Machine Design

Redesigning the electric guitar

The Floyd Rose guitar could be the first electric guitar designed totally in CAD. The Floyd Rose Guitar Co., Kirkland, Wash., together with IBM, Armonk, N.Y., spent nine years modeling and redesigning the instrument in Catia V 5.0. During that time, the company developed 16 patented advancements that are included on the new instrument. One of the most important patents covers the convergent tuning system. It uses strings cut to precise lengths with bullets clamped to each end. For each string, one bullet is placed in the bridge saddle, while the other goes in the nut housing. There are no tuning keys. Instead, the guitar is tuned for pitch by turning screws on the bridge. The screws are part of a new lever tuning assembly inside the bridge. On conventional guitars, moving each string saddle toward or away from the nut adjusts string intonation (string length). On Floyd Rose Guitars, moving individual saddles does two things. As the saddle moves away from the nut, string pitch goes up and, at the same time, string length is stretched. When the string reaches a desired pitch, you stop tuning and the string saddle stops. The distance between the nut and string saddle determines harmonic tuning. The company adjusted where the saddle stops by cutting strings to lengths which give both proper pitch and harmonic tuning simultaneously.

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