Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

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mortron
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Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by mortron » Fri May 22, 2020 7:22 am

I have been looking at the various Trem units available from Fender and the aftermarket, and wondered something...

Based on how the trem functions and where it is... Has anyone tried to make a retrofit unit that moves the strings closer to the saddles or changes the pivot point?

The Brian May Red Special comes to mind as having a trem style you don't see often in an offset, but looks similar in ways. Granted, the knife edge is mounted inside the body, I've wondered if it's possible to devise a trem unit that has similar hinge point and movement to it that would a) move the strings forward to increase angle, and b) fit inside the existing Fender offset rout.

https://theredspecialworkshop.files.wor ... -2-082.jpg

(Apologies if this link violates anything... If so, let me know please)

I am guessing b) is the big stopping point, and I never took physics so there could be another answer that is blatantly obvious, but I feel like if you're gonna change what already works, try something different, no? Maybe that is why nobody's made one, as there is little demand/need? While it will likely change a lot of things about the sound over what's expected, I am more curious about the idea of other non-Fender offsets... but if a unit could bolt on as a retro-fit too, it'd be that much more market share.

Maybe there isn't enough wrong with the original term that there is anything left to be improved after the guys at Mastery and the sort have released their versions. I was just more or less kind of wondering from an "engineering" standpoint.

I also realize the analogy in the title is maybe poor, but it's a topic that usually grabs people's attention... My heart goes out to the 914 guys ;)

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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by Ceylon » Fri May 22, 2020 9:01 am

I'm not sure it's exactly what you're asking for, but there's no reason as far as I know you couldn't just flip the vibrato unit around and have it operate in the same way, but perhaps with a bit of different feel and range to it, as the string anchor point would not be closer to the bridge and the arm attachment point behind the spring rather than in front of it.

My knowledge of physics is too limited to tell you if it would operate any differently in practice. The lock button probably wouldn't fit if you were using one of those.

EDIT: I've seen a Chinese knockoff Jaguar-type guitar that came with the vibrato installed the wrong way around, most likely posted on here. That probably wasn't by design, but I can't see why it wouldn't work.
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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by mortron » Fri May 22, 2020 10:46 am

I guess its too much to put into words.

In the J Mascis Jazzmaster, and a few others, the bridge is moved up to help the break angle whilst using the same tailpiece as vintage. The Faction hardtail plate moves the string mounts forward, changing the break angle as well, without needing to modify the body.

In the unit of May's Red Special, the spring is out behind the tailpiece, the fulcrum point is much closer to the bridge and so too is where the strings mount. Because of this, the strings come up with a more break angle, achieving the same thing as the relocated tailpiece on some Squiers. The benefit is being able to retrofit to an existing guitar. Then again, the unit in question may be a step backwards(in performance/quality) from where the Fender unit sits. Definitely overthinking a minimal problem that some don't even have... just mental exercises at this point.

I guess it's like designing a pump to empty a bag of water when a simple hole would suffice.

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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by Horsefeather » Fri May 22, 2020 12:45 pm

The Jazzmaster vibrato geometry is pretty clever. The long lever upon which the spring acts vs. the short lever upon which the strings act allows for the small spring it uses to counter the heavy tension of the strings.

The element of the design that really differentiates it from all the cheesy old Asian knockoffs you see is that is uses that separate fulcrum stamping rather than the edge of the slot in the top plate as the fulcrum. There are two advantages to this: it makes hardening it via heat treatment (I assume) a snap and it increases the pitch range of the vibrato.

I've messed around in Autocad with various changes to the geometry of the fulcrum standoff and they all resulted in less string travel. Leo clearly put effort into maximizing that characteristic of the design.

The distance of the unit from the bridge was, in my opinion, set only to make the break angle as shallow as possible. And this was done because of the cornball design of the bridge, which cannot tolerate forward pressure from the strings. The functionality of the vibrato itself is basically unchanged by its distance from the bridge, as the ever so small variance in string angle relative to the fulcrum is negligible.

To answer your question--yes, I have tried adjusting the pivot point! I fit JM vibrato guts into my Mustang vibrato plate and switched to a fixed bridge with roller saddles. It works just the same. Actually--it's still a work in progress, as the Mustang body is thin enough that the spring was bottomed out on my custom route so it's all apart right now waiting to be rebuilt but I'm expecting that when it's back together and sitting free of interference, it will feel like a JM.

To reiterate, the vibrato isn't the issue, it's the dorky rocking bridge that is the source of all problems. It's a design that was used because it was cheap. Roller saddles are the design to use because they're right.


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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by Steadyriot. » Fri May 22, 2020 1:03 pm

Ceylon wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:01 am
I'm not sure it's exactly what you're asking for, but there's no reason as far as I know you couldn't just flip the vibrato unit around and have it operate in the same way, but perhaps with a bit of different feel and range to it, as the string anchor point would not be closer to the bridge and the arm attachment point behind the spring rather than in front of it.

My knowledge of physics is too limited to tell you if it would operate any differently in practice. The lock button probably wouldn't fit if you were using one of those.

EDIT: I've seen a Chinese knockoff Jaguar-type guitar that came with the vibrato installed the wrong way around, most likely posted on here. That probably wasn't by design, but I can't see why it wouldn't work.
It wouldn't work as the trem plate would be pulled away from the knife edge, making it effectively a really unstable hardtail.

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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by Ceylon » Fri May 22, 2020 1:33 pm

Steadyriot. wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:03 pm

It wouldn't work as the trem plate would be pulled away from the knife edge, making it effectively a really unstable hardtail.
D'oh, you're right. I've played offsets since 2010 and didn't even consider that...
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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by Steadyriot. » Fri May 22, 2020 2:10 pm

Ceylon wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:33 pm
Steadyriot. wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:03 pm

It wouldn't work as the trem plate would be pulled away from the knife edge, making it effectively a really unstable hardtail.
D'oh, you're right. I've played offsets since 2010 and didn't even consider that...
Haha I was surprised at you even posting it! :P
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Re: Throwing Porsche Parts on a VW... If cars had a Trem

Post by Francer » Sat May 23, 2020 5:19 am

Steadyriot. wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 1:03 pm
Ceylon wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 9:01 am
I'm not sure it's exactly what you're asking for, but there's no reason as far as I know you couldn't just flip the vibrato unit around and have it operate in the same way, but perhaps with a bit of different feel and range to it, as the string anchor point would not be closer to the bridge and the arm attachment point behind the spring rather than in front of it.

My knowledge of physics is too limited to tell you if it would operate any differently in practice. The lock button probably wouldn't fit if you were using one of those.

EDIT: I've seen a Chinese knockoff Jaguar-type guitar that came with the vibrato installed the wrong way around, most likely posted on here. That probably wasn't by design, but I can't see why it wouldn't work.
It wouldn't work as the trem plate would be pulled away from the knife edge, making it effectively a really unstable hardtail.

Image
But couldn’t you fix that by moving the spring the other side of the rocking plate between that and the face plate. This way it could still provide an opposite pull to the strings so the rocking plate can still float.

Edit: although, looking at that diagram, with everything reversed I think the strings would be pulling the rocking plate off the pivot plate instead of onto it, so it still wouldn’t work.

Edit2: it definitely wouldn’t work, because the spring would also need to be pushing the rocking plate off pivot to counteract the strings.

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