Floyd Rose Tremolos for Left Handed Guitars
The following is the ultimate guide on left handed Floyd Rose tremolos, genuine, licensed, and unlicensed. Nowhere else on the internet will you find all this information in one place.
Musician Floyd Rose invented his original guitar tremolo in 1976. He made his early models out of his garage and presented them publicly at the 1980 NAMM Show. Shortly thereafter Rose partnered with Fernandes Guitars of Japan to produce further prototypes and the first production models. Floyd Rose was introduced to Eddie Van Halen through a mutual friend and Van Halen began using Rose's products on his guitars. Rose met executives from Kramer Guitars at the 1982 NAMM show and thereafter formed a partnership. Eddie Van Halen had also signed with Kramer. The first production tremolos made by Fernandes were fitted exclusively to Kramer guitars in the United States from 1982.
With input from Eddie Van Halen, the final design was released in 1983. Original Floyd Rose units were made by Fernandes in Japan (using sub-contractors) and Schaller in Germany from the end of 1983. Kahler (American Precision Metalworks) also did a very early run. The "locking tremolo" concept quickly became popular and other parts distributors and guitar brands started to make their own copies. In order to protect and defend his patent rights, Rose decided to sub-license to interested manufacturers to make their own or OEM units for other guitar brands that wanted to use them.
From 1985 Floyd Rose ended the Fernandes contract leaving Schaller to produce all original models thereafter. The Schaller originals could only be bought through Kramer. Kramer went bankrupt in 1991 and Fender took over distribution until 2005. From 2005 distribution returned to Floyd Rose. Under Floyd Rose's control Schaller remained the producer of the Original Floyd Rose (OFR) tremolos and OEM production was moved fully to Korea. AP International Music Supply in the United States is the current distributor of Floyd Rose original products.
Guitar brands that adopted the Floyd Rose tremolo include Aria Pro II, B.C Rich, Carvin, Charvel, Epiphone, ESP, EVH, Fender, Fernandes, Gaskell, Gibson, Hamer, Ibanez, Jackson, Kramer, Music Man, Peavey, Samick, Schecter, Tokai, Tom Anderson, Washburn, Westone, and Yamaha.
The early manufacturers of licensed Floyd Rose tremolos were Schaller, Takeuchi, Gotoh, and Kahler. These companies built units under OEM arrangements for many guitar brands. Other parts manufacturers supplied licensed units to companies such as ESP, Tokai, Fernandes, and Yamaha for just their own brands. Some units were the same between guitar brands, although given different names. Licensed units were most often stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the base plate or tail, and sometimes the name of the guitar brand was stamped on the base plate too.
Schaller always made the original Floyd Rose models and their own licensed version and does so to this day. They did some international OEM production up until the early 2000s.
Takeuchi continued to manufacture licensed Floyd Rose tremolos for Japanese-made Ibanez, Jackson, Charvel, Yamaha, Fernandes, Aria Pro II, and Washburn guitars, among others until the mid 2000s. They also made lower-cost units for Ibanez's entry-level guitars up to 2010.
Gotoh made their own tremolo as a direct replacement for the Schaller Licensed and Schaller Original and supplied theirs as OEM units to Aria Pro II, B.C Rich, Ibanez, Music Man, and Fernandes since 1986.
Kahler made several proprietary models combining Floyd Rose and Kahler patents during the 1980s and early 1990s. These were the renowned "Steeler," "Killer," and "Spyder" tremolos - collectively the "2700 Series," made at the same time as Kahler was developing their own cam-based systems. All 2700-Series systems were available left handed. B.C Rich, Carvin, Charvel, Fender, Gibson, Peavey, Tom Anderson, Westone, and Yamaha used them, among others. During this time Kahler was Floyd Rose's only rival. Kahler left the industry in the early 1990s but returned in 2005 and is now most famous for its own guitar bridges and tremolos. Kahler no longer makes Floyd Rose-style products.
Other OEM producers are Ping Well in Taiwan; and Sung Il and Jin Ah, in Korea.
Fernandes, Yamaha, Tokai, and ESP went on to further modify and produce proprietary versions of Floyd Rose-style systems for their own guitar brands. Schaller also produced an exclusive system for Fender Japan. Note that with the exception of Schaller, none of these companies made anything themselves; they used parts manufacturers for hardware and various factories for guitars. These 3rd-party units were always branded.
ESP produced their early illegal "Magician" clone and then licensed "ESP Synclear Tremolo" for their Japanese-made guitars during the 1980s.
Yamaha made their licensed "Rocking Magic" series of tremolos until the early 2000s.
Fernandes continued and modified the original Floyd Rose units that they made for Rose and Kramer to become the "Head Crasher" then "FRT Tremolo System" range until 1997.
Tokai produced five tremolo systems using Floyd Rose technologies - some licensed, some not - as the "Ayers Rocker" series.
Schaller made the "Blade Shooter" tremolo system exclusively for Fender Japan during the 1980s. There were eventually three versions, known outside Japan as "System I", "System II", and "System III."
Floyd Rose did not renew the main patent which expired in 2003. This apparently encouraged some Asian manufacturers to start making their own cheaper copies, not realizing that a Floyd Rose tremolo system contains multiple patented technologies, and that those other patents are still current. It is still illegal to copy those without permission.
In the early days of Chinese mass manufacturing, Chinese factories imported their musical instrument hardware from Korea. China did not start making their own hardware until the late 2000s. Since then, a flood of cheap, counterfeit Chinese products - including Floyd Rose knockoffs - are being sold on platforms like AliExpress and eBay. Hell, they blatantly sell counterfeit Gibsons and Fenders, and have even sold fake Gaskells before! Chinese Floyd Rose copies are generally inferior, and most are still stamped as "Licensed..." which is completely false. To combat the flood of cheap copies from Asia, Floyd Rose released the "Floyd Rose Special" in 2008. Like the current OEM Floyd Rose, this unit is also made in Korea but uses cheaper materials than the German and Korean originals.
The following information is the definitive guide on Floyd Rose tremolos (and variants) for left-handed guitars.
I will get this out of the way first: I am a big fan of Floyd Rose tremolos. I owned an original lefty Kramer back in the 1980s. I am very familiar with each of the OFR, Schaller and Gotoh tremolos. I also really like the modern Ibanez systems. I also like Kahler tremolos too.
If you are keen on upgrading your lefty guitar with a better quality floating tremolo or replacing the one you have then here are your choices:
Original Floyd Rose FRT 100L
The first production Floyd Rose tremolos were made in Japan by Fernandes from 1982 with the final double-locking design, designated "FRT-5" by Fernandes, made from 1983 and later in the same year by Schaller of Germany too. Rose's original non-fine tuner tremolo was also produced by Fernandes and Schaller. Schaller became sole manufacturer of Original Floyd Rose (OFR) tremolos from 1985 and they were marketed and distributed exclusively by Kramer. All products were made in Germany. Schaller continued to produce both the double-locking and non fine tuner systems. Kramer did make left hand versions of their U.S-assembled Pacer and Barretta models and their Japanese-made "Focus Series" with the German OFR units during the 1980s.
Although the contract ended after 1985, Fernandes still had rights to manufacture Original Floyd Rose tremolos and continued to have their double-locking FRT-5 and non fine tuner "FRT-2" manufactured for some of their own guitars and for the Japanese domestic retail market until 1987. (See following section on Fernandes.)
The FRT-5 was originally etched with "Floyd Rose" on the base plate until about 1987 after which they were embossed with "Floyd Rose Original." After Kramer went bankrupt in 1991, Fender took over as sole distributor of Floyd Rose products until 2005. Thereafter control returned to Floyd Rose. Floyd Rose systems are marketed today by AP International Music Supply in the United States. During this entire time Schaller in Germany has always produced the Floyd Rose-branded OFR systems as well as their own Schaller-branded licensed systems.
