Time to ditch the whammy bar but not the vibrato? The RoughGauge Jake Blade might be the answer

When it comes to modding their electric guitar, one of the first ports of call for any player is the hardware, perhaps adding a Bigbsy for some vibrato wiggle, or going the whole hog and fitting a Floyd Rose because why not, right? Fans of Fender offsets will be more than familiar with the concept of upgrading Jaguar and Jazzmaster bridges – one of guitar's most popular mods.

But what if there was a vibrato mod that did not necessarily involve changing your vibrato unit, one with no drilling, no risk to your guitar’s finish. What about one that did away with the idea that the vibrato unit should have an arm?

That’s what RoughGauge has developed. Working in collaboration with Jake Cinninger, the hot-shot guitarist from Indiana jam band Umphrey’s McGee, it has developed the Jake Blade – a convex plate, shaped a little like a mussel shell, that is machined to a bar, which then occupies the same spot in your vibrato as the whammy bar arm. 

The idea is that it opens players up to a new vocabulary of vibrato techniques, as demonstrated by Cinninger in the video above, and caters to those who find the traditional bar gets in the way of their playing.

Simply operate the vibrato by applying pressure from the palm or fingers. The device is not altogether new. It was first patented in 2008 by RoughGaughe founder Mark Benjamin, with Cinninger and his bandmate Brendan Bayless both deploying it, but after fire destroyed the RoughGauge tooling facility in 2018, the company looked to improve upon the design.

The Jake Blade is compatible with a wide range of vibrato systems, including PRS vibratos, various Fender Stratocaster and G&L units, Ernie Ball Music Man, and the Suhr Gotoh 510. Both right and left-handed units are available, and there are a number of options available to make the specs are the right fit for your instrument.

The stock blades are machined from metal and have a plain finish but if you want to jazz things up there are also a number of custom finishes so the Jake Blade matches your guitar. 

The Jake Blade is priced $99.99 for the standard version, $119.99 to $129 for custom colour finishes. The Jake Blade is available now direct from RoughGauge

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.