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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Why Use A Wood Tremolo Block?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by markw51, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. markw51

    markw51 Tele-Afflicted

    For those who like to block their tremolo, why not just add two springs and lay the bridge flat like so many do? Others however, use a block of wood. What's the difference?

  2. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    On a 6 screw, vintage-type bridge I don't use a block and put the bridge base on the top. THere is no physical need for a block, imo; and I don't think there is a sonic reason, either since the contact with the top is rather complete. ON the modern 2 post bridges, I do use a block to keep the bridge in place and level and to prevent the bridge from being pulled away from the posts or becoming unlevel if and when a string breaks. IF the neck set angle allows it, I also put these bridges down on the top; but the 'open' fulcrum posts are not as secure as the 6-screw bridges.
    I suppose someone might make a case for sonic differences in materials used for the 'block'. I use bone leftovers from building bone saddles for acoustics simply because they are already almost the right thickness and I have a lot of these leftovers. Tone to the bone????? LOL IT would take some good ears and some blind tests to make me believe that the material of the block influense the tone. I have the ears but haven't taken the time to compare. IF I got that anal retentive, then I would have to find the same tyep of wood in the same density as the body of the guitar just to make things match up!?!?!?! (;^)
    Nickfl likes this.

  3. rbrienzo

    rbrienzo Tele-Meister

    Sep 16, 2008
    Sioux city IA
    The difference is that when you bend strings real heavy without the block the trem can raise up and drop the pitch of the other strings around the one you are bending.

    So if you bend a string and want to have an open string ringing out at the same time the open sting will drop in pitch a little. Not a big deal but things can get a little funny.

  4. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    I have never understood why one would put a block on the backside of the tremolo block to stop the movement of the bridge while bending. The tension of the springs will control this. I put a block on the spring side of the trem block to establish the 'stop' point for the bridge on its return to the 'at pitch' point. THis allows one to use the vibrato to do down drops but one cannot pull the notes up in pitch. IF you put a block on the backside, you can't do down drops. Most folks want to do downdrops but they want to have the bridge come back to a stable point at pitch. IF I didn't want to down drops or pull ups, I would get a non-vibrato strat....of which I think they should make many more. But, then, they just wouldn't look like Jimi's or SRV's, now would they???/ LOL And....the non-vib Strat sounds a whole lot more like a Tele than does a vibrato bridge strat....even if the vibrato bridge strat is totally blocked up with 5 springs to the wall. A hardtail Strat's sonics are more solid, longer sustaining and are more articulate, ime. Eric Clapton was interviewed once and noted that there was a 'reverb like' thing that went on with a vibrato strat even with the vibrato blocked out. There is a sonic effect of the missing wood, the trem bridge and the springs connected to the bridge.
    For me personally, my strat is floated so that I can use it the way LEo and Bill Carson designed it....and it comes back to pitch everytime without a locking nut or locking tuners. Magic?????
    xafinity likes this.

  5. Ethical

    Ethical Tele-Holic

    Feb 22, 2008
    Norfolk, UK
    perhaps reading rbrienzo's reply would help you understand.


  6. nadzab

    nadzab Friend of Leo's

    Mar 23, 2009
    New England
    It might be belt and suspenders, but I do it anyway.

  7. Rusrant

    Rusrant Tele-Meister

    Sep 8, 2009
    Birmingham, AL
    I personally remove the springs and use just a block, fitted to give no movement. I find the springs tend to add a lot of extra metallic noise which this resolves. There may be a slight increase in sustain, but who know for sure.
    brookdalebill likes this.

  8. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Ethical, I read the post. IF you read my reply, you will understand I feel that that block is not necessary. IT is not incorrect to do it, but it is not necessary. The springs will hold any bend with any string guage you want to put on a strat. WIth the vintage 6-screw bridge, there is no necessity to use any block at all....front or back.
    Rusrant's method is exemplary of my contention that there should be more hardtail Strats built and bought. There is indeed a tonal thing going on with the springs. The easiest way to deal with that is to fit some foam rubber under the springs to kill their action and effect.
    I did not say that any one method was incrrect. I simply said that I didn't understand why one would put a block behind the trem block. Perhaps I should have said that outside tonal considerations I see no reason for a block in the rear. . THe greatest difference would be a hardtail Strat. No matter what one does with a vibrato bridge on a STrat, the routing will affect the tonality of vibrato-equipped STrats. That said, I have paid close attention to all types of STrats with all types of set-ups. I have worked on and experienced all of the variations you can dream up on these Strat bridges; and I usually find something to like about all of them when they have good action and intonation. I like the full-floating freedom to express in that manner. I like the stability of a spring-and-block controlled bridge---with and without deadening foam under the springs. A hardtail Strat is a different animal, and I probably need one of those. IN fact, I have a one-piece hardtail swamp ash body waiting for a big fat neck and completion. When I have only one Strat, I float it. Leo and friends had a good idea back in the early '50's. When one is set-up well with good tuning machines, one can do what one desires on one...given the talent, right? JEff Beck proves that everytime he picks one up.

