Trevor Wilkinson's VSVG Vintage Strat-Style Bridge

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Dan Erlewine sits down with renowned guitar designer and inventor Trevor Wilkinson to discuss the VSVG bridge—specifically designed not to snag or bind on misaligned screws and always return to pitch.

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: Trev Wilkinson Interview: Wilkinson/Gotoh VSVG Vintage Tremolo]

Dan Erlewine: Trevor Wilkinson has designed a lot of great guitar hardware. This is his VSVG Tremolo, and I got a chance to interview him about it when he was at my shop.

Let's check this out.

Trev Wilkinson: I was very privileged to work with some really, really good guitar players around the LA area and they were really, really helpful to me. I took a page out of Leo Fender's book. He always listened to guitar players. If you're going to do something for a guitar player, I think you should listen to him.

Dan Erlewine: He knew Leo Fender well and was lucky enough to quiz him a lot.

Trev Wilkinson: So a few guitar players came to me and they said, "You know, Trevor, we really, really love your bridge. It works so well. It stays in tune so well. It feels great. But I'm kind of missing something. I'm missing something of that old original Fender bridge." And I translated that to mean that what they were actually missing was they were missing, I call it, a sparkle. That a bent steel saddle will give you.

Dan Erlewine: Yep. Sparkle's a good word.

Trev Wilkinson: There's just something about that that transmits some certain highs that you don't get with this. This may sound fatter than what this does. It may sound fatter than what a Fender original bridge will do.

So that's when I developed these saddles, which obviously have a close resemblance to the other saddles.

These saddles will lock in place. They are spring steel heat treated.

The reason that I did this roll on the front was the fact that people don't like to feel screws underneath their hand.

By doing that roll and by creating a thread at the top and a thread at the bottom, I've now created a situation where the screw goes all the way through and it's threaded all the way through so the screw can actually go below the saddle and still have you being able to adjust the height to get the radius.

So I had to figure out how can I now get people to be able to intonate this easily without having that screw? And so I created that, which basically just goes into the saddle and threads in and it pushes against the head of the lock screw. And you can use that now to pull the saddle back wherever you need it to be to give you the intonation at the 12 fret and the octave.

Dan Erlewine: Back in the day, a Fender Strat bridge was strong with heavy strings back in the days when we didn't even have an unwound G. So I asked him, "How come these holes are straight in a line on the bottom and these are offset?"

Trev Wilkinson: When you're talking about a vintage bridge, which is basically what this is or the styling of it, you can't lift this up and down. The only thing this can do is tilt slightly forward. So now if you've got a slightly high neck angle or a slightly high neck pocket or what have you, these saddles start to raise up very, very... They can come quite high, especially seven and a quarter inch radius. You've got quite a high center saddle set. You refer to the fact that in the early days these bridges were designed for a wound G. When you're talking about a wound G, that G saddle will be the furthest forward on the plate, even though it will still be the highest in the middle of the radius. But the problem is, when it comes out of the hole on the front of the bridge here, it's now when it's a plain G, the saddle is pulled so far back that the strings hanging over the G saddle and the string wants to equalize its tension. Because as you tune it, the string stretches, but it's very difficult to stretch from here to the bottom of the block.

I decided to imitate the same angle of string from the top of the plate to the saddle intonation point on all the saddles. And that's why I staggered the holes because that now gives you a G-string coming out of that block at the same angle as the high E. And it goes a long, long way to alleviating that hang up on the G and the low E.

You know as well as I do that you can have a CNC machine. That CNC machine can put those holes in that body absolutely perfect, but it's the screw that's going to decide how it's going to go in that hole. You've got no control over that screw. If it wants to go in slightly at an angle or if it wants to move over to one side, it will do it. And once you've done it, you can't fix it.

So if you've got six holes, you can't get six screws absolutely perfectly aligned so you can get a binding because the screw kind of locks itself in the circle...

Dan Erlewine: A little bit either way.

Trev Wilkinson: Just a little bit either way is enough that you can get a bridge sometimes that you push down on it and it stays there and then you got to pull it back again and it stays there. That's not going to give you a return to pitch. That's not going to give you the tuning stability that we're always after.

By making five of these actually elongated slots, we allow that screw to actually be a little bit off center without affecting the fulcrum of that bridge.



Trevor Wilkinson

Guitar Designer and Inventor

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