Hipshot Trilogy - Anyone used one?

Started by MCK-fgn, December 31, 2010, 02:07:33 AM

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Has anyone out there used one of these yet? Looks like a very interesting product. I might try it on something I've got cooking. Thoughts?

From Hipshot website :

Our TMB3 is designed to give you endless possibilities of tuning exploration. Machined to retrofit your Strat. (Tremolo adapter block may be required). Includes installation instructions and hardware. Tuning chart included. Here's how it works...... The Trilogy provides you with instant, smooth, and precise retuning of each string to three player-preset notes by means of specifically designed cam levers. Each string is independent of adjacent strings. (Tuning ranges of the 6th and 5th strings are approximately an octave; the 4th and 3rd strings are over a fifth; the 2nd string is approximately a fourth; and the 1st string is over a minor third.)


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I can see this post is a bit old...and I am new here (today)...but I've always been intrigued by the possibilities of this device and I know quite a few players use them...overhand slide player Dave Hole comes to mind.

I have explored making my own kinds of devices to achieve something of this effect. I would not have anything like the need for that many tunings or be pleased to stretch the strings or drop them in the range this device is capable...it is also a sizeable chunk of steel.

I am working at the moment on a DIY simple (KISS) device of a similar nature. The idea is to be able to drop the any or all strings by 2 steps. This would give access from the default standard, to dropped D, open G, DADGAD or a faux baritone (all dropped a tone) and a few other non standard dropped tunings in a similar manner. Mine uses simple leavers though is designed for a particular project, so might not be applicable to standard guitars. Such devices require a bit of manufacturing, but a simple leaver system could provide a similar functionality (think EVH's D-tuna) for instance....at least I am mid way through the functioning prototype on my present project. I'm excited by the possibilities and in lower tunings would work as a kind of 'b-bender' on any or multiple strings in a lowered tuning.

One problem with pulling or letting down strings is that there is a lot of pressure on the neck and altering this pressure will flex the neck a little and potentially make some of these tunings 'out of tune' and so a bit pointless. This is especially true of the extremes that the hipshot is capable of. Adding more tension is also risky to the neck as well as tuning. Anything extreme will compromise the intonation also...this stretches the strings, but does not adjust the intonation...not bad with moderate changes as I propose but you would need a very 'stiff' guitar to cope with these changes in pressures...IMHO.

Auto tune / robot guitars obviously can adjust for changes in the instrument, but I don't think even them have yet to adjust intonation quite yet. Instruments that use modeling and pitch transposing electronically will of course suffer none of the effects of physically yanking on the string.


Great point. Perhaps a graphite neck would be the best when it comes to playing with this hipshot trilogy type of range.
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Something like that would probably help...of course, if you were to tune up to that extent...the strings would break off I'm sure. Realistically I think that a moderate drop tuning is sufficient and certainly this device could do that without ill effects on most decent guitars. My DIY version has far more modest aspirations but I think will be effective for that kind of thing.

If doing a custom instrument and you have the $ another alternative perhaps would be banjo tuners on the other end of the string...a bit like Adrian Legg on his ovation to change tunings mid son and bend strings and such. They have an extreme turning ration that allows for quick tuning arrangements, but not been convinced that they are quite so good for general tuning and the range is set with screws and could cause problems...though he has developed an entire sound around them, so I guess that kind of thing will work.


Hi warmingtone...

I built a sort-of version out of a much-modified Bigsby Palm Pedal that I now have bolted to a Tele Custom 72RI..
...lots of tension / string gauge problems in the creation...now slowly settling into (a six-string version of) C6 pedal steel tuning...a few more mods since these pics were taken...

FWIW, I can appreciate the problems... ::)


That's a great looking device there Gumbo, had not seen that before...

I did some significant work with my own ideas, but am settling on getting a trilogy in the near future for my current project and been in consultation with hipshot direct on the side. I have also been doing a bit of research and this from the instruction PDF might give you more of an idea of how this very well engineered device works...

a theoretical 726 combinations (though, how many one might use is debatable perhaps...three settings per string. The actual mechanism is about 3" sq, plus the bridge and such. I am considering the lap steel version for my application and a custom made bridge.

