The guitar world is awash with companies vying to create the next great guitar accessory. And with its new contraption, the Jake Blade, Buchanan, Michigan's RoughGauge believes it's done exactly that.
Meet the Jake Blade, an easy-to-install vibrato unit that discards the concept of a tremolo arm, instead allowing players to utilize a small, convex metal plate – one that looks a little like a mussel shell – to achieve vibrato while playing.
Occupying the same spot on your electric guitar as a traditional whammy bar, the Jake Blade offers a new way of approaching the incorporation of vibrato in guitar playing, and thus aims to unlock a range of new expressive possibilities.
Additionally, it provides a solution to players who find that a traditional whammy bar gets in the way of their playing.
Umphrey's McGee's Jake Cinninger, the guitarist with whom RoughGauge collaborated with during the development of the Jake Blade, gives an in-depth look at the unit in the video below, showcasing the sounds it can create while using both clean and distorted guitar.
“This unique product allows guitarists to bend and dive the strings by applying pressure from the fingers or palm to the blade, providing a broader range and offering the guitarist enhanced tremolo effects,” says RoughGauge. "Best of all, unlike a traditional whammy, the Jake Blade’s ergonomic design does not get in your way as you play.”
Though it's just hit the market, the Jake Blade isn't an entirely new invention. The original Jake Blade was patented in 2008 by RoughGauge founder Mark Benjamin, and was hand-made in small batches over an anvil. However, a fire consumed RoughGauge's manufacturing facility along with all of the Jake Blade tooling in 2018.
Thereafter, Benjamin sought to start again with a clean slate, and eventually partnered with Michigan's Frame Products, and secured a new shop to manufacture products in his hometown of Buchanan.
In terms of availability, the Jake Blade fits PRS, G&L and Stratocaster guitars and comes in a metallic silver finish, but can be made to order in custom color-dipped finishes, too.
Price-wise, the standard Jake Blade comes with a $99 price tag, while custom versions range in cost from $119 to $129. For more information, head to RoughGauge (opens in new tab).