GUITAR BRIDGE TYPES
There were 7 types of guitar bridges offered by Steinberger: 5 were tremolos and 2 were fixed bridges:
Bearing pivot tremolo designed for transposing of strings and chords in tune. If you're here, you've probably already heard or know about these. It's the only Steinberger bridge (actually one of the only production guitar bridges ever) that offers a transposing feature.
Newer Zen-On made Type2 TransTrem
Click here for official directions on setting up a TransTrem.
There were two major versions of the TransTrem (commonly abbreviated 'TT'): the introductory design (Type1) and a re-designed one (Type2). Technically there is a third type which consists of a Type1 unit which has been factory retrofitted with some of the parts and features of a Type2. These are now said to have had the 'trem retro mod' or are simply called a 'Type1 retro.'
Click here for more pictures, background and helpful tips on setup & use.
Bearing pivot trem similar to TransTrem, but without a transposing feature. Think of it as a non-transposing TransTrem.
B&W pic of an S-Trem (from the original Steinberger website)
NOTE: S-Trems and TransTrems utilize the same basic body route and are considered interchangeable. They are the only two trems that can be swapped without major modification.
Traditional knife edge trem. A completely different design from Trans and S-Trems, it also allows for more fixed bridge like operation when locked. It was made specifically as a more economical (read cheaper) option and was featured on the lower end GR line of guitars. Now offered on the wood neck Spirit line from MusicYo.
Newer R-Trem pictured on a new MusicYo Spirit GU guitar
Modified knife edge R-Trem design which included a knife edge nut. It was made specifically for the GS headed guitars. This design eliminated the need for a clamping nut ala Floyd Rose.
Pic (albeit fuzzy) of a GS Z-Trem
Ned's most 'recent' trem design was a more basic knife edge design with a better system for locking the bridge. Very few were made and they were installed only on the GS headstock guitars. Rumor is that most of these went overseas to Australia and the Far East. Ned claims this is the best design for those who complain that trems kill sustain, as it comes closest to providing 'fixed bridge' results when locked.
Jam Trem pic needed
Whereas the Trans and S-Trems have a bearing and shaft unit that provides the pivot point, a knife edge trem consists of a bar or points that fit into slot on each side. Most guitar trems are knife edge in nature and this is the oldest and most proven design. The pressure of the strings keeps the "knife" in the slot. The key benefit is that there are no moving parts. Ned says this is actually a better overall design for tremolos. However, it can't be used for a transposing situation - the bridge is too 'loose' to operate properly Knife edge trems are not foolproof, as the pivots can wear/loosen/misalign causing usage problems.
It's also interesting to note that ball bearings (as used in the S and TT) are designed for true rotational (circular) movement and not the very small linear (back- and-forth) motion on the S-Trem and TT. From a pure engineering standpoint they are the wrong component to use in a tremolo. With normal playing Trans and S-Trem bearings should to be replaced every couple of years, as the constant movement of the bearings in relatively small path causes excessive wear. (Click here for more info).
But these facts don't diminish from the sheer genius of Ned's radical approach and design.
6 string hardtail
Only offered on early GL equipped guitars. Most of the prototype GL's we've seen have them, and they were offered mostly while Ned was busy developing his revolutionary TransTrem. They were never really popular, especially after the TT came out. They were discontinued after a few years.
Estimates are of at most a couple hundred hardtails almost exclusively on the earliest GL's. All were steel and custom milled in the Steinberger factory. This solid construction technique contributes to the exceptional sound these guitars produce. Notes are clear and they have sustain that "lasts for days."
Early ones (including the prototypes) are similar to the v1 L2 bass bridges with three bolts on the top plate of the bridge. The later ones have a "clean" face like the one pictured above
MusicYo has commissioned Ned to design a new hardtail for the reissued graphite neck models. Arrival is anticipated in late 2003 and may include a piezo option as well.
12 string TracTuner
Official b&w press photo of the TracTuner 12 string bridge
Yet another revolutionary Steinberger design. With traditional 12 strings the sheer number of tuners is daunting. With a tuning bridge, Ned realized that a radical approach was needed to avoid a jungle of knobs and keep it simple.
Overhead shot of a TracTuner on a black GL12
The TracTuner consists of a single knob which runs along a track inside the bridge. There are 12 "Click points" which allow the tuner to be precisely positioned. When "clicked in" the tuning knob engages a screw that provides tuning for each individual jaw/string. The bridge also incorporates 12 individual saddles which provide the proper string spacing and precise intonation.
Inside view of the tuner and knob assembly.
This is the actually top plate shown upside down.
Close-up view of the TracTuner saddles.
Each "block" is actually a pair of individually adjustable saddles.
The TracTuner option was offered on the GL's and GM's throughout the bulk of production. At most maybe a hundred or so were sold. Because they are rare they command top dollar in the used market.