Sometimes you just need to pull a couple of huge dive bombs and get wild, and that’s exactly what the Floyd Rose you to do. If you’re a fan of metal or hard rock, you’ve probably seen Eddie Van Halen or Dimebag Darrel pulling off these crazy pitch-bending tremolo moves, which are made capable by this type of floating tremolo system.
Some players love them, while others can’t get along with them or don’t have the patience to get the perfect set up. Whichever way you feel about them, we’re here to show you some of the best guitars out there with Floyd Rose style tremolos.
The Best Guitars with a Floyd Rose Style Tremolo
- PRS SE Custom 24 Floyd Rose – Best Overall
- Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 – Best Under $1,000
- Schecter Damien Platinum 6 FR – Best Under $750
- Ibanez Steve Vai Signature JEMJR – Best Under $500
- Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 – Best for the Money
- ESP E-II Horizon-III FR – Premium Pick
- Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid C-1 FR-S – Best for Metal
- Ibanez Nita Strauss Signature JIVA10 – Best for Shredders
- ESP LTD EC-1000FR – Best Les Paul Style
PRS SE Custom 24 Floyd Rose – Overall Best Floyd Rose Guitar
For more information check out my full roundup review of the Best PRS Guitars
Starting off strong, let’s dive into the PRS SE Custom 24.
The Custom 24 has been a best seller for PRS since 1985. In 2000 they introduced the SE lineup, a new run of import models that are true to the Core series USA guitars but are much more budget-friendly. PRS now offers a model of the Custom 24 SE that appeals to the modern player with the addition of the Floyd Rose.
We start with a mahogany body with a maple top, which is a great combination of exceptional tonewoods for a punchy midrange and great sustain.
Another great feature of the Custom 24 SE is its wide thin maple neck. This carve makes the neck super fast and playable. A rosewood fingerboard with bird inlay completes the classic PRS feel and look.
For its pickups, the Custom 24 SE is loaded with the PRS 81/15 “S” humbuckers. These pickups are based on the same design used in higher-priced, U.S.-made PRS guitars. They can be used as regular humbuckers for a fat, full sound, or split into single coils via a push/pull tone knob.
When it comes to hardware, we do indeed have the Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system for ultimate control. The way the body has been routed for the Floyd Rose, you’ve got full range to bend the pitch either up or down which is great.
The PRS Custom 24 SE is a super versatile axe that should work great for nearly anyone. The Floyd Rose is optional, as they do also sell a model that comes with the standard PRS molded tremolo system. It’s 25” scale length sits right in-between a Strat and Les Paul, and its coil-splitting humbucker pickups can help you achieve a wide array of sounds. For under $900, it provides an amazing value.
- Excellent versatility and tone
- Very comfortable and easy to play
- No hard case, but gig bag included
- No locking tuners
Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550 – Best Floyd Rose Style Guitar Under $1,000
For more information check out my full roundup review of the Best Ibanez Guitars
Ibanez was a serious innovator in the world of guitars made to shred. They typically feature thinner necks and bodies that play fast while looking great, and the RG550 Genesis is no exception.
The RG550 is a classic design that was first introduced in 1987. The Genesis Collection adds some modern touches while retaining the vibe of the original.
The body of the RG550 is made of basswood, perfect for warm tones with mids that cut through in a mix. The contour of the body hugs your body and forearm, making it a very comfortable instrument to play.
One of the coolest features of the RG550 is its ultra-fast Wizard Neck. The original Wizard Neck was one piece of maple. The reissue has upgraded its materials to a 5-piece combination of maple and walnut. It’s a thin neck that still retains the solid comfortable feel we all want in a guitar.
The 24-fret fingerboard is loaded with jumbo frets – perfect for huge bends. The RG550 also features a classic tilt neck joint instead of the sculpted All Access neck joint included on many modern RG-style guitars. This is one of the features that keeps you feeling like you’ve got one of the originals in your hand.
For pickups, the RG550 utilized the classic HSH design with a pair of humbuckers surrounding a single-coil in the middle position. The humbuckers are modern V7 and V8 designs, while the S1 in the middle features more traditional single-coil tones. These high-output pickups are perfect for hard rock and metal, but versatile enough to cover any genre.
