell of Pantera took the routed tremolo to the next level, using it to create his signature sound. He popularized the use of pinched harmonics in combination with the whammy bar, resulting in some seriously dramatic “squealies”. Joe Satriani was one of the first to employ this technique, which can be heard in his classic instrumental “Surfing With The Alien”.

The Bottom Line

So, if you’re looking to add some wild effects to your sound, you’ll want to go with a routed Floyd Rose tremolo. But if you’re just looking for some basic pitch-bending, the non-routed version will do the trick.

The Benefits of a Floyd Rose Tremolo

Tuning Stability

If you want your guitar to stay in tune, even after you’ve gone wild with the whammy bar, then a Floyd Rose tremolo is the way to go. With a locking nut that keeps the strings in place, you can dive-bomb to your heart’s content without worrying about your guitar going out of tune.

Whammy Bar Freedom

The Floyd Rose tremolo gives guitarists the freedom to use the whammy bar however they want. You can:

  • Push it down to lower the pitch
  • Pull it up to raise the pitch
  • Perform a dive-bomb and expect your strings to stay in tune

So, if you’re looking to add some extra flair to your playing, a Floyd Rose tremolo is the way to go.

The Pros and Cons of the Floyd Rose

The Learning Curve

If you’re a beginner guitarist, you may be wondering why some people love the Floyd Rose and some people hate it. Well, the answer is simple: it’s all about the learning curve.

For starters, if you buy a secondhand guitar with a hardtail bridge and no strings, you can just string it up, adjust the intonation and action, and you’re ready to go. But if you buy a secondhand guitar with a Floyd Rose and no strings, you’ll need to put in a lot more work to get it set up before you can even play it.

Now, it’s not rocket science to set up a Floyd Rose, but you do need to understand a few things to get it done properly. And some guitarists just don’t want to take the time to learn how to set up and maintain a Floyd Rose.

Changing Tunings or String Gauges

Another issue with the Floyd Rose is that it works by balancing the tension of the strings with the springs in the back of the guitar. So if you change anything that throws off the balance, you’ll need to make adjustments.

For example, if you want to switch to an alternate tuning, you’ll need to re-balance your bridge. And even changing the string gauge you use can throw off the balance, so you’ll need to adjust it again.

So if you’re the type of person who likes to switch tunings or string gauges often, the Floyd Rose might not be the best choice for you.

How to Restring a Floyd Rose Like a Pro

What You’ll Need

If you’re looking to restring your Floyd Rose, you’ll need to get your hands on the following:

  • A fresh pack of strings (same gauge as before, if possible)
  • A couple of allen wrenches
  • A string winder
  • Wire cutters
  • A Phillips-style screwdriver (if you’re changing to heavier/lighter gauge strings)

Removing the Old Strings

Start off by removing the locking nut plates, making sure to keep them in a safe place. This will take pressure off the strings, allowing you to unwind and remove them. It’s important to replace one string at a time, as this will ensure that the bridge retains the same tension after you’re done.

Using your string winder (or fingers if you don’t have one) to start unwinding the low E string at the tuning peg until it’s lost tension. Carefully pull the string out of the peg and don’t stab your fingers with the end of the old string – it’s not worth it!

Next, use an allen wrench to loosen the corresponding saddle at the bridge end. Make sure to do this carefully, as there is a small metal block that keeps the string tightened – which may fall out. You don’t want to lose one of these either!

Fitting a New String

Time to fit the new string! Take out the replacement string from the new pack. Unwrap the string, and use a pair of wire cutters to snip off the ball end, including the section where it is tightly twisted.

You can now insert the string into the saddle at the bridge, and tighten it using the correct-sized allen wrench. Don’t over-tighten!

Now that the new string is secured at the bridge, you can insert the other end of the string into the tuning post hole, ensuring that it’s placed correctly over the nut slot. Make sure that there is some slack, so that the string will wrap nicely around the post a couple of times. Wind the string up to the pitch it needs to be, so that the tension is kept balanced like before.

Finishing Up

Once you’ve finished restringing your Floyd Rose, it’s time to check if the bridge is sitting parallel to the surface of the guitar body. This is easier to notice with a floating bridge system, however if you have a non-routed guitar, you can check by gently pushing the bridge back and forth.

If you’re using the same string gauges as your previous set, the bridge should sit parallel to the surface of the guitar body. If not, you may need to adjust the tremolo springs and their tension using a Phillips-style screwdriver.

And that’s it! Now you can enjoy playing your guitar with a fresh set of strings.


Floyd Rose Vs Bigsby

The two most popular tremolos are the Floyd Rose and Bigsby. The Floyd Rose is the more popular of the two, and is known for its ability to add vibrato to notes without having to physically move the string with your fretting hand. It’s also known for being a bit tricky to restring. On the other hand, the Bigsby is the more subtle of the two, and is perfect for blues and country players who want to add a gentle warble to their chords. It’s also easier to restring than the Floyd Rose, as each string wraps around the metal bar, with the ball end placed through a dedicated axle pin. Plus, you don’t need to do any routing for installation. So, if you’re looking for a tremolo that’s easy to restring and won’t require any extra work, the Bigsby is the way to go.

Floyd Rose Vs Kahler

Floyd Rose double-locking tremolos are the more popular choice when it comes to electric guitars. They’re used in a variety of genres, from rock to metal and even jazz. The double-locking system allows for more precise tuning and a wider range of vibrato. On the other hand, Kahler tremolos are more popular in metal genres. They have a unique design that allows for a wider range of vibrato and a more aggressive sound. The locking nut on Kahler tremolos isn’t as good as the one on Floyd Rose, so it’s not as reliable. But if you’re looking for a more aggressive sound, Kahler is the way to go.


The Floyd Rose is AWESOME to add some versatility to your guitar playing. It’s just not for everyone though, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make that “dive.”

Now you know why some love it and others hate it, for the same reasons.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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