They also are now available in a chrome look, an example flips through on their 'flash' promo on their home page if you look quick. The leavers are still black, but the bass plate and forward block are chrome and look particularly special.

How well they perform we will have to see, but I don't think there should be a problem and unlike my original ideas, works on cams so are unlikely to cause a 'clunk' when activated LOL...my idea would prohibit operation mid song at the very least. Neither I, nor the manufacturer, could find any demos of the device in use though there are a few pics around of guitars fitted with the device on YT and elsewhere. Here is a pic of the device fitted to a strat with leavers operated as an example...

You would need to take the proper precautions for tremolo type guitars to ensure there is no binding at the nut end...graphite nut, locking tuners and no string trees as I use would help, but need to be factored into the cost. It can lower the bass strings by as much as an octave, but there is only so much most guitar necks can take before flexing of course,,,let alone string snapping if going up. String gauge, scale length and action (lowering strings create a bigger 'arch' of vibration and need more space above the frets to ring true). I would think that extreme tunings could cause significant intonation settings, if you have ever lowered strings in the extreme, you will perhaps have had this effect.

My project has been built with these things in mind and a particular kind of play. It is using heavy bottom/light top strings 10-52 and a medium action. I'd be anticipating standard tuning, lowering all strings down a tone as originally conceived in my version...this tested to still be very in tune and sound good on my instrument. Just this will give you an access to dropped D, open G, DADGAD and a semi baritone standard tuned to D dropped tuning. Perhaps the third setting might be used for specialist tunings devised for a particular song or something, though there are obvious other open tunings one might explore. Hawaiian music makes a lot of use of 'slack key tunings such as C G D G B D, but there are endless variations.

Adrian Legg got quite a bit of notoriety and used banjo pegs to get a similar result. There are problems though with this approach (and a set will cost far more than this device). I think they have a ratio of about 2:1 so tuning the guitar is more akin to tuning a violin and in use, the pegs will only turn between two stop points...so some major work I expect if the strings are not completely settled and the guitar stable.

From what I can see of the design, the levers should be let down with some control, not fall with 10kgs of force, which would perhaps allow the changing of tunings mid song or to manipulate things while playing which might be able to be used to some good effect. I saw the Plant/Page show some years back, and Page did similar effects well with a transperformance guitar that really was quite impressive and effective.

Anyway, looking like I will get my hands on one in the near future and will report on how I find it, they are not cheap but quality rarely is...and there are few other devices that can do quite this kind of thing mechanically.

It is certainly an interesting device that many are curious about but it seems few have used. It will be interesting to see how it works in practice and hope to be able to report more fully when the project is finished on how it might perform. The principle is sound, but how accurately it drops strings and they stay in tune may well vary from instrument to instrument and the demands placed on it. Hopefully it will justify the cost on the right guitar cause the idea is a great one IMHO.


I'll be ordering one soon, but I finally found a demo of someone using it to show open tunings and quite impressive...


At least on this telecaster, it effortlessly and quietly switches between tunings and seems to be quite accurate smooth. All the usual smooth nut and other precautions would be necessary for this kind of performance and not to push things further than the neck or bridge could take it.


Report a review.

I know Sonny Landreth traded in his Transperformance Robot tuning Les Paul for a Strat with a Flat fingerboard radius to play his unique "behind the bar" slide technique.

and he relies on the Hipshot Trilogy to obtain numerous Alt tunings at his shows. 

. . . the future ain't what it used to be . . .


Yes, there are a few players about that use them, especially in the 'slide world' where open tunings are common. I think this kind of approach is a bit more practical than the kind of things that gibson in particular are attempting with electronic means of auto tuning. I was a gibson player exclusively for 25 years, but an LP is not really built for this kind of thing regardless of being nice guitar with a lot of tradition.

I built a kahler LP to address some of the designs flaws, such as this truss rod cover that adds mass to the headstock, reinforces the neck/head join and provides a straight string pull over the grahtech nut for tuning stability on a traditional gibson style head to locking tuners.