In addition to high-quality electronics, the RG550 features solid black hardware like an Edge locking tremolo and Gotoh locking machine heads.
With all these features and a price-point under $1,000, the Genesis Collection RG550 is a guitar we can consider an excellent value..
- Made in Japan
- Tonal versatility
- Good value at this prices
- Some cosmetic issues reported
- Stock pickups could be upgraded
Check out my guide on the Best Electric Guitars Under $1,000
Schecter Damien Platinum 6 FR – Best Floyd Rose Guitar Under $750
For more information check out my full roundup review of the Best Schecter Guitars
Let’s check out the spookiest guitar in our list, the Schecter Damien Platinum 6 FR.
With a mahogany body and a 3-piece maple neck, this is a durable and rigid feeling ax right off the bat. The thin-C shape neck profile and rosewood fretboard with a super flat 14” radius feel great in your hands. Can’t forget to mention the spooky bat inlays on the neck, a very unique look!
They used a set of EMG 81/85 pickups, which are maybe the most popular pickup for metal players ever. Active pickups are known for tight, aggressive tones while retaining all the articulation and clarity even when using tons of distortion.
We also have a real-deal Floyd Rose double-locking bridge/tremolo and 18:1 ratio Grover tuners for precision tuning and stability.
Schecter has long been known for making some of the finest guitars at lower price points, and this is yet another fine example of that. It’s impressive how they used so many premium components and managed to keep this axe below $800. Any metalhead would feel right at home with this guitar.
- Great value
- Premium parts
- Spooky looks
- EMG Pickups may sound harsh
- Inlay design not for everyone
Ibanez Steve Vai Signature JEMJR – Best Floyd Rose Style Guitar Under $500
If you’re a fan of progressive virtuoso guitar players, you’ve probably heard of Steve Vai and recognize the legendary JEM Ibanez model he’s played for so many years. The original Ibanez JEM guitars are quite pricey, but Ibanez and Mr. Vai have come up with a model
Though the JEMJR is the little brother of Vai’s main Ibanez signature guitar, it shares many of the same features and quality of a guitar that retails for over $1,000 more.
The first thing you’ll notice about the JEMJR is its striking appearance. Vai’s signature acrylic vine inlay is intact, as well as the unique “monkey grip” handle that allows guitarists to pick up the guitar one-handed like a case.
Despite the monkey grip, this is a solid body guitar made of Meranti. It features Ibanez’s classic Wizard III maple neck with a Jatoba fingerboard and 24 jumbo frets. The Wizard’s necks are known for being great for the kind of fast-paced shredding you’ll find on any Steve Vai album. If you haven’t heard of Meranti, it’s a more affordable wood that shares a similar tonal profile to Mahogany.
For signature Vai tones, the JEMJR offers high-output Quantum pickups that retain great articulation. Two humbuckers and the bridge and neck, and one single-coil in the middle let you cover all the bases, while a 5-way switch gives you multiple pickup combinations.
The JEMJR features a double-locking tremolo bridge for ultimate pitch control and tuning stability. A locking nut and cosmo black tuners ensure further control over overstaying in tune. Fans of Floyd Rose-style tremolos will feel right at home with the JEMJR.
Whether you’re a massive Steve Vai fan or you’ve never heard of the guy, the JEMJR is a versatile instrument that lends itself well to progressive and heavy music, but can handle nearly anything. This is quite possibly the best Floyd Rose equipped guitar that you’ll find for under $500.
- Incredible value
- Iconic look
- Lower end Ibanez made tremolo, not up to Edge or Floyd Rose standards
- The handle may not be for everyone
Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 – Best Floyd Rose Guitar for the Money
The Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas is the ultimate “Super Strat” shred machine.
Charvel got its start in the ’70s creating highly customized and hot-rodded guitars. By the ’80s, many of hard rock and metal’s most famous shredders were turning to Charvel for their instruments
Playability is the focus of the San Dimas Style 1. The compound-radius fretboard, 12” to 16”, gets flatter as you reach the higher frets making those fast licks high on the fretboard a breeze. They’ve also rolled the edges of the fretboard, giving the feel of a vintage guitar that’s been broken in overtime.
