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Blocking a trem

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by shunter, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. shunter

    shunter Strat-Talk Member

    May 25, 2009
    I never use the tremelo. I just fins that tuning wise its more trouble than its worth; I get fed up of bending strings out of tune. Given I've taken the arm off, should I now block the trem and if so whats the best wat to do it. I've heard blocking it affects the tone or is that just a myth?
  2. Tafmutt

    Tafmutt Strat-Talker

    Apr 20, 2009
    Washington State
    There are many opinions on how to do this: adding springs to the trem claw and tightening it down or adding a wood block in the back cavity to hold the trem stable are two common ways to do this. I simply tighten the screws on the claw until the trem bridge lays flat against the body. In short, it's a simple solution that works.

    Whether it changes the tone or not is a matter of spirited debate among Strat users. Some state that the use of a wood block increases the sustain. Take a look at other posts (there are many) regarding this subject and judge for yourself.

    Good luck!

  3. Astro1176

    Astro1176 Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 20, 2009
    Tightening the screws is a great thing to try, but either that method or a block is a great because if you don't like the change in sound, it is very easy to undo and put the guitar back how it was. Takes 10 minutes to tighten the screws up. Takes a little longer to change it back because you have to keep juggling between the string tension and springs, but if you mark where the claw was set before you start, it should be quicker to set back.

    Let us know if you thought there was a change in tone and whether it was good or bad.
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  5. asc67

    asc67 Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 17, 2008
    Tighten the springs so that the bridge is flat against the body then cut a hardwood block of wood that will fit snugly behind the tremolo block. A blocked tremolo seems to add a bit more sustain to the guitar.
  6. thaus

    thaus Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 6, 2007
    London Canada
    I think I have mentioned this before but the stratocaster was designed with the tremolo in mind, and thus I really think it is meant to stay floating. I have tried decking, blocking, etc and find that the best tone is with a floating tremolo. Yes, the guitar has to be set-up properly for the tuning to be stable. That is the only concern IMO, if you don't know how to set it up properly.
  7. jgillard

    jgillard Strat-O-Master

    Feb 25, 2009
    Brooklin, Ont. Canada
    I totally agree with you on this thaus. Ive done the same with decking, etc. and I much prefer it floating. The only issue with floating is it can take longer to tune it up. No big deal to me.
  8. Strat-Man-Do

    Strat-Man-Do Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 12, 2009
    New England
    I prefer to Float mine.
    But adding Five Springs will bottom out your Bridge. From there if you use a piece of Maple, Alder. or a decent Tone hardwood, and block the back of the Trem block. Even though with Five Spings the bridge will bottom out, the addition of a piece of Tone wood in there [like used on the EC Strat .. pine/maple] You will notice a increase in Sustain. BTW its VERY noticable on my EC Sig Strat, which I have Floating now. I removed the block and could here the loss of sustain.

    Depends what you like. I use the Trem and noticed with the Vintage Noiseless I came at least in the realm of vintage sounding single-coils...little better.
  9. Astro1176

    Astro1176 Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 20, 2009
    I have mine floating, but the truth is you can get definitive strat tones with the trem blocked (eg Clapton), with a hardtail (Cray) or floating (Gilmour & Beck), with lots more famous and very stratty sounds coming from all sorts of other top players. They all sound like great starts to me. I'm sure it changes the tone in some way, but both tones can make you a million bucks.
  10. masayako

    masayako Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    So. Cal
    I prefer to stay float. Trem bar is part of the strat magic. It take a bit longer to tune but that's all.
  11. CrimsonHighway1

    CrimsonHighway1 Strat-Talker

    Mar 14, 2009
    New England
    Are you sure that your nut is not the problem?
  12. Bundini

    Bundini Former Member

    May 26, 2009
    Seattle USA
    Never tried blocking the trem block but I will give it a try. I have a Robert Cray hardtail and has it's own distinct character when i A/B'd it with another strat with the same pups. How much of that character comes from the hardtail? I dunno.
  13. asac

    asac New Member!