I have confirmed my order and going for the new look chrome/black version of the basic Lapsteel/Custom guitar version and will adapt it to my project which will be a rare (if only that I can find) of putting this device on an essentially 'acoustic' jazz like guitar. I have high hopes, but the guitar is unusual and built to take such a device...straight string pull from machine head to tail, locking tuners, etc. I've tested the guitar for intonation with various dropped tunings and seems fine. The scale length is fairly long and the strings and action on the high, heavy side (10-52) to prevent low tunings 'flapping about'...not something typical of gibsons. The complexity of their systems seem to be overwhelming practicality and reliability (and of course cost), but kudos for reaching in that direction.

Imagine this with the black leavers on a chrome base and forward block...should really suit the vibe I am going for this guitar and is a good move for the company to offer something other than the stove black look.

I finished the bridge on this project, so the timing is good and might as well post that here...

It is made of aluminium with individual saddles on a piezo element (as found in acoustic guitars) to a side mounted preamp and tuner. The top of the bridge is tortoiseshell to create a kind of 1920's vibe to the guitar while looking 'forward'...kind of a steam punk thing going on in this guitar. Unlike most archtop bridges, it is intonated and solidly screwed to the guitar top to prevent any movement....the piezo cable goes though the bass plate (rosewood) and the top through a small hole. I will likely mod the trilogy to fit with this 'look' and the mechanical levers should be a good look and fit in well with that kind of aesthetic.

I have some concerns about noise when the tuning mechanism is used through the piezo system, but this is a try hybrid guitar with most sound coming from a mag and a new pup system and piezo sound is optional. From the demo it seems smooth enough to be used mid song, but at the present time, that is not really something I am likely to do often if at all.

Will report with details and how it works out and pics of the new look chrome version...so far it seems to be a remarkable device and certainly more reliable and flexible than my home built effort that was consuming a lot of time and effort.

PS...various models are available from resellers on ebay at around $170, quite a bit less than the official $220+ RRP.


Well, it's me again...just out of the mail this morning and 5 minutes in hand...my trilogy arrived...

first impressions...this is an extremely well enginnered and quality build, insanely strong and so a little heavy. Mine has the 'stove balck' vlack whidh is a kind of satin feel and perfectly applied but with a chrome base plate. I had hoped/expected for the front piece to be also chrome, but that might have been a misunderstanding in ordering. Hipshot were prepared to do customization and such...and on this guitar I had wondered if the balck would not look better (the back and sides and some other hardware is black) so this is a bit of a compromise and looks good, the chrom plating is a very high quality. The mechanical action is exceptionally smooth and sure falling into place into the three positions surely and the entire unit is smaller than one might think. The leavers are in the up position in this picture (or highest pitch) in all these pics. I am sure it will work better with the strings on to provide some pull on the mechanism.

So, too early to judge the effectiveness, but I have to say that hipshot were good to work with, the product is the best it could possibly be construction wise and this is some quality bit of hardware.

Mounting it on this unusual application is going to take a bit with several options considered and need to be refined now that I have it and to aesthetically make if fit in better with the vision of the guitar...but, it is at first 'blush' an amazing concept exceptionally made and really going to set off this project and make it do some amazing things.

I have to say after browsing through some of the 'robot guitar' things and seeing them on vids and such, this kind of approach, though a bit more 'manual' seems a better way to go that robotic tuners. SUre, it will take a bit of set up and it won't 'tune itself' but I suspect that getting between tunings and other things one could do with them may well be even more versatile, quicker and intuitive, not need breakdown or is too complex, rock solid in construction and does not require a battery or any time to change from one tuning to another, you could change strings mid tune and while holding a note itself I would say, which itself could be a valid technique for the adventurous and dexterous.

Still, the proof is in the pudding as they say, so it will be a little bit yet before I have the thing fitted and the guitar set up to make a proper assessment of the device...but it certainly looks like it will do the job!

More to come...



See my comments on the other post on this subject... :-*


My guitar is still in the process of construction, so more tweaking is required...but the hipshot is remarkable...short of tuning your guitar for you of course!

