Vintage Style (non-locking) Trems*

So with bridge/trem systems there are two factors that matter to me. Function -- how well does it work and come back in tune? And tone -- for me, that means maximizing sustain while maintaining tonal balance (typically, than means not letting the tone get too bright). For example, a guitar with a Floyd almost always sounds like a guitar with a Floyd on it.  Floyds have such high mass that they tip the guitar's tonal balance to where the dominant tonal factor you hear is the Floyd (as opposed to woods, for example).  Nothing wrong with that if that's what you want, and I have a one guitar with a Floyd on it, and it's great for what it is. But mostly I have vintage trems.

For function, honestly, in my experience, it all depends on how much whammy you use, and how violently you use it.  If it's a BIG part of your style you use it a ton and aggressively (think EVH), you should probably just go straight to a Floyd. 

But for mild to moderate use, you'll be fine with 2-point OR vintage style trem and not have to mess with the locking nut and string changing complications. Some people do swear the 2-point is better. Jeff Beck uses the 2-point, and no one NEEDS more pitch control from a whammy than Beck does. So there may be something to it.

But as someone who doesn't use a lot of whammy, (IMO) there is NOT a whole lot of difference that matters in function or tone (if they are of similar mass and metal type). Most of my Strats have the vintage style, but the candy tangerine Chub has a 2 point Hipshot trem. It's a nice unit, but I can't say that it's better than a vintage style in terms of movement OR in terms of returning in tune. Either way, you're still going to be retuning after songs with significant whammy use.  BTW, locking tuners seem to be a little better than non-locking tuners on non-locking nut systems. 

Contrary to some stuff you'll read on the internet, you certainly can set both 2-point AND Vintage styles to float just as easily. The only difference in the procedure is that you have to loosen each of the six trem screws just a tiny amount. The rest of the procedure is exactly the same. Lately I've been removing the 3rd spring in all my trems and going with just two. It requires completely resetting the float, but once done, I haven't noticed any downgrade in tuning stability. 

Tonally . . .
What DOES matter to me -- more than anything else about a Strat trem, is that the saddles and trem block are made of steel or some other high mass metal. And that the trem block is a full size, vintage-style block with the associated mass.  My experience with the SA's original bridge, with its white metal saddles and shaved-down zinc block proved conclusively TO ME, that if you change to steel saddles and blocks, you maximize sustain and get better tone.  I don't have much issue with brass trem blocks. Then have plenty of mass. But I think $400 titanium trem blocks are silly.  I've seen video comparisons between steel and titanium blocks, and while they sound very slightly different, that difference doesn't matter to me, and the titanium doesn't really out-sustain the steel.  So, I like nice, simple, economical steel -- which was used on all the vintage Strats we ever loved the tone of.  Think about that for a moment. 

So when you're looking to buy a Strat, you either have to see pics of the back of the guitar with the plate off to see what kind of trem block it has. Or you have to ask the owner.  You're looking for one that has a block like the one on the right.  


The one on the left is shaved down zinc. You can SEE visually it's lower mass, but zinc is also a lower mass metal, and it has crappy sustain properties.  Now, the Hipshot trem I got on my first Chubtone has an oversized steel block (and cast steel saddles). It adds 1lb to the guitar's total weight, but I can't honestly tell you that it's any better than the vintage style steel block for sustain. 

The saddles are usually easier to identify by eyeball than the trem. If they're stamped steel like the ones on the left (below), it's obvious they're steel.  But the cast ones on the right, they could be steel, but they could also be white metal. Like the ones on the red Strat in your post, you can't tell by eyeball. Put a magnet on them. If it sticks, it's steel. If not, it's white metal. 




So ultimately, if your whammy use doesn't require a locking system, or Beck-level precision -- if you're using it like Hendrix, Blackmore, Uli, Gary, etc. it's more a matter of personal preference and taste than it is one of function and tone as to whether you should choose a 2-point over a vintage-style trem.  If you looking for a vintage LOOK (if you're building your Uli Strat), obviously, go with a vintage trem. If you want something more modern looking, fine, but try to be sure you're getting steel saddles.