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XibanezedgeX 07-16-2007 04:51 PM

Vintage Tremolo Setup Tutorial
Yes this is the same one I posted in GB&C put I had ment to put it here and I just noticed now I put it in GB&C not Eletric guitar.... Don't worry I deleted the old one.

Well everyone keeps asking how to set up a Strat style trem (6 point) to float and stay in tune so I finally got around to posting a tutorial on how to do it. Now if they would only use the Search Bar to find it instead of making a new thread!
Since the smaller rout of a vintage tremolo as compared to a Floyd Rose the arm's dynamics will never be as vast. The most to expect is 1&1/2 maybe 2 steps in change of pitch. Also there is a trade-off, the more you set it to raise the pitch the less it will be able to lower it. For ex. if you set it be able to lower the pitch a full 2&1/2 steps don't expect it to be able to be RAISED more then a 1/2 step if even that (Those numbers are completly theoretical, chances are it won't be exactly like that, but you get the idea ;) ).

Tools that will be required:
Phillips head screwdriver
Needle-nose pliers
Tremolo block (I used four shims leveled and cut into a block and then held together with some tape.)

Nut lubricant (Graphite powder obtained by rubbing a pencil point on a file or some sandpaper and a tiny dap of petroleum jelly (Vasaline).
Masking tape
Small piece of foam (optional)

First step is to remove tremolo cavity cover and look at the springs. The trick is to find a way to even the amount of spring tension on the bridge to match that of the string tension pulling the springs. Since the bass strings are heavier they exert more tension on the springs so if you had them all even that side of the bridge would be closer to the body when you float the bridge which is a bad thing. Many spring arrangements work but the one I found best for my guitar is this one:

^ = Empty spot on claw 1,2,3= Spring
Expirement with different arrangements to find which one holds the best tuning on your guitar. To remove a spring just unscrew the claw untill the spring is loose enough to pull out, I find the pliers are helpful when doing this.

We'll get to the foam latter.
Then you have to set the bridge to pivit on two knife-points like a 2-point tremolo. first loosen all 6 screws on the top of the bridge right below the saddles. Then tighten the outer 2 almost completly. The bridge now pivits on those two points.

Next loosen/tighten the claw and test often with a tuner to find a desirable trade off between pull up and down. Again try to even the amount of tension on the bridge by having the claw crooked. Once everything is done and the bridge is floating the back of the bridge should be an even height off the body.

You have now sucessfully floated the bridge and can now pull up and down, now all thats left is to help it stay in tune.

Retuneing will take longer since the bridge is less stable and has to even out the string tension, so to stop the hassle of this you can insert your tremolo blocking block in back of the bridge. It will hold your bridge tension while changing strings and doing the next bit. De-tune all the strings so you can get to the nut slots. Tape up your fretboard on the first fret and the base of your headstock to prevent it from getting dirty. Now get your Nut Lube and use a toothpick to spread it on the nut and in the slots for the strings. Remove the tape and place the strings back in their slots, tune to pitch and wipe off the excess goo.

Another thing to do is only have 2 or so wraps around the caspian to reduce strain on the tuners.

The foam mentioned/showed earlier is a trick I got from Steve Vai's website. It absorbs any unwanted vibrations from the springs that the pickups might pickup. Really cuts down on noise.

Your bridge should now stay in tune and be able to get a more natural vibrato. Just don't expect to do harmonic squels or anything to that extent. Good luck


:cheers: to Two-String who orginally taught me how to float a vintage tremolo and was the basis I wrote this off of.

Silky Smooth 08-21-2007 06:42 PM

Nice guide!!

I've always found that a strat sounds 100x's better with the bridge floating. Even if its just 1/8" off the body it sounds a lot better to me.

When the bridge is tight to the body you do get a little more sustain but at the trade off of a harsh tinnier sound.

Farether 12-01-2007 09:06 AM

really nice guide! It stays in tune very good now ^^

shadow21x 12-01-2007 04:11 PM

Nice job, I have forwarded this thread to a friend of mine and he really appreciates it.

XibanezedgeX 12-15-2007 03:10 PM

Hey no problem, glad to be of help!

mr_hankey 12-20-2007 09:28 AM

On my Tokai I lubed up loads of spots (saddles, trem screws, nut slots) and I used Graphtech string trees. It's set up floating, and I haven't had to retune since September. I didn't compensate for the string tension with the springs, I just put them on straight.

It looks like you wind up on the tuners. That doesn't give you problems?

forsaknazrael 12-20-2007 08:16 PM

Cool trick with the foam. Question, though...I tried doing this earlier this year...but when I pull up, the springs come off the claw. Ideas?

Silky Smooth 12-20-2007 08:27 PM

Make sure the hooks to the springs are bent in enough so it grabs on tight inside the hole. Sometimes they can get bent back to being straight and they'll come out real easily.

XibanezedgeX 12-20-2007 09:04 PM

Yep, use a needle nose plier or a hammer and try to bend the lip up a bit, also how old are your springs? If they're really old or cheap quality perhaps some of the tension has been lost with them and they slip off.

Mr Hankey- I've never really had problems with them that way. In fact I never really noticed it...

forsaknazrael 12-20-2007 09:26 PM

Okay, that's what I was thinking, either bend the hooks, or old springs. Thanks. :)

codebreaka123 01-22-2008 11:44 PM

thanks dood realy helpfull

Invader Jim 03-16-2008 01:19 AM

I heard about that foam thing from Dimebag. Sweet tutorial.

shadowbane91 04-03-2008 05:00 AM

Hey, great tutorial!!!But would you need to do it if the trem is already 2 way, e.g. the Deluxe tremolo on the American Deluxe strat? Or can you actually set it up so that it will be able to have more pitch? :D

XibanezedgeX 04-24-2008 10:19 AM

Well if you have a 2 point, just do everything there except loosing the screws (the 3rd picture)
And sorry about the delayed responce.

thebl@de 04-24-2008 01:14 PM

this would sound stupid but at what point would the bridge actually float(what do you do to actually get the back of the bridge to lift up)?

EDIT: I got it, but i need new springs..mine pops out when i raise the tremolo.

SHRED. 06-28-2008 06:50 PM

this thread is the ****t! i can do squeals on my strat now haha

H, Omitted 07-13-2008 11:00 PM

What spring arrangements are good for strings that are gauge 9-50 (a.k.a DR Dimebags)?

oneblackened 07-13-2008 11:28 PM

3, tightened enough.

forsaknazrael 07-13-2008 11:35 PM

Originally Posted by thebl@de
this would sound stupid but at what point would the bridge actually float(what do you do to actually get the back of the bridge to lift up)?

EDIT: I got it, but i need new springs..mine pops out when i raise the tremolo.

You may want to bend the trem claws to a more acute angle.

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