In 1963, a 15-year-old Floyd Rose picked up his first guitar, a Harmony, and an old tweed Fender amp. A year later, Floyd’s family moved from Durango, Colorado to Reno, Nevada, and he received his first tremolo-equipped guitar, a 1964 Fender Jazzmaster. Having grown up a fan of the Beach Boys and the Ventures, he found himself making ample use of his whammy bar, which only increased into the late 60’s and early 70’s as he found inspiration in Hendrix’s performance at Woodstock, and in watching Ritchie Blackmore play in Sacramento. As Hendrix and Blackmore were the two artists he emulated the most, Floyd was snapping whammy bars in half on an almost weekly basis, while also trying to cope with his strings going wildly out of tune, which was a major problem for a musician whose love for a well-applied whammy bar was equaled by his meticulous attention to his intonation.
It was when Floyd learned to intonate his guitar himself for the first time that he considered manipulating it in order to step it up to his personal standards-- to find a way to get what he really needed out of his instrument. His first modification was to install a ¼ inch steel bar in place of his whammy bar, which even he couldn’t break, and then to loosen the six bridge screws to extend the range of his pitch bending. While very satisfied with the new durability and extended range, he was equally frustrated with the worsened problem of staying in tune. After trying all the tricks he’d ever heard of to get around this problem, they were all hopelessly insufficient, and he found himself in need of a better solution.