The modern double-locking Floyd Rose tremolo is designated FRT-100 and is almost unchanged from the original 1983 Japanese and German production models. The FRT-100L is the left handed version and is available in chrome, satin chrome, black, gold, black nickel, vintage copper, and satin pearl. The 100 series is Floyd Rose's flagship model. The unit is made of high-quality hardened steel and the sustain block is made of nickel-plated brass. The base is stamped "Floyd Rose Original" at the top. Floyd Rose's other current German OFR models are not made left handed.
I am an authorized dealer of Original Floyd Rose products and you can buy from me directly. Note, our terrible Australian dollar and economy means these are very expensive in our money. SEE HERE.
Schaller Floyd Rose
Original Floyd Rose (FRT-100)
The first production double-locking Floyd Rose tremolos with fine tuners were made by Fernandes beginning in 1983. Parts and complete units were shipped from Japan to the United States for exclusive assembly by Kramer in the United States. At the same time, Schaller was commissioned as the second major producer, beginning production six months later. At the end of 1985 Fernandes was dropped in favour of Schaller and, other than a brief interim run by Kahler, Schaller became the sole manufacturer of Original Floyd Rose tremolos for Kramer thereafter. Schaller makes the Original FRT-100 to this day.
Modern Schaller Tremolo
In addition to producing the FRT-100, Schaller makes their own licensed tremolo which is almost identical to the FRT-100. These have "Schaller" embossed on one side of the base and "Made in Germany by Schaller" embossed on the other side of the base. The block is stamped with "FR" in a circle, the block size, and www.floydrose.com. All parts between the Schaller licensed and the FRT-100 are interchangeable.
There are some very minor differences between the FRT-100 and the Schaller licensed. First, the base plate of the Schaller licensed is die cast, as opposed to solid steel on the FRT-100 and the fulcrum points on the Schaller have replaceable hardened steel inserts. Second, the locking screws aren't as long in the back so the unit will fit in a smaller rout. Lastly, it features a 12" radius, as opposed to the 10" of the FRT-100. Trembucker or F-Spaced humbuckers are not necessary for the Schaller licensed tremolo.
Left-handed Schaller licensed tremolos are available in nickel, chrome, satin chrome, ruthenium, satin pearl, and vintage copper finishes.
Floyd Rose II
In 1987 Schaller produced the "Floyd Rose II" which was a cast iron, string-through tremolo based on Rose's second tremolo system and later built by Fernandes as the "FRT-2." The strings are fed through horizontal tubes at the rear and do not have to have their ball ends cut off. Early units were embossed with "Floyd Rose II" at the top of the base plate and "Made In Germany by Schaller" at the bottom of the base plate. Later versions said "Floyd Rose II" on the base only. It was fitted to Korean-made Kramer guitars until 1989, while Japanese and U.S-assembled Kramers continued to be built with the Original Floyd Rose double locking tremolo.
From 1989 the Floyd Rose II name was reapplied to a cheaper version of the Schaller licensed double locking tremolo, also embossed with "Floyd Rose II" at the top of the base plate. The knife edges had inserts as with the higher-spec Schaller. This one did not have any licensing statement on the tail. The double locking Floyd Rose II was used on the 1989 Kramer "100-Series" and "Striker Series" made in Korea. The Striker Series were available left handed.
Fender Japan's "Pro-Feel" range of Stratocasters replaced the 1984-1987 Japan domestic market "Boxer Series" and were made with Takeuchi TRS-101 or Kahler Spyder tremolos until 1991. From 1992 the FRT-100 was used on the highest-spec models and the double locking Floyd Rose II was used on the lower-spec models. Fender's Japanese sub-brand Heartfield existed from 1989 to 1993 and the Heartfield "Talon" Stratocasters came with the Floyd Rose II. All Japanese Fenders went back to Original FRT-100s from 1994 and the Floyd Rose II disappeared from Japanese catalogs after 1995. Squier guitars destined for the U.S and European markets were made in Korea from 1987. The "Squier Contemporary Series" Stratocasters were built with the Schaller tremolo from 1988-1990 and the "HM Series" Stratocasters were built with the Floyd Rose II until 1993. The Korean factories were Young Chang until 1989, Samick and Sung Eum until 1991, and Cort from 1992. None of these Fender, Heartfield, or Squier guitars were ever made left handed.
Being cast iron, both versions of the Floyd Rose II had a rough, "orange peel" finish.
From my research it seems the Floyd Rose II may have been ditched around 2000.
Schaller also provided its Floyd Rose II as an OEM licensed tremolo for some Jackson, Carvin, Charvel, Hamer, Gibson, Music Man, Peavey, and Washburn guitars during the 1980s and 1990s. For example, the "JT-570" was a branded string-through Floyd Rose II and the "JT-590" was a branded double-locking Floyd Rose II made for Jackson in the 1990s. For Charvel the latter was the "FLC-202." They had "Jackson" or "Charvel" embossed on the top side of the base plate and "Made in Germany by Schaller" embossed on the opposite side with "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" embossed on the tail. Two U.S patent numbers were engraved in the block. I do not know of any left handed Jacksons that came with the JT-590 but I believe it was used on the 1989-1991 left handed Charvel 475 Deluxe and the 1991 Japan-only left handed DK-090-SSHL Peavey used this tremolo on their left handed Predator Plus EXP. Carvin switched from Kahler tremolos to the Schaller OEM tremolo in 1990. It was listed in Carvin catalogs as the "FC3" from 1990-1993. All Carvin guitars were offered left handed. From 1994 Carvin switched to the FRT-100..
From what I can tell it appears some OEM versions did not have the rough orange peel finish of the equivalent unbranded Floyd Rose II. The dimensions of Schaller's licensed units were identical to the FRT-100 original except for the tail width which was 2mm wider.
Kramer went out of business in 1991 and was sold out of bankruptcy to Gibson Guitars in 1996. Under Gibson's Epiphone division, new Kramer guitars were made in Korea by Samick which also produced the majority of Epiphone guitars at that time. The Schaller tremolos used on the Epiphone Kramers were stamped "Kramer" on the base plate. There was only one lefty model with a Floyd Rose: the left handed Baretta FR404SNL.
Only within the last few years has the Schaller LockMeister® 6 Tremolo become available in left hand. It is now available in chrome, Satin chrome, black, gold, nickel, and ruthenium. The LockMeister is an improved version of the original using newer technologies. All studs, inserts and screws are black-zinc and black-chrome finished. Also new are height-adjusted one-piece string saddles for 12" tremolo-radius, eliminating the need for shims. The fine tuner screws also have longer threads. The Lockmeister is a direct replacement for the FRT-100.
Unfortunately neither Floyd Rose or Schaller offer an OFR (made in Germany) lefty 7 string tremolo.
On lower-cost guitars fitted with a Original Floyd Rose tremolo, the unit was not made in Germany but made in Korea. Some Korean OEM production had been occurring since the 1980s for non-U.S models but it was mainly Schaller producing the lower cost versions of the original OEM models for guitar brands while other manufacturers were making the "licensed under..." models. Since about 2010 the FRT-100 OEM unit is made exclusively in Korea and is designated the "1000 Series." This unit is exactly the same as the German FRT-100, built with the same quality materials as the German models, but manufactured in Korea by Sung-il Hightech Co Ltd. Being strictly OEM units these are forbidden for sale to the general public.
