The Super Vee Blade Runner Tremolo: Is this Bladerunner the best tremolo in the world for a Fender Stratocaster? Find out if this trem is really as good as they say in this review.
Super Vee Bladerunner 6 Hole Tremolo Review for the Fender Stratocaster
I recently bought a 'Bladerunner' for a project making a Fender Stratocaster (the 'Blue' one). The guitar body was already to go for a regular Fender Stratocaster 6 screw vintage tremolo unit which was my original choice for this guitar. But I had read much about the Blade runner from Super Vee (the manufacturer) and so I decided to buy one.
Actually one thing that put me right off was that there was no 'gold' option available at the time and I really needed that gold to match the rest of the guitar. But lo and behold, Super Vee came out with a gold Bladerunner and I was in business. This unit took a couple of weeks to get to me here in the UK - there was no UK availability (there is now), but hey, who cares. So I promptly popped over the the Super Vee website and bought myself one... the cost was $215.00 (£150) including international shipping at the time.
When the unit arrived it was well packed. Instructions were a little 'minimal' so you should know what you are doing if you buy one.
Click for larger images
As you can see from the above picture, one of the features is that the tremolo can be adjusted by the small nylon insert in the base of the trem block. The tremolo pushes firmly in to the tremolo block and then 'screws in' until you are happy with it. There's no floating around of the tremolo arm here - this can be described as excellent.
The Blade Runner is extremely well made of high quality materials and the front plate (where the Super Vee logo can be seen above) is joined with super grade spring steel that is not (they tell us) going to fail.
As stated the tremolo arm is a modified design of the original, the thin bit being a guide in to the trem hole as well as a way of making the tremolo arm more rigid than standard designs.
The whole thing comes with everything you need to fit it from scratch.
You will notice that the Bladerunner only uses 4 of the screws that a regular vintage tremolo from Fender uses and I thought that this might be trouble because of reduced security on the Bladerunner to the body. Although you do use less screws there is no discernable difference between the two fittings. In fact one advantage was that the Blade Runner tremolo could be moved marginally left to right on the body, thus allowing the trem to be aligned better with the neck.
Another feature I liked was that the height adjustment on the string saddles could be closed down very low - useful if you are doing some non standard mods on the neck in the body.
Lastly, believe it or not, the intonation was near enough spot on when I fitted this tremolo. Right from Super Vee they set a 'nearly there' approach to those settings. Examine the picture above and you can see that right from the factory the saddles had been set roughly correct. In my case they were nearly exact. Now that's service for you.
So what is the overall result of fitting a Bladerunner from Super Vee to your guitar?
The difference is amazing. No more clunking of the trem every time you move it, and whether you have locking tuners or not, the guitar does stay in tune better than with the regular Fender vintage tremolo. And so it should. This unit is not a low cost option. It's expensive by any standards, but if you compare it against other tremolos out there then it's basically at the top in quality.
That spring steel makes the trem feel as if it's floating on air with absolutely zero friction or indeed drag in any way. At first it's a little hard to get to grips with - you will have never used a tremolo with a feel like this before. The trem arm is also a breath of fresh air. Although there are other tremolos out there for the Fender vintage tremolo, they all cost money and there are none that I have seen that are a better fit or feel than this tremolo in its block. Adjustable too.
As far as the effects of this trem goes in my opinion I cannot over stress just how much the sustain is improved against a regular vintage tremolo from Fender. There is really no comparison and the Fender vintage tremolo, when you do compare them side by side on two very similar guitars loses out big time. It's that sustain - and I don't just mean when the guitars are plugged in. Just plain old sustain on the unplugged guitar with the blade runner fitted goes on forever. The difference really is staggering.
Overall Review Conclusions
This thing is expensive, but if you don't mind the slight non-standard fitting and the absolutely non-standard tremolo then I guess that this unit could be for you. On the plus side the unit when fitted is frankly extraordinary and you will know the difference immediately. This is a well made USA product (actually made in the USA) and is a great improvement over older industry standard stuff. But then again at that price it should be.
Overall 7 out of 10 - dropped back a little because of the price and the fact that the tremolo could be hard to locate at a local shop if you happen to lose yours. What would you do when you lose yours 10 minutes before the gig? Actually, it's not hard to find another - it's nigh on impossible.
And if only that price was better. But in any case I have found that the Bladerunner is now available along with other stuff here in the United Kingdom and here's some info about where to get it all (their words not mine):
Madison & Fifth: We are importers and distributors of accessories for the performing musician. We look for professional products solving real issues and those little known but "how did I live without it" accessories that we believe make a musician's life easier.
These are our current product lines:
Loxx Straplock Systems - a range of high quality, low profile, easy to use straplocks for acoustic and electric guitars
Lute Holes - for acoustic guitars, solid wood laser cut feedback suppressors
Mono Cases - a range of hybrid instrument cases that combine light weight with manoeuvrability and advanced protection
PedalSnake Cabling Systems - linking pedal board to backline and combining audio and low voltage power in one cable
Rockslide Guitar Slides - a slide that someone actually designed
Stetsbar Tremolos - retrofit non-invasive tremolo systems for Gibson, Fender, Ibanez and other guitars - and probably the best in the world IMHO
Super-Vee Tremolos - replacement systems for Stratocaster style guitars
V-Pick Guitar Picks - a huge range from ..75mm to over 11mm
Wishbone Mic Placement Systems - clever ways of micing up amps cabs and stacks.
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