As a side question, do people have suggested tunings, what are peole using the tuning options for in the robot guitars for instance?

As I have three settings per string with this thing, I was thinking perhaps all strings in half steps. This gives common things like dropped D and open G and DADGAD as well as three standard tuning settings...E,Eb,D. Also open D, DADF#AD (same as an open E tuning lower)

Also allows for a 'raised low F', but dropping everything but the low E to Eb...sometimes useful where you have an Am,G,F like progression and want open strings for the bass in fingerstyle. You could also do some minor tunings like open g minor DGDGBbD

The advantage of it is that it is all pretty intuitive. With a lot of 'fingerstyle' tunes you tend to arrange things with quite a few open strings and things can sound a bit 'samey' and tire on the ears with tunes frequently being played in 'guitar friendly' keys. By being able to lower things you get more variety of keys and the guitar has a different tone in 'slack' tunings. Also works like a kind of reverse capo, should one have to accommodate a singer and need to flatten a step or two.

But I am open to other suggestions if there are some. The guitar seems to be ok tuning the low E all the way down to C on the low string. If there is the need to do something more exotic though, there are always the tuners to adjust a string for a particular song of course.


You do notice the weight in the device, it is a very heavily built device. It has added a bit of weight to my guitar, but then, it is light. It would likely be a bit much on a traditional Les Paul which is already excessively heavy. Also, for poor gibson (I was a Les Paul player exclusively for over 25 years, so that is not a slam, but really) there are quite a few problems with their designs and such device, similarly with tremolos. This device is going to like a straight string pull as well as graphite nuts or rollers on the bridge as well as locking tuners.

On an LP I built with a kahler trem earlier in the year, I made this, using string ball ends as rollers and a graphite nut with locking tuners, all to compensate and correct a gibson style traditiona headstock. I would think all the precautions used for a good trem system is required here too.

Otherwise, the trilogy works well, is 'stiff' but smooth like 'changing gears'. Each string on it's own is easy to change and seems to fall into place well, one can go a little further and up the strings up into this position if required and mentioned in the instructions. Changing a few leavers at once takes a bit of a push (especially going up in pitch) but doable within a tune perhaps. Stable strings are a must and setting things up is bit tedious, the allen key bolts use a very fine key and are stiff. Could well be because thing are new, or possibly designed that way so as things don't move with vibration or use. Any movement there would fail the ability to lock into tune and make the device pointless...so perhaps it is a 'design feature'. Once you have things adjusted though, as long as your strings are the same guage and the guitar in tune to start with, the adjusted screws for the dropped tunings should all stay put.



After having a few 'issues' with strings in the early days of my Palm Pedal telecaster, I settled on using 'Jagwire' (stainless steel) pedal steel strings...available reasonably priced from the SGF...great, fast shipping service to Oz, too...

I have found these to be extremely reliable where constant string tension changes are occurring, plus one can buy them individually to make up the set of one's own choice.....


...shall I bring some samples to the BBQ?    ;D


Thanks for the tip G,

I will look into them some time, but I don't think the strings will be a problem once settled. My other guitars all have full floating trems like kahlers and stay in tune really well. More of an issue with these things is neck flex and in my case, also top flex. Drobo players have had similar discussions as the strings are applying pressure on the 'biscuit bridge' on a thin aluminium cone which has a biot of flex. So, when you change the pressure on some string the others are also affected. I think one can find something where everything is relatively in tune which is ok for my purposes but hard to set up. By that I mean, say you want to drop to open g, DGDGBD and changing the tension of the E,A and E strings, the D,G and B strings may change slightly. Say these unaltered strings go a tiny bit flat, if you were to tune the others slightly flatter, there will be a happy medium that will be very close to D and completely in tune with the rest of the strings.

Of course, on a solid body guitar with a stiff neck, you are not going to have as many effects like that...this guitar is essentially acoustic. Compared to string settling and type, this and the friction points of nut and bridge and the stability of the tuners seems to be a much bigger effect. To be fair, the guitar is still under construction and as the builder, able to explore options to stabilize things further. The reality is that putting such an advice on such an instrument is a big stretch and have not seen or heard of anyone trying something similar...apparently neither have the manufacturer. So, going out on a limb with the concept but I think those niggles will be overcome. I'd still like to make something to blend the device in aesthetically, not that it looks bad, but there are probably more I could do and stiffen things up at the same time perhaps.