Because it is a Floyd Rose "original" (genuine) product it does not have "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" anywhere. The 1000-Series is simply stamped with "Floyd Rose" on the base with only one exception. EVH guitars that use the 1000-Series have "EVH Floyd Rose" stamped on the base plate, apparently the result of a special arrangement between Floyd Rose and Eddie Van Halen. See the current left handed EVH Striped Series Red with Black and White Stripes. FRT-1000s have the "FR" logo and the website address stamped on the block. The lefty chrome version is the "FRT-1000L", the black is the "FRT-2000L" and gold is the "FRT-3000L."
Until the advent of the Floyd Rose Special, 1000-Series units were sometimes branded. This is no longer the practice.
Note. In 2020 Floyd Rose discontinued their German "Floyd Rose Pro" low profile tremolo (never available in left hand and thus not mentioned here) and remarketed it as the "1000 Series Pro" which is also made in Korea. They aren't making this new one in left handed either. The FRT-1000 Series is now designated "FRT-1000 Series Original."
Floyd Rose FRTS1000L "Special Tremolo System"
The Floyd Rose Special is a cheaper version of the FRT 100 Series, introduced in 2008 and made in Korea exclusively for Floyd Rose. I believe this was produced to combat the flood of cheap Asian Floyd Rose copies that were starting to come onto the market during the 2000s and to undercut the cheaper but high quality licensed FRT-100 alternatives like the Takeuchi TRS-101 which could be bought by anyone from Allparts in the United States. (As of 2023 I can confirm they no longer sell it.) The introduction of the Special has essentially wiped out all other non-OEM manufacturers leaving only illegal cheap Chinese knock offs as alternatives today. (See info end of page.)
The lefty Floyd Rose FRTS1000L is exactly the same as the Korean FRT-1000L but uses zinc alloy saddles in place of steel and a zinc alloy sustain block in place of brass. It is branded "Floyd Rose Special" on the baseplate and has the "FR" logo on the block. Unlike the OEM-only Floyd Rose "1000 Series" which is also made in Korea, the Special is available to the public and can be bought by anyone, direct from Floyd Rose or from a reseller. I believe it may be made by Sung-il too. The "S1000L" model is the lefty chrome version, the "S2000L" model is black, and the "S3000L" is the gold model. The Special is the usual tremolo on mid-level guitars mostly made in Asia today. Because it is a Floyd Rose original product it doesn't say "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" anywhere. Note. Jackson Guitars appears to have their own stamped unit which is used on their entry level guitars made in China, including the current left handed JS32L Randy Rhoads.
NOTE: There is also a left handed 7 string Floyd Rose Special, model FRTSSS1000L. The 7 string lefty comes in chrome, black, black nickel, and gold.
From 2023 all Gaskell left handed guitars that come with a Floyd Rose system are fitted with Floyd Rose Special tremolos and can be upgraded to an OFR or Gotoh. (All Australian Custom Shop Gaskells were fitted with German OFR or Japanese Gotoh units.)
Fernandes "FRT1", "FRT2", "FRT3", "FRT4", "FRT7", "Head Crasher", "Body Crasher", "FRT Tremolo System"
Fernandes Electric Sound Research Group Co. Ltd. of Japan was the original producer of Floyd Rose tremolos including the prototypes and first production models. Fernandes is not a manufacturer themselves but use a number of Japanese factories to manufacture for them. They also have their own "Fernandes" and "Burny" range of guitars as well as sell electronics, parts, and accessories. In all the years since, it has never been made public as to who they used for the Floyd Rose contract.
The first unit manufactured through Fernandes was the one Rose had been manufacturing himself and selling directly since 1978. Rose presented his first unit publicly at the 1980 NAMM Show where Rose and representatives of Fernades first met. This early unit had the locking saddles but no fine tuners. Fernandes began manufacturing it in 1981 and it appeared in Fernandes Japanese guitar catalogs in 1982 as the "FRT-1." After a quick redesign of the saddles it became the "FRT-3" released only 6 months after. The ones made by Floyd himself have a sticker on the block saying "ROSE Tremolo Pat # 4,171,661 USA." At the 1982 NAMM show Rose met with executives from Kramer Guitars that led to the soon-to-be partnership. The FRT-3 was used on Fernandes guitars in Japan including the Japan-only Fernandes left handed FV-135.
After an absence of 25 years, Floyd Rose re-released this tremolo in 2015 following revived interest in it because of guitarists Guthrie Govan, Brad Gillis, and Yngwie Malmsteen. Today it is called the "non fine tuner" tremolo. The re-issued model is made by Schaller and is not available left handed.
FRT-2 / Head Banker
A string-through model developed by Rose and Fernandes was also released in 1982, designated "FRT-2." This one did not have fine tuners yet either. It also appeared in the 1982 Fernandes catalog alongside the FRT-1. From 1983 the FRT-2 was advertised in Japanese Fernandes catalogs as the "Head Banker." (I didn't know Fernandes was involved in Finance - joke.)
With the addition of vertical fine tuners as recommended by Eddie Van Halen, the FRT-3 became the "FRT-4" also released in 1982 but was only produced for five months, cut short because of complaints from Van Halen about their location interfering with his playing.
FRT-5 / FRT-7
Eddie Van Halen's feedback contributed to the FRT-4 growing a "tail" to put the fine tuners which solved the problem of the fine tuners getting in the way on the short-lived FRT-4. This became the "FRT-5", released and produced from 1983. Today this is the FRT-100 and the current model is practically identical to the 1983 original.
After partnering with Kramer in 1982, Floyd Rose manufacturing was supplemented by Schaller in the latter half of 1983 and both Fernandes and Schaller continued to make the FRT-5, FRT-2, and FRT-3 originals through 1984. Fernandes sold both the German and Japanese Floyd Rose kits to the Japan domestic retail market as well as used them on their own guitars. In the catalogs the German version is advertised as the "FRT-5" and the Japanese version is advertised as the "FRT-7."
The Fernandes 1983-1985 originals are practically identical to the Schaller originals. They are both etched with "Floyd Rose" at the top of the base place. The Fernandes blocks have a sticker that says "Floyd Rose TREMOLO SYSTEM PAT.4,171,861. The German units have "Made in Germany" embossed under the base plate. The German FRT-5 has a "Made in W. Germany" sticker on the block.
Head Crasher Tremolo System
After being dropped by Rose in 1985, Fernandes immediately rebranded their range of Floyd Rose tremolos to "Head Crasher Tremolo System."
The Original Floyd Rose FRT-5 (Fernandes FRT-7) became the "Head Crasher FRT-7." It was etched on the top face of the base plate with "Head Crasher" with "U.S. Pats 4497236" on a second line. There was no mention of licensing or anything elsewhere on the unit. This was used on the Japan-only 1985 left handed Fernandes BSV-70. and the 1985-1987 left handed FST-55 "The Function" Stratocaster.
The Fernandes string-through FRT-2 was newly designated "Head Crasher FRT-6."
In 1987 the Head Crasher FRT-7 was redesigned to reposition the fine tuners horizontally and the previous FRT-7 with the vertical tuners was redesignated "Head Crasher FRT-4" (even though "FRT-4" had been used before.)
Adding saddle height adjustment ability to the new FRT-4 became the "Head Crasher FRT-5" which was first featured in the 1987 Fernandes catalog.
From 1988 the FRT-4 and FRT-5 joined the FRT-7 in having horizontal fine tuners, leaving only the string-through FRT-6 with vertical tuners.
