#1
[EDIT: Uhhh, because I'm like a total dumb-ass, if you don't wanna read through this entire thread, the problem was that factory strings were only wound a couple of turns. I put new strings and the problem disappeared. The stock machine heads are actually fine. Even the stock tremolo doesn't necessarily throw everything out of whack that much.]

Hey guys!

I own an old "HM" (heavy metal) Strat that came from Fender with a Kahler locking tremolo already installed with the locking nut at the top of the neck. But a new Fender "Standard" (made in Mexico) HSS Stratocater caught my eye tonight, and I picked it up for a pretty good price. It has the "standard" Fender machine heads and the "vintage synchronous tremolo."

Now, my HM Strat NEVER goes out of tune, I mean NEVER. But this new HSS goes out of tune anytime I play it, within a few minutes. It's the high E and B strings. The B will go way sharp and the E will go way flat (why is that?). By the way, the intonation is near-perfect.

I can do pretty severe pulls, and I do use the tremolo. But even after 60 seconds or so of even just some mild playing, it'll go out. Now, granted, it's a new guitar with brand new, factory-strung Fender Bullets 9-gauges on it (I use 9-gauges on my HM Strat), but is this how non-locking tremolo guitars really are? I've been playing a few hours now, and literally have to retune every minute or so.

The problem is, is that I LOVE this guitar! It has so much authentic "Fender" tone, just in its two stock single-coils and humbucker. There's so much variation in the 5-position blade that you hear! It's gloss black with a Maple fretboard, just like I've always wanted. It's gorgeous to look at and it plays beautifully. I swear I'm playing faster and easier on that Maple fretboard over my old Rosewood one. I mean, this thing plays and sounds GREAT!!!

Save installing a new locking tremolo and taking a friggin' router to the body, is there any fix for this? The stock machine heads "feel" fine. You know, they "feel" smooth and like they should be working well and everything. Replacing just the machine heads won't really fix anything, will it?
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Oct 21, 2007,
#2
Your HM doesn't go out of tune because it is locked at the nut, the vintage tremolo isn't made for heavy abuse, it is made for slight vibrato and if you're raping it like you do your floyd on the HM, well, you're asking for trouble.

You can buy locking tuners that will stay in tune for ages, get some of them.
#3
It should, get locking tuners or look around for defects in the trem. Also try using the trem less
#4
If you want it to have supreme tuning stabillity:

-install a graphite or roller nut

-install locking tuners

-replace the string trees


This will improve the tuning stabillity to the point where it's pretty much equal with a double locking trem.
You've read it, you can't un-read it!
#5
Wow! Thanks guys! That was FAST!

I really don't think it's the tremolo, because even if I don't touch it, it does it. It's gotta be the pulls that are whacking it out of tune so quickly. But I didn't realize that new machine heads could fix the problem. And, yes! I'd like to do all three of your suggestions!

• install a graphite or roller nut
• install locking tuners (recommended brands? Schaller, etc?)
• replace the string trees

It's just weird. I mean the stock tuners have a flat-head screw in the top of them—does that mean they're locking tuners? I just don't get it. How can it go out of tune so fast, requiring a whole revolution of "turn" on the machine head to get it "back?" I mean, how can the string slip by THAT much? Can new tuners really fix this?

Thanks again, for you guys' help!
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Oct 20, 2007,
#7
There's nothing inherently wrong with factory strings, it's just that they tend to be old.
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#8
Have you stretched the strings?
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#9
Quote by 5kuzgib
Have you stretched the strings?

Sorry, didn't see your post. Yeah, I stretched them a bit. Like I said, this just seems to take MUCH longer on a non-locking guitar. Out of curiosity, what is your new string stretching regimen?

I actually like the factory-installed Fender Bullets. I think they sound nice on this guitar. Well, the strings seem to finally be setting-up. I guess it just takes a lot longer on a guitar without a locking bridge and nut. I played for about 10 minutes, and every string stayed in "relative" tune—like, the whole register went up a half-step! At least all the strings detuned in the same direction this time!

I was just about to run back to Guitar Center to take this HSS back, and order the top-of-the-line HSS, the "Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS LT" for $1,249. It has a locking tremolo and nut. A Maple neck, a black body, and black HSS pick-ups (my HSS has white pick-ups). Everything I've always wanted in a Strat, cosmetically. And it has Fender SCNs for low-noise output. And that cool new S1 switching stuff. Hmmmm . . .

