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Tremolo Tension: The Secret to a Great Strat

pharmd07

Experienced
No, you need to stretch tune and start the test again.

Ok. I’m going to do this step by step and please tell me where I go wrong.

1) Tune guitar. All strings in tune.

2) I bend my G string a whole step at the 7th fret.

3) G string is now flat. As are the other strings.

4) I press down on the tremolo about a whole tone.

5) G string still flat. Other strings still flat.

6) I pull up on the tremolo. All strings now in tune.
 

pharmd07

Experienced
I have a 2005 American Deluxe V-Neck with stock locking tuners, 2-post bridge, saddles and nut with very stable tuning. It has 3 springs, I noticed yours has 2, can't say that it would make that big of a difference but worth exploring. I also have my bridge more parallel to the body than the Fender specs recommend.
View attachment 75762

During all of this afternoon’s conversation, I added a third sprint. Actually, I had a set of 3 spare springs laying around so I put those in. Unfortunately it didn’t solve my problem.
 

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pharmd07

Experienced
Hey @JoKeR III - did you set up your bridge that way or did it come that way? That’s pretty much how the bridge is set up on my Pete Thorn Suhr, and it stays in tune incredibly well. Maybe I should try raising the posts and floating the tremolo parallel to the body.
 

unix-guy

Legend!
Hey @JoKeR III - did you set up your bridge that way or did it come that way? That’s pretty much how the bridge is set up on my Pete Thorn Suhr, and it stays in tune incredibly well. Maybe I should try raising the posts and floating the tremolo parallel to the body.
Typically you want the base plate parallel to the body... Yours is angled forward a bit.
 

warlockII

Power User
It sounds like one or both of your posts have a little slop in them. Unscrew the posts and put a wrap or two of teflon tape (what you use when plumbing) and screw them back in and reattach your trem. My first thought was one of your springs was hitting the body, but they look clear in the pics. After I had my body painted (Don't get weird on me), there was just enough clear coat to cause the issue your having. Quick work with an exacto knife cured that...your pics look like the trem is clear everywhere, but look closely just to double-check.
 

Joe Bfstplk

Fractal Fanatic
Looks like the posts may be a little low, making the bottom of the trem bridge plate possibly contact the body. I would back them out a quarter (or half) turn, and see how it behaves then. If no improvement, you can easilt turn them back in a quarter (or half) turn and be back where you started. If it improves return to pitch, your action will be a smidge high, but if you tighten the trem claw until the bridge is closer to parallel with the body, the flatter angle of the bridge plate will actually lower the action again....
 

Joe Bfstplk

Fractal Fanatic
That’s how Fender sets them up. The rear of the tremolo is about 1/8” off the top the guitar per Fender specs. It looks weird, but that’s how they do it.
The best practice for 2-point is a tad different than for the 6-screw, as the 2-point screws include a V for the knife edge to sit in. The 6-screw depends on the screws being screwed in just enough to prevent the bridge from sliding up/diwn the screws when you swizzle the bar. I actually back the middle 4 out a quarter turn, as thst makes the setting of bridge screws at minimum 3 times easier. The PRS 6-screw trem bridge setup has a little V in the screws' shaft, unlike Fender's 6-screw setup, so the screws' height is critical.
 

pharmd07

Experienced
It sounds like one or both of your posts have a little slop in them. Unscrew the posts and put a wrap or two of teflon tape (what you use when plumbing) and screw them back in and reattach your trem. My first thought was one of your springs was hitting the body, but they look clear in the pics. After I had my body painted (Don't get weird on me), there was just enough clear coat to cause the issue your having. Quick work with an exacto knife cured that...your pics look like the trem is clear everywhere, but look closely just to double-check.

I have plenty of Teflon tape. I’ll check that out the next time I change strings. Thanks!
 

pharmd07

Experienced
Looks like the posts may be a little low, making the bottom of the trem bridge plate possibly contact the body. I would back them out a quarter (or half) turn, and see how it behaves then. If no improvement, you can easilt turn them back in a quarter (or half) turn and be back where you started. If it improves return to pitch, your action will be a smidge high, but if you tighten the trem claw until the bridge is closer to parallel with the body, the flatter angle of the bridge plate will actually lower the action again....

I‘m done with messing around with the guitar tonight, but I’ll give that a try tomorrow!
 

JoKeR III

Power User
Hey @JoKeR III - did you set up your bridge that way or did it come that way? That’s pretty much how the bridge is set up on my Pete Thorn Suhr, and it stays in tune incredibly well. Maybe I should try raising the posts and floating the tremolo parallel to the body.
I had the Strat blocked for the longest time but set it up this way after experimenting when I found the more stable tuning of the PRS trem (their setup suggests the baseplate float @ 1/16" off of the body). Fender specs suggest more of an angle.

I typically try to get close to parallel to the body but err on the side of the back of the bridge a bit higher. Looking at the photo of the trem on your guitar, I would definitely get it more parallel with the body. I also agree with @Joe Bfstplk that the studs are probably set too low.

Fender's setup usually has the back edge of the knife edge just touching the body so the base plate rocks on the body while allowing for upward motion of the tremolo arm. Raising the studs and setting the baseplate to parallel should retain the current action.