Fernandes introduced the "Body Crasher FRT-8" tremolo in 1986. Fernandes guitars were being made by Matsumoku at this time who also produced Aria Pro II guitars. It was an option on some Fernandes FR Series guitars including the left-handed FR55 as well as some Aria Pro II models including the Aria II Pro Mega Metal Stage III. In the Aria Pro II catalogs, it is referred to as the "ART-2." Yamaha also used this tremolo for some of their RGX Series Superstrat guitars introduced in 1987 and made in Taiwan, calling it the Yamaha "RMX" tremolo. There was a lefty RGX model with this tremolo. Does anybody know what factory actually made this tremolo?
It is not like any original Floyd Rose system. This is a very simplistic string-through tremolo with vertical fine tuners that screw through the end of six individually pivoting arms which each of the strings feed through horizontally and then go over saddles. String tension holds the arms down and the vertical fine tuners work by raising or lowering the arms on their pivots when you turn them. On this tremolo the whammy bar screws into the block. Early models had no stamping of any kind and later ones were etched with "Body Crasher" on the base plate. There are no Floyd Rose acknowledgements anywhere. Fernandes used this until 1996.
I have a left handed one of these from a guitar that I had back in New Zealand during the 1980s. Mine has no stamping. I cannot remember what guitar it came off. I don't think it was a Fernandes. Definitely not a Yamaha. In fact, I used this bridge (because I was poor at the time!) on the very first left handed guitar I personally built in 1992. I gigged with that guitar a handful of times in the early-2000s and I remember it did not stay in tune well. To me this design is somewhat primitive. I have questions.... Where did Matsumoku, Fernandes, and Yamaha get this one from? Someone else made it.
FRT Tremolo System
From 1988 Fernandes stopped using the Head Crasher and Body Crasher names and the whole range was renamed "FRT Tremolo System." The new FRT-7 from the previous year (with horizontal fine tuners) was redesignated "FRT-4" from 1988 and had "Fernandes" printed on the tail and "FRT TREMOLO SYSTEM" embossed on the base plate. The Body Crasher went back to being just the "FRT-8." Fernandes never made many left handed guitars but the 1990 FR-55 Revolver was available in left hand and this model came standard with the FRT-8.
Fernandes introduced a system incorporating a plate that fitted to the top of the guitar that the tremolo units sat in which by way of a lever locked the bridge. The string-through FRT-6 with this system became the new "FTR-9" and the FRT-5 with this system became the new "FRT-7."
In 1994 Fernandes adopted the Takeuchi TRS-PRO low-profile licensed tremolo, designated "FRT5-PRO" for Fernandes. It had "FRT Tremolo System" and "FRT5-PRO-TRS" stamped on the base plate and "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Pats." on the tail, This became the standard bridge for the "FR" Series.
From 1997 Fernandes dropped all the original tremolo bridges it produced before and adopted a Fernandes-branded Gotoh GE1996T for many of their guitars. In the Fernandes naming convention the new Gotoh was designated "FRT-10." They also continued to use the Takeuchi TRS-PRO until 1999. Thereafter, Fernandes used the Gotoh, the stock Schaller licensed Tremolo (named "SFRT-2"), and a cheaper version of the GE1996T made in Taiwan by Ping Well (named "FRT-11") right through to the early 2010s. An unbranded single-locking tremolo designated "KLK-II" was used on a few Japan-only Fernandes models in the 1990s. This had no licensing notice. Outside of Japan this would be deemed an illegal clone but as U.S patents are not enforceable in Japan, they could get away with this without repercussions.
Today, Fernandes uses the stock Gotoh GE1996T, the FRT-100 Original Floyd Rose, or the Korean FRTS1000 Specials for guitars that have a Floyd Rose system.
Gotoh GE1988T, GE1996T
Parts manufacturer Gotoh have been making Floyd Rose-style tremolos since 1986, beginning with OEM models for Ibanez. Gotoh tremolos are made in Japan and some believe they are the best of all licensed Floyd Rose tremolos. I am one of those people. I would take Gotoh over Schaller any day.
Gotoh's GE1988T was the first Gotoh licensed Floyd Rose OEM tremolo to be supplied to other brands. The OEM unit was stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the tail and "GOTOH Japan" on the block.
Between 1989 and 1992 some Japanese manufacturing of B.C Rich guitars occurred for the Japanese and European markets only. Japanese-made models received the Gotoh GE1988T such as the 1992 lefty Warlock NJ Series, made at the Teihatsu factory in Nagoya. The B.C Rich OEM tremolos were stamped "B.C Rich" in their script font on the base.
Gotoh also supplied this tremolo to Aria Guitars in 1991 for their Japanese Aria Pro II Superstrats. The tremolo was stamped "Aria Pro II" on the base. I believe Aria did offer a lefty version of their "Esprit" model with this tremolo.
Gotoh supplied the same tremolo, stamped "Music Man," for Ernie Ball/Music Man for their EVH guitars produced from 1991-1995. None of them were offered in left hand so we missed out there!
The modern Gotoh GE1996T can be bought by the general public and is often the first choice for custom guitar builders. It comes in three block sizes (depth) 33mm, 36mm and 40mm. Left hand units are available in chrome, black, and gold. Gotoh offers a different type of colour for their black tremolos called Cosmo Black (CK) which is actually finished in a light black chrome colour rather that standard black. Gotoh introduced this finish due to the environmentally friendly ROHS legislation, which prevents the use of certain metallic processes including those used in producing dark black plating. Gotoh tremolos are stamped with "High Stability Tremolo System" on the tail and "Gotoh Japan" on the base, on the opposite side of the hole for the tremolo arm.
From 1997 Gotoh produced a branded version of their GE1996T for Fernandes who had ceased direct procurement of their own licensed tremolos in that same year. The Fernandes model was designated "FRT-10" and was stamped "Fernandes Guitars" on the base plate and without any inscription on the tail. Fernandes weren't making many left handed guitars then, but they did produce the left handed Revolver Pro with the Gotoh in 2002.
Most Gaskell Custom Shop guitars with a Floyd Rose were built with the Gotoh system. There is nothing better. Current Gaskell Hybrid Series left handed guitars are upgradable to a Gotoh.
Ibanez Edge, TRS, Lo-Pro, Lo-TRS, SLT-101, Edge Pro, Edge Pro II, Edge III, Edge Zero, Edge Zero II
Ibanez have had two Japanese companies provide OEM licensed Floyd Rose tremolos for their guitars over the years: Gotoh and Takeuchi.
Edge / Lo-Pro
The original "Ibanez Edge tremolo" was made by Gotoh in 1986. It is very similar to the Original FRT-100 and is a straight replacement. It was stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the top of the tail. The first Ibanez left handed model to feature the new Edge was the one-year-only 1986 PL1770L. The 1993 Ibanez RG470L made at the Fujigen Gakki factory came with the Edge Tremolo.
Ibanez introduced a lower-profile version of the Edge tremolo called the "Lo-Pro" in 1991, also made by Gotoh. Like the Original Floyd Rose PRO, this system too has the fine tuners moved to the back of the saddles in front of the tail and separated from the string locks. By 1992, the Lo-Pro became the standard tremolo for all high-end Ibanez guitars.
TRS / Lo-TRS
Takeuchi's TRS-101 licensed OFR-style tremolo was also used on some Japanese-built Ibanez models, e.g. the 1999 left handed RG420AHL. Ibanez called it the "TRS."
Takeuchi introduced their own low-profile tremolo, the TRS-Pro, in 1994 which was provided as an OEM tremolo to many other guitar brands too. For Ibanez it was called the "Lo-TRS." With production moving back to Japan from Korea in 2000, the left handed RG470L resumed being built with the Lo-TRS until 2002. (See section following on Takeuchi.)
