If you frequently play electric guitars or if you have a special interest in this type of guitar, you know about a whammy bar or a tremolo arm. It’s a mechanical device to easily change the pitch of the strings to accommodate vibrato or pitch bend effect. Floyd Rose is among the most popular with guitarists having a constant debate between having a Floyd Rose Special vs Original.
In this article, these two popular Floyd Rose will be discussed, explained, and compared for you to have a definite choice after. Both are designed to fit any electric guitar, so there won’t be any problem if you decide to upgrade your guitar to these after reading this article.
Floyd Rose Overview
Floyd D. Rose invented the first locking vibrato in 1976 and popularized by the famous Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and many others. Since then, the company (of the same name — Floyd Rose) has created different models and variations of its vibrato arm design. Floyd’s design is different from the others because it utilizes a double-locking design to make the tuning more stable.
The Floyd Rose Original was first launched in 1977 and until now, it’s still in production in Germany. This is a double-locking tremolo system with fine tuners, so guitarists don’t need to remove the nut when tuning the guitar. Unlike the “Floyd Rose Licensed,” which doesn’t have the fine tuners. You shouldn’t mix up these two, in comparison with the Special model.
Floyd Rose Special, on the other hand, has the same design and the Original which is produced in South Korea, together with the Floyd Rose 1000. The only difference between the Original and the Special versions is the materials used. The Special version uses zinc alloy instead of the steel saddles and brass sustain block. Will the difference in materials used affect the performance of these tremolos?
Floyd Rose Special vs Original: Performance
It’s kind of hard to identify the Special and the Original versions quickly. They both have fine tuners, the same steel baseplate, and knife edges. Although at second look, you can see that the Special is quite smaller than the Original. But, actually, the Special version has the name “Special” on it (just in case you don’t know about it).
Additionally, the former is also lighter than the latter, which can be attributed to the zinc alloy used by the Special on the sustain block. If you want to achieve the performance of the Original, perhaps a brass block upgrade will do — which costs you an extra $30.
Most players have observed that the Special isn’t quite responsive and won’t flutter so easily compared to the Original. Though it’s still good at holding correct tuning, the Floyd Rose Special lacks something and you can feel it. Here’s a really good YouTube video discussing the difference in sustain between the two in a waveform representation:
From the YouTube video, you can see that they’re almost identical. And, for an untrained ear, they both offer great performance. But, professionals would know that the Original is better and more efficient that the Special version in terms of performance and sustain.
Floyd Rose Special vs Original: Durability
As mentioned, both tremolo systems use the same steel baseplate and the knife edges are made of hardened steel. So, the difference now would be in the saddles and the sustain block. Again, the Original uses steel, while the Special uses a cheaper zinc alloy, which is also evident in the price.
The problem with the Special model is that it’s not very secure compared to the Original. Though they seem durable, the zinc alloy of the Floyd Rose will surely wear and tear faster than the German steel. Yet, you might want to check the stock tremolo in your guitar. Maybe you’re lucky to get great Korean-made Special tremolo. But, in most cases, the Original still beats the Special.
Floyd Rose Special vs Original: Price
If you’ll visit the Floyd Rose website, you can see the price and the model variants. For the Floyd Rose Special, you can have it as low as $83.57 for Chrome or Nickel finish to $111.42 for the Burnt Chrome finish. You can choose from Gold, Black, Bronze, Antique Silver, and more within the price range.
The Floyd Rose Original, as you know is a bit expensive and may vary per variant, just like the Special models. The cheapest you can get for an Original is the Chrome finish which will cost you $199.90, while the most expensive is the Satin Gold finish at $253.86. In between these extremes you’ll get different color variants like Nickel, Vintage Copper, Satin Pearl, Black, and more.
The price difference between the two is really huge. So, if you want to get a cheaper alternative, you can get the Floyd Rose Special. Although, you shouldn’t expect that it has the same performance as the Original. But, with proper setup and care, you’ll surely enjoy this one. However, if you want to be sure, the Floyd Original is still the best option and for the money, as well.
Now that you know the similarities and differences of the Floyd Rose vs Original, choose your bet. Yet, if you’re still in doubt, why not use one guitar model and check these on that guitar? The only key to knowing which tremolo system works best for you is when you try it.
Though a lot of people said that the Original is better or get the Special because it’s cheaper, it’s still up to you. How you play and how you set up the tremolo system on your guitar will determine which one is the best for you. So, pick the one that allows you to express your deepest creativity and your love for music and electric guitars.
I am working as Artist Manager/Music Supervisor at 72 Music Management.
Managed album to Grammy Award in 2017 with 7 Nominations from 2014-2020.
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