It might be said, when all is said and done, that Trey Xavier is not a trem guy. If you were to tell someone that, and I heard it, I wouldn’t take offense. I think it’s because deep down I’m a bit too pragmatic for my own good. I spend too much time thinking about tuning stability, what happens if you break a string, the annoyance of changing strings, the added setup complication – all the down sides. What a wiener, right? I’d forgotten about the upshot – the joy of bending notes in both directions with ease, and adding otherwise inconceivable expression to my playing.
So when I got the Vader V6x in my hands, affectionately known as the Vader Trem, it was like rediscovering a lost world – only this time, it was better than I remembered. Not only were the previous hassled reduced or eliminated, the experience of playing it was better by a wide mile than the last time I played a trem (a Floyd-equipped Ibanez RG). The simple fact of not having to cut the ball ends off my strings while changing them was huge, and although the nut was locking, because there is no headstock, there’s no winding the string around a post – just lock it off and trim and you’re done. The ball end hooks into the tuners on the bridge and away you go. Kiesel have partnered with Hipshot on the design of the bridge and the result is a fluid, smooth, and very enjoyable tremolo that responds to your every whim.
Although the trem doesn’t go quite as far up as some Floyds, I got about a minor third of ascending travel, and all the way to imperceptible pitch flopping on the descent, and more importantly, it just feels nice. It made me feel like I’ve been missing out on a whole side of guitar playing that I neglect. This inspired me to write the Vai-esque song you hear in the video’s demo – I just couldn’t stop whacking the thing! Whammy bars are fun when you don’t have to think about all the upkeep – because with the Vader Trem, there really isn’t that much.
The guitar I reviewed was in line quality-wise with the myriad other Kiesels I’ve reviewed and owned – it came set up to rip, with a dead-simple matte black finish and a real nice birdseye maple fretboard, Kiesel Lithium pickups, and a five-way switch. It felt really light, which is a must for me, and it played and sounded top-notch. I feel like its strength is in its simplicity and functionality, and the design is so well thought-out that the details of finish and top woods etc. (which are left up to the consumer) matter a great deal less.
For more information or to order direct from Kiesel, head over to their website.