Strat Vibrato System
BY STEVE OUIMETTE
Leo Fender did a lot of things right, and the
Strat vibrato is one of them. However, when he
designed that vibrato back in the early ‘50s, he
couldn’t have anticipated some of the ways that
players would abuse it. Over time, many have
tried to update the design to create one that
would allow aggressive creative use without
throwing the guitar out of tune. In that spirit the
Super-Vee has tackled the age-old problem of
creating an elegant and functional device that
stays in tune and doesn’t require modifications.
What It Is
The Super-Vee consists of two main parts:
locking nut and bridge assembly. The nut is
designed to drop in place with a single drop of
glue into the nut slot of the guitar. While this
does involve removing the original nut from the
guitar, that’s the only modification you’ll need to
do. It is made of nickel-plated stainless steel and
is reminiscent of the design of classic ‘50s cars
with the stylishly engraved “V.” While most locking nuts clamp down from the top, the Super-Vee clamps strings from the sides and doesn’t
push them sharp when locked. To me this is
worth the price alone, as it’s always a pain having to go back to the fine tuners to compensate
for the raised pitch when locking up the nut. The
nut is also designed to work on either a 7. 25”
or 9. 5” neck radius ( 12” and custom radii can
also be ordered), so there is no worry of having
funky string heights when switching over from
the stock nut.
When I first screwed the bar in, I noticed that it
was set up around the place where my picking
hand likes to be. While that was great for quick
access, I wanted to have it hanging loose so it
was out of the way. Going to the back of the
unit and loosening the nylon screw let the bar
fall into a loose, swinging position which was
great, but you could feel it wiggle inside the
vibrato. It wasn’t bad, but it would’ve been nice
if it were tighter. Although the slotted nylon
screw ensures there isn’t any direct metal-on-metal friction, I found that it was made of pretty soft material that might strip over time. It’s a
small price to pay for the convenience, though,
and I applaud the innovation.
The folks at Super-Vee are obviously very dedicated to their product. The website is beautifully laid out with helpful videos, great photos,
and an FAQ to answer the most common questions. And they do offer factory installation with
a 3-day turnaround. With the fine craftsmanship, great looks and solid performance, anyone looking to take their Strat to a new level
will seriously enjoy the Super-Vee.
set by an adjustment screw in the back of the
unit to stay in place or swing freely.
So Are Vee Going to Play, or Vat?
The Super-Vee came pre-installed on a Fender
MIM Strat and was already in tune when I pulled
it out of the gig bag. Right away the vibrato felt
familiar but smoother and more controlled than a
normal Strat vibrato. I noticed that it sounded very
close acoustically to my ’08 American Standard
and didn’t lack sustain or articulation. Because it
was set up with three springs, it was solid but still
easy enough to maneuver while maintaining a
controlled feel. There was no friction; the unit was
totally silent yet unyielding to any tuning issues. I
spent a great deal of time abusing it to see how
much it could take. Whether it was divebombs that
dropped the bar all the way down to touch the
body, or pulling it up as far as it could go (about a
1/2 step, due to the floating setup), I never could
get it to go out of tune. You can get very aggressive with the Super-Vee and feel confident that it
will stay in tune..
you want an elegant, no-mods
replacement for your Strat vibrato
with fearless divebomb capability.
The bridge is a thing of beauty as well. Using
patented Blade technology, the bridge is frictionlessly bonded to the anchor plate. Because
of this, the manufacturer claims that it will
never wear out (something that happens with
knife-edge systems). Another bonus is that the
fine tuners have extra range, which allows for
drop-D tuning without unlocking the nut. When
it arrived, it was set up for drop D, and I was
amazed how it went up to E with just a quick
turn of the fine tuner, and had travel to spare.
Nice! Each saddle can be adjusted for height
and intonation, and the clamping area has a
steel slug that clamps the string over a large
area, which totally eliminates slipping of the
string as well as breakage. Once again, I can’t
tell you how many times I’ve clamped the high
E string on the guitar and it slipped right out of
the bridge. This is maddening and inconvenient,
so I’m glad somebody finally addressed this
long-standing issue. The sustain block is anodized aluminum, which came as a result of testing
many materials for the best tone and weight.
Finally, the bar is made to screw in and can be
you’re old-school, and the stock
Strat vibrato is all you’ll ever need.
Click here to download
sound clips of the system
That said, it isn’t all about over-the-top wanking.
In fact, the Super-Vee is quite capable of subtle
nuances that range from Surf-style dipping to
coaxing out elegant hand-style vibrato.