FloydUpgrades.com Brass “Big Block” and Titanium Sustain Blocks
Brass "Big Block", $32.95 (32mm), $34.95 (37mm) and $39.95 (42mm); TItanium Block, $440.00 (32mm), $450.00 (37mm) and $460.00 (42mm)
Originally published in Guitar World, May 2010
FloydUpgrades.com's brass and titanium replacement sustain blocks can help a great guitar generate exotic sustaining and resonant tones, and will noticeably improve the performance and sound of even an average guitar.
The Floys Rose double-locking bridge revolutionized rock guitar, by making it possible for players like Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai and countless other innovators to extremely, yet accurately, alter the pitch of their guitars without knocking the instrument out of tune. Although numerous other tremolo systems came before it, none maintained the guitar’s tuning as well, or responded as quickly and precisely, as the Floyd. Since its inception in 1977, the Floyd Rose has spawned scores of licensed variations and inspired numerous companies to produce their own doublelocking systems.
Adam Reiver owns and operates FloydUpgrades.com, where he offers high-quality replacements for practically every part of the Floyd Rose bridge and many of its licensed variants. Many consider Reiver the Floyd Rose expert, as he’s spent the past two decades helping artists get better tone and performance from their Floyd Rose bridges. He has also worked for Floyd Rose directly and produces the popular EVH DTuna accessory through his DTuner company. A very short list of artists who use his components include Warren DeMartini, Phil Collen, Vernon Reid, C.C. Deville, Eddie Ojeda, Steve Stevens, Mick Mars and many others.
Reiver recognized early on that the Floyd’s primary fault is the stock sustain block. This is the part of the tremolo that extends vertically through the guitar, connecting to the underside of the bridge plate and the trem springs. This resonating tone link is made of a rather cheap plated brass in its stock form, which limits the frequency strength and range of tonal details that ultimately reach the pickups.
FloydUpgrades.com offers sustain block replacements of the highest quality brass and titanium, and the results are definitely noticeable. Both dramatically improve tone, sustain and response. Because they are direct replacements for stock blocks, they’re easy to install and require no permanent alterations to the bridge. Reiver even has step-by-step instructional videos on his web site, where he demonstrates the simple replacement process and provides further tips on how to fine-tune the bridge’s performance. For my tests, I installed the blocks in guitars that ranged from a mediocre-sounding vintage Kramer to a recent masterpiece from the Jackson Custom Shop.
BRASS “BIG BLOCK”
The "Big Block" is constructed from the finest bell brass and has about twice the mass of a stock block. Reiver also crafts an L-shaped version that makes use of the entire area available under the bridge, should you want to maximize the mass of your block. Either way, the improvement in tone and sustain was nothing short of miraculous. I tried the Big Block on several guitars, and each instrument displayed juicier and fatter midrange and remarkably lush harmonic overtones. Highs were rounder and more pleasing to the ear, while lows were deeper and fuller. It was as if the frequency range of the instrument was extended three dimensionally, revealing previously hidden musical details. The improvement in sustain was so phenomenal that I was even able to turn off my overdrive pedal.
Titanium is prized for its light weight and incredible strength. Reiver also discovered that when the highest grade of this metal is used with an undisclosed alloy, it has unique resonant qualities. Although top-shelf titanium is fairly expensive, it has outstanding sonic benefits. The Titanium block I tested approximately doubled the guitar’s sustain, and the entire frequency spectrum became more intense. Note definition and focus were vastly improved, and previously unheard overtones gushed through the speakers. Upper frequencies in particular were intoxicatingly effervescent, with no loss of midrange punch or low-end power.
THE BOTTOM LINE
FloydUpgrades.com's brass and titanium replacement sustain blocks can help a great guitar generate exotic sustaining and resonant tones, and will noticeably improve the performance and sound of even an average guitar. A darker and beefier instrument may benefit most from titanium, while a thinner sounding instrument will probably be enhanced best by brass—but let your style and tone be your guide.
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