    To move on and off to the side, one of my friends has an unusual way of keeping that 'unbent' string on a double stop with bend in tune when he is one a whammy bar guitar. HE pulls the bar to keep the 'stationary' note in tune....and uses his ear to know when the bend and the pull are correct. HE's good at it....makes his living at guitar playing. I simply bend both a bit less than the other....and use my the best of my limited ability.

    Ya'll have a Strat good time.

  9. JDaveG

    JDaveG Tele-Meister

    Jun 8, 2008
    Powder Springs, GA
    I found with my Strat that using a Tremol-no (functional equivalent of a block) allowed a shallower bridge angle (more parallel to the body) and less spring tension, which made bending easier. The guitar felt "stiff" when bending strings with 5 springs and the trem decked.

  10. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX

    If both the Tremol-No and the blocking were done with the same set-up action and strings, there can be no difference in string tension between these two scenarios. Perceptions could be different, though.

    Your statement 'more parallel to the body' indicates that the blocking was done in such a way so that the bridge was not parallel to the body. IMHO, that indicates to me that the blocking was improperly done. Blocking should achieve a brigde placement that is either flush to the body or in some cases parallel to the body but not 'on the deck'....both cases result in a situation that puts the bridge plate parallel to the top of the body.

  11. Telesavalis

    Telesavalis Friend of Leo's

    Out of five Strats I use a fitted ash block in 4 of them and leave the fifth one unblocked since it has Callaham tail hardware and stays in tune well for a tremelo tail. The reason I put the blocks in the others was that it instantly settled all the tuning issues I had at gigs.

  12. JDaveG

    JDaveG Tele-Meister

    Jun 8, 2008
    Powder Springs, GA
    I wasn't comparing a tremol-no with blocking. I was comparing a tremol-no with decking the trem, which puts the bridge at a sharper angle than blocking or tremol-no.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear on that.

  13. Rusrant

    Rusrant Tele-Meister

    Sep 8, 2009
    Birmingham, AL
    Honestly, I would prefer a hardtail, but the options are few. That said, I am probably a minority in that preference. So, in place I use a block. No wrong or right, just what works for me.

  14. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX

    No, I understood what you said, Dave. IF you reread mypost, then you'll understand that I consider a proper set-up for an immobilized strat bridge, whether it is blocked, 'decked' or set-up with a Tremo-no, will result in a bridge that is parallel with the top. Therefore, there should be no difference in the angle of the bridge wtih any of these methods. There is no reason to angle a strat bridge if one is meaning to eliminate either pullbacks or any movement at all.
    Imho, the only time a strat's vibrato bridge should be sitting at some sort of angle is when it is floated to allow pull backs as well as drops. (Note: a Floyd Rose type of bridge is a different game. IT should always be prarllel to the body....if it is installed properly.)

  15. Doug 54

    Doug 54 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 12, 2004
    With radical bending- esp with multiple strings, a block is good
    Even with all springs tight and trem flat, over time there can be some flatness on the open strings.

  16. KP Will

    KP Will Tele-Meister

    Mar 12, 2010
    Foothill Farms, CA
    I block my trem with wood to prevent any movement at all of the trem. I allows for easier string replacement and lets the strings vibration in the metal block carry over the the guitar body. If I could afford/find hardtails, I would only buy them.

  17. yark14

    yark14 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 2, 2008
    Austin, TX. Formerly Iowa
    I use a taped up roll of pennies to block my trem. Copper by far has the best tone, I use only pre-1983 pennies because it they have more copper than post-1983 (they started using more zinc). Nickels are only 75% copper, compared to the 95% of old pennies. Quarters are too expensive.

    chris214 likes this.

  18. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 14, 2008
    Manheim Pa.
    Same here . That's why I built a hardtail . I also have a trem Strat .

  19. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 3, 2005
    Maybe the springs (all five of them) are worn out in my Strat -- if I remove the block, the bridge lifts up, no matter how much I tighten the claw screws. I've got 0.013's on the thing, but the design should be able to handle those. :lol:

    I don't see what's "wrong" about using a block. I've got it tapered so it fits well, and I drilled a small hole in it so I can screw in an eyehook and pull it out easily.

    - Scott

  20. JDaveG

    JDaveG Tele-Meister

    Jun 8, 2008
    Powder Springs, GA
    Understand now, and now that I think of it, the bridge angle issue was more of a problem with the PRS than the Strat. I have had both set up all 3 possible ways -- decked (that didn't last long with the PRS for the reason stated), blocked and floating (with and without Tremol-no). The Strat bridge does sit pretty much parallel to the body even when decked. It was the PRS that had a significantly sharper angle. Chalk it up to "I should think before I post" :oops:

    For whatever reason though, when the claw was flush to the body, bends were significantly harder on the Strat. That's the way it came from the factory. When I loosened the trem claw to float the bridge, it became much easier to do simple bends. I'm not sure why that is, but I assumed it had to do with the spring tension on the bridge from having the claw cranked down having some effect on the guitar strings.

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