Kahler Tremolo System
The Kahler Tremolo System is an electric guitar bridge with a cam operated vibrato arm system. It was invented in 1979 by Gary Kahler and Dave Storey. They shifted their business model to making Golf clubs in the 1990s (mostly due to lower popularity of tremolo use), but are back to bridge manufacturing as of April 2005.
Models and varieties
Cams and saddles are available in several different types, including brass and stainless steel. Stainless steel models were introduced in 1985. Brass cams and saddles have a warmer, more full tone, whereas steel produces a brighter tone with enhanced harmonics. Aluminium cams, announced in 2004 and released in 2005, have what is described as a "bright, growling midrange with super clean harmonics." The 2310, their current OEM model, is the only tremolo to offer the aluminum cam - though parts are interchangeable - and offers brass rollers. Steel rollers can also be used, but, due to increased sustain and harmonics, they are primarily for metal and not preferred for other purposes.
Kahler also produces one of the only bass tremolo systems currently available (Hipshot produces a fulcrum-based unit not unlike the two-point system used on Fender Stratocasters currently built in the United States). Famous musicians, such as Les Claypool and Victor Wooten, are among its users. The first two bridges Kahler sold after their return in 2005 were 2410 bass tremolos.
Guitars that have carved tops (as opposed to flat, like the Fender Stratocaster), such as the Gibson Les Paul, cannot properly mount the 2300 series of Kahler tremolo, and instead have to use a stud-mounted 2200 series.
For a period spanning from the mid-1980s to the time when Kahler ceased production in the early 1990s, Kahler also produced fulcrum-based systems similar to the Floyd Rose brand of tremolos. The 2600 "Steeler" tremolo was licensed to Kahler by Floyd Rose during the late-1980s. The 2500 and 2520 (the former having steel rollers; the latter brass), were designed as an alternative to the stock Fender trem, and were offered on several Fenders during the 1980s. Today, Kahler no longer produces fulcrum-based tremolos.
Neal Moser offers Kahler bridges on many models, and the Jackson and ESP Custom Shops currently offer Kahlers as a custom option. ESP and B.C. Rich also offer the Kahler X-TREM on their more affordable signature models for Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King respectively. ESP and B.C. Rich offer the Kahler Hybrid model on their mid-range guitars such as LTD JH-600 and B.C. Rich Wartribe, both with EMG pickups. Gibson has included the Kahler system on limited edition guitars such as the Gibson Shred-X Explorer and the Gibson Tribal Explorer. Peavey's PXD Void III and Twenty-Three III guitars also feature the Kahler system.
The Kahler tremolo system does not use a conventional "cam" as shown in the "cam" link given on this page. There is no true "cam" in the Kahler tremolo system, although it is called "cam-operated" in the patent application. Many guitarist also prefer the Kahler system because of its smooth,"spongy" feel, as opposed to the more rigid trem bar action found on conventional fulcrum systems.
Kahler players - present
- Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest)
- Kerry King (Slayer)
- Lita Ford
- Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)
- Les Claypool (Primus)2
- Mitch Harris (Napalm Death)
- Karl Logan (Manowar)
- Mana (musician) (Moi dix Mois)
- Phil Richards (Sebastopol)
- David Shankle (Manowar/David Shankle Group)
- Dave Sharman
- Kyle Sokol (Rude Squad/Trust for Liars)2
- Paul Stanley (Kiss)1
- Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste)3
- Victor Wooten2
- Steve "Lips" Kudlow (Anvil)
- Sarah Spisak 4
- Guy Marchais (Suffocation)
1Plays a Kahler-equipped guitar during the song "Tears Are Falling". He can be seen with his Kahler on the 2005 video KISS: Rock the Nation Live and the "Tears Are Falling" music video.
2Players of Kahler's bass tremolos
3Used on both of his custom axes as seen in: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76SNYu_C94I
4Uses Kahler equipped B.C. Rich Beast in Metal Method instructional videos.
Kahler players - past
- Jeff Hanneman (Slayer)†
- K. K. Downing (Judas Priest)
- Dave Murray (Iron Maiden)1
- Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden)
- Max Cavalera (Sepultura/Soulfly)2
- Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)3
- Marty Friedman (Megadeth)3
- Paul Gilbert (Racer X)
- Bruce Bouillet (Racer X)
- Alex Lifeson
- Steve Vai
- Jeff Loven
- David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)4
- Brian May (Queen)5
- Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe)
- Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
- Phil Collen (Def Leppard)
- Steve Clark (Def Leppard)
- Doug Messenger (Van Morrison)
- Steve Lynch (Autograph)
- Chris Hayes (Huey Lewis and The News)
- Jason Becker 6
1Played a Kahler-equipped Fender Stratocaster during the World Slavery Tour in 1984/1985 - the biggest tour in Iron Maiden's history. The platinum-certified Live After Death DVD (2008) shows Murray playing his Kahler on several songs.
2Briefly played a Kahler-equipped custom B.C. Rich guitar during Sepultura's "Chaos A.D." tour but without using the tremolo bar.
3Used to play Kahler's fixed bridge model on custom Jackson guitars.
4Briefly used on the Black Strat from mid-1983 to mid-1997.
5Used on the first Guild Brian May signature from 1983 to 1985.
6Used Kahler tremolo systems on his original Carvin DC200 Guitars.