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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

StetsBar Retro Fit Stop Tail Linear Tremolo System,... (Review)

Reviewed By: Jac Harrison
Purchased from: Manufacturer
Street Price: $229.00 USD + shipping

StetsBar is an American manufacturer of linear tremolo system that retro fit to stop tail, hard tail, Tele and Strat style guitars without any modification.

This review is on the chrome stop tail linear tremolo system.

Guitar used: 
RM Olson Languedoc (The Junk Doc)

Amp used:
Bogner Alchemist 1x12
1972 Fender Bassman head through a 2x12
Epiphone Valve JR head through a 1x12

Cables used:

Strings used:
Dark Horse 10-46

Install time - 45 minutes/2 beers and one shot.
Tools and supplies needed - This kit came with all of the hardware and tools needed for the install. 
Installation difficulty - This kit is very simple to install, but your guitar will need a full setup (mostly for the bridge intonation). If you can intonate your bridge you will be fine, if not take your guitar to a local luthier to have this kit installed. To have a StetsBar installed I can not see it setting you back more than (1) hour of labor plus bench fee or about $75 - $110 USD depending what your luthier charges -- the investment will be well worth it. 

This is one of those amazing products that I would have never even considered looking at for personal use since I had completely written off tremolo systems do to tonal inconsistency, lack of tuning stability and the body modifications that I thought was necessary for a quality, stable system. I am traditionally either a stop-bar tail piece, wraparound bridge or fixed string through body kind-of-guy, for one reason -- TONE. There is a very simple math equation I like to refer to when describing how tone is born (M=D x V=F) mass = density x volume = fuckyesness -- better known as tone. I have worked very hard at achieving my desired tone, it is my signature, my "mojo" if you will. It is one of the factors that makes me memorable as an artist and it brings the feel and depth to my music while I play. For me to alter a guitar, especially at the bridge since it accounts for 50% of the natural sustain... the upgrade better be amazing -- and this StetsBar is.

I originally heard about the StetsBar from one of my listeners on Gear Guys Radio (a radio show I co-host on Tuesday nights at 8PM EST) after we had Vigier guitars on and talked about their unique tremolo system. Long story short, this listener wrote in and said that he would like to know my opinion on the StetsBar and I told him that I did not have one, but would find out about the product and possibly do a full review. Fast forward a few weeks and with the power of the interwebs and this thing called a phone, a StetsBar was on it's way to me. When it arrived I honestly did not have high hopes for it working as it was designed to, do to my past experiences dealing with other tremolo products claiming to do the same thing. Also StestBar founder Eric Stets has this great story about having a vintage guitar and not wanting to diminish it's value by altering the guitar in anyway by install a traditional floating tremolo system -- and this is the product he came up with as a fix-all. To me, this really sounded like a sales pitch (I'm a skeptic), and almost to perfect of an idea to really work at it's price point.

After I installed the StetsBar on my guitar and did the full setup as the manufacturer recommended, I then tuned her up and then proceeded to "beat-the-poo" out of this new toy. Since the StetsBar has a unique design and can act as a floating tremolo -- that's how I used it. I did dive bombs until the stings were falling out of the nut, harmonic lifts and just overused and abused it for a good hour. Besides a slight more "tuning up", the guitar functioned and performed as if it still had its stock non-tremolo bridge when I was not using the tremolo arm, but gave me a full octave down and three quarters up when needed. Tonally there was zero difference -- and that is a plus. Even though the StetsBar is a functional well crafted non-invasive tremolo system and performs as the manufacturer claims -- I would have removed it and sent it back without a review if it had altered my tone in a negative way.

Over all this is an excellent product that delivers the results as it is intended to. I have already spoken with Eric Stets about getting a custom StetsBar for my Signature Chili Caster after the new year. This is one of if not the best non-invasive bolt-on tremolo kits I have ever used.

My advice: 
If you have a vintage non-tremolo guitar or any non-tremolo guitar that you do not want to alter its stock configuration but want the versatility of a floating or standard tremolo system or if you want to upgrade your Bigsby  -- Buy a StetsBar.

A great video by luthier Doron Markowitz on the StetsBar -- 

Stets Metal Arts Inc 
50 East and West Road
West Seneca
NY 14224 

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Posted 12/2013
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