But damn, if this Mexican HSS can stay in tune for a while, I think it's quite the bargain for the haggled-down $340 I paid for it! This thing plays and sounds great!
.
American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Oct 21, 2007,
#10
Quote by LEVEL4
I actually like the factory-installed Fender Bullets. I think they sound nice on this guitar. Well, the strings seem to finally be setting-up. I guess it just takes a lot longer on a guitar without a locking bridge and nut. I played for about 10 minutes, and every string stayed in "relative" tune—like, the whole register went up a half-step! At least all the strings detuned in the same direction this time!

I was just about to run back to Guitar Center to take this HSS back, and order the top-of-the-line HSS, the "Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS LT" for $1,249. It has a locking tremolo and nut. A Maple neck, a black body, and black HSS pick-ups (my HSS has white pick-ups). Everything I've always wanted in a Strat, cosmetically. And it has Fender SCNs for low-noise output. And that cool new S1 switching stuff. Hmmmm . . .

But damn, if this Mexican HSS can stay in tune for a while, I think it's quite the bargain for the haggled-down $340 I paid for it! This thing plays and sounds great!


If you invest some money in a few quality parts you'll have one cool guitar and one that stays in tune too.
You've read it, you can't un-read it!
#11
How many tremelo springs are on the back of the guitar? If the strings are anything more than .9 on the high end you need to add a spring or two. I have 5 on both my guitars just for safe measure, they come with 3.
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#12
Stretch the strings a bunch and lubricate the nut and sting tree with graphite (a #2 pencil will do fine). You said you have a locking nut on your other guitar, make sure you're stringing the guitar at the tuners correctly too. Too many windings can lead to tuning instabilities. With a locking nut it really doesn't matter but you want them to look like this: http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/stringing.htm

As mentioned, a Strat tremolo isn't made to beat on, it's made for a mild effect as opposed to a Floyd Rose than you can go crazy with. Also, I don't think old strings are so much of a problem for tuning stability as they are for intonation. Slight difference.
#13
Just from what you said about having to turn the tuners way too much...it's possibble that the strings wasn't wrapped around the post properly., and are slipping. Also, I'd give it a little time to let the strings stretch more.
#14
DUH!

Thank you, everyone, for all your help and wise guitar tips! Major DUH alert! I've had a Kahler tremolo and locking nut for so long, that I didn't realize that modern machine heads now had locking screws in them! The stock Fender tuners actually seem pretty good. I noticed these little tiny screws on the side of the knobs. I tightened them up, and voila!
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Oct 20, 2007,
#15
Quote by uldhppi
Synchronized trems are not designed for pulling, for that you need floating (like a Floyd.) Hendrix did a lot of retuning on his.

They can be floated. Actually, I think the Fender recommended set-up has the tremolo floating. They're designed for light use. If you want to rip the thing up and down then you need a Floyd though, the Fender trem just isn't designed for dive bombing.
#16
It's going out of tune because you're not supposed to wail on it like a Floyd Rose, it's not meant for pulls or dives, else it will go out of tune.

It's meant for simple vibrato.
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#17
Thanks a lot for all the replies and helpful tips, guys! Really appreciate it . . .

So, it's the non-floating tremolo that's the problem? I mean, it's still going out of tune pretty quickly again, and I'm not even touching the tremolo. I torqued those suckers down on the machine heads, and it's back to its old, "tune me every 60 seconds" deal. Yes, I pull like crazy while playing (who doesn't?), so, I guess it's simply mandatory for me to have a "floating bridge." Not really sure what a floating bridge is, but the "Deluxe LT" model I'm now planning to get instead does come with a, "bridge deluxe locking 2-point tremolo," and an, "LSR roller nut." I hope that's floating.


Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS LT tremolo detail

I've come to the conclusion (the same one I did 15 years ago when I bought my HM Strat with the built-in Kahler), that I simply cannot play a guitar that DOESN'T have a locking tremolo and nut. So, I'm going to trade my HM Strat into Guitar Center (which I saw they just sold a used one for $800), take the Mexican Strat back, and order a $1,249 "Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS LT." If I'm going to own only one electric (or two or three), I might as well buy a something decent, right?

I mean, I've been looking all over the internet for an HSS-configuration, Fender Strat with a locking tremolo and nut, in BLACK, with a MAPLE fretboard. Why does Fender make so few models with Maple fretboards these days? Well, I finally found it, and the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster HSS LT is the only guitar in current production that comes, HSS, in black, with a Maple fretboard. The ONLY model. Well, at least I'll have those cool Samarium Cobalt noiseless pick-ups, and that cool, two-position S-1 switch action. FINALLY, I'll own a modern Strat, EXACTLY the way I want it!

