Descendant Vibrato Unit - Right Handed
The Descendant Vibrato is the brain child of well established, and highly respected luthier, Chris Swope of Swope Guitars. An idea he has been thinking over for nearly ten years, which after a couple of years more specifically diving head first into turning into a product, is finally born.
I have touched on the subject a number of times over on my blog, so I won't go too in-depth here, but to summarise! The vibrato units found on Jazzmasters & Jaguars, was designed and introduced by Leo Fender at a time when players predominantly used heavy gauged strings, wound G's and often flatwounds too. Playing styles and approach was different then, so as time went by, and people got more experimental with guitars like the Jazzmaster & Jag, people started noticing niggling issues along the way. Players have long embraced these 'quirks' if you want to call them that, and some have performed modifications to their bridges or vibratos to help with it.
So skip forward, and Chris has spent a long time working on these guitars, building his own instruments and like a lot of us offset guitar fans, been involved in countless discussions with what could help and make the classic design work more efficiently for modern guitarists. The Descendant Vibrato is designed to provide a steeper break angle of the strings behind the bridge which keeps the strings seated firmly in their saddles. Unlike the past solution of the addition of an after market roller bar, the Descendant doesn’t add an extra friction point and it increases the downward pressure at the bridge in a manner that maintains the integrity of Leo’s original design so you still get the full pantheon of overtones that a trapeze style tailpiece provides.
As each guitar is different and each player’s needs are different, the Descendant allows the player to determine the depth that the vibrato is set beneath the top plate. Some players have already refined their setup and simply want increased sustain. Others just want the strings to stay in the saddles! The design and adjustability of the Descendant will help you dial in the angle to your requirements. Strings are front loaded through a keyhole design, this allows for easy string installation as the ball ends now rest at or below the plane of the body. Also new to the Descendant design is a top adjusting tension screw for the vibrato arm. Accessed through the arm hole in the top plate, you can take your arm out after every gig, adjust it to be free swinging or set to stay where you put it.
Chris began teasing the development of this unit and the buzz around the offset and luthier community was plain to see. Since releasing the units for sale, and players and guitar makers are getting them onto their instruments they are seeing, hearing and feeling these improvements over the classic design and it has become a serious solution for this style of vibrato unit.
The Descendant was designed and made to fit standard Jazzmaster vibrato body routes/cavities. If you have any concerns that yours is different to standard, get in touch and we can double check fitment for you.
Maintenance wise, ultimately this is a high quality, hard wearing item that with care and routine maintenance will last a very long time indeed! Both Descendant/Swope and me highly recommend some basic routine maintenance steps each or every other string change to keep your Descendant working it's best, and that is to simply apply some White Lithium Grease to the section of the vibrato arm that fits into the unit. A tiny amount is sufficient, and will help keep the locking mechanism and arm functioning well for years to come. White Lithium Grease is low cost, and a handy item to keep in your set-up arsenal anyway for it's multiple uses with metal hardware items on your guitar.
I have also made this little video showing the install steps, I hope it helps you during your install and initial setup, I have also written an accompanying blog article HERE
I'm incredibly proud to begin offering these here in the UK, after speaking with Chris early on, it felt like making these more accessible to those in the UK or Europe too, would be worthwhile and helpful to the offset guitar community who were perhaps weary of importing an item from the USA themselves due to costs involved. This is UK stock, dispatched from my here at James' Home of Tone!