I have considered trying flat or ground wound strings too, in part to avoid string squeaks and to lesson friction, some of them are a hard 'chrome'. One of the problems with something like stainless steel strings, much like SS frets is that a normal fret is fairly 'soft' and similar to a normal string. If you use a hard string you can quickly wear through frets, SS frets and you can visibly see grooves in the strings and the intonation going out as they wear. With a slide with no frets, well, one can do as you please...but it is a possibility, I tend to play lightly and don't generally get much fret wear anyway.


Myself - I rely on Fender SuperBullets

the sheer physics of the "Bullet" end makes all the difference in the world to craft a stabilized tension string.
. . . the future ain't what it used to be . . .


Physics or mechanical?

they do recommend such strings, as an alternative I solder reinforced all the string ends which is also recommended...forgot to mention that.

Not sure that it would be strictly necessary and hipshot only mentions it in the context of possibly string breaks. The strings are held in with a kind of 'hook' and goes straight to the bridge. The alternative would have been the floyd approach to just locking everything down and taking all the problem elements out of the equation. But after using kahlers that 'hook' the strings I'm confident that I can overcome the problems at the other end of the strings.


Re soldering ball end, or adding super glue - been there done that

FWIW - the brand "S.I.T" (Stay In Tune) Strings are simply EB strings that have the ball ends pre dipped in superglue. 

I recommend try a set of Super Bullets. They are made like no other strings!

Before I switched to SuperBullets, I would always break strings because the tailpiece makes direct contact with the typical "loop" at the typical ball end, and slowly sheers into the string. I place a lot of stress on my string's Ball end during a gig anytime I bend strings!
( I do play blues)   

On my surf guitars with JazzMaster Tremolos, I would constantly break "normal" strings because the jazzmaster tailpiece places major stress directly on the "string loop" at the ball.

By contrast, if I use Fender Super Bullets, the ONLY point of contact the tailpiece makes is on the "Bullet"  - the actual string never makes direct contact with the tailpiece, and never can "cut" into the string.

As a result, I only change strings when the tone gets dead - about every three months - and my string breakage is minimal.

I use the Fender 3150R Pure Nickel type (.010-.46")


Only other strings I would use is DR Blues on my Bigsby guitars - (I love the Pure Nickel tone!)

and on my Floyd Rose guitars, I use what ever is hanging around - since the ball end is a non issue there.   
. . . the future ain't what it used to be . . .


Hmmm..that's interesting...SIT are superglued LOL. WHerere did you hear that? I had some for quite a while but didn't like them, seemed pre-dead.

I was using a cheap no-name brand string while building this thing and they felt really bad. I have d'addario on now and feel better. I really liked rotosound too, something that the local shop (50km each way) carries, they really were a bit different. It's been many years since I have used or even seen bullets. Elixur's I've stripped the coating off.

On both Kahler trems and on this hipshot trillogy, the 'hook' is such that it is holding the ball and not the windings, but 1-2mm between perhaps, on this the wear point is potentially the thicker winds but you are not moving it as much as a trem. The instructions that come with the unit are pretty good and the soldering is to reinforce this area. You do need to string carefully so the ball is in correctly, but because the tension is never fully released, the ball should not move. They mentioned bullet strings above that option because there is no winding so wont wear on anything.

This guitar is unusual though, there is slightly more than 4.5" behind the bridge to the trilogy...and on the high e, all the way up to the tuner is about 2" short of the entire length of the string! That is a lot of string to stretch.

I generally use 10-46 strings but on this guitar I am using 10-56 for this particular finger picking style to get a more solid bass tone but still allow a medium action and bending and such on th higher strings and feel familiar. The lighter bass strings were a bit to elastic playing the 'bass' lines with the thumb I found and I figured it would help the lower tuning stuff. If you are going to be tuning down with this device, the strings are going to move in a bigger arch and that might effect your action choice if you like things super low...fortunately I like things a bit higher in the bass anyway.

