You don’t need to install a locking device to play in tune via a tremolo. If you want the light weight and easy style of a vintage trem, use this bag of tricks to keep your whammy bar in tune.

You are watching: How to set up a strat tremolo to stay in tune

The first location we’ll look for tremolo trouble isn’t the bridge, it’s the peghead.

Trem-tuning troubles have actually as a lot to carry out with what goes on at the peghead as what goes on at the bridge.


Problem 1: the nut

Nut slots are the primary culprit. If the strings don’t relocate easily in the slots, they’ll bind up once making use of the tremolo and won’t go back to pitch as soon as the bar is released.


When filing the nut on a tremolo guitar, I reduced the slots a couple of thousandths bigger than the diameter of the individual strings. I round the bottoms of the slots through the sidewalls angling slightly ameans from the strings. This enables the strings to relocate openly via the slots with the tremolo. Page 109 of the brand-new Guitar Player Repair Guide mirrors just how Dan Erlewine likes to give a fan-shape to the slots for the string angling towards the tuning short article.

Anvarious other guideline from Dan: he slightly flattens the bottom of the slot so its round shape doesn’t grip the string throughout tremolo use. I don’t understand exactly how he can view this sort of detail — that need to be why he wears an OptiVISOR all the time!


Nut product is additionally somepoint to consider. A correctly slotted bone nut will occupational perfectly, however many home builders are picking guy made products for their smooth and slippery character.

When you’re finiburned slotting, polish the bottoms of the slots starting with 1000 grit. This cuts dvery own on friction and enhances as a whole tone. A little amount of lubricant also helps.

Problem 2: string trees

These bit gizmos can cause friction that keeps your strings from returning to pitch. It is necessary to keep them smooth and free of any rust or corrosion. Even on a brand also brand-new string tree, I clean up the underside via abrasive cord to give the string a glitch-totally free track to ride on.


A few of the more recent string trees usage Teflon polymer (such as Tusq) or small rollers to provide the strings a smoother surchallenge to ride along.


Problem 2: string installation

Eexceptionally time you press the tremolo, your strings provide a tiny little of slack. If the strings are sloppily wound onto the tuners, that’ll cause difficulties. This image mirrors exactly how I wind strings on a trem-equipped guitar. The idea is to not have actually too much windings that bulge and also slip, preventing the tremolo from returning to pitch.

Tuning tips for 3 layouts of tremolos

The traditional Strat tremolo, as used by Fender for many type of years, is a favorite of blues and also surf players. It pivots on 6 mounting screws, and has actually restricted travel (largely downward). This design is commonly set up to lie flat versus the body.

With this kind of trem, initially make certain the pivot screws are effectively adjusted. If they’re also tight, the bridge won’t move appropriately. Start via the screws a little loose and lower them until they just touch the plate. Listen for scratchy, clicking sounds coming from approximately these screws. Small worn spots in their shafts deserve to cause sticking and store the bridge from returning to its proper place. If they’re worn, replace the screws.

The action on this tremolo is adjusted by springs on the ago of the guitar. I like to usage 5 springs; it just feels the finest to me. But that’s a issue of choice and also will certainly differ depending upon playing style, string gauge and also finding the feel you choose. Here’s just how I find the right spring stress and anxiety for me: I loosen the springs then bend a note, hard, on the B string. If the bridge pulls forward on this difficult bfinish, the spring tension’s also light. Just sufficient stress to keep the bridge stable through a hard B string bfinish is my preferred balance of string vs. spring anxiety.

Another choice is to set the bridge up as a semi-floater.

Loosen the springs till the bridge sits up slightly on the earlier end. This allows for both downward and also upward take a trip of the bridge. It likewise permits you to lightly pull on the bar to bring strings earlier in tune must they become stuck at the nut.

Bigsby vibratos provide a really subtle tremolo effect. I commonly discover that tuning problems on a Bigsby-equipped Gibkid, Gretsch or Guild aren’t the Bigsby’s fault. More regularly it’s a matter of tweaking the Tune-o-matic bridge. Sometimes the saddles become cross-grooved by the strings, or have actually burred edges wbelow the strings have the right to gain hung up.

Before stringing up, run some abrasive cord through the slots to clean them up all nice and also smooth-prefer.

Installing strings on a Bigsby is tricky. Dan made this little tool: a dowel and also a nail to hold the string’s round finish. Wrap the string roughly the dowel, and it’s pre-bent right into the shape of the Bigsby’s string bar.

Roller bridges take sticky saddles out of the equation, providing the strings smooth, glitch-totally free activity. And GraphTech nuts and also saddles also store your strings relocating freely. Rockabilly legfinish Danny B. Harvey provides Graph Tech saddles to assist store his Bigsby equipped Gibchild SG in tune.

Modern “floating” bridges use two pivot screws. Pioneered by Floyd Rose, the style has given that been embraced by non locking bridges.They’re called “floating” bereason they sit above the body and deserve to be both pushed and pulled for an extra-wide tremolo range.

With this sort of bridge, I recommend 2 upqualities to boost tuning stability:

Slipstone nut:

Sliprock is another synthetic substance, the material wanted by Roger Sadowskies. When shaping a nut for a floating-trem guitar, I keep the top of the nut a tiny on the tall side so the strings have actually a far better chance of staying in the slots under heavy bar action.

Sperzel locking tuners:

These are staggered in elevation, a nice architecture that takes string trees out of the equation by pulling each string throughout the nut at its correct angle. Sperzel’s locking function removes any kind of slipweb page at the string post.

See more: What Is Video Walkie Talkie S Rechargeable 2 Pack, Spy Gear Video Walkie Talkies Not Walkietalkies

To erected a floating trem, adjust the springs so the bridge sits parallel via the optimal of the guitar. Normally three springs are recommended for a balanced feel, but some deserve to gain ameans via two — depending upon string gauge and also playing style.