jesse decarlo wrote:
While the point about guitarists being an aesthetically conservative lot is certainly valid in general, visual and tonal aesthetic judgements are both highly subjective. Disliking angular guitar bodies and headless necks isn't inherently any more conservative than disliking active pickups.
True, and Steinberger's designs are well over 30 years old at this point-- had they become slightly more popular in their heyday, they'd now be seen as "conservative"!
Some of the "conservatism" is rooted in pragmatism, too, I think. I recently got an '87 Ibanez JEM 777 on a lark. Turns out it's an AMAZING guitar. Sounds f'ing awesome, and is a joy to play. It's my first guitar with a Floyd Rose-- what a great system!
...In some ways.
The thing with the Floyd is that it takes you half an hour to tune the guitar. Once you get it IN tune, it stays there-- It's been in tune for like a month, with scarcely even an adjustment of the fine tuners! But to get there takes forever. Changing strings takes a sizable chunk of time. I went up a gauge, the whole process of zeroing in on the setup took me a couple of hours.
If you break a string on a gig, you had better have a roadie ready to hand you a backup, because you cannot continue playing that guitar. To re-tune with 5 strings would take half an hour. To replace the string would require two differently-sized allen wrenches and a fair bit of time.
So I won't gig with the guitar, even though I do some things where it could be cool. The Floyd Rose is just not practical for me.
"Innovative?" Certainly, in its time. Great design? Absolutely. It accomplishes exactly what it set out to accomplish, and filled the need.
Better than a strat vibrato? Well, clearly, IF your measure is "stays in tune when you dive-bomb it." But if your measure is "reliably practical for day-to-day professional use," the answer might be "no."
On balance, the conventional strat vibrato won in the eyes of history. And I think it's for very good reason. The Floyd Rose is like the point guard who averages a double-double but plays no defense. The strengths aren't enough to offset the liabilities.