A cheaper version of the Takeuchi Lo-TRS, designated "Lo-TRS II" was used on some entry-level models built in Korea from 1994-2004. The Ibanez parts number for the lefty version was 2CL1LC34K, available in Cosmo black only. Left handed models that received the Lo-TRS II were the 1994-1999 RG470L, the 1998-2004 S470L, and the 1997-2000 JEM555L.
TRS-505 and SLT101 (Single Locking Tremolo)
Takeuchi also made a string-through tremolo, the "TRS-505" (similar to the original single-locking Floyd Rose II) which was used by multiple guitar brands. It was optioned on some Japan-built Ibanez RG and S series guitars from 1995, but I do not believe any left-handed models. A cheaper version made by Takeuchi for Ibanez specifically, designated the "SLT101" was used on some Ibanez guitars bult in Korea including the 1998-2001 left handed RG270L. The Ibanez part numbers for the SLT101 are 2SL1C12B [black] and 2SL1C12C [chrome.]
From 2003 the Edge was discontinued, and the Lo-Pro were replaced by the "Edge Pro", made by Gotoh again. The Edge Pro was made until 2009 and was fitted to Ibanez's Japanese-made Prestige line (RG2570EXL, RG1550M, RG1570) and most Ibanez Signature models. The Edge Pro was a different design, but still based on the low-profile Floyd Rose. It can be strung either with or without removing the ball ends of the strings. Left handed finishes were 2ELJ11LK (Cosmo black), 2EL1J11LG (gold), and 2EL1J11LPC (powder Cosmo) and were used on the 2003-2008 RG1570L. The left handed JS variant was available in chrome only. The Edge Pro proved to be unpopular with some players eliciting many complaints about tuning stability.
Reintroduced Edge and Lo-Pro
Due to the unpopularity of the Edge Pro, in 2010 Ibanez reintroduced the original Edge and Lo-Pro, and the Edge Pro was discontinued.
The original Edge tremolo was used on the following left handed Ibanez guitars: 2011-2013 Prestige Series (Made in Japan) Steve Vai Signature JEM7VL, 2015–2017 J-Custom line RG8570ZL, 2016-2017 Prestige Series RG655L, 2016-2019 RG652AHML, 2017 30th Anniversary JEM777L, 2017 RG652MPBL, 2018 RGR652AHBL, and the 2018-2020 left handed RG550L reissue. It is used on the current (2023) left handed RG550L-DY Genisis RG.
The original Lo-Pro tremolo was fitted to the 2020 Prestige line (made in Japan) left handed RG5320L.
Edge Pro II
While the high-end Japanese-made guitars were being made with the Edge Pro, Ibanez's mid-level models made in Korea were fitted with the "Edge Pro II" tremolo, a cheaper version also manufactured in Korea. As with the Edge Pro, the Edge Pro II can be strung either with or without removing the ball ends of the strings. Lefty Ibanez models fitted with the Edge Pro II were the 2003-2004 RG320FML and 2004-2005 RG370DXL. The Edge Pro II is very similar in appearance to the Edge Pro but made of cheaper materials.
The "Edge III" was introduced in 2005 and has a slightly higher profile form than the Edge Pro/Edge Pro II which was made that way to circumvent Ibanez having to pay ongoing license fees to Floyd Rose for the low-profile patents that were still current. The Edge III eventually replaced the Edge Pro II for Ibanez's Korean-made guitars, including the USA-only RG5EX1L and the ongoing RG370DXL series which were switched to Indonesian production from 2005-2010.
In 2008 Ibanez introduced the "Edge Zero tremolo with ZPS3 (Zero Point System 3) tuning stabilizer" which is made in China. This design finally eliminated any elements covered by the remaining Floyd Rose patents, the last of which was apparently the Edge Pro's low profile saddle design. The Edge Zero brought back the locking studs from the original Edge and was fitted to the Japanese Prestige models. The lefty version, model 2TRX5AE005, was available only in Cosmo black and was fitted to the RG2550ZL (2009, 2013-2014), RG1570ZL (2010), RG1550MZL (2010-2011), and RG8570ZL (2015-2017, 2019.) One complaint with the Edge Zero is that it lacks the steel backing plate for the fine tuner screws which was a feature of the earlier designs; this change means that the fine tuners are threaded directly into the more brittle zinc alloy of the tremolo body which with even general use can cause this brittle metal to crack.
Edge Zero II
In 2011 Ibanez released the "Edge Zero II" which was available with or without the ZPS3Fe system, for mid-level guitars and to replace the Edge III. The Left-handed Edge Zero II with ZPS3Fe was available in black (2TRX5AF006) or Cosmo black (2TRX5AF008) and the left handed Edge Zero II with spring hook was available only in black (2TRX5AD032.) Lefty models included the 2011-2012 RG870QMZL and the 2013-2014 RG950QMZL.
Standard DL Tremolo
The Edge III was phased out and finally discontinued in 2017. It was replaced with Ibanez's own Floyd Rose-based tremolo, the "Standard DL tremolo" which was introduced in 2013 and is made in China. With this design, Ibanez was able to avoid further licensing fees to Floyd Rose. As with the Edge III, this tremolo is fitted to mid-level and budget guitars made in Indonesia or China such as the Indonesian 2015-2019 left handed RG450DXBL and the Chinese, entry-level left handed Steve Vai Signature JEMJRL, which has been made since 2016 and costs around $1,000 here in Australia.
Visually, the Standard DL looks pretty much like a less-rounded Gotoh GE1996T. Constantly annoying about Ibanez: Ibanez (and almost every other guitar brand) never put proper numbered left handed guitar knobs on their left handed guitars! Bunch of amateurs! If you want proper left handed knobs click here: Left handed guitar knobs by Gaskell Guitars.
None of the Japanese, Korean, or Chinese Ibanez tremolos have been available for public purchase as they are strictly OEM products, however sometimes they come up on eBay or Reverb, either as new units that were swapped out for another Floyd Rose, or for other reasons.
Takeuchi TRS-101, TRS-Pro, TRS-505, TRT-1, ILT1
The TRS-101 was a high quality double locking tremolo built by Takeuchi Manufacturing Co. Ltd in Japan and used on many Japanese-built guitars in the 1980s and 1990s including Aria Pro II, B.C Rich, Charvel, ESP, Fender, Fernandes, Ibanez, Jackson, Kramer, Washburn, Westone, and Yamaha. It is a licensed variant of the Original FRT100 and was made until 2002. The TRS-101 was stamped on the top part of the base plate with either "TRS-101" or with the name of the guitar brand and usually with "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Pats." in very small letters near the tremolo arm hole at the bottom. The block was stamped "Takeuchi" with "Made in Japan" below it. It is distinctive for its slightly angled tail and fine tuners.
The TRS-101 is also known as the Jackson "JT580", Washburn "600-S", Ibanez "TRS", Fender "Ex-Trem", Charvel "FLC-101", among others.
Some Japanese Charvels made at the Chu Shin Gakki factory (1986-1991) came with the FLC-101 including the 1991 left handed DK-070-SSH.
Ibanez ordinarily used the Gotoh Edge or low-profile Takeuchi tremolos for all their guitars but did use an unbranded TRS-101 on the 1999 left handed banez RG420AHL.
The TRS-101 was used on the Japanese-built 1994 left handed Yamaha Pacifica 912JL and was slightly different in that the licensing statement was stamped upside down on the top face of the base plate.
Some lefty B.C Rich guitars made in Japan during the mid-80s were fitted with the TRS-101 if not a Kahler Spyder.
Fender never made any left handed guitars with their equivalent Ex-Trem.
