Ibanez introduces a new trem this year. In their search of a way around the Floyd Rose royalties they've finally got the solution. The trem is a knife edge design but it uses the saddle system from the ZR trems [evidently the last stumbling block in the Lo Pro Patent still in effect]. Along with the saddles the EZ system also incorporates the ZPS spring system that has been revised again into the ZPS3 and from what I can tell the only change is the plate design and that it removes much less wood in it's rout [although I was told it's made out of a new stronger aircraft alloy that I never heard of, and forgot to write down]. Because it uses the ZR saddles it also includes the ZR intonation screws screwed into the bass side of the baseplate.
This design uses knife edges that are fed in through a channel cut into the baseplate from the front [stud side], and in a move of simple genius they've through drilled the studs and are using based inserts so that the owner can insert locking set screws through the top of the stud to lock the studs. Locking studs are back, but just on the EZ, not on the EP [I asked, it's part of the EZ system and made by the same manufacturer]. After inspection these studs have about the worst groove profile I've seen yet on an Ibanez bridge, at least on this first batch. The good news is the 2LE2B ED/LP stud is a direct replacement and since the inserts have bases the EP stud mod sets are not needed.
The trem operates smoothly and feels just like a ZR with the ZPS bar in place. I couldn't remove the bar to test return without it but I suspect it'll be like that of their other knife edge designs [depending on the specifics of how good the stud profile is and how thick the knife edges are. [note - after inspection the knife edges are just a little fat but the stud profile is terrible, as noted above]. I always liked the feel of the ZR with the bar removed as it becomes very spongy, but that bar is what allows players to keep bent double stops in tune. [After trying an EZ out for a period with the ZPS removed it feels much heavier to dive than I remember a ZR, it feels much more like an EP and I don't have anything ZR around to compare again.]
The bar is the push in type with detent groove like an Edge bar but since the bushing in under the threaded collar there are none on the bar. This system work very well for adjusting bar tension and hopefully the design won't be a breaker like the ZR1 arm holder system. After inspecting the holder it's not a cast piece like the ZR holder and should prove as durable as a Lo Pro holder. It will accept a Lo Pro bar with bushings on it so it, and with either LP or EZ bar installed it has absolutely no play in the holder, a point of complaint among many with the ED/LP/EP holder, and another tidbit of good news is this holder will retrofit onto all ED/LP/EP trems. It uses the bar spring and screw from the ED/LP/EP and the nut from the ZR [which at $10 list is plain ridiculous. They used to list for $.80 and evidently in an increase to [I would think] $1, it got entered at $10, and no matter how many times I've asked for it to be looked into it hasn't] but I don't see any reason why the $2 LP holder nut wouldn't work.
Like the ZR the EZ is Chinese made so it doesn't have the refined surface finishing of a Gotoh made trem, and I did notice a lot of light finish scratching on many of the saddles. In a short time we'll tell if what makes it out into production is any cleaner [snip, on the first 2570Z I received the surface was very clean and scratch free and had a much more refined look than the trems on the show guitars, I don't know why the difference]. My biggest complaint with these is the saddle lock down screws [which I call intonation screws] are junk. I had 2 Giger SHRG1Z's to prep and the first one had 3 stripped heads right out of the box, while the second had one. Drilling these out just to be able to set intonation isn't my idea of fun. I pleaded with Mac to send a huge box of good Edge Pro lockdown screws [which have very deep heads] to China for the factory to use in assembly. The first thing I'll be doing is replacing these, using a factory 2mm Allen wrench that has zero wear to remove them, hopefully on the first shot - EDIT - the saddles lock down screws are not the same as the ones I previously had trouble with on the S Gigers. These have a much deeper head and are proving to be OK. - Although, it could just be MY luck or be refined to just the batch that went on those Gigers. ZR's have been used on 10's of 1000's of guitars and I haven't heard any complaints about stripped lockdown screws. Again, time will tell as I'll obviously be dealing with a lot of these.
All in all it should prove to be a good serviceable trem with the added optional feature of the ZPS that many players can benefit from. With the ZPS in place it will feel stiffer to play as it keeps the bridge from rocking forward with string bending, and the bar will feel heavier as you'll have 4 springs to work on all dives. Pull up is not affected as you are only fighting normal string tension. With the ZPS bar removed it will feel much like a ED/LP/EP as there are only 2 springs but they are fairly stiff.
