We guitar players are a demanding bunch—and I’m no different. Now, I love gadgets and gear innovations as much as the next frethead, but some products furrow my brow as I noise (not so under my breath), “Really?!”
I had read about the EverTune Bridge System and had not thought much about it. And my initial reaction was contempt before the investigation. But what if it accomplishes what it promises?
EverTune promises to keep my guitar in tune under any conditions.
It sounds like a Ralph Kramden get-rich-quick scheme. Boomers and Gen-Xers should get my reference. But this is why I love my job. I’m still skeptical, yet I look forward to investigating the claim. Also, this article played out differently than most and has some unique events.
- This article was on my list to review, but I’ve been blowing it off since I don’t have access to an EverTune-equipped guitar.
- Matt Blackett reached out to me on New Year’s Day. I knew of him but had never met him in person. I also knew him as the Editor for Guitar Player Magazine and the author of one of my favorite EVH Tribute articles. But today, Matt is the Director of Market Development for EverTune.
- We got to chat for over an hour, and Matt was gracious enough to allow us to use a 15-minute recording of that Zoom conversation for this article.
I’m still in “Really?!” mode. If there’s a guitar player on the planet that doesn’t experience tuning issues, please introduce them to me. We all have our tuning horror stories and will offer our picking-hand little finger to the Tuning Gods for a solution.
I can safely say, “hang on to your picking-hand little finger and let’s learn more about the EverTune Bridge System.”
Bottom Line Up Front
Between locking tuners, auto-tune, robot tuners, hex keys, and string-angle relief doo-dads, I’ve seen enough tuning-solution gadgets to make me want to play drums. Wait… You have to tune those, too.
But, when EverTune says that their bridge can keep my guitar in tune under any conditions. I’m all ears.
I watched Matt demonstrate typical playing techniques that cause tuning issues, e.g., upper register chord playing, over-the-top bending antics, heavy-handed picking attacks on low notes, etc. And the guitar strings snapped back to pitch.
But before you start outfitting every guitar in your arsenal with an EverTune Bridge, there are some considerations to remember. Like the price (it’s not your typical bridge price), routing your guitar (you’ll lose wood but gain mass), and the learning curve (your guitar will feel differently). We’ll discuss more on this in the Pros and Cons section.
Does it work? You’re damn skippy; it does.
Matt proudly states that the EverTune Bridge System “was the most revolutionary product I reviewed in 15 years at [Guitar Player] magazine.” And after this interview, I have to agree, and my brow is no longer furrowed.
What is the EverTune Bridge System
It’s a bridge replacement system. It’s a mechanical device of springs and levels attached to an individual saddle for each string. Each string is calibrated at 3 different locations for string height (action holes), intonation (intonation holes), and string length/tension (tuning hole) using a 2.5mm hex key. More on this in the “How It Works” section.
The magic is in the saddles. Once the saddles are adjusted and set to the proper tension, your guitar stays in tune. But it’s not really magic; it’s pure physics.
And, on the EverTune site, it claims that it stays in tune forever. Although I can’t imagine not changing strings for that long.
Why Is It Great?
Let’s consider two scenarios, live performance and in the studio.
My live-playing experience:
- NYC winter conditions; subway cars have the heat turned up to 70° F while the city streets are below freezing with the wind chill hovering in the single digits. The club or venue is somewhere in between, but the temperature increases as more people enter the club. Add to that the stage lights, and you have a recipe for tuning nightmares.
- Andes mountains conditions; during the day, the temperature can top at 40° C (104° F), and there are a fair amount of outdoor gigs. Club gigs will not turn on the air conditioning during sound check, so it’s a sweatbox. In the evening, it can cool down to the low 50s, and it rains in biblical proportions adding the problem of humidity changes.
These weather scenarios can make even the most seasoned player a little unsettled. And those who have experienced these gigs cringe as we hear the guitar’s tuning start to shift mid-song.
Add to these situations fumbling through charts as a sideman or addressing the audience while dealing with tuning issues. Not fun.
My studio experience:
- I hate to say it, but sometimes being singled out in the studio is not good. Hearing the producer say, “Guitar player? Check your tuning!” It is absolutely embarrassing.
- I’ve never been in a studio environment where I’m not checking my tuning every break.