Any guitar I've setup for other players this way have been pleased with the increase in tuning stability and better performance of the tremolo. Good luck!
 

Henry

Inspired
I also read in several places (and it makes sense) to NOT turn the tremolo post height screws under tension. It's like a knife grinding into the post and will for sure dull the edge, which will later increase friction during trem bar movement, meaning the trem won't return to its previous resting position. It's a lot of work, but you should loosen all strings and take the trem springs out before making height adjustments. I have been cringing when guitar techs don't know about this and adjust height under full tension...

I personally think the best resting position for the trem plate is to be at an exact right angle to the posts. For the most part that's equivalent to being parallel to the body. What I do is eyeball that the trem plate is parallel to the strings. You of course achieve that with the balance of string to spring tension. So with only two springs, a set of 9 strings will pull the trem out pretty far.
 

giantslayer

Inspired
From what you’ve described and what I could tell from the pictures, I’m think the strings are binding at the nut. I’ve had to widen the slots when going from 9 to 10.

Here is the easiest way to test: lift the string at the nut. If it takes a little force and it pops out of the slot, it is too tight. If it can lift straight out with no resistance, it is not too tight.
 

Joe Bfstplk

Fractal Fanatic
I also read in several places (and it makes sense) to NOT turn the tremolo post height screws under tension. It's like a knife grinding into the post and will for sure dull the edge, which will later increase friction during trem bar movement, meaning the trem won't return to its previous resting position. It's a lot of work, but you should loosen all strings and take the trem springs out before making height adjustments. I have been cringing when guitar techs don't know about this and adjust height under full tension...
Yeah, forgot to mention this.... ^^^^
 

guitarnerdswe

Fractal Fanatic
Typically you want the base plate parallel to the body... Yours is angled forward a bit.
When doing a minor third pull up on the g string, having the plate parallel is pretty much out of the question. Unless you want to shim the neck like crazy. Music Man Lukes come with a similiar angle from the factory, and they're already pretty heavily shimmed in the neck pocket.
 

Andy Eagle

Experienced
When doing a minor third pull up on the g string, having the plate parallel is pretty much out of the question. Unless you want to shim the neck like crazy. Music Man Lukes come with a similiar angle from the factory, and they're already pretty heavily shimmed in the neck pocket.
Some two post trems are designed to be used like this . You can raise the plate and use it parallel to resist going flat during bends. The Fender trem arm in to the block is even drilled at an angle so that it appears straight when the bridge plate is up at the back.
 

Andy Eagle

Experienced
This is in response to your pic of the bridge. For some reason it is not allowing me to quote or answer it.

This is your fundamental problem that needs to be fixed FIRST.
Then go through the things I said above .
your posts are screwed down too much and the underside of the bevel on the baseplate will be touching the body. This will cause random tuning issues regardless of the rest.
Detune the guitar and unscrew the posts until the knife edge side is a tad higher than ( the now resting on the body ) back of the plate. This ensures that the underside is ABOVE the body. Don't worry about taping the studs or even if they are straight, it won't be the cause of you issues. Now retune your guitar and reset the action with the saddle hight screws. Set the angle of the baseplate ( spring tension) to how much up pull you want (typical is about a tone up on the G,) this will be a slight up angle and is how this trem is designed to be ( parallel is good but this was designed to mimic a vintage setup ). You now should have your guitar set up with the action you like and a bit of float with NO contact on the trem other than the knife edges and the springs. NOW go back and test one string as I stated above. I would imagine that unless your nut was cut by a gorilla you will have fixed your issue, particularly as you are using the Wilkinson locking saddles. Your expectations of these saddles correctly set up should be that it is very difficult to make your guitar go out of tune in any significant way.
Good luck with this and remember to alway test only ONE thing at a time and if it is not helping zero everything and repeat with ONE different thing.
 

Andy Eagle

Experienced
Sorry to the OP as this thread has totally derailed to fix someones set up problems.
Although I totally disagree with the conclusions and reasoning in the OP I do how ever agree that any change you make is going to affect the tone and you can use your experience to fine tune YOUR tone closer to how you want it by how you choose to set up the trem. You should experiment with different springs and saddles as well. On a Fender six screw different hardness of steel and the plating on the saddle change the tone quite a lot. How many and how stiff the springs are also is quite noticeable. On a side note so is what pick you use.
 

pharmd07

Experienced
EUREKA! I think my floating Strat tremolo problem has been solved.

Firstly, I want to apologize to the OP for hijacking this thread. Sorry about that.

Secondly, thanks to everyone who chimed in with advice and suggestions.

Finally, this was the solution. As several of you guys pointed out, my bridge posts were screwed in too far. They came this way from the factory, which explains why the guitar’s tremolo never stayed in tune. I loosened the strings, removed the springs, raised each post by 1 turn, and visually confirmed the tremolo was now not contacting the body. 3 springs back in, guitar tuned up, tremolo floating so I could pull up a bit more than a whole step.

BAM! Guitar tuning now significantly more stable. Not Floyd Rose stable, but reasonably close. I can bend strings without the guitar going completely out of tune. I can use the tremolo! Sweeeet!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to teach me! I’m a happy Strat owner!

YOU GUYS ROCK!!!
 
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