Installing a Tremsetter

by Henrik Hjortnaes

Tremsetter review, installation, setup, pros and cons

This tremolo modification is recommendable, if you ask me. The following is my personal view on the Pros and Cons of the Tremsetter unit after having installed it and used it on several of my guitars. The Tremsetter is made by the American company Hipshot.

hipshot tremsetter

Installation preface

I will try and cover the installation and setup as well, supported by a few selected pictures. The original manual is available too, so after reading this article, you will have a pretty good understanding of this tremolo device and how to install it.

I installed the Tremsetter on one of my Jackson Rhoads guitars, to try it out, and I liked it so much, that many of my other trem guitars has one installed now.

The guitar had a 100% working Original Floyd Rose floating tremolo, so my incentive was not trying to cure a bad tremolo that couldn't return to zero. It was to improve or overcome some of the inherent features or flaws of the Floyd Rose tremolo system.

Addressing Floyd Rose tremolo issues

During the years of using a floating bridge tremolo, I have always struggled with a number of "features" of this system - features that are more or less annoying to me. The Tremsetter takes care of quite a few of these tremolo issues, explained in detail below...

#1 Struggle with bending

My first guitars had hard tails. Compare these to a tremolo equipped guitar and you realize how much a floating tremolo works against you when bending strings.

You bend, it dives. You vibrate, it counter-vibrates. Yes, you learn to compensate for this rubber band behaviour, but let me tell you; having the Tremsetter installed is almost like going back to a hard tail again. Simple, solid and much better string response. Just block the Floyd you say? Why have a tremolo then? The Tremsetter cures this problem AND you can still do full string raises, which you can't do on a blocked tremolo.

  • Tremsetter parts

Tremsetter parts

#2 Tedious tuning

Well, you know what I'm talking about. Tuning your guitar 3-4-5-6 times before the trem settles, after you have had all the strings off for maintenance.

Same basic problem as in #1. Much improved with the Tremsetter. Also, you can fine tune one string without affecting the others, see next (Drop-Tuning).

  • Floyd Rose Original

Double locking floating tremolo, Floyd Rose Original, Made in Germany

#3 Drop Tuning

On a floating bridge, forget it. But with the Tremsetter installed, you can do it LIVE in a few seconds with the low E-string fine tuner. NO PROBLEM!

All the other strings doesn’t move at all, when you down tune the low E-string to D. The range of the Floyd Rose fine tuner screw is just about adequate for this trick to work.

Note: I use standard 440Hz tuning and haven't tried the Drop-Tuning on lower tunings. I don't think there's much of a difference and the trick will probably work at other tunings as well.

  • Drop D tuning

Low E-tuner in non-drop position. Turn fully upwards and you have Drop-D tuning. Oomph! Oomph! (The gold coloured stuff you see is copper grease).

#4 Unison bends (double stop bends)

Same as #1, but you really have to practice to compensate here. With the Tremsetter installed, it's ROCK SOLID!

Depending on your Tremsetter setup (stiff / relaxed), bending notes will typically NOT make the bridge dive. It's very much like a hard tail, where the other strings stay in tune, when doing unison bends.

#5 Wobble

Maybe it's just my technique, but unfortunately, I make notes sound wobbly when playing certain things.

It's hard to describe, but it happens during fast runs with full step bends involved: When I let a bended string go (drop it), it will upset the bridge for a split second, making the next fretted note sound wobbly. The bridge is settling after the shock of the dropped string, and notes played immediately after is affected by this flutter. PROBLEM GONE with the Tremsetter!

  • Tremsetter installation

Small clearance hole for the brass rod to enter

#6 Out of tune during heavy palm muting

Again, you know what I'm talking about. You palm mute the trem bridge out of tune. Very much improved with the Tremsetter.

  • Tremsetter installed

Installed with 3 springs. 2 springs works fine for a standard 440 tuning and I recommend that, if it works for your particular tuning.

Wrap up

Well, it's good. Tremolos with worn knife edges that don't always return to neutral, are fixed as well they say. I believe that.

The action of the Tremsetter can be adjusted by compressing its buck spring; compressing the spring makes the trem feel harder / stiffer.

Trade offs

To me, the trade offs using a Tremsetter are minor, but the tremolo WILL be stiffer working and you CAN feel a bump when hitting the zero point of the Tremsetter.

The famous flutter trick, where you graze the trem bar to make a note sound wobbly (flutter) is killed dead in the water by the Tremsetter. It's just doing its job, stabilizing the bridge.

By compressing the buck spring inside the Tremsetter, it can be set up for a stiff action which improves the flaws mentioned above. That will result in a fairly big bump when hitting the zero point (the neutral position) of the Tremsetter. It can also bet set up much smoother by relaxing the buck spring, but the improvements described above will be less noticeable. Even with a relaxed setup you will still be able to feel a slight bump.

For soft, gentle chord vibrato, done with the tremolo, I normally use a guitar without the Tremsetter installed. The zero point bump distracts me too much when doing such gentle playing, and that's why I have a couple of guitars without it.

  • Tremsetter adjustment

Compressing the "buck spring" is done by rotating these two white plastic "nuts".

Installation and adjustment

Installing and adjusting could be a bit tricky depending on your skills, but reading this article and the manual included with the product, you should be able to make it work. The Tremsetter comes with parts that allows a two or three spring setup. The pictures show my first installation, which was done with three springs. Later installations I have done are made with only two springs which turned out fine, so I recommend that.

Drill a hole

You have to drill a (hidden) hole in the trem cavity of your guitar, which you can see in several of the pictures. The hole is for the brass rod of the Tremsetter to go into.

Drilling this hole can be a little tricky because it needs to be as parallel to the surface of the guitar body as you can manage; the longer the drill used the better. It's no biggie though, I managed to do it fairly easy with a normal drilling machine and a normal length drill. Be very precise when measuring for this hole - it will pay off in the end.

If it turns out that the small brass rod scrapes against the walls of the hole when using the trem, you can easily adjust the rod by bending it slightly in the right direction with a pair of flat-nosed pliers.

  • Tremsetter installing
  • Tremsetter adjusting
  • Tremsetter review
A close-up for you to see what's going on
Small clearance hole for the brass rod to enter
Double locking floating tremolo, Floyd Rose Original, Made in Germany
Low E-tuner in non-drop position. Turn fully upwards and you have Drop-D tuning. Oomph! Oomph!
Installed with 3 springs. 2 springs works fine for a standard 440 tuning and I recommend that, if it works for your particular tuning
The Tremsetter comes with these parts. 3-spring setup is maximum
Compressing the "buck spring" is done by rotating these two white plastic "nuts"

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