This is the man that these next few pages of my website will be about...Mr. Floyd Rose....and his tremolo/vibrato unit that he designed.
I would love to take the time to tell you about the history of Floyd and how he came about designing the tremolo unit, but I really don't know much of anything about it right now. This is where my reader's will have to try to help me. If you know any of the history of the Floyd unit or know how I can get in touch with Floyd Rose to interview him, I'd greatly appreciate it. This will become a regular part of my website, so hopefully in about three months when I do the next newsletter, I will know more about the Floyd unit and will have probably interviewed Floyd by then.
I, personally, don't know a whole lot about this, but I will tell you what I have heard....Floyd Rose was a machinist and a hobbiest guitar player who saw a need for a better vibrato system. I have heard that he came up with the non-fine-tuning unit on his own and the twin mounting post mounting idea and had pretty good luck with it. He was producing the first several units in his home mahine shop that was in his garage. He saw a market for the unit, but no means to promote it. After speaking with several guitar manufacturers, he was told to try to get Eddie Van Halen to play it, because if he was to start using the unit, then he would get all the exposure that he needed. Somehow he hooked up with Eddie, I am not sure how, and they started to burn up the circuit with it. It was not long before Floyd was putting these units on the guitars of players like Brad Gillis, Steve Via, and other "metal" players from about 1978 to 1980.
(This unit is actually the one that was found on the earliest Focus Series guitars and the early Striker Series models. This picture was taken from the 1985 Focus/Striker "catalog")
By 1981, I have been told that Dennis Berardi, President of Kramer guitars, was on a plane flight to California and had ran into Floyd on the plane. They struck up a conversation and Dennis was able to get to meet Eddie through Floyd setting the two up. Well, by late 1981 or early 1982, Eddie was in an endorsment deal with Kramer guitars, but Dennis and the guys at Kramer had a different idea for Eddie's wammy bar.....the "Edward Van Halen Tremolo"...aka the Rockinger. Eddie never cared for the Rockinger, and in at least one meeting with the Rockinger engineers, I have been told that Eddie got really irate with the engineers for not taking his advice on what they needed in a design/improvements, and Ed let Dennis know of his disappointments with Rockinger....something to the effect of..."Keep them the f%ck away from me!". Either way, Kramer and Floyd then struck up a deal within 6-8 months of the introduction of the Rockinger tremolo units, and by late 1982, Kramers were coming out with the new and improved Floyd Rose unit with fine tuners (below) and a new Floyd Rose Signature model (seen in Floyd's hands at the top of the page).
(This unit is the one with fine-tuning system. Picture was taken from the 1985 Focus/Striker "catalog")
The guitar industry was taken by storm with the new Floyd Rose tremolo unit. It seemed like everyone was using them. With metal the popular music of the day, Kramers were "HOT"! By late 1984, the other tremolo options of the ESP Flicker and standard tremolo were dropped from Kramers list of units, and the Floyd Rose came equipped on all Kramer models. Also in 1985, the Floyd Rose unit for a Gibson Les Paul was introduced.
(Picture from 1985 dealer literature)
Also in 1985, Floyd Rose had designed the Enterprise and Triax guitars which were ill-fated and not many of them were ever produced.
(Picture taken from the 1985 Kramer catalog)
In the later years of Kramer, Floyd was still active with some designing, eventhough he had already licensed out the Floyd Rose tremolo patents so that everyone could make a "copy" of the unit. By 1989, Kramer came out with a Sustainer model where Floyd was one of the designers of the pickup used in that model, and he also made some refinements in the tremolo unit. This new and improved unit called the Floyd Rose Pro, and they came as standard equipment on the '89-'90 ProAxe guitars and a few of the Hundred Series models. By early 1990, Floyd found out about being stiffed in royalties and pulled his patents from Kramer so they couldn't use his tremolo units any more. Kramer was already in bankruptcy procedings and closed shortly afterwards.
That is the story of Floyd Rose and his infamous tremolo unit,as I know it and have been told. Hopefully we will se some more detail and a better account of Floyd's guitar journey in a few months. So, if you can help me refine this history of Floyd and his gift to the world of guitarists, I'd apreciate it. As for what he is doing now......I don't know. Now, I have set up a few other pages to help you out with your Floyd equipped guitar with more facts and info.
1. Floyd Rose Set-up Instructions
2. Bridge and Action Adjustments
3. Floyd Rose Pros and Cons