A little trick to help your Trem work better.

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

  1. coolrene

    coolrene Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    68
    Messages:
    40
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2020
    Location:
    France
    Ye
    Yep. Good work ! I once had a guitar with inproperly drilled posts (a Chapman not to name it). I found out after trying all the tricks you suggested and finally had to part with the instrument after changing the strings, nut, tuners, springs, trem... Nothing could be done indeed...
     
  2. grandstick

    grandstick New Member!

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2015
    Location:
    Virginia
    As many have stated - a properly set up nut will cure most tuning ills.

    I replaced the classic, bent steel bridge/saddles on my Strat with a SuperVee Bladerunner tremolo (read: vibrato) bridge.

    After filing and lubing the nut, and a Verheyen setup - https://www.strat-talk.com/threads/tremolo-setup-a-la-carl-verheyen.196842/ - I have a full-floating trem system that stays in tune, no matter how much dive bomb or pull up. And mind you - this is with the classic, split tuners - no locking anything (oh, I did install a GraphTech Tusq string tree).
     
  3. Richard McKay

    Richard McKay Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    55
    Messages:
    92
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2016
    Location:
    Central Hudson Valley New York
    I have one Strat that used to "sing" after a hard string dampening (on a John Lee Hooker song for example). I'd hit the chord and choke it off and get this high ring in the amp. It wasn't the amp and it wasn't the springs on the tree. Probably a nut issue as well, but I killed the ring by taking about three inches of wire insulation and threading it onto the G string between the nut and the tuners. Bonus, if you like to bend behind the nut, it saves your fingers some abuse.
     
  4. ChrisDowning

    ChrisDowning Strat-Talker

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    209
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2019
    Location:
    Devizes UK
    Yes, the nut could do it - that's why players went to steel nuts that clamped the strings so they didn't move after you'd tuned the guitar. Probably not using the right tools for the job of you want more than just a gentle wavering trem - sounds like you need an FR.
     
    drp146 likes this.
  5. stratmatt777

    stratmatt777 Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    Location:
    Seattle
    I've had a good experience with Graphtech Graphite nut (they make TUSQ nuts now).
    Prior to that (15 years ago now), I would buy lock graphite at Lowes and put it in the nut slots of my MIM strat.
     
    Bob the builder and drp146 like this.
  6. stratmatt777

    stratmatt777 Strat-O-Master

    Messages:
    596
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2015
    Location:
    Seattle
    But how do Jeff Beck and David Gilmour keep their stock vintage trems in tune? They did it. It baffles the mind. I'm serious (not being sarcastic).

    The Super-Vee Bladerunner is way better on a strat than an FR. Also it screws onto a stock strat.
     
    drp146 likes this.
  7. Glyderslead

    Glyderslead Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    76
    Messages:
    86
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2017
    Location:
    Outside to the left
    My favourite guitar nut is the one that is on my Yamaha Image Elite. It is a locking nut, but I don't use that aspect of the tremolo system.

    What I particularly like is that the nut is perfectly made for the height of each string as a set to suit the neck radius. it is made of metal and with two adjusting screws It can be raised or lowered as required, same as pickups, to achieve there best overall height. This makes it so easy to get the action that suits you and has the bonus that you don't need to mess around with the slots.

    Of course you would expect this type of thing from Yamaha, they make top quality motor bikes as a side line so they can get something as easy as a guitar right
     
    drp146 likes this.
  8. Franck Wizz

    Franck Wizz Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Mons, Belgium
    Sorry but I doubt you really presented the guitar to "experts" ;)

    Any guitar tech knows to go directly to the nut when presented with tuning stability issues. Specially with a trem.

    First thing I check. Most of the time, I don't need to check anything else. :)

    No real guitar tech would NOT check if the nut can be improved on a trem guitar (material, slots depth+angle+shape etc...)

    Anyway, way to go! :thumb:
     
    Bob the builder likes this.
  9. mike58

    mike58 Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    65
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2017
    Location:
    Uk
    Quote “

    But how do Jeff Beck and David Gilmour keep their stock vintage trems in tune? They did it. It baffles the mind. I'm serious

    em.... they employ full time guitar techs.....?
     
    drp146 likes this.
  10. ChrisDowning

    ChrisDowning Strat-Talker

    Age:
    74
    Messages:
    209
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2019
    Location:
    Devizes UK
    The big issue is to get the trem seated on the angled flat front edge - at least on a 6 screw. Across the front, under the edge on the base plate, there is an angled flat part about 1/8th-3/64th" wide that goes right across. At rest, the trem should be sitting on that flat. So if there is a trick it's to get the tension of the springs in the back to balance the pull of the strings so after the trem has been used it ALWAYS rests in that flat - every time - then every time it's back in tune. It's not amazingly difficult to set up - you just need to be swapping front to back back to front adjusting the tuning vs the springs (adjusting the screws on the claw) in the back cavity. And after that, you can't change string brand or gauge without going through the whole thing again.