With some guitar brands left hand and right hand options didn't always match internationally or even domestically. For example, the Japanese 1990 left handed Westone Steve Lynch Signature Corsair guitar came with a TRS-101 although the 1990 U.S Westone catalog states that the right-handed version comes with a Kahler Spyder. The Japan-only left handed Edwards (by ESP) EC-98V built during the mid-90s came with the TRS-101 although domestic right-handed models came with an Original Floyd Rose.
Takeuchi produced another cheaper, lower-end FRT-100 tremolo called the TRT-1. It was used on some Kramers made for the Japanese market by ESP in the late 1980s and on a single Ibanez model made by Peerless in Korea. This was the U.S-market 1987-1988 Roadstar II Series RG340. The equivalent European and Japanese market model, the RG360, also made at the Peerless factory, was instead fitted with a TRS-101. I do not believe either of these came left handed.
In 1994 Takeuchi introduced its low-profile version of the "Floyd Rose Pro" tremolo for guitars made in Japan. This was released as the "TRS-PRO." The low pro version has the locking bolts inside of the tail and the tail is flatter. It was also known as the Jackson "JT580LP", Washburn "800-S", Ibanez "Lo-TRS", Fernandes "FRT-5PRO", Charvel "FLC-PRO", among others. These models were stamped "TRS-PRO" on the base plate (if not branded) and "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" or "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Pats" (abbreviated) on the tail. "Takeuchi" was engraved on the block. It was made until the late 2000s.
It was used on Jackson's U.S-market left handed "Dinky" models that were made in Japan from the mid 1990s until the late 2000s, on several Japan-only 1991-1998 Grover Jackson left handed Dinky models and the Grover Jackson left handed Randy Rhoads RRL-P90, and on the left handed Yamaha RGX 421DL models made in Taiwan from 1995 until 2000. Ibanez models included the 2000 left handed RG470L. (Note, the Ibanez Lo-TRS has one difference from others in that one of the knife edges is flat, like a Gotoh.)
Takeuchi made a second version of the TRS-PRO for Ibanez, called the "Lo-TRS II" which was fitted to some entry-level Ibanez guitars built by Cort in the mid 1990s, including the 1994-2015 left handed JEM555L which was available in left hand from 1997-2000 only, and the 1994-1999 left-handed RG470L. This unit appears to have earned a consistent bad reputation for its cheapness with Ibanez players.
If you can find a lefty TRS-PRO on the second-hand market this might be the closest you would get to a left handed low profile Floyd Rose Pro, since Floyd Rose/Schaller have never made lefty versions.
Note: Takeuchi also made a left handed 7 string tremolo, the TRS-PRO7. This unit was available through to the 2010s. called the "LO-TRS7" by Ibanez, it was used on the only left handed 7 string Ibanez ever made, the 2000-2002 Ibanez RG7420L.
TRS-505 / SLT-101
Takeuchi produced a single locking tremolo bridge in 1995 called the "TRS-505." The strings are inserted through dummy string lock screws and are held there by the ball ends. It was offered on some Japanese-built Ibanez, Charvel, and Yamaha guitars from 1995-2002, but none left handed that I am aware of. A cheaper version of the TRS-505 was made for Ibanez's mid-range guitars, called the "SLT101." It was used on some Ibanez guitars built in Korea in the 1990s, including the left handed S270L and RG270L.
In 2001 Takeuchi was again called upon by Ibanez to produce a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo specifically for Ibanez's entry-level Suoerstrat models built in Korea and Indonesia. This was the "ILT1." It is essentially a cheaper version of the TRS-101. It was stamped "Ibanez" on the base plate and "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the tail. Left hand models came in Black (2CD1L101B) or Chrome (2CD1L101C.)
OEM "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents"
During the 1980s Matsumoku from Japan and Samick from Korea were two of the largest OEM producers of guitars in the world.
Matsumoku made guitars for Aria Pro II, Electra, Epiphone, Fernandes, Ibanez, Greco, Hondo, Samick, Vantage, and Washburn, along with its house brand, Westone. They also built some of the early 80's Focus Series Kramers. By the late 1980s Matsumoku's parent company Singer was on the verge of bankruptcy. This caused major problems for Matsumoku and the company was unable to buy itself out from under Singer and closed its doors in 1987. The Westone brand was carried on by original distributor St. Louis Music for the United States, and by FCN Music for the UK and European markets with guitars subsequently built by Samick of Korea. Various Japanese factories picked up Matsumoku's Japanese domestic market contracts but by the late 1980s Japanese manufacturing had become expensive and most guitar brands moved to Korean factories.
Matsumoku's first venture into a Floyd Rose-style tremolo was in 1984 with the "Bendmaster FT" made by Jin Ha of Korea. It is basically a two-point, string-through, Fender-style bridge with fine-tuners. It is quite distinctive for its curved base plate and J-shaped string hooks. These tremolos initially had no stamping. Later versions were stamped "Mfg. Under Floyd Rose Pats." on the base plate, and the bottom of the block was embossed with "JINAH." It was used on many Vantage, Electra, and Westone guitars including the left handed Westone Spectrum DX.
Some Aria Pro II guitars built in the 1980s came with a tremolo listed in their catalogs as an "ART-2" which is identical in every way to the Fernandes "Body Crasher" and Yamaha "RMX" tremolo. It was available on the left handed Aria II Pro Mega Metal Stage III. Considering Fernandes and Yamaha were not actual manufacturers and Matsumoku was, could it be that Matsumoku made the tremolo for Aria, Yamaha, and Fernandes? Or did Aria, Yamaha, and Fernandes just source it from the same factory elsewhere? The Aria Pro II version is stamped "Aria Pro II ART-2" on the base plate and the Fernandes is stamped "Body Crasher" instead. Yamaha have no inscriptions on thiers. Fernandes continued to use theirs for 10 years after Matsumoku closed its doors.
Other Matsumoku-built Aria Pro II and Washburn Superstrat models were fitted with a unique tremolo called the "ACT-3" for Aria Pro II and "600T" for Washburn. This tremolo's earliest appearance was also in 1984. I believe that it was made in Japan, presumably by Matsumoku or possibly Tokai, as Tokai made an almost identical unit called "Ayers's Rocker V." (Tokai did not make left handed guitars then.)
The ACT-3 has very different dimensions to a Floyd Rose and is not at all interchangeable. It is very recognizable for the raised square block on its base plate where the tremolo arm goes through, that the strings are fed through the horizontal tube screws at the back without needing to cut off the ball ends, and that it has rectangular carbon steel "pressure pads" that clamp the strings down. The Aria Pro II unit was stamped "ACT/3" on the base only. Initially there was no acknowledgement of any Floyd Rose patents. The Washburn version had "Washburn 600T" on the base and "Mfg. Under Floyd Rose Pats." in very small lettering at the opposite end of the base under the tremolo arm hole. Eventually the Aria Pro II version had this too.
The tremolo was highly regarded by players and came standard on the 1984-1985 Aria Pro II RS Esprit Yngwie Malmsteen Signature model (not made left handed.) Aria continued to use the ACT-3 on guitars built by subsequent Japanese manufacturers as well as guitars built by Samick, including the Korean left handed Aria Pro II XR Series, and the left handed Aria Pro II Esprit.
