baritones said: Do you have much experience with the gibson maestro lyre vibrola? If so how would you compare the range and feel to an offset style trem? Is there much of a difference between the short and long versions? Pretty tough to find any reliable info on them... Thanks a ton you guys are the best!
Lyre and Offset vibratos are actually my two favorite systems on the market, and it would be difficult for me to pick one over the other. In speaking of the Lyre, I’m referring only to the vintage units as the reproductions just aren’t built of the same materials and aren’t quite up to the task of trem use with keeping a guitar in tune.
The vintage Lyre Vibrola is a thing of beauty, and when properly set up will enable even heavy trem use with better tuning stability than many others on the market. Its design is simple yet elegant: a bent ‘spring’ of metal with the string anchor plate attached, doubling as the point where the arm connects. The feel of the Lyre is more immediate than most other units on the market (save for a Strat) which is quite refreshing if you’ve ever owned a sloppy, poorly-maintained Bigsby. (Bigsbys otherwise work beautifully)
What I mean by ‘set up properly’ is that the Lyre Vibrola was never meant to work with light string gauges; .009” gauge strings usually fare poorly with this unit, as can .010”s at times. .011” gauge or higher is really where these things come alive, but again, 10s can totally work. You’ll need to be aware of the break angle across the saddles, as well as making sure both the nut and saddles are properly cut and smoothed out, and lubricating with Chap Stick is my secret weapon with these vibratos. (seriously)
I have a ‘77 Gibson ES-355 that’s one of my main guitars, and that thing just does not go out of tune, and the hardware is completely stock. I don’t like roller bridges, which seem to sacrifice some resonance and reliability (there are just so many more things that can go wrong there) that they never seem to be as good a solution as proper upkeep and maintenance.
As I said, I’m a huge fan of both this system and the Fender Offset vibrato, so I can’t say which one I prefer. I would concede the Offset has more range overall in pitch variation, and is more nuanced than the touch-the-arm-and-it-drops Lyre. But is one better? I don’t think so. Additionally, there’s not really a difference between the long and short versions functionally; I prefer the look of the long-frame.
I can’t play Gibsons without them!