Other than when I am working on a guitar, I really have not broken a string in years and years...generally only happens because the things are coming on and off so often in the process.

I like a lot of the retro vibe, one couldn't get more retro than a real archtop F-hole guitar...but I am equally fascinated by some alternative construction or new options...if they make sense. I never took to floyds being to fiddly and all...but locking tuners, love 'em. The bigsby and some of those fender trems I find a bit much, mostly a vibe thing perhaps. I use my kahlers in a similar way to a bigsby, it's a subtle thing, and in that style used them a lot...but they can go to completely slack and up till the string breaks. My strat is set up the same kind of way (oh, it has a trem setter in it) with a jeff beck like 'float' and i think I prefer the original strat trem design with a few mods like two point hinge and solid saddles. If set up well and any sharp corners removed if necessary around the bridge plate string holes (dremmel can be your friend) they do very well...problems are usually around the nut and tuners because they are not moving on anything else. My tele has an LSR and can stay in tune amazingly well and have not broken a string since it was built.

But a bigsby is kind of asking for a bit of trouble and big bit of gear that has a lot of friction points and the like...jag, mustang, jazzmasters are all quirkly, but not a patch on a strat regardless of looks. Kahlers are known to be 'fully floating' and has more range than most floyds without the hassle, but it gives you the feel of these types with the strings not lifting as the trem is used and velvet smooth. A lot less would taken out of the guitar as well, though they are heavy and expensive, they are great things well built and even allows for the string spread to be adjusted (I like things wide at the bridge). The newer hybrid versions lock to a fixed bridge and if set up well really does work...on my LP I was able to modify it by finding a thumb screw to allow that on the fly.

I think the normal application for the trilogy, as they have for a tele or a strat is more the go, close to and a shallow angle to the bridge saddles. Alternatively make something of one's own, perhaps with rollers perhaps. If I did or do another bridge on this guitar or similar, I might use a graphite bridge saddle material...in fact an odd piece of graphite came with the trilogy, I have no idea what this blank would be used for as it is an odd shape and thin as an acoustic bridges saddle LOL...hence I didn't mention it earlier.

I am considering modifying a graphtech nut I have left over from my LP project as it was black, Looks to be the exact string spacing of this import strat but wider (like a gibson) than a strats nut slot...so perhaps a shelf nut could be attempted and with the better graphtech material. Tuning to me has become more and more important, but never more so in this style where any discrepancy between any strings, especially low on the neck, is glaringly obvious and the guitar tends to be a bit of a compromise at best anyway. I am in the process though of working through such things on this guitar and it might not need that kind of compensation.

One thing I have been doing for a few years now is oiling my strings and fretboard. At the moment I wipe on C.D.T cutting oil. it is very thin and leaves a coating on the strings so I don't get any corrosion from the salt air down here, but also lubes everything along the strings and keeps the fretboard nourished and frets shinny...it's really been great and people might want to try that. I also had the idea on this guitar to make some kind of lubricant for the bridge and nut, I put on some petroleum jelly last night and that works well without making a mess...nice on the finger tips too. The bridge has a kind of slot that will keep a bit of lube in there and re-lube as the string moves...the saddles are aluminium.

If...if...I were to be designing a guitar around the Trilogy, and I am amazed that non one seems to have done this kind of thing...besides the straight pull string like a fender and locking tuners and all that...I would set the device further into the body perhaps. It is something that you really could design a guitar around and perhaps I will one day though I only make about one a year and intending this one to go for a while yet.

It's a bit like the old 'what should gibson do' conversations that go around. Now I was faithful to my old LP for decades and never used a different guitar but they are an archaic beast. In reply from fender, they could have done the obvious thing and tried to combine the best of what they do with fender features...but instead of the obvious leaving room for PRS...they came out with things like the Corvus!! While they are building effects into guitars (most better off on the floor IMHO) of fairly familiar designs without improvements. Apparently they should do a bit better on 'product support' and R&D too. It really is the custom builders that are coming up with some nice things and cool ideas and often the price is lower than the name brands that are trading on a logo. That's not to slam either fender or gibson, got to love them all and the designs are classics and define what the electric guitar is, but there are things that could still be done.