    Jun 18, 2009
    Massachusetts, USA
    I blocked the trem on my 1999 MIM strat. I could definitely hear a slight change in tone and sustain. If you're never using tremolo I'd recommend blocking it. I used a nice piece of oak for the block (cut to size of course).
  14. gbsmusic

    gbsmusic New Member!

    Jun 13, 2009
    I hate to show these pictures because I'm sure I did this wrong but this is how I did this guitar. I use this guitar with heavy strings on it and tune it down to d and c. I really did'nt know how to block a trem but a friend told me this is basically what it is so this is what I came up with. Laugh if you must but it works great!! I wedged wood on both sides and I did tighten up the springs also. Can some one else post a picture also so I can see how to do it right? Thanks. Good luck!!
  15. Ti-Ron

    Ti-Ron New Member!

    May 13, 2009
    I just tightened all the screws and put 5 spings! Works great for me!
  16. furtherfan

    furtherfan Strat-Talker

    Jun 7, 2009
    tightened the claw screws and put 5 springs on it.

    edit: might try the woodblok and listen for extra sustain and sound
  17. 7thSun

    7thSun Strat-Talk Member

    Feb 27, 2009
    Eric Clapton blocks his guitars and keeps 5 springs, he says the tone is improved with the 5 springs, I plan on giving it a try also.
  18. phildobbin

    phildobbin Strat-Talker

    Jun 22, 2009
    London, England
    Yeah, I put five springs in mine & used a block of mahogany that fitted snugly & left the back plate off. Sounded much sweeter & rang & chimed a lot more. &, of course, it now stays in tune ;)

    Here's a picture:

    Attached Files:

  19. xStonr

    xStonr Strat-Talk Member

    May 11, 2006
    Down in the Boondocks
    I've put 5 springs in and replaced the trem block with a solid steel block which is larger than the zinc block that's standard on my MIM. The bridge is solid with lots of sustain.
  20. woollymonster

    woollymonster Banned

    Oct 21, 2010
    Old post I know but I just blocked the trem on my Strat today to see what it did to the tone, sustain, and tuning.

    I have a set of decent woodworking tools so off the the shop I went with my 1956 Re-issue Stratocaster. Without going into painstaking detail, I precisely cut two pieces of hard maple that fit both in front and behind the trem block. I cut them in such a way that the bridge still rested in its original position (about 1/8" above the body. This way, no saddle adjustment, intonation, etc. issues. Everything in the same position.

    One of the main goals was NOT to alter the guitar so it could not be undone, or cause any damage. I put all 5 springs on just for grins. The trem was now solidly wedged between the two custom fit pieces of maple and could not be moved at all in either direction. It was now essentially a hard tail.

    How did it turn out???

    - Sustain. A noticeable increase. Everything stayed in tune on bends.
    - Tuning. Fast, easy, accurate, and stayed that way.
    - Tone. AWFUL!!!

    My Strat now sounded like a really bad Tele. Not that spanking twang you get from a Tele but a high pitched nasally kind of screeching thing. "Hardtailing" these pickup just did not work.

    Gone was the full, round, blooming kind of natural reverb that had previously come out of my Strat. I played it this way for about half a day and no matter what I did with tone nobs on the guitar, I could not get a decent Strat tone. I could not get those wooden blocks out of there fast enough!

    Live and learn I guess. My Strat is back!
  21. Midnight

    Midnight Strat-Talker

    Aug 5, 2008
    Old post? Yes--but quite helpful for a newbie like myself, so many thanks for the information!

    I wanted to buy the Eric Clapton model (which has a blocked tremolo), but I could not justify the extra cost over the 2012 American Standard that I eventually did buy. I am a novice, but had read the tremolo did make it more difficult to tune/keep in tune, so I had considered blocking mine as well. I have not attached the arm to mine (and do not intend to), but I have to say I use my Mustang III to tune it and I go up and then down the strings tuning it and it is easy enough.

    If tuning it is no harder than this, I think I did the right thing by saving the $$ and going with the American Standard (black and white). I like the idea of just bending the strings with my fingers (though until they toughen up, I do not like the soreness).

    Thanks again!

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