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Could you explain what is the difference between a floyd rose mounted inside the body (the left, orange one) and on the body (the right, white one)?

Is the action lower/higher, how does it influence playing, which one is better? I see the ones hidden inside the body more often.

It's a dinky and an Adrian Smith signature Jacksons.

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There are not really any differences between recessed and non-recessed Floyd Rose tremolos. Most of my non-recessed ones can pull up by quite a few semitones. There is one that can't, because it is set to lie along the body - so it is only suitable for divebombs, but the others either have cutouts behind the trem, or have the hinge point above the surface of the guitar.

The height of the trem doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the action either, as this should be set up correctly no matter where the mount points are. You may have a high action between the strings and the body with a high mount trem, but that really doesn't matter.

There is no way to say one is better than the other - everyone is different, so you need to decide what you prefer.

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The Floyd Rose mounted inside the body is called a recessed FR. A recessed FR allows you to pull up and sharpen the pitch, while a non-recessed FR can only do dives. A recessed FR can be converted to act like a non-recessed one with something like a Tremolo-no, and converted back by removing it.

Action-wise they are both adjustable. The recessed FR has a problem if you put too much strength on your hand when doing palm mute, which will sharpen the notes.

EDIT: some non-recessed FRs can do limited pull-ups too. It varies to different designs of the whole system - neck angle, additional routing etc., leaving how much space for the pull-ups to work. Then again, it is always very limited, while a recessed FR can have much more freedom.

  • Is there not a FR which works in a similar way to the time-honoured Strat or Bigsby trem (vib !)? I.e. both ways. – Tim Feb 1 '18 at 9:31
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    My recollection is that both recessed and top-mount Floyd Rose tremolos could bend pitches both ways, but that the top-mount could only bend up a comparatively small amount, and that while action is adjustable for both it is easier to get very low action with the recessed version. – David Bowling Feb 1 '18 at 14:50
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    David - that is correct. I have various Floyd-Rose trems on many of my guitars. Most are top mounted, and all but one can still pull back many semitones – Doktor Mayhem Feb 1 '18 at 19:09
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Recessed versus non-recessed simply comes down to player preference.

The myth that you cannot pull up on a non-recessed Floyd is false. I have two Custom Shop Jackson’s with non-recessed Floyds as well as a US Jackson and US Guthrie Govan Charvel with recessed Floyds. They are all floating. Every guitar that I have owned since the mid 80s had a Floyd on it. All 4 of these guitars pull up. My non-recessed gets 2 half steps of pull up. My recessed gets 3 half steps of pull up. I can play Brad Gillis solos on my non-recessed, so the pull-up is anything but minimal.

It is true that some recessed Floyd routes allow for a bit more pull-up, but this is a function of the routing of the tremolo cavity (particularly the depth of the route that sits directly beneath the fine tuners and string retainer screws) not the method of mounting. A non-recessed Floyd in fact could be routed to afford more pullup too.

A factor that does affect pull-up is the size of the block. A guitar, whether recessed or non-recessed that has a standard sized route for the sustain block and contains a “big block” sustain block loses most to all of the ability to pull up. This is because big blocks are considerably thicker than standard sustain blocks and this additional thickness was added on the side of the block that moves toward the body when pulling up. This was done so that the added mass would not affect dives. It is possible to route the guitar so that you do not lose pull ups when using a big block (as Charvel did with my GG).

The myth that you cannot float a non-recessed is false. As is the myth that a non-recessed is blocked or sitting on the body. If you look at EVH’ Frankenstein you will note that the Floyd did not sit on the body, he screwed quarters into the body that extended beneath the tremolo base plate, thus blocking the tremolo.

The myth that action/string clearance is higher on a non-recessed is false. The action is merely a byproduct of how a guitar is set up. The same action/string clearance height can be achieved on both a properly built non-recessed and recessed guitar.

Now, there is a difference and this is where player preference comes in. With a recessed Floyd there is no neck angle/neck pocket shimming required to get the correct action/string height. This is how Fender guitars (e.g. Strat, Tele) are Built, so a recessed would give more of Fender Strat type of playing experience.

Non-recessed Floyds do require a neck angle/neck pocket shimming to get the correct action/string height. The angle happens to be the same angle that Gibson uses on their guitars (e.g. Les Paul), so a non-recessed guitar would give more of a Les Paul type of playing experience.

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