So, why is the EverTune Bridge System great?
Tuning stability in any conditions, the EverTune is impervious to changes in temperature and humidity. Imagine the confidence to worry only about your performance in stage and studio settings. You can fully commit to the part and not worry about bending your guitar out of tune or fret- and pick-hand pressure. This is a game-changer.
How Does it Work?
As I said above, the bridge replacement system comprises springs and levers that attach to an individual saddle for each string. Each string is then calibrated at 3 different locations.
The EverTune site does a great job of walking you through the process. Here’s their Quick Start Guide with video demonstrations, and I encourage you to check out their site for more info. It’s a simple 5-step method:
- Activate Each Saddle: Each string has 3 zones. You must slacken the string using the tuning pegs and bring it back to pitch. You’ll know you’re in Zone 2 when you don’t hear any pitch changes as you tighten the tuning peg.
- Tune the String: Use the hex key to adjust the tuning at the saddle. There are clear diagrams in the Quick Start Guide. Also, use a tuner; don’t force the hex key if it becomes hard to turn.
- Set the Bend Sensitivity: Zone 2 is the sweet spot, and Zone 3 is the bend stop position. Zone 2 is great for rhythm playing, but you can’t bend or perform fast vibratos. Zone 3, you can perform bends and use your vibrato technique. Again, the videos on their site can explain this better than any wordy description I come up with.
- Adjust the Intonation: Make sure that you’ve performed Steps 1-3, then, using a tuner, adjust the intonation hole on each saddle. FYI, you may need to change the tuning peg as well.
- Adjust the Action: Again, ensure that you’ve performed Steps 1-3, then adjust the string height, turning the action hole with the hex key on each saddle. FYI, you may need to adjust the bend sensitivity again.
Installing the EverTune Bridge System
Unless you’re experienced with bridge installations and a very handy repair person, purchase a guitar with the EverTune system.
But, if you want to try installing the bridge yourself, you can go to the For Installers page on their site. The resources are complete with videos, diagrams, step-by-step instructions, etc. Also, there’s an Installer’s Directory or you can Become an Installer.
For the rest of us, we can choose a guitar and buy the bridge and use the EverTune Installation Program. EverTune also offers a Buying Guide that covers everything from bridge buying, guitar buying, bridge specs, string tension calculator, and much more.
EverTune Installation Program
I’m not a handy repair person; anything more complicated than basic setup and maintenance for my guitar goes to my tech. Fortunately, EverTune has an installation program that offers two service options: standard and custom.
- Standard Installation Program
Upgrade Your Current Guitar: you choose a guitar you’d like to modify with the EverTune Bridge System and send it to them. Their techs install the guitar based on certain specifications that you provide—more on this below in the “How the Installation Program Works” section.
- Custom Installation Program
Purchase a New Guitar: you can purchase a new guitar through EverTune and have it shipped to their headquarters. The bridge system is then installed by their techs.
This is a specialty product, and I prefer the minor inconvenience of using one of the above installation services. But, if I had a tech I trusted with something of this nature, I may purchase the bridge separately and oversee the installation process.
How the Installation Program Works:
- Go to the EverTune Site
- Select Standard or Custom
- And follow the instructions
- Fill out the form
- You’ll be asked for string make and gauge plus tuning preference.
- The default choices are D’addario EXL 110 10-46 and standard tuning (EBGDAE).
- Also, read the instructions carefully—not every guitar can be equipped with the EverTune.
Pros and Cons
The dream of not dealing with tuning issues is a huge pro and enough to stop there. But let’s go through it.
- Tuning stability under any conditions. Do you really need any other reason?
- Changing Strings: This requires a little more care and attention than we guitarists are used to. But, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it solution. Once your bridge is calibrated, swap in a new set of strings, tune it once, and you’re all set.
- Price: At the time of this writing, $300 for an S-style or T-style bridge (they use F-model for Fender, I’m guessing, and T-model for Tele) and $350 for an L-style guitar (G-model for Gibson).
- Installation: This is a process that physically alters your instrument. Your guitar needs to be routed to make room for the springs and levers.
- Learning Curve: You need to take a week or two to get used to the difference in feel. But the same could be said for many other mods you do to your guitar.
