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Old August 25th, 2013, 05:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Strat tremolo tuning dilemma

So I have a new satin Strat on order (the blue one in case anybody's wondering), but want to know something before it actually gets here. Is there any way to set up the tremolo so you can use it both up and down, and not have to press it down to put it back in tune after doing any sort of bending?

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Old August 25th, 2013, 06:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's two things.

You can set up the vibrato to float by adjusting the springs under the back cover. The springs counter-balance the string tension. Take off the cover. You'll see springs connected at one end to the vibrato block, and at the other to a bracket ("claw") that's screwed to the body. If you turn the screw counter clockwise, you will reduce tension on the bridge, and the heel of the vibrato plate will come up. Move the plate up a little at a time, and retune often as you go. You'll see why.

Returning to pitch after vibrato use is mainly an issue of having the nut slots not cut correctly for the strings you are using. The strings can bind in the nut.
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Old August 25th, 2013, 06:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old August 26th, 2013, 05:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MBR42 View Post
So I have a new satin Strat on order (the blue one in case anybody's wondering), but want to know something before it actually gets here. Is there any way to set up the tremolo so you can use it both up and down, and not have to press it down to put it back in tune after doing any sort of bending?
I have my bridge floating. if its set up correctly the tuning is still rock steady
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Old August 26th, 2013, 05:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You will always have the problem if strings going out of tune while bending. Play an open low E string then bend another string an the E will alter pitch!

To get it to fall back into tune it's about having the nut correct and well lubed with something like nut sauce!

I have extra springs in mine and have the bridge pulled down flat against the body. I do this to minimise the amount of tunning drop while bending and to stop all the strings going out of tune if I break one. I also find 11-48 seems to hold tunning quite well after tremolo use.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 09:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I have my bridge floating. if its set up correctly the tuning is still rock steady
yeah, me too. no problems - I don't really dive bomb, or do anything too extreme, but I'm not consciously doing anything special to keep it in tune, and my strat stays in tune nicely.

I did have a Fender Mustang back in the 70's that you absolutely had to bring back to pitch, maybe I just 'learned' to whammy that way.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 09:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Check the videos on YouTube - after bending in a solo you should dip the string to release the friction each time too
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Old August 26th, 2013, 09:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I blocked of my Trem because i hardly use it. I believe Clapton did the same thing.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 07:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I mainly only gently use the whammy bar for light tremolo only, or to slightly alter the sound. I don't hammer on it like people do on Floyd Rose's.

Most of mine are "decked" where the bridge plate is flat against the top of the guitar. A couple are floating, with the bridge plate, at rest, about an eighth of an inch off of the top of the guitar. This is called "floating" and you can move the whammy bar both up and down, instead of just pressing down on it if you have the bridge plate "decked".

There is a subtle art to using a tremolo that can add some dynamics to your playing and sound very pleasing.

One thing I suggest is that when restringing a strat especially, or any guitar, take one string off and replace it at a time, leaving all the other old strings on, and retune all the strings after putting on each new string. Work your way thru the strings and when you are done the guitar should be fairly close to being in tune. This method avoids having to go thru multiple retunings, over and over again, if you take off all the strings and then put the new set on one at a time. It works for me, maybe it will work for you and make things easier.

Adjusting the bridge plate to either float or be decked can also be complicated and involve many adjustments and readjustments. Sometimes a guitar tech or someone very familiar with strats can do it for you quickly, avoiding all sorts of readjusting. Getting it just the way you want it can take some time and effort, but it's worth it.

Good luck with getting that trem right where you want it.
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Old August 30th, 2013, 02:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I blocked of my Trem because i hardly use it. I believe Clapton did the same thing.
I don't understand why people always bring this up in discussions about tremolo tuning stability. The OP obviously uses his trem, he doesn't want to block it.
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Old August 30th, 2013, 07:33 AM   #11 (permalink)
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You could try installing a Hipshot Tremsetter. They replace one of the springs and help your trem go back to the same position every time. They work with a floated trem, require only a small amount of drilling inside the trem cavity and cost about US$50
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Old August 30th, 2013, 08:09 AM   #12 (permalink)
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My Amer. Special Strat is tempermental. It is set up with a floating bridge and locking tuners. Most of the time a quick press of the trem arm puts it right back in tune. Sometimes I just can't get it to stay in tune. That's why I love my Tele.
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Old August 30th, 2013, 09:47 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I don't understand why people always bring this up in discussions about tremolo tuning stability. The OP obviously uses his trem, he doesn't want to block it.
I have Fender brushed nickel locking tuners on a couple of mine and I use powdered graphite in the nut slots and on the bridge saddles. I usually only use the trem very delicately in order to get a subtle tremolo sound, I have my bridge plates mostly decked and sometimes hammer down on the trem arm more strongly to accentuate some heavier parts. It stays in tune very well considering how I use the trem.

One of mine has the extra springs in it and it's decked too. It is harder to get the subtle tremolo effect with it and I don't suppose it is much different really than a blocked trem. Those extra springs really hold that bridge plate down.

The locking tuners with only one wind or so, eliminate any string slack on the post that could otherwise get pulled out of the tuning post when you have a lot of wraps. Every time you use the trem, and especially when you use it hard, the strings slack up on the tuning post and then can re-settle slightly differently when you let up on the trem arm and the strings go back to full tension. Locking tuners eliminate this slack and because of this the tuning is more stable, especially when your string path is well lubricated.

I had a hard tail strat once and sold it; probably should have kept it. It was an interesting non-tremolo type of strat that was fun to play. I almost always regret getting rid of gear, but some gear I have been more than glad to get rid of.
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