As far as pickups, we’ve got a set of Seymour Duncan humbuckers; a ‘59 in the neck, and a JB in the bridge. This is a classic combination used by many players, which excels in high gain tones. A really nice touch is the “no-load” tone pot setup. When turned all the way to 10, the tone pot is completely bypassed, giving you the clearest path from the pickup to the amp. Lastly, we do have a coil-split available via the push/pull volume pot for when you need those bell-like clean tones.
They’ve also added a Floyd Rose FRT-O2000 double-locking bridge and tremolo, giving you full control over pitch bends and unmatched tuning stability.
The Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 is a super-fast, well-built ax that feels incredible, and has the classic look we all love. At under $900, it is a really good value.
- Sleek and classic look
- Great pickups
- Compound radius fretboard feels great
- No case included
ESP E-II Horizon-III FR – Best Premium Floyd Rose Guitar
The ESP-EII Horizon-III is like the Cadillac of shreddy metal guitar goodness. Stacked from top to bottom with the highest quality parts, this is an absolute beast of a guitar, but it won’t come cheap.
We start with a Mahogany body topped with a killer flame-maple top, along with a 3-piece maple neck with a smooth ebony fretboard. A thin-U profile neck feels great in your hands and sets you up for the fastest licks possible.
A pair of Seymour Duncan pickups, a Jazz in the neck, and a Custom 5 in the bridge are built for high gain distortion without sacrificing any articulation and clarity. A push/pull volume pot gives you the coil-splitting option so you can go for that shimmery clean tone when you need it.
And of course, the reason we’re here is the Floyd Rose bridge and tremolo. This ESP E-II Horizon uses the original Floyd Rose locking design. We’ve also got a set of Gotoh locking tuners which is a huge plus and the only guitar in this list that comes from the factory with locking tuners.
For just over $2000, this is an exceptional guitar that you’d have a hard time putting down. It’s packed with great parts and components, and lives up to everything ESP is known for.
- Thin-U neck profile
- Aggressive look and sound
- Upgraded hardware
- Tonal versatility
- On the expensive side
Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid C-1 FR-S – Best Floyd Rose Guitar for Metal
If you’re on the hunt for a fast-playing riff machine, look further than the Schecter Hellraiser C1 FR-S.
The Hellraiser’s sleek design was based entirely on feedback from players, so it’s been optimized for peak performance in the real world. A slim SLS profile neck with a compound-radius fretboard is ultra-comfortable and highly playable.
A really nice touch they’ve added here is the glow-in-the-dark fret markers on the side of the neck. Next time you’re on stage and the lights are low, you won’t have to panic about whether you’re at the right position for that next note.
For hardware, we’ve got a set of Grover tuners and a Floyd Rose 1500 Series bridge/tremolo system. This double-locking tremolo system offers insane pitch control while maintaining perfect tuning.
One of the most unique features of the Hellraiser is its hot-rodded pickups. An active EMG 57 humbucker in the bridge reacts like an overwound vintage PAF, while the Sustainiac pickup in the neck offers just what the name implies: endless, glorious sustain. A 3-way toggle switch lets you blend just the right amount of sustain and feedback for your playing.
The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR offers a wide variety of tonal control and playability for a little over $1,000. For price and functionality, it would be hard to find a more well-made guitar, especially for harder rock and metal styles.
- Slim fast neck
- Unique switching options
- Possible learning curve with the Sustainiac pickup
Check out my guide on the Best Electric Guitars for Metal
Ibanez Nita Strauss Signature JIVA10 – Best Floyd Rose Guitar for Shredders
The Ibanez JIVA10 Nita Strauss Signature model is not only visually stunning but it’s also packed with features making this an incredible sounding and playing ax.
If you’re not familiar with Nita Strauss, she’s an accomplished player who has worked with everyone from the all-female cover band Iron Maidens to Alice Cooper.
