I built the first of my prototypes, the Bertram Nova guitar in early 2012 with an EverTune Bridge. The moment I discovered that such a piece of hardware existed, I knew I had to put one in my first hand-built guitar.
I've read opinions by and personally spoken to naysayers. The top three negative claims — usually espoused by reviewers who are non-builders, who have not even played the bridge — appear to be that the route for the installation of the bridge removes too much wood, that it kills the tone because of its floating nature, and that it makes vibrato more difficult or impossible. All three of these arguments would naturally surface in the mind of a luthier or knowledgeable player, and have been discussed on the web for a few years now.
These are all relatively valid concerns to one degree or another, so I decided that I needed to try the EverTune Bridge for myself and installed one on the Bertram Nova shown above. What I discovered, in a nutshell, was that none of these concerns are warranted.
After over a year of testing and playing, I profess that my experience with the EverTune Bridge has been nothing short of epiphanous. I have played the guitar every single day for over year and the EverTune Bridge works exactly as advertised. The only problem with this bridge is that I lost interest in my other guitars for a while because I didn't want to put the EverTune guitar down. Seriously.
Most people understand that traditionally fretted steel string guitars are never perfectly in tune. To my knowledge, Buzz Feiten was the first, the innovator who cracked this nut with a way to make the guitar play closer to perfectly in tune. I own a G & L Legacy that was Buzz Feitened the old fashioned way. It wasn't just a nut replacement, there was surgery involved. The guitar although, plays and sounds beautifully in tune and I am glad I had it done.
Today, there are a number of corrective measures for guitar tuning. In addition to Buzz Feiten there's Earvana, a compensated nut system, and I know from experience that the Earvana compensated nut works very well. Both of these systems help to correct the pitch problems of steel stringed guitars but do nothing special to keep the guitars in tune.
The race for the best tuning technology has been going on for quite a while. Up until EverTune, we had only battery operated computerized mechanics that require user action to engage the system. In this hand there's the Peavy AT-200 and Gibson Robot Tuner systems and now TronicalTune, which is made to retrofit guitars other than Gibson. These systems require batteries and utilize sophisticated computerized electronic systems. These types of systems are capable of re-tuning your guitar for you in a number of different tuning configurations and they'll help keep your guitar in tune. Remember though that the player must actively engage the system and they don't help the guitar's basic pitch problems. If you combine an electronic auto-tune system with a Buzz Feiten or Earvana compensated nut, you're a little closer to nirvana but not there yet.
On the other hand the EverTune bridge does it all. It allows the strings to be closer to perfect pitch at every fret and it keeps the strings constantly in tune, without having to push a button to engage a system or strum the the strings while a mechanized computerized system turns your tuning pegs for you. If you sing and play at the the same time, or if you have an especially sensitive ear, this bridge will blow your mind. Again, It keeps the guitar constantly in tune without any action from the user.
These battery operated systems all require an action from the user to engage the system. These guitars will slip out of tune just as regularly as a standard guitar. The EverTune Bridge equipped guitar will not. The EverTune guitar will stay in tune for months without a single tweak, AND, the EverTune corrects pitch problems and keeps the guitar constantly in tune by means of purely mechanical tension, without batteries or electronics. This is a huge advance over the battery operated tuning pegs or bridges that retune your instrument upon command.
Everyone knows practicing can be chore when you're working toward mastering an art like playing a musical instrument. Keeping your instruments out of their cases and on stands, where they're always accessible and within reach helps a lot, but even with this easy access there are many times when an out-of-tune guitar can kill the mood. When you have an EverTune equipped guitar on your stand, there'll be no more excuses for skipping practice!
I would state for the record that the EverTune is no more difficult to set up and intonate than a standard stop tail bridge. It is maybe even easier once you get a handle on it.
Both bridge systems have three primary adjustment points: tuning, intonation, and string height. With the EverTune the tuning pegs are only used to adjust the string tension (saddle zones), and all three adjustments are made on the bridge, while on a standard stop tail tune-a-matic the adjustments are made at the tuning pegs and on the brige. On a standard stop tail you need a tiny screwdriver for the intonation screws on the saddles while on the EverTune you use the Allen wrench for everything.
It took me a couple of times going through the setup/tuning procedure before I fully got it, but the EverTune really is easier in just about every way.
The EverTune Bridge is a floating bridge system. As such, the sustain and tone character are comparable to a tremolo or floating style bridge system. It works by using springs to keep a consistent tension on each string. I won't pretend to understand the math involved with the creation of this bridge but I can see the way it works by watching the saddles when bending a note, and it is brilliant.
The route for the EverTune Bridge is comparable to, though larger than, a Floyd Rose tremolo route and the bridge itself provides mass to help compensate for the route. I very much like the looks of the EverTune F model used on the Nova. It has terrific low profile and is extremely comfortable to play. I've found the sustain as good or better than any of my tremolo equipped guitars.
When vibrato is important, one can still effect a vibrato with this bridge by tightening the strings to the 2.99 zone, as explained on the EverTune website. This is done quickly and simply by tightening the tuning peg until the saddle spring reaches the end of its range. As soon as you hear the pitch rise, you back off just a smidge, and you're in vibrato zone.
I would argue that the difference in tone or sustain on a guitar equipped with an EverTune Bridge versus a guitar equipped with a hardtail bridge is negligible when weighed against the benefits derived from the EverTune Bridge.
I love this bridge.
Brett W. Bertram