The WD Tremolo Stabilizer

Patents, I've concluded, are kind of a double-edged sword. Their main purpose is to keep others from freeloading off of your ingenious design. There's a side benefit to that in that it forces all of those other competitors to go design some other, better, way to do what your invention does. This works great... until the point where all of the sensible ways of doing something have been invented, but there's still some dude out there who is determined to enter the market with a design. So, he has to come up with some out-of-left-field design that makes you marvel that it works at all.

Ladies and gentlement, please welcome, from the Australian team, the "WD Tremolo Stabilizer". This devices comes with no springs, screws, or brackets. It is just an adjustable "spreader" that you put inside one of your existing tremolo springs to keep it from contracting past a certain length... thus achieving the pre-stressing of the spring that we need. There's nothing to drill and nothing to route. Basically, there is just about zero chance that this device wouldn't fit in your guitar without any modification.

You begin by adjusting the amount of spread. This determines how much the spring is pre-stretched and, hence, the size of the "sweet-spot". Notice how, without the spreader installed, the spring is noticably shorter than the two pencil lines. Once the spreader is installed, however, you can see that the spring has been stretched. Not so much that you can see between the coils, but it's now longer than the two pencil marks.
This is the end that holds the WD in the "loop" end of the spring. When installing, you've got to work the spring hanger (or spring claw) between the loop and the peg on the WD. On the other end, the bent pin has to be put into the hole in the tremolo body... while the spreader is left to press against the tremolo body. This is more of a pain in the ass than it sounds and it requires about 5 minutes of cursing while trying not to scratch your guitar with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.

Unfortunately, it seems to be a many ingenious devices (be it Thomas Edison's first wax cylinder recording or Caselli's first "fax machine") serve mainly as a "proof-of-concept" and aren't exactly ready for prime time. Alas, the WD seems to fall into this category. It's amazing to think that something like this can even "kind of" work (and it's captivating to just sit and watch it "kind of" work) but, in the end, the most it can seem to do is "kind of" work. Because the spring-claw isn't designed for this purpose, adusting one of the claw screws (to change either the position of the pre-stressed sping or to change the tension in the other springs) invariably causes shifts on the other side of the claw, so adjustment is a bit of a pain. WD might be able to overcome this by shipping a custom-designed spring-claw with their stabilizer, but I have doubts as to how much of an improvment they could really make here.


Ease of Installation: It can't get much easier to install than this. Remove a spring, put the WD in it. Move the other springs around. Put the spring back. It is a little dicey putting it back in, however, since you're dealing with a pre-loaded spring and you're trying to keep the WD pressed against the tremolo.

Ease of Adjustment: Relatively high marks here. To adjust the tremolo position, you only need to mess with the two main screws for the spring-hanger in the tremolo cavity. However, if you need to adjust the size of the sweet-spot, then you need to change the length of the WD, which means removing the spring, taking the WD out of it, adjusting the length, and then putting the whole mess back together again. Makes you want to get it right the first time.

Effectiveness: Unfortunately, low price and ease of adjustment don't count for much when the device doesn't do what it's supposed to. My experiences with the WD is that it just doesn't return to pitch well enough for my tastes.

Cost: At about $20, it's the cheapest of all of the units.

Overall: Because it just doesn't work all that well, and because you can get something for just about $30 more that is rock-solid, easy to adjust, and does its job well, this unit just isn't worth your money.

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