A little trick to help your Trem work better.

Discussion in 'Tech-Talk' started by Reno922, Feb 2, 2021.

  1. Reno922

    Reno922 Strat-Talker

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    A few years ago I bought a new Strat that sounded amazing in the store. However, I made a mistake.
    I didn't test the Tremolo before I brought it home. I know that seems stupid, but I don't use the Trem in my natural playing. Given how aggressively I bend the strings, I never thought a brand new guitar which stayed perfectly in tune while I tried it out, would have something seriously wrong with it. But I was wrong.

    Anyway... First I bring the guitar back to the store. The guitar tech can't fix it. I'm then referred to Fender's 'expert' repairman for the state. He can't fix it either.

    I'm then given the option of giving it back to Fender and being sent a new one.

    But this guitar sounded so special, I decided to keep it and just never use the Trem.

    Amazingly, a few days ago I figured out how to fix it. Or to put it more accurately, I figured out - How to figure out what was wrong.

    Here is what I did.

    First, one by one, I detuned the strings starting with the low E. By detune, I mean I loosened them to the point they could provide no resistance what-so-ever.

    I then brought the remaining 5 strings back to pitch. Next, I abused the whammy bar for all it was worth. I wanted to see how far out of tune the other strings were going.

    What showed up kind of blew me away, some of the strings always returned to tune. But others might be sharp or flat. When I loosened the G and the B strings, the remaining strings returned to tune much better. So I detuned the G and B together, once again, big improvement.

    This told me was where my problem was and that there was nothing seriously wrong with the guitar such as improperly drilled posts, which is a problem that could never be fixed. If some of the strings always return to tune, the guitar is in balance and the Trem mechanism is working properly.

    This narrows the potential problem spots to saddles, nut, string trees or tuners.

    Testing the string tree is pretty easy, just take the strings out of it and see if your Trem now stays in tune.

    Testing the tuners is also pretty easy, stretch the crap out of your string. If it stays in tune while you are increasing and decreasing pressure upon it, odds are the tuner is holding fast against the Trem's action as well.

    This leaves the nut. I applied a little high grit sandpaper to the G and B string groves, angling downward toward the tuners and that fixed the problem.

    The fact that the strings were binding in multiple places had befuddled two expert repairmen because they could not get a consistent failure result. However, by eliminating strings, one by one, I was able to correctly target the problem spots.

    Using nut lube or pencil graphite really shouldn't be beyond anyone. Installing new tuners or a string tree, assuming you buy the correct parts also shouldn't be that difficult. Installing a new nut might be a little more challenging and you may want to pay for that. But once you know where the problem lies, it's pretty easy to figure out what to do about it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
  2. Jesse414

    Jesse414 Senior Stratmaster

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    Cool thanks for sharing. Glad you got it fixed. Post a pic of it :)
     
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  3. stratocarlster

    stratocarlster Most Honored Senior Member

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    I have come to the conclusion that the nut is responsible for everything..

    (PS very brave of you to share technical advice on a guitar forum!)
     
  4. Reno922

    Reno922 Strat-Talker

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    stratocarlster, you are probably correct.

    I did the same thing to my 79 Strat and after a little attention to the G slot on the nut, it is performing infinitely better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
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  5. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    Yep. I am surprised that two "experts" didn't know to look at the nut. One of the first things I look at and do when I get a guitar on my bench is look at the nut and make sure the strings glude through it. Doesn't matter if it is a trem or hardtail. The strings should be free.
     
  6. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    I'm amazed that "experts" didn't know what us mere mortals have known for at least 40 years...
     
  7. Believer7713

    Believer7713 The Pink Bunnyman Frankenstein Silver Member

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    Hmmmm...
    Maybe that's why my dad used to tell me that an expert is best defined as an ex is a has been and a spurt is a squirt under pressure. You think?
     
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  8. Paul47

    Paul47 Strat-Talker

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    It's ALWAYS the nut! Most of the time anyway.
     
  9. Fenderbaum

    Fenderbaum Strat-Talker

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    I pulled CS guitars of the rack and same story. Never goes back in tune after divebombing a little.

    But the nut is a very delicate thing. You cant angle it too much on those unwound strings. They need enough surface to rest on to not go "DOOOUWWWW"... The G string is notorious with those harmonics between nut and tuner post as well. Its a balance job.

    Other than that i do have those strings or two not going back in tune on heavy trem. They grow worse as strings get older.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
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  10. EXTRABLUE

    EXTRABLUE Strat-Talker

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    Wouldnt an LSR nut solve any nut problems for our guitars?
     
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  11. Wrighty

    Wrighty Most Honored Senior Member

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    I think we’re all guilty of losing our way when trying to track down a fault that has multiple variables. It’s not easy to steadily go through one aspect at a time, natural instinct tells us ‘it can’t be that, I’ll move on to something else until the magic bullet shows itself’.
    What you’ve done is nothing more than a step by step sequence of tests leading to a conclusion. That said, well done, it just goes to show what a calm, logical process can achieve. It’s the sort of approach that I strive for, and rarely achieve!
     
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  12. Wrighty

    Wrighty Most Honored Senior Member

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    Agree, there’s usually a nut responsible for car crashes, financial crashes and the long queue at the checkout!
     
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  13. Wrighty

    Wrighty Most Honored Senior Member

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    ‘G slot’..............did auto correct kick in on that or did it ‘know’ that this isn’t ‘that’ sort of forum!?
     
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  14. Wrighty

    Wrighty Most Honored Senior Member

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    As an aside, I know many Gibson owners who admit to their LP or SG not holding tuning very well. Most say the G is the major culprit. I wonder if it’s the nut in most cases but, also, why the G string?
     
  15. stratocarlster

    stratocarlster Most Honored Senior Member

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    It's the thickest unwound string and has the sharpest break angle from the nut to the tuner.

    Combined with the 17 degree headstock angle it's a recipe for headaches.
     
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  16. Wrighty

    Wrighty Most Honored Senior Member

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    May explain why some have suggested a wound G helps?
     
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  17. ThebiggestJerk

    ThebiggestJerk Senior Stratmaster

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    Yup it’s usually the nut.
     
  18. rockon1

    rockon1 Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Yep. Single most important thing for tuning stability- properly cut nut. For more aggressive trem use I use staggered locking tuners and remove the tree.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
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  19. nadzab

    nadzab Play Don't Worry Silver Member

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    It is the nut for the reasons @stratocarlster pointed out, but it's easily corrected by properly dressing the slot. Abrasive cord works wonders.
     
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  20. nadzab

    nadzab Play Don't Worry Silver Member

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    And it's NEVER the tuners! 99.9% of the time anyway, unless you have a seriously defective tuner