Kirkland, WA —Once a high school drop-out, Floyd Rose is already famous in the world of electric guitars for his pitch-changing Tremolo. For his next project, he wanted to build a new kind of electric guitar that would give many tone and tuning advantages without locking the strings.
The CATIA model of the new electric guitar from Floyd Rose, already awarded 14 new patents, shows that the design keeps knobs and controls out of the way of the player's right (picking) hand, and features one-step, convergent tuning with precision-cut strings, and a tremolo systems to the left of the strings that won't make the guitar go out of tune.
Although Rose went back to college, he's not an engineer. His approach to de-sign used to be drawing a schematic and then whittling a prototype. So he needed a CAD program to change and refine his design. Initially, he used AutoCAD and then SDRC's I-DEAS Master Series. He wanted a system that ran on a PC platform, and that would be easy to remember, because he uses CAD sporadically. "Researching other tools, I got a demo of CATIA—and I was dazzled by how fast I could do what I wanted."
His new guitar shows the results—he's applied for 16 patents, and has received 14 so far.
Les Paul and Leo Fender built the first solid-body electric guitars that didn't feed back through amplifiers, and many musicians and guitar lovers followed up with ways to change and enhance electric guitar sound. The Floyd Rose Tremolo system was the first pitch-changing guitar bridge that didn't make the guitar go out of tune. It enjoyed great popularity with such rock-and-rollers as Eddie Van Halen. Unfortunately, it had to be removed with a wrench.
Rose, who has played a Fender Stratocaster, says, "The drawback of most electric guitars is that if your right hand is your picking hand, knobs and other controls get in the way. I wanted to clear away whatever blocked the right hand other than the volume control—including my Tremolo." He wanted to keep the tremolo capability handy, however, so he placed it below the strings. "I call it a 'stealth tremolo,'" he jokes.
He also wanted to make tuning easier. "The strings went through the old Tremolo and had to be clamped down," Rose says. "I wanted to eliminate the clamping wrenches, and make the strings for the new guitar as short as possible. Instead of stringing the guitar with a ball at one end of the string and a peg at the other, I put a ball at each end and came up with the concept of convergent tuning."
In stringing and tuning a guitar, musicians have to consider pitch (controlled by the tension of the string), and the harmonic link (controlled by the position of the string relative to the frets on the neck of the guitar). Tuning used to take two separate operations—one for pitch and one for harmonics. Rose's guitar does both, simultaneously. "It requires cutting the string to within 0.0001 inch—so I designed a device to cut the strings and measure their precision. You need special strings, but they're so easy to string that you can change one in less than 30 seconds," he says.
Rose is gearing up for manufacture, and the first of the new guitars will be on sale by the end of the year. So far Rose and Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) have played the prototype.
For more information about CATIA from Dassault Systemes S.A.: Ente 538