Right away you’ll notice the Ebony fretboard, and the EKG heartbeat inlay, it’s absolutely gorgeous! This is on top of a 3-piece Nitro Wizard Ibanez neck, with a Prestige fret-edge treatment to keep things smooth and fast. It would be hard to overstate how comfortable and sleek this neck really is.
Just like the Ibanez RG, and JEM bodies on the models we talked about earlier, this S-Series body is as comfortable as it gets. It’s thin and contoured to provide the best feel possible. The wood used on this is a Nyatoh body with a beautiful quilted maple top.
For Electronics, Nita chose a custom set of DiMarzio Pandemonium pickups in the bridge and neck and a True Velvet single-coil in the middle position. This setup was built for tight lows, punchy mids, and smooth crisp highs. A 5-way pickup selector switch provides flexibility to find the right tone for the moment.
One of the best features here is the Ibanez Edge II tremolo and bridge. For some players, the Edge tremolos are considered the ultimate double-locking floating tremolo system for control and stability. They were built to return to tune a little faster than other tremolos like it.
This guitar has a lot to offer, and comes in just under $1500. It’s a professional-grade axe that can cover a lot of tonal ground, and has looks that kill.
- Stunning looks
- Unique set of pickups
- Edge-II tremolo is one of the better floating trem systems
- Lack of coil-splitting option
- No case at this price point is a bit strange
Check out my guide on the Best Electric Guitars for Shredding
ESP LTD EC-1000FR Best Les Paul Style Floyd Rose Guitar
For this one, we break away from the ‘S’ shape guitars to take a look at this killer Les Paul-style shredder: the ESP LTD EC-1000 FR.
ESP guitars introduced their LTD brand of guitars back in 1995, and since then they’ve been creating some of the best value guitars at affordable prices.
They’ve used a 3-piece Mahogany neck with a Pau-Ferro fretboard, and a Mahogany body with a gorgeous quilted-maple top. The neck profile is a thin-U shape with a 13.7” fretboard radius, for ultimate speed and comfort. Extra jumbo frets were added for easy fretting and big bends.
For pickups, the EC-1000 uses EMG 60 and EMG 81 humbuckers. This is one of the most popular pickup combinations for metal and hard rock players, loved for their hot output and aggressive sound. They also have excellent note definition, giving you the clarity you want when you’re flying up and down the fretboard.
ESP LTD threw in a Floyd Rose double locking tremolo and bridge on this one, making it a reliable guitar with all the expressiveness you could ask for.
This is an aggressive guitar, made for heavy riffs and blazing solos. What it may lack in versatility, it more than makes up for with gorgeous looks and excellent playability. Coming in at $1000, this is a great guitar for any metalhead.
- Thin-U neck profile is one of the most loved neck shapes
- Aggressive sound
- EMG’s may not work for everyone
- No locking tuners
Check out my guide on the Best Les Paul Style Copy Guitars
What is a Floating Tremolo?
A floating tremolo in the simplest terms is a tremolo system in which you have the ability to bend the pitch both up and down via the whammy bar.
The traditional tremolo bridges used in the guitars like the Stratocaster were more of a non-floating tremolo because they were only designed to allow you to pitch down. They were also known for tuning issues, as they were not made to be used to the extreme.
In 1975, a man named Floyd Rose engineered a way for his guitar to allow for even the most intense use of the whammy bar, while still always coming back in tune. This was achieved by adjusting the tension of the strings and the springs attached to the bridge in the back cavity of the guitar.
The Floyd Rose was partially made popular by Eddie Van Halen, who is known for his excessive use of the tremolo and wild sounds he was able to create with it.
Advantages of a Floyd Rose Tremolo
Ability to Use the Whammy Bar
The main advantage is having the option to make your notes go up or down in pitch by simply pulling or pushing on the whammy bar.
For example, let’s look at typical vibrato done by your fingers when holding a note out. As your finger moves from side to side you’re only able to bend the pitch up and then back to its original position. The whammy allows you to use vibrato to lower the pitch as well.
Tuning Stability (Once Properly Set Up)
Once you’ve gotten the tension balanced between all aspects of the tremolo system and locked, the tuning stability is unmatched. When done right, you can expect to go days or weeks without needing to re-tune.