- Sticking to One String Gauge and Tuning: This is fine for many players. But, for some, this is a significant consideration. In my case, I use a Strat for sideman work that I tune to standard or a ½-step down. I use L-style and 335-style guitars ½-step down for my trio-based work fronting my band. So, I’d leave the Strat (it also has a tremolo system) as is and modify an L-style.
For many, the cons may be a dealbreaker. And for others, a minor inconvenience. If you’re still on the fence, ask yourself these questions.
- How much would you be willing to pay to never worry about your guitar going out of tune, ever?
- Is it worth waiting for a month or so (the site suggests 2-3 weeks) to modify your instrument?
- Are you willing to learn how to adjust the bridge, change strings, etc.?
I asked myself these three questions repeatedly as I reflected on my conversation with Matt. And I answered yes to all three. So, I sent in a Custom Install request. I just sent it, so stay tuned for a follow-up to this piece, where I document my experience. More on this is in my “Final Word” below.
Question: Does the EverTune Bridge System work with a tremolo system?
Answer: No. But as Matt said, “Not yet.” The inventor did say that he could do it.
Question: Does the EverTune Bridge System need to be installed professionally?
Answer: My short answer is yes. Only some guitar repair people have seen and had experience with this innovative mechanical device. With something as delicate as tuning, I’d leave it to a professional.
Question: Does EverTune have an Installation Program?
Answer: Yes, they do. There are two service options:
• Standard: You choose an instrument and send it to them. Their techs install the system and return the guitar to you.
• Custom: You can purchase a guitar through EverTune. The music retailer sends the guitar to EverTune; they install the bridge and return it to you.
Question: Does the EverTune Bridge System require maintenance?
Answer: No. Once installed, you can set it and forget it. The hardware is susceptible to user error and/or accidents, e.g., overturning the screw and damaging the saddle. The saddle can be replaced. And all of this is documented on their Resource & Support page.
Question: Does the EverTune Bridge System work on any guitar?
Answer: No. It will work on most S-Style, T-Style, and L-Style guitars, including most 7- and 8-string models. It won’t work on ES-330 semi-hollow body models. Also, chambered L-Style guitars should be closely scrutinized before committing to the bridge system. Please refer to their Bridge Buying Guide for further details.
Question: Can I change tunings and string gauges?
Answer: Yes, you can. But, the string tension will need to be recalibrated. Select a guitar that will use the same string gauge and tuning to install the EverTune.
Question: Is The EverTune bridge worth it?
Answer: If you are a professional musician in any capacity, the EverTune is a must-have tool for a guitarist, and only on one guitar. The bridge is not only wholly mechanical but also maintains your guitar exactly in tune in any circumstance.
Question: Does EverTune affect tone?
Answer: Yes. You’re losing a portion of wood but gaining more mass, so your guitar’s natural tone will be affected. However, an in-tune guitar sounds better, period.
Question: How does the EverTune work?
Answer: A “floating” saddle mechanism is used on the EverTune. Each saddle is contained in its own module, allowing it to self-adjust on a thin layer of saddle grease. The guitar string tension pushes the saddle one way. In contrast, a spring within the module pulls the saddle back in the opposite direction at the same tension.
Question: How good is the EverTune bridge?
Answer: It works great; the only minor flaws are that the guitar feels it has been altered, and the first setup could be more manageable. Otherwise, it’s one of the most significant advancements in guitar technology ever.
My Final Word
As I said in the introduction, we guitar players are a demanding bunch, and accepting anything new and different takes time to consider, let alone accept. I’ve also spoken to local players and guitar techs about the EverTune Bridge System and there are four camps.
- The Indifferent: These players weren’t aware of the bridge system or they’d seen the ads but could care less. Even after we spoke about it.
- The Curious: They want to know more and try it out. When I spoke to these players they began choosing a guitar that they’d consider installing a bridge on.
- The Haters: No matter what, there will always be haters.
- The Converts: Three local players that I spoke to had multiple guitars with the EverTune System.
My experience researching and speaking to Matt Blackett has convinced me that EverTune is not only worth considering but a must-have (at least on one guitar) for any serious player, so currently I’m one the curious. But, I’ve taken the first step. I selected an Epiphone Les Paul Modern and submitted my installation request through the EverTune website. I’ll be back with a follow-up article outlining my experience.
Thanks for reading.
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