Matsumoku also offered a string-through Floyd Rose-style tremolo called the "Bendmaster Deluxe" on some Westone guitars. From the Westone catalogs it appears it was new for 1986 and may have been made in Japan too. It was used on the 1986 left handed Westone Spectrum DX. This tremolo was unusual in that it had roller-style, yet fixed, saddles and had very long tuning springs which made the tail very long but low too. It was stamped "Bendmaster Deluxe" on the base plate and without apparent acknowledgement of the Floyd Rose patents elsewhere(?) In the January 1987 Westone catalogs it lists the Pantera Standard and Deluxe Series, the Spectrum II and III Series, the Corsair DLX Series, and the new-for-1987 Genesis I and II Series as having the Bendmaster Deluxe. Of those, I do not know if any were made left handed. After Samick took over production it was gone by 1988.
Samick, Cort, WMIC
Samick produced guitars under the Samick and Hondo brands (the latter a joint-venture) and was the major producer of Epiphones from 1984 until 1996. From 1980 some Samick and Hondo guitars were built at the Matsumoku and Tokai factories. In 1982 Samick opened a branch office in Germany and a full subsidiary in the United States. Samick acquired the Vantage license from Matsumoku just before its closure in 1987 and continued to build Vantage guitars for U.S distributor Music Technology Inc. before taking over the brand fully in 1990. Samick continued to make Westone guitars until 1991 and Vantage guitars until 1998. Samick also built Marlins between 1986-1988 and Squiers from 1989-1991, as well as guitars for Epiphone, Aria Pro II, and Charvette by Charvelle during the 1990s.
KKT-1 (Bendmaster FT)
Samick too used the Jin Ah "Bendmaster FT" tremolo during the 1980s for some guitars. In the Samick naming convention it was designated "KKT-1."
Samick produced the 1986-1989 Epiphone S-Series Superstrats and Flying V with this tremolo, stamped as "Bennder." There was a lefty model: the left handed Epiphone S-600L.
From 1989-1991 Samick made Charvel's entry-level Charvette range, some of which also used this tremolo. The Charvette version was designated "CH-120." (Some Charvettes were also made at the Chu Shin Gakki factory where they made the higher quality Japanese Charvels and Jacksons.) I am not sure if Samick built any lefties.
B.C Rich had a line of guitars made at various factories in Nagoya, Japan between 1983 and 1985. These were called the "N.J" series. Many were built with Kahler's cam-type tremolo or Takeuchi's TRS-101. From 1986-2003 production of B.C Rich's N.J Series was moved to Korea utilizing several Korean factories, including Cort for the main. Many of B.C Rich's entry-level "Platinum Series" guitars made in Korea were built with the KKT-1 including the left handed Warlock introduced in 1988. The B.C Rich versions were properly stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents."
Samick used another single-locking tremolo by Jin Ah on some post-Matsumoku Aria Pro II guitars as well as on some of their own guitars during the 1990s. This unit was designated "KKT-2." Strings were fed through the self-locking T-shaped saddle assembly on a see-saw pivot. Vertical fine tuners at the rear of the saddles pressed on the base plate when turned, thus making the saddles pivot to make tuning adjustments. This unit has the raised block where the tremolo arm goes through like the ACT-3 / 600-T. The top of the base plate was stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents." Korean-made Aria Pro II models received the KKT-2 whereas the high-end Aria Pro II models made at subsequent Japanese factories were usually fitted with the Gotoh OEM double-locking tremolo from 1991. The KKT-2 was used on the left handed 1990-1999 Samick KJ-560 Superstrat, the 1988-1991 Korean-built left handed Aria Pro II Excel Series XL SPT-3RL, the 1991 Japanese left handed Aria Pro II VP-40 Viper, and the mid-90s Japanese left handed Aria Pro II MA-20 Magna Series.
KKT-3 / Bendmaster FR
From 1989 Samick used another Jin Ah tremolo, this time a FRT100 copy but with flat knife edges. This replaced the Bendmaster Deluxe. It was designated "KKT-3" by Samick. For Westone it was designated "Bendmaster FR." The KKT-3 was stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the upper base plate in "Courier New" font. It is also recognizable for its slightly conical shaped fine tuners. It was used on the 1989-1995 left handed Aria Pro II Excel and the 1991-1996 lefty Vantage 818G-DT built by Samick. Westone ceased to use it from 1990, instead using a TRS-101 on the 1990 Dan Armstrong Signature model (not made left handed) and Kahler 2710s for most others. (Note. As mentioned, Samick also built Squier and Fender guitars from 1989 but those that had Floyd Rose systems were fitted with Schaller licensed tremolos or the cheaper Floyd Rose II. Cort took over Fender production from 1992. None were ever made left handed.)
Some B.C Rich N.J Series guitars and Korean-made Dean DS Series guitars made in the 1990s also came with this tremolo, such as the left handed Dean DS-92E Superstrat. I believe B.C Rich and Dean guitars were built by World Musical Instrument Co. in Korea. Dean never made many guitars with Floyd Rose tremolos, only their V and Explorer "Noir" models, and some of the "Dimebag" models in the 1990s and 2000s, none left handed until 2008.
Samick also built the Gibson Kramers that were produced from 1998 until 2008 and were distributed by online retailer Music Yo in the United States. The Floyd Rose tremolos used on these look like a Schaller but they have faux knife edge "inserts" and no inscriptions anywhere. They are unbranded. Some (not all) of the Music Yo Kramers are highly regarded and were built with decent specs. Samick used Jin Ah hardware but these are not Jin Ah KKTs. What are they?
Ping Well Industrial Co. Ltd. located in Taiwan was one of the first official OEM producers of Floyd Rose tremolos for entry and intermediate level guitars, beginning in the late 1980s. It was the only manufacturer Floyd Rose allowed to produce genuine Floyd Rose tremolos (without the need to display a licensing statement.) Ping Well also made licensed OEM units and have their own patents for their own design innovations.
From 1987 and through the 1990s Jackson-Charvel used a tremolo made by Ping Well for guitars made in Japan and Korea, designated the "JT-6." It was different from original Floyds in that the fine tuners ran out the back of the unit with the string lock screws instead of sitting vertical on the tail. The saddles also had cover plates making the whole surface flat. Ping Well have their own patents for this design. It was embossed with "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the tail, with "Jackson" on the front of the block and "Made in Taiwan R.O.C" on the back of the block. Also characteristic of the JT-6 is the very rough "orange peel" finish, even rougher than the Schaller Floyd Rose II. These units were made with cheaper materials and reviews over the years suggest that were not considered to be good quality, although that is always a matter of opinion. Jackson's left handed Dinky model of that era came with this tremolo as did the Japanese-made left handed Charvel Model 3. Left handed versions of the 1987 Randy Rhoads, Soloist, and Strat-body models could be custom ordered. The JT-6 was standard for each.
Ping Well also produced a Gotoh GE1996T-style tremolo for Fernandes and Peavey in the mid 1990s. The Ping Well designation is "PT 505." Neither Fernandes or Peavey offered left handed guitars with this unit.
It was used on Peavey's 1996-2004 range of EVH Wolfgang guitars. (The earlier 1991-1995 EVH guitars came with a genuine Gotoh.) The unit is stamped "Peavey" on the base plate and "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the tail. Ping Well's "PW" logo is stamped on the block. It was not until Eddie Van Halen partnered with Fender in 2005 to redesign the EVH models and establish EVH as its own brand, that we would get left handed EVH models, such as the Japanese-built "Wolfgang Special" released in 2010, and shortly thereafter other models. The Fender EVH's use the OEM FRT-1000.
The Fernandes unit is designated "FRT-11" and is exactly the same in appearance as the Fernandes FRT-10 made by Gotoh, but with the Ping Well logo on the block. It is printed with "Fernandes Guitars" on the base plate only (different from the Gotoh) and was introduced in 1999. Once again, no lefties.
