Made popular by guitar legends like Eddie Van Halen, Dimebag Darrell Abbott, Mick Mars, and many others, the Floyd Rose tremolo bridge is well known, yet still shrouded in mystery.
Many guitarists are familiar with Floyd Rose bridges but know little else beyond the name and the signature tremolo “whammy” bar. In this guide, we’ll uncover all those mysteries.
What is a Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge?
A Floyd Rose bridge is a double-locking tremolo bridge system designed for electric guitars. Floyd Rose bridges are famous for their tremolo bar that allows guitarists to raise and lower their guitar’s pitch on the fly.
The double lock is 1 lock at the nut of the guitar and 1 lock at the bridge of the guitar.
Is a Floyd Rose a floating bridge?
Yes - it does not rest against the guitar’s body, but rather it floats slightly above the guitar’s body.
The only contact points are the mounting posts that attach the bridge to the guitar.
Why is it called a Floyd Rose?
Invented by Floyd D Rose in 1977, the Floyd Rose double-locking bridge system was named after its inventor.
Parts of a Floyd Rose Tremolo Bridge
Bridge: This is the big piece of metal that will hold the strings and attach to the guitar’s body
Tremolo Arm: Attaches to the bridge. A metal rod that when pressed and pulled on, changes the pitch of the guitar
Mounting Posts: Used to mount the bridge down to the guitar’s body. Since the Floyd Rose is a floating bridge, the mounting posts screw-down toward the front of the bridge
Tension Springs: installed in the rear cavity of the guitar, these springs counter the tension created by the guitar strings.
Screws to Mount Springs: 2 long screws that hold the spring mounting plate in position
Spring Mounting Plate: 2 or more springs are attached to the Spring Mounting plate. There are 5 spots to mount the springs on the plate. Different placements of the springs, or having more than 2 springs, will adjust the overall tension and balance of the bridge. These adjustments will change how the bridge feels to play.
String Retainer: Rests over the top of the strings on the headstock, just above the locking nut.
Locking Nut: Strings will pass through underneath the locking nut, resting similarly to how they would on a normal guitar nut. The tension pads are then tightened on the locking nut to secure the strings down. This is one of the 2 locks in the “double locking” bridge system.
Hex Wrenches: You will typically get 2 sizes of hex wrenches with a Floyd Rose bridge. 1 hex wrench is for the locking nut and the other is for the tremolo.
How do you use a Floyd Rose?
The key benefit to using a Floyd Rose system is the tremolo bar. With the tremolo bar, you can adjust the pitch of your strings up or down, like you would by bending the strings with your fretting hand. What's better is you can do all these extreme pitch shifts without knocking the guitar out of tune.
To raise the pitch of the note you are playing, lift up on the tremolo bar.
To lower the pitch of the note you are playing, press down on the tremolo bar.
How Do I Adjust My Floyd Rose Bridge’s Height?
To adjust the action of your Floyd Rose tremolo bridge you want to use your 3mm Allen wrench and raise or lower the bridge studs to your desired action height.
Since the Floyd Rose is a floating bridge, you intonate each string individually.
How to Change the Strings On A Floyd Rose
To change the strings on a Floyd Rose, you’ll need to remove the locking nut and prop the bridge up with a wedge.
- Wire cutters
- Philips Screwdriver
- String winder
- 3MM Allen
- Wedge for the bridge (cork, 9V battery, some examples of things you can use as a wedge
Removing the Old Strings
First, use the 3MM Allen key to loosen the bolts on the locking nut.
Then, stick your wedge under the Floyd Rose bridge to keep it propped up. To do this, press down on the whammy bar to lift the back of the bridge up and then stick the wedge in before letting go of the whammy bar so the bridge can’t go all the way back down.
Next, loosen your strings with a string winder, as you would to change guitar strings normally.
Once your strings are loosened, take your wire cutter and snip each string near the middle of the string.
Remove the strings from the headstock
Take the 3MM Allen key and loosen the saddle blocks at the bottom of your Floyd Rose bridge.
Once the saddle blocks are loosened you can pop out the other halves of the strings.
TIP: Be careful not to pull the saddle blocks out.
Adding the New Strings
Floyd Rose double-locking bridges do not need the little ball at the end of the guitar string like string-thru bridge guitars do. Cut that little ball off right at the coil winding.
Now take the end of the string you just clipped and place it in between the saddle and the locking block, and tighten the saddle locks with your 3MM Allen until snug.
Next, feed the other end of the string through the tuning post on the headstock of the guitar and tighten the string up until it’s in tune.
TIP: For extended life and performance from your strings, it helps to pre-stretch your strings a little before locking them in. We cover this process in my lesson on how to replace guitar strings easily.
However, simply lift up on the string once it is tuned and gently pull on it to stretch it a few times.
You don’t need to go crazy with this, but once you’ve stretched the string out a couple of times, tune it up once more.
Now repeat this process with the remaining guitar strings.
Once you have all 6 strings locked in at the bridge, stretched and tuned, it’s time to lock everything back up.
Take your 3MM Allen key and tighten the pressure pads back down at the locking nut.
Now, remove the wedge you placed underneath the bridge.
Once everything is all secured, you can dial in your tuning using the fine tuners on the bridge.
How To Tune A Guitar With a Floyd Rose Bridge
To tune a Floyd Rose, use the fine tuners on the bridge to adjust the pitch of the string.
If the guitar is way out of tune, you may want to loosen the pressure pads at the locking nut and tune-up from the tuning posts.
