Adam Reiver - How to float your locking tremolo
Welcome to the first installment of Trem Talk! Having been a dedicated Floyd Rose Tremolo user for the past twenty-five years, owner of D-Tuner Inc. (EVH D-tuna) and now own http://www.fu-tone.com and I have had my share of experience working with all types players from iconic guitar legends to young kids that have never changed a string on a locking tremolo and everything in between. It never ceases to amaze me how something so simple can get so complex and frustrating just from lack of basic knowledge.
I figured that I would do my first article on two topics that I am asked about the most: A basic string change and how to “float” your bridge properly.
Note: I have used several different guitars in the photos – this is for demo purposes only – but you already knew that!
Basic String Change
Unlock the three clamps at the nut with the 3mm Allen wrench provided with the guitar or bridge. Note: You can remove them or just leave them loose.
Set the fine-tuners on the bridge to the middle of there tuning range. Note: A good way to find the middle of the range is to turn the low E string fine tuner all the way in, turn the D string fine tuner all the way out, use the A string fine tuner to find the center between the E and D fine tuners – Now, adjust all fine tuners to the same height at the A string fine tuner.
Change one string at a time (starting at either E string) by first loosening the string and unclamping it at the saddle with the 3mm Allen wrench.
Cut the ball end off the replacement string with a pair of wire cutters.
Note: I sometimes run the strings from the headstock leaving the ball-ends in the tuning pegs then trim the string above the fine tuners – this is just a matter of taste.
Place the freshly cut string end into the center of the saddle and tighten the clamping screw until it is difficult to turn.
Thread the other end of the string under its nut clamp and under the string hold down bar, then to the tuning key and tune the string. [Pull on the string until it is tight around the tuning key and retune.]
Repeat 2 through 5 until all strings are replaced.
Check your tuning on all strings once again.
Re-clamp the three nut clamps.
Check your tuning once again making any adjustments this time with your fine-tuners only.
Floating Your Bridge:
Or should I say re-floating your bridge? This seems to be one of the biggest problem areas for a lot of the consumer (and pro) customer service calls that I receive. “Hey man, I can’t get my bridge in tune and it is tilted forward – I have been working on it for hours! This thing sucks!” I would be frustrated too if I was trying to tune my guitar for hours. Once I show people how easy this is they can’t believe it, I hear this a lot – “I have been setting up Floyd’s for twenty-five years, I wish that I knew this back then!”
OK – Here we go.
Block your bridge.
There are several ways to do this: The best way is to use the Floyd Rose tremolo stopper (available direct from Floyd Rose).
Roll the Allen screw on the stopper down until it touches the block of the tremolo.
BE SURE THAT THE BASE PLATE OF THE BRIDGE IS LEVEL TO THE BODY.
If you do not have a tremolo stopper, I like to use a couple of guitar picks or any flat stable material wedged into the cavity.
Increase the spring tension.
You can either add an additional spring or just tighten the 2 spring tension claw screws. This will insure that you have a nice tight solid block and give you a stable tuning environment to work in.
Set the fine tuners to 50%.
Tip – to find 50% easily, turn the low E string fine tuner all the way in, turn the D string fine tuner all the way out, use the A string fine tuner to find the center between the E and D fine tuners – Now, adjust all fine tuners to the same height at the A string fine tuner.
Tune your guitar and lock the nut (make sure that you are locked and in tune – if you have a Speedloader, use the range tuners in the saddles to do the tuning at this point).
Remove the extra spring and unblock the bridge so that it can go up and down – your guitar will go out of tune – don’t panic…. Just go to the next step.
Ok Skippy, this is the part where you are going to say “oh snap!”
Reset the spring tension.
TUNE THE A STRING ONLY BY ADJUSTING THE 2 SPRING TENSION CLAW SCREWS. Once the A string is in tune all of the strings will be in tune and your bridge will be floating.
Photos by Lauren Reiver (Yes- My 12 year old daughter!)
Thanks for reading!