A guitar purpose built to use the trilogy or something similar is an obvious one...recessing the device a bit, carbon reinforcement in the neck, straight string pull, low friction bridge and nut...would not take a lot to do and be rock solid intuitive and reliable compared to electronic tuners I suspect...the ability to smoothly go to alternate tunings is the attraction for me, though i truth I will be playing in standard at least 90% of the time. I'm curious to know what people who own 'robot' guitars are using their ability use multiple tunings are doing in that regard.


Thought I would drop by with a few pics as I got a bit of work done on my guitar today and reinstalled the trilogy better once I could get access to the inside of the guitar to support it...bit of an optical illusion on the size of the device compared to the rest of the guitar, being so close to the lens...

This shows the hatch for the outputs, likely 4 phone jacks...as far as I know and from hipshot, perhaps the only acoustic guitar built for the device, so some uncharted waters and this is an unusual application of my own device.

The device mounts with 4 screws to the rear of the unit. the rear ones screw through the top into the end block, I installed an internal brace for the forward screws...

I shaped a shim to accommodate the curve and 'float the forward part of the unit, covered around the entire bottom with black felt...

The end result is that it is held strongly to the top and heel block but everything forward floats, the felt protecting the tp but mainly filling this 'gap'. As an acoustic instrument, I did not want to affect the tops vibration unduly.

Here you can see the e,a and e strings 'let down' a tone to access open G...in this case the lowest position of the levers...

It might be a bit tricky to see, but this shows the leavers in three positions...the Allen Key screws adjust the throw down form standard tuning...all will need resetting since the re-install.

This shows how one strings the thing up, I soldered the end of the strings and you inset the ball end in the hook, push the lever down and tune up.

So much depends on the guitar, the device itself is rock solid and exceptionally well made...it's heavy and bit chunky, but very sure and strong and really needs to be. Particularly there needs to be no hang ups on the bridge or nut, the tuners preferably locking and a straight string through. Something harder to control is neck flex. Letting down three strings say, takes off a lot of tension, let alone all six stings....the result of this can cause strings not released to go a little sharp. It takes quite a bit of fiddling about to get everything to go where one wants and your strings do need to be well settled.

It is a remarkable device and it is surprising someone has not built an instrument around it commercially addressing all aspects...perhaps a carbon reinforced neck and a more aesthetically pleasing integration of the device in the design so it does not look so "stuck on". This guitar is in progress still, but I was really pleased with the way the installation worked out and on this guitar, does not look to intrusive...

City sirens

Quote from:  warmingtone on November 01, 2011, 06:29:58 PM
Well, it's me again...just out of the mail this morning and 5 minutes in hand...my trilogy arrived...

first impressions...this is an extremely well enginnered and quality build, insanely strong and so a little heavy. Mine has the 'stove balck' vlack whidh is a kind of satin feel and perfectly applied but with a chrome base plate. I had hoped/expected for the front piece to be also chrome, but that might have been a misunderstanding in ordering. Hipshot were prepared to do customization and such...and on this guitar I had wondered if the balck would not look better (the back and sides and some other hardware is black) so this is a bit of a compromise and looks good, the chrom plating is a very high quality. The mechanical action is exceptionally smooth and sure falling into place into the three positions surely and the entire unit is smaller than one might think. The leavers are in the up position in this picture (or highest pitch) in all these pics. I am sure it will work better with the strings on to provide some pull on the mechanism.

I am very interested in using a Trilogy on a Les Paul. What sort of customization did Hipshot allow?


Hi, welcome to FG

My installation was very custom being on an acoustic instrument and I was fine with reinforcing the top and screwing into it. With a LP you might be happier with the model they make with a base plate that attaches around the strap button. I'd send them an emal and they can off advice and specifications to consider your options. You also need to consider the guitar a little like a tremolo, so no sticking at teh nut and bridge...a replacement roller tech or graphite saddles and nut may assist, on mine I ahve a fender like headstock so the strings pull flat across which assists things. I'm not sure what people do about the LP stud tailpiece but if you take it off and the mounting bolts you are left with the screw bushes so wont look bad I imagine.

