Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

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JPCordingley
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Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by JPCordingley » Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:30 pm

Hi, I'm thinking about upgrading the vibrato on my Squier VM JM. A few years ago when I looked AV vibrato units were around £40, today they are closer to £100. I believe the VMs use the same templates as US rather than Japanese models is that correct. With that being the case, is there anything you could recommend for less than £50, easily available in the UK that will fit a VMJM and be better than the stock vibrato?

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MayTheFuzzBeWithYou
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:50 pm

Hey!
If you are in the UK you‘re lucky and could at least go for a Staytrem and call it a day.

But if you could specify your problems I‘m sure more people could help. There is also a super cool thread about setting your trem up! You can find something from that even in an article from premierguitar.

I personally have no experience with the US part (but I‘m close to pulling the trigger to get one) But I’m having two cheap ones (VM Jaguar and Eastwood Sidejack) next to a japanese unit and a Mastery. The Japanese and the Mastery were perfectly interchangeable. All holes lined up - so it should too with the US unit or another aftermarket one (didn‘t try with the rest yet). It‘s only the size of the fulcrum/the diameter of the arm that‘s really different I think!

Is your arm falling out/not staying in place? -> Staytrem
Don‘t you like the respond of it/does it go out of tune too badly? -> setup or if that doesn’t help -> upgrade!
Classic Player units (the ones with the screw-in arm) and japanese ones pop up quite frequently in Europe (so surely in the UK too) both would sell around 60€ (new) the US unit can be had for about 100€ (So ~85£) with the arm not yet included at Thomann. For some time they only sold the japanese arm for some reason but now they‘re offering a bit more again!

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by andy_tchp » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:15 pm

No.

You already have the best of the cheap options. A Fender Japan assembly would not be an upgrade in any sense.

If you want an actual improvement, AVRI/AV65.
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Danley
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by Danley » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:56 pm

I’ve had really bad luck as far as buying new MIJ vibratos that don’t work out if the box, and are totally unusable.
King Buzzo: I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by timtam » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:27 pm

Trems without locks are where the cheapest, most poorly-made trems seem to lie. And those seem to come from multiple different (MIC?) sources. The latest no-brand ones to appear are under $20 ... eg
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Practical-Guit ... 3071677271
Fender sells a branded no-lock version on some cheaper guitars, like the Player series, which is usually the Korean VBT-005 ...
TREMOLO VBT005 W/ LOGO 0081138000

So if you want a decent Fender-tyle trem, it's safest to avoid all those without locks (although there may be some good ones amongst them). The remaining group with locks is:
- US-made (at Fender Corona factory ?) ... AV/Am Pro (the latter may be the same as the first ? .. except with screw-in arm collet) (0054466049 / 0054466000 / 7710479000)
- Korean made ... CP (0076232049)
- Japanese made ... originally for MIJ '62s' 1986-99 (0264248000)
https://darrenriley.com/product-categor ... -tremolos/

The exact differences between these are difficult to discern. Some sources show slightly thinner metal in the MIJ. It is assumed that there are only three models here, with the only variation being in the materials / techniques / machinery used at 3 (?) different manufacturing sites. However it is possible that there have been some variations at each site too over the years ?

Also, with any trem, it's somewhat difficult to separate what may be intrinsic trem properties from the characteristics of the setup on a particular guitar. The same trem will perform differently in (1) a 24" jag with low bridge/string break angle, 009 strings, and the trem spring backed right off, versus (2) 25.5" JM with high bridge/break angle, 012 strings, and a tightened spring. That's possibly why we get somewhat differing opinions on the merits of the 3 lock trems. Along with just how much someone actually uses the trem ... if you barely use it, it's less likely you'll notice any shortcomings.

In my experience, the best source of reasonably priced Fender lock trems is ebay, where you will often find a few small US vendors selling the above Fender trems without gouging on shipping.

And then don't forget the setup ..
https://offset.guitars/the-goodies/sett ... lo-system/
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by ChrisDesign » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:01 pm

Why are non lock trems worse than lock trems? The design is pretty simple after all.
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by Danley » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:12 pm

ChrisDesign wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:01 pm
Why are non lock trems worse than lock trems? The design is pretty simple after all.
The main flaw I notice is the machining of the pivot. I’ve had multiple MIJ and Squier/Allparts units that would drastically detune the guitar with trem use, until I filed the pivot square (this is NOT easy to do and takes a lot of trial and error.) I haven’t had better luck with Squier or MIJ, they seem equally dodgy.

