Question about "play" in strat-style trem rest position

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Yonatan, May 25, 2020.

  1. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    I just installed the trem (o.k. "vibrato unit") on the Tele style body that I'm building and set it up to float, but this is my first trem-equipped guitar, so I'm not sure what is normal (it's a vintage style Wilkinson):

    • There is the "neutral" (resting) position of the bar
    • From there, I can push down on the bar, repeatedly, hard, etc., everything stays in tune, etc.
    • Or, I can pull up on the bar - works well, though there is some slight play before it engages
    But, should I expect to be able to do one smooth movement that passes through the "neutral" point? There is way too much play in the bar right now to do that.
    Meaning, if I push down on the bar, and then not only release it, but continue towards pulling up, there will be a lot of play in between.

    Now, this is the type of trem that has a push-in arm and a set screw just beneath the bridge plate. I didn't screw in the set screw yet, which I'm sure explains for all of the play, but I even after I screw it in, I have serious doubts that this little screw will be able to stand up to the pressure of passing through the neutral position - is it meant to? Or is a vintage strat trem not really meant to be used in this way?
     
  2. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    That play (or slop) is common in strat type trems, but there are fixes. I haven't used that particular unit you have. Maybe try it with the set screw as per the instructions? On a Fender trem with a threaded bar, there is supposed to be a tiny little spring that you drop into the trem arm hole (that tensions the arm against the threads) but I don't think most people do that, because as soon as you unscrew the trem to put the guitar in a case that little screw will fall out and get lost in the carpet. With a push-in arm that approach probably wouldn't work.
     
  3. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    Edit didn't realise you were using a pop in trem arm
     
  4. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    Tighten the set screw on the tremolo it should snug it up and stop the play. Set screws are tougher than you think, they're typically used on amp knobs and telecaster knobs (they're bound to be tough with that kind of pedigree).
     
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  5. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, I'll try that, I'm just concerned about that small screw standing up to the pressure.

    Does common trem technique (if there is such a thing) normally "pass through" the neutral point, or are players doing push down or pull up, but not both in the same note/phrase?
     
  6. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    I'd imagine it would, I pass through the neutral when doing light vibrato. Your problem is that the trem arm is currently rocking back and forth in the hole before it's moving the block. The screw is designed to be used and stand up to the challenge so I wouldn't worry about it.
     
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  7. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Okay, I'll tighten it down.
     
  8. Asmith

    Asmith Friend of Leo's

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    Be careful not to over tighten the screw, I think you should still be able to rotate the arm with a little resistance.
     
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  9. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, I was worried about that, but I didn't want to under tighten either, and end up not getting the play out sufficiently.

    It's working now, I didn't realize the "magic" of the vibrato until getting the play out, I can actually do chord shimmers now!

    Just hope it holds up. If it doesn't, what is the fix? I've read about using plumbers tape for the screw in kind of arm, but I couldn't find any fix for this for the drop in type of arm. I imagine it could range from needing to shim the bar, or replace the screw or even the block.
     
  10. tery

    tery Doctor of Teleocity

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    Mine is in a drawer .
     
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  11. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Sorry, I don't follow, because you don't want/use it, or because it doesn't work anymore?
     
  12. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I deck mine. I have never found it to stay in tune well if not decked, and marginal if it is decked. Loose arms are common.
    In 65 years Fender hasn't decided to fix the problem. My only good one is a Callaham. Fender tried a couple things but they don't work. If the threads are loose putting a spring in the hole doesn't stop the wobble. There's no way it would unless the spring is a nuclear detonation! Plumbers tape works for about 5 minutes if you are lucky. I thought push in arms were an improvement but I guess not completely?
     
  13. tery

    tery Doctor of Teleocity

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    I do not like it hanging off the guitar and I do not use it .
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
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  14. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    We'll it's still a novelty for me. I never owned a trem equipped guitar, so on a whim I built one into the Tele style body I've been building. I guess time will tell if I like it or not.
     
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  15. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    One thing is you really aren't putting a ton of force on it either way, from your OP it made it sound like you think there is a lot of forceful movement happening.
     
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  16. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, this is the first time I've had a trem equipped guitar, so it's all a bit new to me. Also, I'm probably going to focus more on subtle chord shimmers than on dive bombing, so it should be fine now!
     
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  17. AndyPanda

    AndyPanda Tele-Holic

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    How many springs are you using? I like two springs but it's a matter of taste. Some people adjust the claw (it doesn't need to be straight, you can favor one side or the other) so that when they pull up all the way it goes to a certain pitch (like a whole step or a minor third) and stops there when it hits the deck.
     
  18. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Take your time. There is a fine balance to get smooth action while going through "neutral" it is there, but it just take time. Note that your intonation can change as you fuss around with this. Once you readjust your intonation, you will sometimes need to make yet another adjustment for the smooth "neutral" transition again. It might feel like you are chasing your tail, but it is worth the time and effort to get there. Good luck and patience is a virtue in this situation. A glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage is highly advised during this operation.;)
     
  19. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Play in the arm/block connection is a perennial problem with Strat trems. Its not a setup issue.

    I solve it by using the Callaham block and arm.

    Leo solved it with the Jazzmaster trem. :twisted:
     
  20. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Your wiggle stick should never, itself, wiggle. It's only motion should be to swing about freely, and then only if that's what you want (I prefer mine to stay where I leave it).
     
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