Once set up properly, solidly mounted and the strings settled though, I can say it does a remarkable job. Mine is set up for 1/2 steps on every string but recently adjusted things to go in full steps on the low E...so E,D,C and this gives you access to a heap of options, dropped D, OpenD, DADGAD, OpenG and quite a few others. The things that can 'upset it' is neck or top flex (where detuning one strings might put out the others, so check your guitar by retuning and seeing if other strings are affected) and the mounting. I would imagine that a LP is pretty stiff enough and people do put them on 335s and such (look up slide guitarists Dave Hole). The other thing is acton, if you tune down, if you have real low action, the lose strings may hit the frets and such, same thing, if tuning down now is not a problem, then this will work. As before though, if strings are sticking in the nut or bridge or tuners are not stable and all that it might be tricky.

They are a very solid device and very well made but heavy. The bass plate is 1/8 solid brass for a start!

It comes as standard in all black, this is a tough, satin kind of paint I suppose and attractive. You can now get them with a chorome base plate as I did and a chrome 'block' that the levers attach to as well as options, again, see the web site but I did not realize till I saw one pop up in the ad flash on their home page. The levers are only available in black. The plating is very good. The levers are symmetrical to the strings but the changing mechanisms are all on the 'upper' side so with the chrome base plate this might be more obvious than in all black.

Ok, hope that helps, will try and attach a pic of the tailpiece mounted version that will float over an arch top and attach at the rear, mine is the same mechanisim but designed for custom guitars and laptops and such and screws through the top...

City sirens

Thanks for the info.

Do you have pics of your guitar above from an angle showing strings coming out of the Trilogy, going over the bridge?



The above pic may give you a bit of an idea, It also shows the leavers raised in this case to effect open G tuning by dropping the E-A-E a tone, so on my 1/2 step set up, two stops all the way down, to D-G-D on those strings. I recently re=adjusted the setup to allow the low e string to move in whole steps so now can go E-D-C on that string.

Above is another pic when installing, the string is held by a claw inside that lever block so just emerge through those slots there. Note that all are the same mechanism, it is just a matter of how things are mounted. This is a 'lap steel / custom guitar' version with 4 screws into the top. To accommodate the 'arch' I used some shaped wood and some black felt to hide it, obviously the thing needs to be pretty stable.

Oh, it is worth noting that this thing is heavily built and so Heavy and on the back end of the guitar. The bottom plate is 1/8" solid brass. Consider this on a heavy guitar perhaps, mine being hollow was neck heavy and this balanced it out, but it is a heavy piece of gear.

The thing to watch out for is that there is no 'sticking'...on this guitar the nut is good (though not graphite or anything), the fender style head pulls straight through, the tuners are locking and I did put on a roller tree to put a bit more pressure on the nut. I made the bridge myself and is aluminium but the saddles have a lot of contact with the string and so wont stick to the windings on the bass strings as perhaps sharper TOM bridge might, there are roller bridges about to consider)...but irt may not need to go as over the top as I've done.

If tuning down, remember that the strings need room to move and not rattle on the frets when completely loose though most gutiars are fine. The big thing to watch out for is 'neck flex' but I suspect an LP is going to be fine...checking it by lowering strings and seeing if untouched strings remain true to pitch might be an idea. The neck may be very stiff, but perhaps the head might flex

You probably would not go this far, but on an LP I made, I made this out of aluminium and string ball ends as rollers, this gives a straight string pull over the graphtec nut...

The guitar has a full range kahler hybrid (with added locking screw there) trem...

The trilogy is very good though in of itself. It takes quite a bit of fiddling about and tuning to set the two screws per string. Ensure the guitar is in tune and continually check it as you go...the adjustment stops are tiny allen bolts. However, these are very stiff and don't move so once you get it right to the drops you want, as long as the guitar is in tune and there are no sticking on the bridge, nut or loose tuners this is pretty much a one off thing.

Hope that helps a bit...