The Hipshot Tremsetter

In the beginning, there was the Tremsetter, and it was good. Well, er... it was all you could get, so you kept your mouth shut.

Back when I first got mine in 1990 or so, it was a marvel. It had a variety of hooks and springs and whatnot. Installation was very involved but, for what it promised (remember, this was the first trem stabilizer) it was worth it.

The Tremsetter is the only device to use two springs (okay, the BackStop uses two, but that's because it has a parallel set of stabilizers... one spring per stabilizer). The second spring is actually just there to keep the whole unit from slipping off of its mounting hook. It's hard to see in the pictures, but the only thing screwed to the guitar is a little aluminum hook at the hanger-end of the cavity. The main device hooks onto that and is held onto it from the tension in the tremolo.

The Tremsetter also requires the most-involved installation; you actually have to drill a hole in the hanger-end of the cavity toward the neck to make room for the brass rod that runs the length of the device. The hole has to be large enough such that the rod never catches on the side of the hole. It's made even tougher by the fact that you can't get the drill perfectly flat since you're drilling a hole down in the recessed cavity.

Since a normal spring-hanger would interfere with the device, the Tremsetter comes with replacement "mini-hangers" that each use one of the hanger screws and accomodate one or two springs. This means that you have to unsolder the grounding wire from the stock hanger and solder it to one of the new ones.


Ease of Installation: Pain in the butt. You have to remove all of the springs and hanger screws to put the new mini-hangers on. You have to resolder stuff, and you also have to awkwardly drill a hole in the hanger-end of the cavity. Ugh!

Ease of Adjustment: If you can avoid adjusting the Tremsetter, do so. I spent weeks tinkering with mine when I first installed it... and it never... worked.... quite... right. Either it wouldn't always return to pitch after using the tremolo or minor tuning adjustments (or bends) would cause pitch changes in other strings. Finally, I called Hipshot and a guy there gave me a step-by-step process to get it adjusted. I think I ran through the process about 3 times before I was finally satisfied with the setup. I haven't touched the adjustment in 17 years. To make sure I don't need to, I haven't changed the gauge or brand of strings (so that the tension on the tremolo never changes). If Ernie Ball ever stops making SuperSlinky's (and my stockpile runs out), I'm not going to adjust this thing again. I'm ripping it out and replacing it with a Goeldo BackBox.

Effectiveness: Once you get it adjusted, it does work as advertized.

Cost: You can get them for about $38 new.... on eBay for about $30. Only the WD is cheaper, but that doesn't really work. So, this is the cheapest one that works.... IF you ever get it adjusted.

Overall: When it first came out, it was wonderful, because the alternative was just to suffer with all of the hassles of a floating trem. Nowadays, however, there are devices that make this look like a rough draft.

Hipshot Tremsetter ESP Arming Adjuster
Ibanez BackStop Goeldo BackBox
WD Tremolo Stabilizer Tremol-no
Floyd Rose FAQ

Which tremolos CANNOT be helped

Goeldo BackBox now for sale in the U.S.

How to INSTALL/ADJUST the BackBox

Here's a video of a guy showing how

How to INSTALL the Floyd Rose Stabilizer

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