Be sure to wedge the bridge before loosening the nut. See the section above on changing strings on a Floyd Rose bridge for more information.
More info: HERE
Are Floyd Rose Bridges Good?
Floyd Rose bridges have been extremely popular among guitarists for decades, so the system doesn’t suck in an objective sense. But “good” is subjective.
I know people that can’t stand Floyd Rose systems because they are far more complicated than a simple string-thru guitar setup.
I know others who won’t use anything but a Floyd Rose-equipped guitar.
Ultimately this question boils down to your personal preference.
Head down to a music shop and try out a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge to see how you like it.
Are Floyd Rose Bridges Expensive?
Yes. The original Floyd Rose tremolo system can be yours for right around $260 from Guitar Center (HERE).
However, if your guitar was not originally set up for a floating bridge such as a Floyd Rose, you will likely need a special cavity made in your guitar to fit the Floyd Rose bridge.
These costs can quickly add up and are largely dependent on your guitar techs rates.
While I’ve never had to have a new cavity routed for a Floyd Rose, I did a little research to give you some context.
One guitar tech charges $150 for a Floyd Rose to Floyd Rose bridge replacement but as much as $500-600 to install a Floyd Rose on a guitar that wasn’t built for one.
If you’re considering installing a Floyd Rose on your guitar, this is an important consideration as you can buy a new Floyd Rose-equipped guitar for about as much as that job would cost you.
What are the disadvantages of a Floyd Rose bridge?
While extremely popular, there are some common underlying complaints about the Floyd Rose bridge system:
- They are more complicated to use than a standard guitar bridge
- They have a steeper learning curve than a normal bridge
- Changing string gauges or tunings can throw off a Floyd Rose bridges balance
- If your guitar wasn’t built for a floating bridge, installing one will likely cost you a small fortune
- Going overboard on the whammy bar can snap strings
- They can be expensive to repair
Can you put an ORIGINAL Floyd Rose on a Les Paul?
Unfortunately, due to the neck angle of a Les Paul, you cannot easily put an Original Floyd Rose bridge on a Les Paul guitar.
Because the neck joint angle on a Les Paul is far more extreme than a standard guitar neck, a Floyd Rose bridge would need to be set up extremely high up off the carved top of the body for it to even remotely work, but even then it won’t be ideal.
Floyd Rose took notice of this problem. As they should have, given the popularity of the Les Paul, and developed the FRX Tremolo system.
The FRX Series of Floyd Rose bridges is a surface-mounting design specially designed for Les Paul, SG, and Flying V shaped guitars.
The FRX is intended to be a direct swap of the Tune-O-Matic Bridge system. Read more about the FRX Series bridges below.
Comparing Different Models of Floyd Rose Bridges
The Floyd Rose Original Series
The classic, flagship Floyd Rose bridge. This is the original German-made Floyd Rose.
The Original Series Features:
- High quality steel construction
- Made in Germany
- Offered in a variety of nut sizes to fit many guitar sizes
The Floyd Rose 1000 Series
The 1000 Series is a low-profile version of the Original Series Floyd Rose bridges.
The 1000 Series bridges are also manufactured in Korea, as opposed to Germany.
These bridges are also available in a variety of nut sizes to fit many sized guitars
The Pro 1000 Series Floyd Rose bridge has the same nut spacing as the Floyd Rose Original (.420”). The German Pro Floyd Rose has a narrower spacing.
The Floyd Rose Special Series
The Special is the result of Floyd Rose taking a licensed authentic Floyd Rose design, and making it an official design. Like the 1000 Series, Floyd Rose Special series bridges are also made in Korea.
Key differences between the 1000 and Special Series bridges:
- Special Series have zinc alloy saddles (Original Floyd Rose saddles are steel)
- Special Series uses zinc alloy sustain blocks instead of brass
The Floyd Rose FRX Series
The Floyd Rose FRX bridges were developed to solve the issue of the Original Floyd rose not fitting on Les Paul style guitars.
The FRX system is designed to be a direct replacement for the Tune-O-Matic style bridge typically found on Les Pauls and is surface-mounted, as opposed to a fully floating bridge like the other Floyd Rose models.
The FRX Floyd Rose bridge should not require any special routing or cavity to be installed if your guitar has a Tune-O-Matic bridge.
Floyd Rose Non-Fine Tuner
Designed around the Original Floyd Rose double-locking bridge design, the Non-Fine Tuner model simply does not feature the fine tuners on the bridge that other Floyd Rose models have.
Developed through a partnership between Floyd Rose and TiSonix to develop a super-durable Floyd Rose bridge. The Titanium series is beastly looking and according to the Floyd Rose website, “was tested in excess of 12,000 cycles and showed no measurable wear at the knife edges.”
I honestly have no idea what that means but it sounds durable!
Floyd Rose Licensed Models
Want to know if your guitar has an Authentic Floyd or a Floyd Rose licensed bridge?
Authentic Floyd Rose bridges will have the Floyd Rose logo on the top of the bridge base plate.
See the difference on the Floyd Rose website: Here
Are there Floyd Rose Alternatives?
The most popular alternative to the Floyd Rose bridge is the Kahler Tremolo. When paired with the Kahler locking nut, you in essence create the same double-locking performance you get with a Floyd Rose setup.
This double locking set up on a Kahler Tremolo allows for the same tuning stability and extreme pitch bends via the whammy bar as a Floyd Rose.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it. All things Floyd Rose. Did I leave anything out? Did a section leave you scratching your head? Love Floyd Rose? HATE Floyd Rose?
Leave all questions and comments in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP (generally in less than 24 hours).