A few other details:

-The non-lock and recent MIJ vibratos both tend to elevate the strings above the pivot screws by allowing the tailpiece to be slightly higher (believe it or not, string windings rubbing on screws isn’t the main cause of strings unwinding, nor are burrs common in the tailpiece itself that pinch the string before the ball; they tend to get unraveled anyway

-Pivots tend not to be interchangeable between either the US, MIJ, or Squier vibratos; they seem to have individual spacing

-The spring on recent MIJ and Squier/Allparts vibratos is too stiff to set the vibrato up to float at ‘lock position’ when 9-gauge strings are used (more of an issue on MIJ trems, obviously.) AVRI and old MIJ trems seem fine in this respect. A spring swap can work too

-MIJ/Squiers have the incorrect string spacing at the tailpiece that can pull the strings laterally causing them to jump saddles

-I once had an MIJ unit that had a spring retainer (or spring) wrongly sized. The spring would catch on the inside of the retainer and cause issues.

-There’s something about the different geometry, even setting the spring part aside, that gives the AVRI a more sensitive, subtle feel than either of the other ‘main’ ones. I had a CP once, it seemed better than MIJ/Squier at least.
King Buzzo: I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by andy_tchp » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:25 pm

- Poorly cut threads/machining tolerances allow the collet to completely break free of the vibrato plate under heavy use, even when collet threads have Loctite red applied.
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by Danley » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:35 pm

andy_tchp wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:25 pm
- Poorly cut threads/machining tolerances allow the collet to completely break free of the vibrato plate under heavy use, even when collet threads have Loctite red applied.
To think I thought I experienced all the possible failure modes :D Can't say I've ever had a reason to do the locktite; is that with a lock washer or without?
King Buzzo: I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by andy_tchp » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:50 pm

Distant memory now, but I believe there was a (star) lock washer. Didn't seem to matter - it wasn't a case of the collet loosening off gradually, it would 'jump' threads and eventually just cleanly break out of the plate under heavy handed use.

No such issues with the AVRI assembly that replaced it; in fact those collets are basically impossible to remove without a vice.
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by Francer » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:03 am

I’ve not tried one personally but might be worth trying a Gotoh unit?

Danocasters seem to use some kind of unbranded non-locking trem unit. I don’t know the manufacturer, but a bit of research might reveal it, and if it’s good enough for those guys ....

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:21 am

Francer wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:03 am
I’ve not tried one personally but might be worth trying a Gotoh unit?

Danocasters seem to use some kind of unbranded non-locking trem unit. I don’t know the manufacturer, but a bit of research might reveal it, and if it’s good enough for those guys ....
I know there is this one shop at Reverb who sells "Gotoh" Offset vibratos, but there is no such thing!
I emailed Gotoh about it somewhat like a year ago - they did never produce such a thing. The seller then claimed they got the same retailer and the box said Gotoh - but they're not branded or anything. For what it is he also sells them overpriced!

Göldo (German wholesaler) on the other hand got some unbranded ones - maybe you mean those?
But they also have a more recent model with a weirder Teisco-esque optic.

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by higgsblossom » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:34 am

I have one of those Göldo trems in a VM Jag, because the Squier unit broke. It’s equal quality, nothing special but does the job.
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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by VealCutlet » Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:30 am

Save £10 a week for the next 2 months or so and buy the AV vibroto. It's no contest vs. the currently available alternatives that I've tested.

I have used the stock Squier (crunchy), recent MIJ (marginally better but not worth the price), and the AV, which is a thing of beauty. The pop-in bar is almost worth the investment alone.

I don't have much experience with the Player or Americn Pro series vibratos, so I can't speak to their qualities of operation.

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Re: Cheaper alternatives to AV vibrato?

Post by Francer » Thu Jan 16, 2020 3:01 pm

MayTheFuzzBeWithYou wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:21 am
Francer wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:03 am
I’ve not tried one personally but might be worth trying a Gotoh unit?

Danocasters seem to use some kind of unbranded non-locking trem unit. I don’t know the manufacturer, but a bit of research might reveal it, and if it’s good enough for those guys ....
I know there is this one shop at Reverb who sells "Gotoh" Offset vibratos, but there is no such thing!
I emailed Gotoh about it somewhat like a year ago - they did never produce such a thing. The seller then claimed they got the same retailer and the box said Gotoh - but they're not branded or anything. For what it is he also sells them overpriced!

Göldo (German wholesaler) on the other hand got some unbranded ones - maybe you mean those?
But they also have a more recent model with a weirder Teisco-esque optic.
No, I definitely meant Gotoh, but looks like I was wrong. I did a bit of Googling before I made that post and I think I managed to find that same shop as you mentioned which made me think such a thing existed, Blackstar Guitars in the UK by any chance?

But if you have it from Gotoh themselves that there’s no such thing then no one can argue with that.

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