Meet The Boss

Eric Stets - Designer, CEO, Guitar Guru & Tremolo Tyrant

Eric Stets was raised in Lewiston, a small town in upstate New York. Soon after starting high school he was introduced to "that damn Rock and Roll music" and discovered the passion that would bring him to this point in the Stetsbar journey. His father, Karl Stets, a teacher in industrial arts, was a great influence on him but insisted that Rock and Roll was just a passing phase and had no value - so Eric learnt Trombone!

However, Eric's desire to play guitar did not relent and, at 13 years of age, he and his Dad built his first electric guitar. He learned to play by ear on that guitar and on the cheap and nasty imports that he later owned.

Eric Stets After graduation he pursued a career in manufacturing where he mastered the trade of machinist. Another passion grew in his life - motorcycles - all kinds. Over a few years he assembled a collection of antique Harley Davidson's and other makes. However, a serious motorcycle accident in 1984 put him in hospital for 10 months where he underwent many operations.

Throughout his recovery from this accident and the many misfortunes that accompanied it he continued to play guitar and the need grew to find a tremolo for his Gibson guitars.

Appreciating the quality and value of the Gibsons he had, and not wanting to wreck the instruments through installing an invasive product, the idea that would eventually result in the Stetsbar was born. He sold his bikes to purchase the equipment to start his own machine shop and started the lengthy pursuit of the Stetsbar dream. 

The challenges were tough. The tremolo unit had to be surface mounted - so that the guitar did not require routing or drilling - and the design had to provide ultra reliability.

The design should also not pull or drag strings over the saddle points which causes loss of tuning stability and promotes string breaks. To overcome this meant that the bridge had to move with the strings and it was this breakthrough concept that was the driving force in incorporating a mounting plate and a "skating" bridge plate into the design. 

The first Stetsbar trem design was completed in the late 80s. Several prototypes were made and all but one ended up in the trash can but eventually the design was finalized and a US patent was assigned.

More design refinements came through over the next few years as the Stetsbar was refined in the light of experience and the input from the growing number of guitarists that had adopted the trem. Incorporating the "Nashville" bridge seemed obvious - the familiarity of the product as well as its application to the trem was a great match.
"The finish was also important. I see a lot of products that really don't do justice to their instruments. Manufacturers make great efforts and take pride in the fit and finish of their product. It's only right that any aftermarket product reflects the same level of attention. Good players put many hours into their art and their instruments should reflect that." said Eric.

Development of the Stetsbar continues, with the new developments to the Pro II model joining the long list of advances pioneered by a man who had a need, a vision and the skill and determination to make it a reality. 

Download Vintage Guitars's 2015 interview (in PDF form) with Eric Stets here.
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