Ping Well also made an FRT-100 for Fender. It was stamped "Floyd Rose" at the top of the base plate and with their "PW" logo stamped next to the tremolo arm hole at the bottom. Two U.S patent numbers were stamped on the block. Apparently, Floyd Rose was OK with these Chinese units being stamped simply as "Floyd Rose." It doesn't matter to us - no lefties from Fender. Pointless knowing this.
Floyd Rose Speedloader
In a 2004 interview Floyd Rose said he personally chose Ping Well to make his then-new Speedloader Floyd Rose model (not available left handed) which he had decided would not be licensed but would manufacture directly. Rose also said that he personally supervised the project. Rose could not supply the special strings needed for the system and the system has gone down in history as a failure.
According to export data for 2023, Ping Well exports musical instrument parts for Taylor Guitars, Martin Guitars, Jean Larrivee Guitars, and Graphtech Guitar Labs. They also exported "musical instrument parts" to India in 2023. In 2020-2022 they exported musical instrument parts exclusively to Indonesia. Nothing for AP International? I think that proves that today it's Sung-il that is doing the non-German, genuine Floyd Rose production now. Am I right?
All Legacy Gaskells (2008-2012) that came with a Floyd Rose tremolo were fitted with a Korean-made FRT-100 style OEM tremolo system stamped "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" on the tail and "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Pats." on the block. The underside of the base plate was stamped "BH." Unlike other guitar brands I did not have the baseplate stamped "Gaskell" or anything. These were supplied from Korea directly to the factory in China that made my guitars. I was told that the company that built them made parts and electronics for many well-known international guitar brands. I do not know 100% who the manufacturer was but after researching and writing this article and looking back at 15-year-old paperwork, I think it might have been Sung il. I used other Sung il parts back then as well. I am almost certain that these are the same units that were used on Dean, PRS, and some B.C Rich guitars. These Gaskell tremolos were the highest quality for the price point of the guitars. It was used on the Gaskell Concord, M-Series/Brumby, and Classic III (left handed Explorer with Floyd Rose.)
When I started making guitars Chinese musical instrument manufacturing was in its infancy. During the 2000s, China factories were not making good hardware and were importing almost everything from Korea, hence why all early factory Gaskells had Korean hardware. It was the Western guitar brands that helped China evolve and we were all directly responsible for what China has become. China did not start making their own tuners, pickups, switches, bridges, and tremolos en masse until the late 2000s. And then to undercut everyone and give us all the middle finger they went on to flood the market with counterfeit products and cheap fakes through AliExpress and eBay. That's happening to this day. Damned criminals! That's the Chinese for you!
From 2023 all new Gaskell models are fitted with the genuine Floyd Rose FRT-S1000L "Special."
Fake, Illegal, and Unlicensed
The other type of "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Patents" tremolo are the cheap ones made in China which, with the exception of the units made as OEM models for Ibanez, are fakes. They are usually always TRS-101 copies. I have never seen a Chinese low-profile or single-locking knockoff. One can easily buy these on eBay or AliExpress for around $40-50 each, some if which are branded as "Litian Century." They are identified by the stamping on the tail: "Licensed Under Floyd Rose Pats." (the word "Patents" is abbreviated.) I have seen some also stamped as "Overlord of Music." The metal is generally low-quality alloy and the saddles and threads are weak. I have tried one recently and they do not return to their zero position well. Probably best to avoid these. You are not really "saving money" buying one. Note, I believe the Ibanez tremolos that come up on AliExpress every now and then may be genuine. Ibanez make guitars in China and I know for a fact that their current "Standard DL" tremolo (see earlier) is made in China. How a supposedly OEM product makes it into the retail market is more than concerning. But then, the Chinese are not the most honest people. Some have zero respect for intellectual property rights. And that's coming to me from the Chinese trade agents themselves! It's a problem.
2023: I WOULD LIKE TO BE PROVEN WRONG ON THIS but I see that China (via AliExpress) is selling a Floyd Rose tremolo branded as a "Wilkinson," specifically as the "M Series." I haven't seen a left handed version but it is clearly a Gotoh GE1996T copy. The confusing thing (to me) is that John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd in the United Kingdom is the company Trevor Wilkinson has always used to distribute his products including his Fret-King and Vintage guitar brands which is a partnership between Trevor and JHS. I also see that Gotoh say on their website that they make several Wilkinson bridge systems, but none listed are a Floyd Rose type. This to me looks like a Chinese fake. I guess I have to ask Trevor directly? Or does someone know?
ESP and Japanese (1980s & 1990s)
ESP of Japan was the first major guitar company to make illegal clones of early original Floyd Rose tremolos starting with a FRT-3 non fine tuner clone used on some of their 1982-1983 ESP Navigator guitars; followed by a FRT-5 (FRT-100) clone called the ESP "Magician" in 1983, the same year that Rose secured his final U.S patent approvals. The Magician was advertised in the 1983 ESP catalogs and offered on some Japan-only ESP guitars. Sold individually it retailed for ¥50,000 which was a lot of money for 1983. ESP made all the guitar necks and bodies for Kramer and eventually whole guitars, so the connection is perhaps not surprising. It is even possible the Magician was made at the same factory that Fernandes was using for the genuine Floyd Rose tremolos for Kramer. I am not aware of the Magician clone ever being fitted to a left handed guitar.
ESP did produce a legitimately licensed Floyd Rose system in their "Synclear" tremolo shortly thereafter for their own ESP and Edwards brand guitars. The Synclear had some unique proprietary features while still based on the Floyd Rose patents. There was a left handed version, as used on the mid 80s left handed ESP Mirage.
Other Japanese musical instrument parts companies distributed clones of the Floyd Rose originals during the early 1980s, possibly using the very same factories as Fernandes was using for their Floyd Rose contract. Clones of the Floyd Rose/Fernandes FRT-3, FRT-4 and FRT-5 models were sold by "Double Eagle" up until 1985. The Double Eagle FRT-4 clone was designated "Model 15" and even ended up advertised in the then-famous Music Emporium catalog published by Veneman Music in the United States. Double Eagle's FRT-5 clone also appeared in the U.S catalog in 1984 and 1985. They were advertised in Japanese catalogs at half the price of a genuine Floyd Rose. Japanese companies "Brian Guitars" and "Bracchus" also made knockoffs of the non fine tuner FRT-3. Apart from being substandard quality, a dead giveaway of these clones is that the blocks are painted black. I have no idea if there were ever any left handed guitars that came with these clones. I've never heard of any.
Tokai Gakki were another early Japanese guitar manufacturer to make tremolo systems inspired by Floyd Rose designs before licensing arrangements were initiated. They did not make left handed guitars with any of these, but I see they made five different bridge systems under the "Ayer's Rocker" name with the first licensed unit being the "Ayer's Rocker III." Pretty much useless information for lefties. I only mention Tokai here because their AR-V looks to be basically identical to the ACT-3 tremolo that Matsumoku used for some Aria Pro II, Washburn, and Westone guitars in the 1980s, including left handed models. And I wonder now if Tokai made both?
During the 1990s, ESP produced a range of Gibson-era Kramer guitars for the Japanese domestic market only. These were the LK, MK, and EK range of guitars. I believe they were marketed in Japan as "Kramer by ESP." U.S patents are not enforceable in Japan so ESP was able to get away with using a "no-name" string-through tremolo with no stamping or identification whatsoever. This was the "KLK-II" tremolo (not to be confused with the "KKT" tremolos made by Jin Ah for Matsumoku and Samick.) This tremolo even found its way onto the 1990 JDM (right handed only) Fernandes FST-65. A double locking FRT-100 no-name knockoff designated "KLK-I" was also used on some Japan domestic market ESP Kramers as well. ... Japan is another world.