This is a shot of the EZ stud [left] and redesigned Lo Pro stud [right]. You can clearly see how small and tight the groove profile is on the EZ stud and how much more free and open the LP profile is. This is the profile that cured the tuning stability problems on the LP, and the poor studs they replaced were still better than these EZ studs. The LP stud upgrade for EZ trem guitars is $25 and I highly recomend it if you ever plan on pulling the ZPS bar out.
Ibanez introduces their new design for the ultra modern Vintage style trem. Basically the front half of a ZR, it does have redesigned saddles I couldn't quite figure out, and then forgot to come back to it. As you can see from the pics the ball ends load from the bottom of the block and are seat into the middle of the saddles. It has no fine tuners as it's a non locking unit to be used with a regular nut, and as the SV5470 is the only model it's currently on [in the US anyway] with locking tuners.
Being ball bearing it's a silky smooth feel and since it doesn't have the ZPS bar it has that spongy feel of a ZR with the bar removed. Rob Balducci was commenting on how smooth it felt compared to the EZ and I showed him it was because there was no ZPS bar so it's only working 2 springs instead of 4. The package also includes the new ZPS-FX spring system which adds a bolt that can be screwed into place to block the trem of pull up motion. Using this you can overload the springs like on a vintage trem to keep bent double stops in tune just like the ZR, or you can leave it spongy, it all depends on your preference, but you will loose pull up ability.
There is the same included intonation tool as the ZR and EZ and you can see where it would screw into the back of the saddle to butt against that hump coming up through the saddle. At least I think that's how it works, or looks like it from the pics anyway.
As it is also Chinese made it has the same crap saddle lock down screws as the ZR and EZ. Just to repeat, my problems with these might be isolated as ZR's have been used on 10's of 1000's of guitars and I haven't heard any complaints about stripped lockdown screws. Again, time will tell as I'll obviously be dealing with a lot of these. - EDIT - the saddles lock down screws are not the same as the ones I previously had trouble with on the S Gigers. These have a much deeper head and are proving to be OK. -
IMO this is a very forward thinking design to make a super-vintage trem for use on a super-strat. With everything else the SV does it's probably the perfect hardware for the combination and should attract players of other styles of guitars.
The ZPS-FX spring system from the Synchroni - you can see the threaded bolt you screw into place to act as a block if desired.
The ZR has been slightly modified with the new push in arm holder from the EZ [shown directly above] and renamed the ZR2. This will be the system used on the Japanese production models using the ZR [S2570 and EGEN] while the rest of the guitars using a ZR will continue with the ZR1.
They didn't give this a designation any of the print but it'll probably be the TopLock, 4, at least I think that's what we're up to now. This nut will be used in all Edge Zero and ZR2 systems. Another screw on top mount nut, the main redesign was to angle the string base so that the string exits in direct line to the tuner head, which eliminates the need for a string retainer bar. My only concern is now you have a bend point that could possibly lead to premature string breakage, but I'd have to assume they've done plenty of testing and have concluded it's a good design. I'm sure we'll know soon enough as this is not a place string would normally break unless they were far beyond their fatigue limits. I can't see why the change to a flat pad could aid in slippage, and they seem to be an excellent fit which should keep pad twist under tightening to a minimum. At least they're only making them in cosmo right now so I only have to stock one extra part number, whenever these are finally in distributor stock. Don't loose your pads anytime soon!
New for 2008, Ibanez will attach a screw on 2 wrench holder to the back of all double locking Japanese Prestige guitars [I'm not positive if this includes signature models, we'll know very soon]. I have long hated these but I'll be the first to admit, I'll look for one of my wrenches for about 2 seconds before I grab one off the back of the guitar I'll be working on and use it! The wrenches are 3mm [for nut pad bolt, trem height adjustment screws [studs], and string lock screws] and 2mm [for saddle lock down screws]. If it will be on Signatures they'll also need a 2.5mm as they still use the thru mount nuts where all MIJ Prestige models are using top mount nuts [MIK Prestige are still using the thru mount nuts from the several I've noticed].
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