Disadvantages of a Floyd Rose Tremolo
Can Be Difficult to Set Up
You may have heard horror stories about how hard it is to get these set up properly. Some players find themselves losing their patience and giving up entirely, but in today’s world of Youtube and Google, I’m certain that you can learn the proper techniques.
Can’t Easily Change Tunings
On a guitar with a hardtail bridge, it’s quite easy to drop your E string down to a D and start chugging along to your favorite early 2000’s rock riffs. If you’ve got a floating tremolo, it’s not so simple. Because they rely on balanced tension, detuning one string will cause the spring tension to shift, and all of the other strings will now be out of tune as well.
Can’t Easily Change String Gauge
If you decide that you’re interested in switching from a set of 9 gauge strings to a set of 10’s, you’ll need to adjust the tension. This can be a bit of a hassle, so most players will leave their Floyd Rose equipped guitars in one tuning for most of the time.
Floyd Rose vs Edge Tremolo: What’s the Difference?
The Floyd Rose and Edge Tremolo systems are quite similar in design. They both are based on a system of tension between the strings on the guitar, and the tension springs on the back of the guitar. They both also use a double locking system, where the strings are locked into a set amount of tension both the bridge and the nut.
The Floyd Rose is the original, and still widely seen as the gold standard. There are several different types of Floyd Rose that have come out over the years, but they are all pretty similar in design.
The Edge has gone through a few different models over the years, and similar to Floyd Rose they have some low end versions, and some very high end versions.
Some versions of the Floyd have a “recessed” design, where the body is routed to allow the bridge to sit flush with the body of the guitar and this is something the Edge bridges focus on. The low-profile look and feel have made them a popular choice for many players.
How to Choose the Best Floyd Rose Guitar – Buyer’s Guide
Authentic Floyd Rose vs Floyd Rose Copy
The quality differences between the Authentic Floyd Rose bridges and copycat designs can be quite drastic. They’re easy to identify usually, just based on whether they actually say “Floyd Rose” or “Licensed by Floyd Rose.”
There are dozens of manufacturers using the Floyd Rose patents to create their own models.
Materials and Build Quality
Though the real thing and the copy may look very similar, the largest difference in cost and quality is due to the types of metal used and how well they were put together.
The copy models will usually be made of cheaper die-cast metal with a chrome or black paint job, while the Authentic Floyd Rose will be made of high-quality steel.
While the real Floyd has very precise german engineered components, the copies are typically made in China, and the quality difference between the two can be quite apparent.
Most Floyd Rose-type bridges will all include the same basic features: locking saddle blocks to hold the strings, and fine tuners at the bridge.
The authentic versions, just being of higher quality parts tend to stay in tune better which will allow you to be more aggressive with the whammy bar without worrying too much.
Between the original and the licensed models, the largest sonic difference you might notice is the sustain. The hardened steel used on the real Floyd’s is a heavier and more dense metal, which will enable you to pull off those long ringing notes we all love.
To have the Original Floyd Rose is a premium feature, and you’ll drop some extra cash when choosing a guitar with one already installed. To give some context, if you were building a guitar and just wanted to purchase the bridge on it’s own, you might pay around $250 or more for an authentic model. On the other end, you can get one of the licensed “special” model bridges for $80-$100.
Recap of the Best Floyd Rose and Edge Tremolo Guitars
|Best Floyd Rose Guitar||Award|
|PRS SE Custom 24 Floyd Rose||Best Overall|
|Ibanez Genesis Collection RG550||Best Under $1,000|
|Schecter Damien Platinum 6 FR||Best Under $750|
|Ibanez Steve Vai Signature JEMJR||Best Under $500|
|Charvel Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1||Best for the Money|
|ESP E-II Horizon-III FR||Premium Pick|
|Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid C-1 FR-S||Best for Metal|
|Ibanez Nita Strauss Signature JIVA10||Best for Shredders|
|ESP LTD EC-1000FR||Best Les Paul Style|
We hope this list has been informative and will help you choose which model is best for your style and budget. There’s a guitar in the list for nearly every player and every price range so everyone can get to playing a Floyd Rose style guitar!