Best trem systems 2023: From Floyd Rose to Bigsby, Duesenberg to Gotoh, here are the best tremolo systems we've ever used

Close up for Floyd Rose 1000 installed in a blue guitar
(Image credit: Future)

The invention of the tremolo was a monumental turning point for the electric guitar. The humble wigglestick gifted guitarists with an unprecedented level of self-expression with the best trem systems opening up a whole new world of sonic possibilities. From its modest beginnings in the late '20s to the dive-bomb craze of the '80s, the whammy bar has been an omnipresent aspect of guitar that many set out to conquer.  

Of course, with so many options out there, it can be tough to know where to start. That's where this guide comes in. We've scoured the market and put together a comprehensive list of the best tremolo systems available, so you can make an informed decision and find the perfect fit for your playing style. From classic vintage-style systems to modern, high-tech innovations, we've got you covered. 

Whether you're looking to heavily modify your current axe, upgrade the trem you have, or you're seeking a no tools required option, you'll find it here. So buckle up and get ready to take your playing to new heights with the ultimate guide to the best guitar tremolo systems, whammy bars, and vibrato units.

Best trem systems: Product guide

Best trem systems: Buying advice

Close up of Bigsby on a Gibson ES-335

(Image credit: Future)

What is a trem system on a guitar?

Okay, so technically, a tremolo system isn't tremolo at all. Rather, these pitch-altering devices are, in fact, vibrato arms. Out with the whammy bar, the term tremolo refers to the oscillation of volume, while vibrato is the name given to changes in pitch. However, they have been misnamed for decades now, and the term has stuck. 

Now, while tremolo systems come in various shapes and sizes, they all do the same thing - they allow guitarists to drastically change the pitch of their strings by pulling down on the bar. 

Need to know how to set up your trem? Well, follow the link and we'll walk you through the entire process.  

What are the disadvantages of a guitar with a tremolo arm?

So, while the humble whammy bar grants the user endless possibilities when it comes to pitch variation, it does come at a cost. Unsurprisingly, wailing on the vibrato arm like it owes you money will often leave your guitar wildly out of tune! 

That said, locking options are available for Floyd Rose and Kahler if you fancy learning how to play those fierce '80s dive bombs.  

How we choose products

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

To assemble our list of the best trem systems, we combine our own practical experience and user reviews and even engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus. We evaluate factors such as build quality, feature set, durability and affordability to ensure we showcase the very best tremolo systems available right now.

First and foremost, at MusicRadar, we are musicians and music lovers, and we want other musicians to find the right products for them. So we take our product selection very seriously. We will only recommend a product that we would be confident in using ourselves. 

Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.   

Daryl Robertson

I'm a Senior Deals Writer at MusicRadar, and I'm responsible for writing and maintaining buyer's guides on the site - but that's not all I do. As part of my role, I also scour the internet for the best deals I can find on gear and get hands-on with the products for reviews. I have a massive passion for anything that makes a sound, in particular guitars, pianos and recording equipment. In a previous life, I worked in music retail, giving advice on all aspects of music creation, selling everything from digital pianos to electric guitars, entire PA systems to ukuleles. I'm also a fully qualified sound engineer with experience working in various venues in Scotland.