When I saw Randy Rhoades in 1982, I witnessed an incredible spectacle. Randy placed one hand near the pickup selector switch on his Les Paul Custom. Then while pushing down on the body, he pushed the neck forward, creating a divebomb. To this day, it is the coolest thing I have seen done to a guitar. I duplicated this technique upon seeing it and reproduced it for years. It wasn’t until my road manager pointed out some common sense. He mentioned it would make more sense to buy a guitar with a tremolo than to slowly destroy my favorite guitars.
My next guitar was a tremolo-equipped Ibanez Roadster, followed by guitars sporting everything from Kahlers to Bigsbys. Most of these tremolos have technology that is decades old. Most needed third-party hardware to update them to modern times. In some cases I found the hardware to be limiting.
One of the challenges of having a guitar with a tremolo system is keeping it in tune. With the constant movement of the bridge, strings can easily go out of tune, especially during aggressive playing or divebombs like Randy Rhoads’ signature move. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there, including the Stay Tuned Guitar Blog, that offer tips and tricks for guitar tuning and maintenance. You should visit it, as it took me a while to figure out the best techniques for tuning my guitar and keeping my tremolo-equipped guitars in tune, but it’s a crucial skill for any guitarist who wants to explore the full potential of their instrument.
However, it is this same frustration that led to the creation of the Sophia tremolo. There are a few examples of their products in the gallery below. However, today we are going to focus on the Sophia 2:92 tremolo
These bridges from Hollywood, California, check a lot of boxes. Some bridges, while functional, have a very mechanical look. Others, while visually stunning, lack in function. The Sophia tremolo has both bases covered along with others. Let us start with the look of this beautiful piece of hardware.
The Sophia has a Steampunk look. If H. G. Wells played guitar, this is what would be on his axe. As you can see in the pictures, I opted for a silver-on-silver finish. The Sophia also comes in black, gold and offers multiple tip colors.
The install of the Sophia was more straightforward than I imagined. It is a direct drop-in replacement for the existing tremolo system. I needed no special tools, and no modifications to the guitar were necessary. Removing the existing spring claw and resoldering the ground wire were the only chores in this simple transformation. In reflection, a small effort for the benefits I gained with this tremolo system.
So why am I now calling the Sophia a “tremolo system.” A tremolo can simply be a bent piece of metal or a spring. One look at the Sophia, and it is clear to see it is a well-thought-out and smartly engineered piece of technology. This focus on design makes life easier for us guitar players.
I particularly love the loading system for the strings. The strings load into the fine tuners ball and all. No more looking for wire cutters to cut the ball ends off. You Strat guys will no longer have to fumble with your guitars in a dark club trying to pass your strings through the block of your guitars.
Making this tremolo even more attractive is the Global Tuner Pro. This dynamic advancement on the standard guitar block adds dual stabilizers for an adjustable “Soft Stop.” The system also has adjustable tensioners, which can be set “light for flutters to firm for double stops and drop tunings.”
For this New Englander, the most significant advantage to this tremolo system is the global tuning wheel. This feature allows the user to tune all six strings whit the turn of one wheel. Global tuning comes into play when your guitar goes from your cold car trunk to a warm nightclub. Or, for you southern guys, a hot car trunk to an air-conditioned club. Anyone that has ever encountered this situation knows as you play, your guitar changes tone a few cents globally as the temperature changes. Instead of re-tuning the entire guitar, one wheel brings all six strings back in tune.
The feel of this tremolo, as I previously said, is whatever you want to set it up to be. For me, it is right between stiff and flutter. Not too heavy, not too light, I guess a Goldilocks type of feel. Giving a few chugs and a divebomb, a smile came to my face. The bridge was very comfortable on the palm of my hank—it took zero time or effort for me to “adjust” to the bridge. It is nice to have a piece of hardware that adjusts to my playing style instead of me adapting to the hardware.
Taking the Sophia for another spin, I ripped a couple of EVH riffs. Chords intonated beautifully when bent, and my divebombs never seemed to choke out. The most significant change was the singing sustain I am hearing. This guitar always sounded great, and now there is a new dimension to it.
Visually stunning, easy to install, and sonically impressive make the Sophia from Coherent Sound In Light an excellent upgrade for any guitar. When I say any guitar I must mention Sophia tremolo also makes 7-string models or a hardtail bridge for your Gibson-style guitar. You can find out more about Sofia tremolos at SophiaTremolos.com.