Through the years, Ibanez guitars sported a variety of double locking tremolos. Some of these machines became legendary, some - not so much. Which one do you have? Which one should you get? Which one to avoid? Read on.
Why a double locking tremolo? Simply put, a good double locking tremolo (or, as they're generically referred to, a "Floyd Rose" bridge) is the most stable string setup a guitar can have in regards to tuning. It eliminates the slipping of the string at the nut and at the ball end by locking either end down, and it removes the multiple string friction points present in vintage tremolo and hardtail systems. A double locking system takes slightly more effort to string, tune, and set up, however the benefits are well worth it. For tips on setting up your Ibanez (or any other) tremolo, I recommend consulting the excellent Jemsite guide.
1985. Pro Rock'r
The first attempt by Ibanez to create a system with a locking nut. Like many such efforts of the eighties, the Pro Rock'r is only a single locking bridge, and the strings are still secured via the ball end at the saddle. The Pro Rock'r was an evolutionary deadend of the Hard Rocker bridge, a system Ibanez used since 1983. The system is balanced on round pivots as opposed to knife edges, and is not designed for raising the pitch due to the lack or any recess.
The Pro Rock'r sports a push-in arm design identical to that of the future Japanese bridges, such as Edge, LoPro, and Edge Pro. Otherwise an overengineered system with little performance to match, the Pro Rock'r is more of a curiousity today than any kind of a shredder's workhorse. The bridge was phased out after a year of production and is most famously found on the final run of Steve Lukather's RS1010 Roadstar model.
Mr. Paul Gilbert will occasionally be seen using one, due to his penchant for collecting vintage Ibanez fare.
The Edge was (and still is) the original superlative take on the Floyd Rose design by Ibanez. A bulletproof system featuring hardened steel knife edges pivoting on locking studs, the Edge also improves on the Floyd Rose design with a heavy sustain block. Other than the push-in arm carried over from the Pro Rock'r, the Edge is a whole new design. It was featured non-recessed on Ibanez guitars in 1986, and fully recessed since 1987 - coinciding with the introduction of the RG, JEM, S, and R guitars which remain the staple of the Ibanez lineup to this very day.
The Edge features superb metallurgy by Gotoh, and its knife edges are known to be virtually indestructible. Seven string and piezo-equipped versions exist. A testament to the Edge's qualities is the fact that Mr. Steve Vai and Mr. Joe Satriani use the machine in their personal instruments up to this day despite newer systems having been introduced by Ibanez in the meantime. Today, Edge-equipped Ibanez guitars are widespread and can be found within almost any budget.
1991. LoPro Edge
A further evolution of the Edge, the LoPro is - as the name suggests - a low profile version of the Edge. More ergonomic than the original, the LoPro sees its string locks deintegrated from the fine tuner rods, and relocated to the saddles, thus making the task of restringing the system somewhat easier. The fine tuners were moved further to the back of the tremolo, and placed out of reach of a typical palm mute.
Made by Gotoh, the LoPro features all the assembly and material qualities of the Edge, as well as the same arm socket and locking bridge studs. Similar to the Edge, a seven string version exists in several RG models, the Universe, and Korn/Munky signature models with the unique U-Bar arming system. In a majority of cases, the LoPro and Edge are interchangeable without modifications, and upgrading the Edge to its more modern version (as well as the reverse for the more traditionally inclined player) is not at all uncommon.
Much like the case with the Edge, LoPro equipped guitars remain in wide circulation today.
1994. LoTRS I / II
A move downmarket necessiated lower-spec bridges in Ibanez guitars, and the LoTRS system was introduced on the majority of Korean (version II), as well as several Japanese models (version I). The LoTRS features a flimsy base plate, integrated with cast knife edges, basic screw-in studs, and a Floyd-style screw in arm. While low-profile, the system has few other redeeming qualities which are often attributed to the Ibanez locking bridges that preceded ithe LoTRS.
Through the years, both LoTRS versions have acquired a reputation for substandard material quality, as the majority of these bridges would wear out the integrated pivots within a short time, leaving the system unable to stay in tune after any amount of use. Fortunately for the disgruntled users, the LoTRS bridges are famously interchangeable with the original Floyd Rose machines, pending little to no modification.
* Extended thanks to Dave for the spy shot of the pernicious beast
2003. Edge Pro
An evolutionary redesign of the LoPro Edge, the Edge Pro is one of the lowest profile tremolos to ever be installed in an electric guitar. While sharing naught but the ubiquitous arm and socket with it predecessor, the Edge Pro nevertheless boasts the same quality standards as the other high-end Ibanez systems.
Edge Pro features a novel set of saddles with intergated string locks, and string holders which do not require removing the ball end of the string at the bridge side. The saddles are topped with a metal "sound chip" designed to improve the sustain usually said to be lacking from guitars with double locking systems. The usual criticism of the Edge Pro is that it lacks the locking bridge studs found in the earlier Gotoh bridges, but that is easily remedied by exchanging the Edge Pro studs for those of the Edge or LoPro. A generally excellent system, the Edge Pro is featured on many of the recent Ibanez Prestige instruments.
* Extended thanks to Eric for the attractive mugshot of the unit
2003. Zero Resistance (ZR)
A novel take on the double locking tremolo, the Zero Resistance abandons the usual knife edge pivot for a pair of ball bearings. A design which could be called revolutionary (Parker owners might disagree), the ZR features a completely new feel, along with several notable features which make this system more accessible and user friendly than most floating tremolos.
A low profile bridge, the ZR uses a screw-in arm, and an intonation tool integrated into the saddles. At the back, a Zero Point System (ZPS) acts as a removable backstop exerting extra force towards the center point. Tremolo spring tension is adjusted via a thumbwheel (another Parker-inspired feature).
The ZR is a reliable bridge easily obtained on nearly any S-model Ibanez made after 2003. The main weak point of the system lies in its weak arm socket, which is easily replaced to a variety of other sockets. If kept clean and oiled, the ZR is not likely to ever lose its tuning stability.