#1
Hi,

after a looong long time I came back to playing guitar again and today I've applied some new strings (DAddarios 009-046) to my Fender Strat (Classic 70s series). The guitar itself comes with a tremolo bridge. After applying the strings and tuning the guitar I noticed that the bridge has a pretty high angle relative to the guitar's body. Looking at the back of my guitar I have 3 screws that are supposed to hold the bridge at level. I also can apply more tension to these springs in order to increase or decrease the angle of the bridge.

My question is simple. What angle should the bridge be at approximately?

For better understanding I just took a picture of my vibrato bridge (without tremolo bar).

#2
If the bridge is raised from the body at all, the saddles need to be freshly set up for that angle. It doesn't matter as such what angle the bridge is at, but it's easiest to deal with if you deck it - i.e. have the base of the bridge lying against the surface of the body.

Some people prefer to have it slightly raised (though probably not as high as you have it there), because they like the way it feels and having the upward movement available on the tremolo arm can be useful in sorting out tuning hang-ups in a pinch or give you slightly more freedom with tremolo arm tricks.

Personally, I'd say if you don't plan to use the tremolo much, just deck it.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Apr 3, 2015,
#3
In fact with the old strings the bridge wasn't that high, if I remember correctly.
It wasn't "decked" as you call it but more or less it was a straight line, meaning I could use the vibrato in both directions. I find it rather strange that it raised that much only by applying a new pair of strings to it.

I definitely need to lower the bridge. It feels rather uncomfortable to me. The easiest way to do that is by applying more tension to the screws at the back of the guitar, isn't it?

And how do I set up the saddles perfectly after I lowered my bridge?
#4
Flip it over, take off the spring cavity cover, and begin to screw the wood screws on the claw at the other end of the springs into the guitar. You'll want to loosen the tuners a bit, since this will raise the pitch of the guitar.

In fact, an easier way to do this is to loosen the tuners altogether, until the bridge is roughly horizontal with the top of the guitar. Then, in the spring cavity, put a piece of wood or a stack of post-it notes between the sustain block and the back of the spring cavity. Tune the guitar. Now screw in the wood screws JUST until the piece of wood (or post-its) is loose in the cavity and can be easily removed. Your guitar should be pretty close to in-tune, the bridge should be close to horizontal and you should still have some room to screw that spring claw in further if you needed to. This will give you a pretty good starting point for finishing the job.
#5
Quote by Shadowhunter123
In fact with the old strings the bridge wasn't that high, if I remember correctly.
It wasn't "decked" as you call it but more or less it was a straight line, meaning I could use the vibrato in both directions. I find it rather strange that it raised that much only by applying a new pair of strings to it.


Most sets of "9's" are 942s, not 946s. If you've changed the string gauge from standard 942s to 946s (and especially if the other strings were actually 8's), you've changed the overall tension, and you need to balance that with a spring adjustment.
#6
Thank you very much for your replies, guys. It worked perfectly and my bridge is now back to normal position. Currently watching videos on YouTube as to how to setup the saddle of the guitar... never done that before but it surely is a good lecture!
#7
Quote by Shadowhunter123
Thank you very much for your replies, guys. It worked perfectly and my bridge is now back to normal position. Currently watching videos on YouTube as to how to setup the saddle of the guitar... never done that before but it surely is a good lecture!

Yeah, it's a skill that's really worth having as a guitarist and actually relatively easy and intuitive. God knows there's probably a few thousand techs around who are tired of doing it for people who could manage it themselves.
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#8
Here's what the Fender site says about tremolo setup:

TREMOLO

Stratocaster guitars can have four distinctive types of bridges. The most well-known bridge is the vintage-style "synchronized" tremolo. The other three are the American Series bridge, which is a modern-day two-pivot bridge; the non-tremolo hardtail bridge; and a locking tremolo, such as the American Deluxe or Floyd Rose® locking tremolos. If you have a non-tremolo "hardtail" bridge, proceed to "Intonation (Roughing it out)."

First, remove the tremolo back cover. Check your tuning. For a vintage-style tremolo bridge, a great way to enhance its performance is to pull the bridge back flush with the body using the tremolo arm. Then loosen all six screws located at the front edge of the bridge plate, raising them so that they all measure approximately 1/16" (1.6 mm) above the top of the bridge plate. Then tighten the two outside screws back down until they're flush with the top of the bridge plate. The bridge will now pivot on the outside screws, leaving the four inside screws in place for bridge stability. For a two-pivot model such as the American Series bridge, use your tremolo arm to pull the bridge back flush with the body and adjust the two pivot screws to the point where the tremolo plate sits entirely flush at the body (not lifted at the front or back of the plate).

Allowing the bridge to float freely (no tension on the tremolo arm) using the claw screws in the tremolo cavity, adjust the bridge to your desired angle—Fender spec is a 1/8" (3.2 mm) gap at rear of bridge. You'll need to retune periodically to get the right balance between the strings and the springs. If you prefer a bridge flush to the body, adjust spring tension to equal string tension, while the bridge rests on the body (you may want to put an extra 1/2 turn to each claw screw to ensure that the bridge remains flush to the body during string bends). Caution: Do not over-tighten the springs, as this can put unnecessary tension on the arm during tremolo use. Finally, you may wish to apply a small dab of Chapstick® or Vaseline® at the pivot contact points of the bridge for very smooth operation.

http://www2.fender.com/support/articles/stratocaster-setup-guide/

I have mine a little lower than that, probably 1/16 inch, and only the two outside screws as pivot points. Works well and I don't need it to raise the pitch with the tremolo much, so it suits me fine. The manual for my Peavey Patriot with almost identical bridge says 10° angle.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#9
Add a spring at the back.
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#10
Quote by Fryderyczek
Add a spring at the back.


No.

There ARE instances where you might want to add a spring, but you change the way the trem works when you do that, and you need to understand what those changes are before you make that recommendation.