Trem King TK-2

Monday, January 4, 2010| by Will Chen

I admit it, I’m not a huge fan of tremolos. While many players seem to make wonderful music using them, I just can’t stand the slinky feel when bending versus playing on a stop tailed instrument. Add the intonation nightmare which occurs as the guitar goes flat when bending strings making double string bends troublesome (which are a major part of my soloing style). I’d pretty much given up on the idea of using trems. However, a couple months ago when I had the opportunity to play a Trem King TK-2 everything changed…

Trem King resulted in a partnership between Rusty Bickford (Tradition Guitars) and Sheldon Lavineway, the inventor of the Trem King, and the line of tremolos is offered as stand alone units or stock on many Tradition guitars. The concept behind the unit is a dual pivoting system which uses counter-tensioning system to offer a completely fixed bridge feel while offering both upwards and downwards tremolo action similar to a floating system. It’s a bit hard to describe, but the counter-tension concept is kind like two back to back tremolos with spring tension in each direction keeping the tone block assembly rock solid except when moved using the push in tremolo arm. As the tremolo/tone block assembly is the movable piece with the bridge saddles being fixed position, tuning stability is additionally increased and you can drop tune without the rest of the stings pitch’s going crazy. Cool!

The TK-2 is a Trem King model for Telecasters and this review model is attached to a Tradition Jerry Reed Vintage prototype. Action is incredibly soft and smooth in either direction, however when you pass though the zero point there is a slight notched feel which takes a little bit of getting used to and the unit won’t do Van Halen style super dive bombs with a maximum pitch change of around a 4th. I really abused it and the guitar never fell more than a few cents out of tune. With locking tuners, I imagine tuning would be rock solid. In addition to excellent playability, the TK-2 also retains the traditional tele look to a great degree which is quite a feat. I don’t think I’ve seen another Tele tremolo with a traditional base plate. I could gush on and on, this is really a huge improvement in tremolo design.

Installation of the unit into a standard Tele takes a bit of routing and should likely be left to a professional. However, Trem King offers detailed instructions on their web site or installation via mail order costing between $110 and $140 with free return shipping.

Price: ~$150 - $170 USD
Pros: Fixed bridge feel with floating trem versatility
Cons: Difficult installation for novices

Filed Under: Trem King, Reviews