Quote by 03SVTCobra
How many tremelo springs are on the back of the guitar? If the strings are anything more than .9 on the high end you need to add a spring or two. I have 5 on both my guitars just for safe measure, they come with 3.

Just checked: 3. It came strung with .09s, and that's what I always use anyway.

Quote by Comfortablylomb
You said you have a locking nut on your other guitar, make sure you're stringing the guitar at the tuners correctly too. Too many windings can lead to tuning instabilities . . . you want them to look like this: http://www.fretnotguitarrepair.com/stringing.htm

Quote by the.spine.surfs
Just from what you said about having to turn the tuners way too much...it's possibble that the strings wasn't wrapped around the post properly., and are slipping. Also, I'd give it a little time to let the strings stretch more.

Thanks a bunch, both of you, for your advice and for the link! Yes, the strings look properly wrapped from the factory. Maybe they didn't "lock" the high E and B strings, and they do have a few more windings than the lower strings. Hopefully, that's what's contributing to the problem (meaning it's possbly not a problem!).

Okay, so major DUH on my part. Thank you all for your multiple posts of tips and advice on this! When I checked to see if the strings were wound properly on the tuners, I saw the the ridged pattern of the metal tuner peg, thinking that was the string wound around the peg like a million times. The factory stringer wound the strings all of about TWO TURNS! I just restrung the high three smooth strings, and now 99% of my tuning problem has disappeared! My bad! Thanks, everyone!
.
American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

.
Last edited by LEVEL4 at Oct 21, 2007,
#18
Quote by LEVEL4
Okay, so major DUH on my part. Thank you all for your multiple posts of tips and advice on this! When I checked to see if the strings were wound properly on the tuners, I saw the the ridged pattern of the metal tuner peg, thinking that was the string wound around the peg like a million times. The factory stringer wound the strings all of about TWO TURNS! I just restrung the high three smooth strings, and now 99% of my tuning problem has disappeared! My bad! Thanks, everyone!


Well have fun with your now in tune guitar.

By the way, you may want to edit your last six posts into one, seeing as the mods don't really like double posts and you have six in a row.
You've read it, you can't un-read it!
#19
Thanks! Yeah, I have a habit of doing that. But that's really unusual. I frequent a lot of boards and have never had a problem with mods not liking "too many posts." Often, to me, it's like a public dialogue, or even a kind of journal. But yeah, they all jumped on me in another thread for that, and I was like whaaaat??? Okay, will do! Don't wanna piss 'em all off AGAIN!
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

.
#20
Quote by LEVEL4
HEY FOLKS! Guess what? My dream guitar is DISCON-F*CKING-TINUED!!!

same here. i know how you feel

and my dream guitar is a fender... they discontinue everything good.
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#21
Quote by Bonsaischaap
Well have fun with your now in tune guitar.

By the way, you may want to edit your last six posts into one, seeing as the mods don't really like double posts and you have six in a row.

Thanks, man! WOW! It's like a new guitar! Boy, do I feel like a major dumb-ass!

Okay, all "compacted." Or collated, or recollected, or consolidated, or assimilated, or synthesized, or summed up, or whatever you wanna call it! Those super long-ass posts look kinda funny to me, but rules are rules.
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

.
#22
Quote by LEVEL4
Thanks, man! WOW! It's like a new guitar! Boy, do I feel like a major dumb-ass!

Okay, all "compacted." Or collated, or recollected, or consolidated, or assimilated, or synthesized, or summed up, or whatever you wanna call it! Those super long-ass posts look kinda funny to me, but rules are rules.


Yup, it's mainly to prevent people from posting a ton of messages, containing only a minor edit.

Anyway, great you love your guitar again.
You've read it, you can't un-read it!
#24
Quote by uldhppi
That's what I'm saying. I tried to get mine to float properly and it was a tuning nightmare. They aren't designed for it.

Except they are. Fender even tells you how to set it up properly: http://www.fender.com/support/stratocaster.php

Fender specs are 1/8th of an inch of float. Let me repeat, they are designed to float.
#26
Deleted my mistakes. My apologies for the misinformation. That's what I get for going on a memory from my beginner days over 30 years ago. I tried to adjust one without any instruction, no manual and before the computer era. My foremost memory is I got frustrated and just nailed it. Hated them ever since. I haven't had one since that time. Just goes to show you how trauma can affect one's decisions in later life.
Last edited by uldhppi at Oct 21, 2007,