Many guitarists I know love what a tremolo bridge can do, but hate the hassle of using them. If you have a Floyd Rose tremolo system for example, tuning and intonation changes become a huge pain. Tremol-No is a company that came up with a solution for several of the problems presented by such systems. There’s also a number of additional advantages to the Tremol-No mod in terms of tone and usability. Many Floyd Rose players use the mod, although the Tremol-No can work on a large variety of bridge types (see the full list here).
The Tremol-No allows you to change your tremolo bridge set-up from full floating, to dive-only or even hardtail (locking the trem in place). This can be done quickly and easily by turning a few screws in the back cavity of your guitar. I have two Floyd Rose-equipped guitars, and in their stock format, I can’t help but hate them a little. After installing a Tremol-No on both guitars, they are now a hell of a lot easier to use. Read on to find out if the mod is right for your set-up.
Advantages of using a Tremol-No
There are a number of advantages to installing a Tremol-No. First of all, it adds additional mass to your tremolo system, and replaces the dinky little trem claw which ships with most tremolo units. The Tremol-No also adds more contact points between the sustain block and the guitar. The result of this is an improvement in tone. After the mod, my guitar sounded fatter while retaining the existing clarity and presence. It’s a nice added extra but don’t expect to work wonders with your guitar though. Changing a pick-up or your sustain block would cost approximately the same amount of money but would result in a much larger change in tone. Tremol-No state that sustain is also improved in hardtail mode, and given the mass and set-up changes, I’d say it’s a believable claim. Sustain has never been an issue on my guitars though so I didn’t notice any difference.
Guitar set-up becomes a lot easier
The real big ticket benefits of the system are involved with set-up. As mentioned it allows you to quickly and easily change the operation of the trem. In hardtail mode you can change the tuning easily and quickly without the usual issues presented by Floyd Rose bridges. In dive-only mode, you can still perform drop tunings easily. I prefer leaving my Tremol-No in hardtail most of the time. Not only is tuning easier, but intonation changes become a lot easier. The ease of intonation and tuning is the main reason why I modded both my guitars with a Tremol-No. Unlike some other hardtail mods, a guitar equipped with a Tremol-No can also quickly be reverted to standard operation.
Even in full-floating mode, there’s advantages. You can do double stops without the second note detuning as you bend. Also, if you break a string, the whole guitar won’t radically detune on the spot, so you’d be able to finish the song.
Relatively few disadvantages to Tremol-No installation
The list of cons to installing a Tremol-No is a rather brief one. You can’t do trem flutter after the Tremol-No is installed, since it stabilises the spring movement (see John Petrucci demonstrate the flutter technique here). So that might be a big issue for certain players. I like trem flutter but I prioritize the other advantages you gain by the mod over the ability to do that one technique. If the Tremol-No is set-up badly then it can change the feel of the tremolo arm movement, but it’s not that difficult to set up so you really shouldn’t have this issue.
Three types of Tremol-No units offered
There’s three types of Tremol-No: Pin ($54.99), small clamp ($48.40) and large clamp ($59.93). The different types are designed to work with different sustain block types. Different manufacturers use different block sizes, so Tremol-No list which of their products can be used with which guitar models here.
If you’ve modded your guitar with a different sustain block, then you should be extra careful. A common mod for Floyd Rose players is to change the standard 8mm depth block for a larger one. If you move up to a 13mm block, you’ll instead need to use a large clamp unit. I installed a pin type unit on my 12.7mm modded block, which also worked fine for a block of that size. Tremol-No encourage buyers to take a photo of their block and email it to the company if they are unsure about the type of unit to buy, which is good advice.
Tremol-No not ideal for capped block designs
I’m using a brass-capped aluminium block mod from Killer Guitar Components on my ESP-LTD KH-602. Unfortunately I found the capped design was not a good match for the Tremol-No. The place where the Tremol-No pins or clamps onto the block is the same place where one of the two cap screws goes in. So the result was I could only put one screw in, and the cap somewhat awkwardly sits over the Tremol-No at an angle. If my guitar was much thinner the cap edge would extend beyond the guitar cavity and would prevent the backplate from being put back on. Ultimately it wasn’t an issue for me though, and the Tremol-No and bridge all still work perfectly fine.
Advantages to home installation
There’s a good case for installing it yourself at home to save the cost of paying a guitar tech. The Tremol-No comes with reasonably clear instructions on how to do it, and there’s additional video guides online. Like any guitar mod there’s a chance of screwing things up of course, but if things go haywire you can always get an expert to set things right again. There’s no drilling or anything drastic required, so causing irreparable damage at home isn’t a likely outcome.
So is the Tremol-No worth the $48-$59 USD cost? In my case, it certainly was. If you want to be able to quickly and easily change how your Floyd Rose bridge operates, then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. It also has a host of other benefits: Improved tone, easier tuning, quicker intonation changes and no detuning on double stops or when strings break. The only significant disadvantage is that it prevents you from doing trem flutter. Whether that bothers you depends entirely on your playing style.
Mad for modding?
SoundReview has gone mad for Floyd Rose mods lately. If you’re interested in upgrading your sustain block, which can make a big difference to tone, we recently published two guides. The first was for a brass block and includes an installation guide, while the second was for the brass-capped aluminium block mentioned earlier in the article.