Goods, Bads & Myths - Kahler vs. Floyd Rose
(Continued from Part 2)
Kahler: The rollers get stuck sometimes. A tiny drop of 3-in-1 oil with a toothpick on each side of the roller usually solves the problem. Sometimes, the roller might get completely stuck, and pliers are needed to make it spin again. Also, the tiny allen screw that holds each saddle for string spacing might go loose. When this happens, you can hear a rattle sound when picking the string.
Floyd Rose: The Floyd Rose parts are a lot sturdier. Everything is tightly secured, and it's less common to have rattle sounds as a result of loose parts.
(10) TREMOLO BAR
Kahler: For the tremolo bar to stand still (without falling), an allen screw pushes a small internal part against the bar. However, as time goes by, the internal part may wear out, and the tremolo bar is unable to stand still. It's recommended to loosen the allen screw every time you remove the tremolo bar.
Floyd Rose: It's easier to tighten the tremolo bar. All you need to do is rotate a knob, which pushes two metal pieces (attached to the bar) against the bridge. However, I've seen many inconsistencies with this system. Some tremolo bars don't lock too well, while others are very stiff when you insert them inside the bridge.
Kahler: Because the strings rest on top of the cam and rollers, they lose some of their sustain. But contrary to popular belief, more than the rollers themselves, it's the type of metal Kahler is made of that has the biggest effect on sustain.
Floyd Rose: The Floyd Rose has better sustain because there's no extra friction point from the bridge all the way to the locking nut. Also, Floyd Rose's metal type ressonates extremely well.
(12) HEAVY GAUGE STRINGS
Kahler: Certain string brands (such as Dean Markley Blue Steel) with gauges higher than 52 may not fit the fork that holds the string ball. Pressing the windings with flat pliers and applying a little bit of 3-in-1 oil sometimes help. Also, depending on your tuning and gauge, you may run out of spring tension. KahlerParts.com sells springs for heavy gauge tunings.
Floyd Rose: Because you don't need to insert the string ball inside the bridge, any string gauge, no matter how heavy, fits the saddle.
a. Faithful Floyd Rose players usually criticize Kahler for having poor tuning stability. Except for the bending problem, Kahlers stay in tune well - assuming nothing is wrong with the locking nut, and ChapStick is applied to the cam to reduce the string friction.
b. Some people argue that, because Kahler needs less routing to be installed than a Floyd Rose, the guitar has a better sound because there's more wood left. There's no concrete evidence supporting that because a guitar sound is deeply affected by the pickups, the type of metal the bridge is made of and the wood type itself. And even if a Floyd Rose-equipped guitar has a bigger tremolo routing, the guitar might still have more wood overall depending on its size and shape.
c. Similarly, some people argue that it's easier for luthiers to install Kahlers because there's less routing to do. However, some luthiers will charge the same installation cost of a Floyd Rose because they'll still use the same machinery to perform the work. It's easier to install Kahler's behind-the-nut locking nut than a Floyd Rose locking nut, but as explained earlier, the numerous problems with Kahler's locking nut far outweight the benefits and extra work to install a Floyd Rose-type locking nut.
d. Some people argue that Kahler performs better than a Floyd Rose with double-stops, a technique used primarily by blues players. However, Kahler users are usually heavy metal/hard rock players, and double-stops is a technique barely used in heavy metal music. In fact, many metal players don't even know what double-stops are. Even if Kahler performs better with double-stops, players still have to deal with the bending problem described earlier because double-stops involve bends as well.
e. Some people say Kahlers are better for palm-muting than a Floyd Rose. Only a really poor technique and excessive, unnecessary hand strength will make a Floyd Rose go out of tune with palm-muting. Many famous Floyd Rose players such as Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen), Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Mick Mars (Motley Crue) and Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden) play heavy palm-muting without ever going out of tune.
f. Kahler's tech support document says the player should replace the tremolo springs once in a while because of "metal fatigue." I can't speak for all Kahlers, but based on my tests, new springs didn't make any difference in increasing or maintaining tuning stability. To maximize tuning stability on Kahler-equipped guitars, the player should (1) use a Floyd Rose-type locking nut, (2) bend the string windings by 45 degrees and solder them, and (3) apply ChapStick to the cam underneath each string.