Tungsten is an option that does not get as many headlines as brass when it comes to enhancing your Floyd Rose performance. When it comes to bang-for-the-buck, I think it dominates. Let’s talk about why…
Brass hardware is a practice going back for decades. So right off the bat, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s someone’s fresh idea from the past 10-11 years. Yet brass can be a tricky option. There are many alloys that technically pass from brass, but don’t always have the preferred musical response.
Titanium started to become a talking point after 2007. That’s when Eddie was about to go out on a reunion tour and wanted something more robust for a locking nut. Floyd Rose worked it out and Eddie hit the road with about 3 dozen titanium locking nuts. Soon after, Floyd Rose started to offer that metal as an option for almost every available part for their official tremolo system. And like brass, many grades are still technically titanium.
In both of those examples, I’ve learned to stick with official Floyd Rose parts to get what’s suggested by the experts as well as to maintain the validity of my warranties.
And I’ve also tried a block made out of rock and other materials. At times, it seems as if experimenting with sustain blocks in tremolos is like what swapping magnets has become to pickups. LOL!
How does tungsten come in to play?
For starters, it’s available in the same dimension as a standard Floyd Rose sustain block. That is super handy if your cavity dimensions are a little restrictive. You know, not everyone wants to carve up a guitar. HaHa!
Aside from that functionality, tungsten is advertised as 4x denser than titanium. As well as 2x as dense and 2x as hard as brass. For all the ballyhoo about mass, it seems like tungsten is the one to beat in this regard.
What does tungsten sound like?
For this application, I tried an official Floyd Rose tungsten block in 2 very different guitars. Different body woods, different fretboard woods, and different string gauges. Same scale and same tuning. Both have Floyd Rose 1000 series, fitted with the Old Style Tremolo Arms.
The tungsten block is the best of both worlds. It has the chunk and richness of brass, and it has the never-ending sustain of titanium. And that’s cool to all the players that want the versatility of a standard-sized block without the strident results that many associate with titanium.
This is where I point out that both of these guitars are mid-level import guitars. Nothing particularly special. And this tungsten block laid out sustain that’s up there with $3k+ USA-made Jackson guitars. Even going from the thick brass sustain blocks that were previous in there, the tungsten has more liveliness and more harmonic resonance.
And let’s say that you know your tremolo cavity can rock the thicker sustain blocks. Floyd Rose also offers the Fat Tungsten Sustain Block, measuring right at 1/2″ thick. That’s even more maxed-out hard-metal goodness for your extreme tonal needs.
Let me level with you. I had thought I’d tried every available sustain block material that was worth trying. And then I tried the official Floyd Rose Tungsten Sustain Block. The results from the tungsten block make me wish I’d tried it a lot sooner.
And as with all things related to tone and your tonal goals, different flavors may hit some players in different ways. And that’s why it’s groovy that Floyd Rose offers most a full range of 100% authentic and certified parts and upgrades for your Floyd Rose locking tremolo systems. There’s no need to go anywhere else. Sure, you can go to the carnival to get a laugh out of the Elvis impersonator. But there’s only one King.
How about a video? While not an official release, there is a end user demo that Floyd Rose approves of. YouTube user chatreeo showing off his Ibby fitted with a Hot Rod series Floyd Rose with a tungsten block:
Let me throw down some weights of the different block materials that I have on hand. All are the same dimension. Yes, I do have some brass sustain blocks made to the original block dimensions. **Nerd alert** LOL!
37mm Titanium block: 2.40 oz / 68 g
37mm stock block: 4.15 oz / 117 g
37mm Brass block: 5.15 oz / 146 g
37mm Tungsten block: 7.15 oz / 203 g
Whoa! For identical dimensions, the tungsten block is getting close to 2x the weight of the stock block. It’s also almost 3x the weight of the titanium sustain block and over 25% heavier than brass.
Once again, I’m very impressed and very pleased with the tungsten block. I think if you’ve been kicking the tires, it’s time to get in the driver seat and crank that starter.
For reference, this Floyd Rose Tungsten Sustain Block evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs used were Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.