You are watching: How to set up a strat tremolo to stay in tune
The an initial place we’ll look for tremolo problem isn’t the bridge, it’s the peghead.
Trem-tuning troubles have as lot to execute with what go on at the peghead together what walk on at the bridge.
Problem 1: the nut
Nut slots space the primary culprit. If the strings don’t move openly in the slots, they’ll bind up when using the tremolo and won’t return to pitch as soon as the bar is released.
When filing the seed on a tremolo guitar, I reduced the slot a couple of thousandths larger than the diameter that the separation, personal, instance strings. Ns round the bottom of the slots through the sidewalls angling slightly far from the strings. This permits the strings to move freely through the slots v the tremolo. Web page 109 the the new Guitar Player Repair guide shows exactly how Dan Erlewine likes to give a fan-shape to the slots for the wire angling toward the tuning post.
Another tip from Dan: he contempt flattens the bottom the the slot so its round shape doesn’t tight the string during tremolo use. I don’t know how he deserve to see this kind of information — that need to be why that wears an OptiVISOR every the time!
Nut product is also something come consider. A correctly slotted bone seed will job-related perfectly, however many builders are picking man made products for their smooth and slippery character.
When you’re finished slotting, polishing the bottoms of the slots starting with 1000 grit. This cuts down on friction and improves overall tone. A tiny amount of lubricant also helps.
Problem 2: cable trees
These small gizmos can reason friction the keeps her strings from return to pitch. The is vital to keep them smooth and free of any type of rust or corrosion. Also on a brand new string tree, i clean up the underside v abrasive cord to provide the string a glitch-free monitor to journey on.
Some the the more recent string trees usage Teflon polymer (such together Tusq) or small rollers to provide the strings a smoother surface ar to drive along.
Problem 2: string installation
Every time you press the tremolo, your strings provide a small bit the slack. If the strings room sloppily wound ~ above the tuners, that’ll reason problems. This picture shows just how I wind strings top top a trem-equipped guitar. The idea is to not have extreme windings the bulge and also slip, avoiding the tremolo from returning to pitch.
Tuning tips because that 3 layouts of tremolos
The traditional Strat tremolo, as supplied by Fender for many years, is a favourite of blues and also surf players. The pivots on 6 mounting screws, and also has minimal travel (mostly downward). This design is typically collection up to lie flat versus the body.
With this type of trem, first make certain the pivot screws are properly adjusted. If they’re also tight, the bridge won’t relocate properly. Begin with the screws a bit loose and lower them until they simply touch the plate. Hear for scratchy, clicking sounds coming from around these screws. Little worn clues in your shafts can cause sticking and also keep the leg from returning to its suitable position. If they’re worn, replace the screws.
The activity on this tremolo is readjusted by springs ~ above the earlier of the guitar. I choose to use 5 springs; it simply feels the finest to me. But that’s a issue of preference and also will vary depending upon playing style, wire gauge and also finding the feeling you like. Here’s how I discover the best spring tension for me: ns loosen the springs then bending a note, hard, on the B string. If the leg pulls forward on this tough bend, the feather tension’s also light. Just sufficient tension to store the bridge secure through a tough B string bending is my desired balance of string vs. Spring tension.
Another option is to set the leg up as a semi-floater.
Loosen the springs until the bridge sits up slightly on the back end. This enables for both downward and upward take trip of the bridge. The also allows you to easy pull top top the bar to carry strings earlier in tune should they come to be stuck in ~ the nut.
Bigsby vibratos give a an extremely subtle tremolo effect. I usually discover that tuning troubles on a Bigsby-equipped Gibson, Gretsch or Guild aren’t the Bigsby’s fault. Much more often it’s a issue of tweaking the Tune-o-matic bridge. Sometimes the saddles come to be cross-grooved through the strings, or have actually burred edges where the strings can get hung up.
Before stringing up, operation some abrasive cord v the slot to clean them up all nice and smooth-like.
Installing strings on a Bigsby is tricky. Dan do this tiny tool: a dowel and also a nail to organize the string’s sphere end. Plunder the string around the dowel, and it’s pre-bent into the form of the Bigsby’s cable bar.
Roller bridges take difficult saddles out of the equation, offering the strings smooth, glitch-free action. And GraphTech nuts and also saddles likewise keep your strings relocating freely. Rocker billy legend Danny B. Harvey offers Graph technology saddles to help keep his Bigsby equipped Gibson SG in tune.
Modern “floating” bridges use two pivot screws. Pioneered by Floyd Rose, the style has because been adopted by non locking bridges.They’re dubbed “floating” due to the fact that they sit above the body and also can be both pushed and pulled for an extra-wide tremolo range.
With this kind of bridge, i recommend 2 upgrades to boost tuning stability:
Slipstone is an additional man-made substance, the material preferred by i get it Sadowsky. As soon as shaping a nut because that a floating-trem guitar, I save the height of the seed a small on the tall side so the strings have actually a better chance of continuing to be in the slot under heavy bar action.
Sperzel locking tuners:
These room staggered in height, a nice architecture that take away string trees the end of the equation by pulling each string throughout the nut at its appropriate angle. Sperzel’s locking feature removes any type of slippage in ~ the string post.
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To collection up a floating trem, readjust the springs for this reason the bridge sits parallel through the height of the guitar. Usually three springs room recommended because that a well balanced feel, but some can obtain away with two — relying on string gauge and also playing style.