Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #52
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Danelectro is fighting a hard battle in releasing yet another Strat style guitar onto the market, but the addition of those excellent lipstick pickups and 2-point floating trem at a very attractive price point may help sway a decent number of people over to their offering.
A retrofit tremolo system that can fit just about any guitar without drilling any holes? Where do we sign up? Nick Jennison reviews the Stetsbar.
It’s a beautiful thing, the love between a guitarist and their instruments. The deep affection I feel for my Custom 22 and McCartys is what drives me to pick them up day in and day out. They’re handsome, toneful, and we’ve been through a lot together. I can’t imagine ever wanting more from a guitar than these beautiful instruments can provide.
Except for a trem. I’d really like a trem.
This poses a bit of a problem, I’m sure you’ll agree. “Why not buy a trem guitar?” you may say. Well, I’ve got trem fitted guitars, and they’re lovely, but they’re not the ones I reach for every time I sit down to play, and when it’s time to pick two to take to a gig they rarely make the cut. No, I want a trem on my favourite guitars.
“Ok then, have your favourite guitars routed and fitted with trems!” you may retort. Except you wouldn’t because like me the very thought had filled you with stomach-knotting horror. No, we both know that’s not going to happen. So what am I to do? Do I spend the rest of my days having to choose between my most beloved guitars the endlessly entertaining world of the tremolo? Or do I just get a Stetsbar?
A Stetsbar, for those who don’t know yet, is a high-performance tremolo system that fits to your guitar with no modifications. No drilling, no routing, nothing; it fits directly into the existing holes used to mount your bridge. The demo guitar provided by Stetsbar was a Les Paul DC Pro that normally features the ubiquitous tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece. If you have this kind of instrument, you can literally pop the existing hardware out and screw the Stetsbar straight in. Conceivably you could change your guitar from a hardtail to a trem and back again every time you change strings. Got a gig that needs some tremolo action? Fit the Stetsbar. Don’t need a trem? Take it off again. To be honest, there’s not much of a reason to take it off, but knowing that you can is very reassuring - especially if you have a valuable/vintage instrument.
Regarding performance, the trem on the demo guitar is up there with the best I’ve played. The action is super smooth and tuning stability is reliable even under extreme use (as you’ll see in the video!). Because the bar emerges from between the D and G strings, the leverage is applied in a very smooth way that feels a bit like a good Bigsby, only with much greater pitch travel. Speaking of Bigsby, there were two arms included in the case. I didn’t really care for the look or feel of the rather skinny standard arm, but the Bigsby-esque “vintage arm” is much more to my taste. It’s a little thing, but in my opinion, it makes the whole assembly look more classy.
So it looks like the dilemma is over, especially since Stetsbar have recently introduced a model that’ll fit wraparound style bridges! Who says you can't have your cake and eat it, eh?