    Floating trems where the whole base plate on the trem is in mid-air - well that's supposed to be soooo fluid - a knife edge into two pivot points - it just balances the rear springs with string tension - well that's the theory - but lots of players prefer the old 6 screw bridge functionality; which is why Fender still make guitars with it installed as stock.
     
    stratmatt777 and drp146 like this.
  11. Franck Wizz

    Franck Wizz Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Mons, Belgium
    That's really not a problem when you know what (small) mods to apply to a "vintage" strat, and how to setup a 6-point trem properly.

    The problem stems from the will of too may guitarists to leave things "as is" on vintage instruments (tuners, nut and string retainers, mostly) despite ample evidence that the original design was flawed for long/heavy trem use or Gilmour-like string bending. And from poor setup at the trem/vibrato end. These screws! They need love and patience. ;)

    Floyd Rose capitalized on these widespread issues by pretending that a locking nut was the only way to adress them, but it was mostly marketing talk. It's possible to transform any good "vintage" Strat into a very stable guitar despite heavy trem/bend use, without having to install a locking nut.
     
    stratmatt777 and drp146 like this.
  12. Reno922

    Reno922 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    61
    Messages:
    149
    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2017
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    The one thing I regret about writing this post is that I didn't fully describe the job the 'experts' did in trying to repair the guitar, as many people have seized upon this as most important thing I wrote.

    If I still had the option of editing the OP, I would more fully explain. Initially, I left this out because I thought the post was too long as it was.

    The experts weren't complete idiots, as most people surmise from reading my post.

    The first thing they did was put some kind of lubrication on the nut. When that didn't work, they loosened the strings, one by one, pulled them out of the nut and generically filed ALL of the nut slots. They did this in my presence, but when this didn't work they said, "You need to leave the guitar." Presumably, they took the guitar apart and put it back together looking for problems. But after few days, finding no problems, they called and said you need to pick it up I couldn't fix it.

    How many times have you encountered a guitar that when the bar was pushed in one time, would return some strings flat and other strings sharp? Then when you got the thing in tune, it would stay in perfect tune, (as long as the Trem wasn't used) It just doesn't make sense, but this is what was happening.

    Both experts did address the nut, but they did so generically and assumed that was sufficient. By taking the strings, one by one, out of the equation, I was able to isolate the problem in a way they hadn't thought of.

    A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, what I was attempting to communicate was a way to identify the weakest link in the Trem mechanism. Even if your Trem works great now, you could make it better by identifying the weakest link in your chain and addressing it.

    I'm sorry that message got lost in the back story.
     
  13. Franck Wizz

    Franck Wizz Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Mons, Belgium
    At least 3 times a week. Lol ;-) And in my lifetime, at least 500 x.

    Actually, it's (sadly) the way most trem-equipped guitars behave when leaving the factory. Simply because their nuts s**k (terrible plastic, low-cost bone, below par corian etc...) and are cut like crap. Oh, and those string retainers. Appalling.

    I definitly like your problem-solving approach, you seem to have a great mind/attitude for this!
     
    Reno922 likes this.
  14. Franck Wizz

    Franck Wizz Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    59
    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Mons, Belgium
    I don't think it was ;-)
     
    Reno922 likes this.
  15. batchld75

    batchld75 Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    20
    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Location:
    Santa Maria CA
    Just to add another little bit of info. In my experience tuning, and detuning problems are almost always at the nut.
    Dentists use abrasive dental floss, which is great for sanding any burrs in the nut slots. I've had about 2 ft. for 5 years.
     
  16. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    29,161
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Ticket Booth at the JWPL
    It's all in the setup. :D
     
  17. Chuck Conner

    Chuck Conner Strat-Talker

    Age:
    79
    Messages:
    111
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Location:
    Maryland
    Graph Tech TUSQ XL Nuts on all my guitars
     
    CB91710 likes this.
  18. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

    Age:
    62
    Messages:
    29,161
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Location:
    Ticket Booth at the JWPL
    A properly cut nut and the proper setup on the vibrato ( its not a tremolo) bridgeplate mounting screws will give you many hours of advanced wiggle-stickery
     
    CB91710 and RobZ69 like this.
  19. Slartybartfast

    Slartybartfast Strat-Talker

    Age:
    60
    Messages:
    136
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2020
    Location:
    Ca.
    Oh yeah, no surprise at all. Good work. What people don't realize is that 99.99% of tuning problems on all guitars is the nut, especially strats. A bridge has to be really messed up for it to be the problem, or in the case I'm telling you about, the wrong bridge. Case in point: one of my .001% collection was just two weeks ago. I built a parts guitar with the LSR nut, and the bridge - I always float the trem - would not return to zero. It was my fave, the Gotoh 510 series six-screw all steel. It's on my last build and is simply the best. The point is, in this day of aftermarket parts and partscasters, people need to know this. The Gotoh has a 56mm screw spread but the vintage holes are 2 7/32" or 56.325mm and that tiny bit mattered a lot. I got one of the Wilkinson trems that have one regular hole and five oval shaped holes designed to compensate for irregularities- problem solved. So yes, 99.99% of problems will be at the nut.
     
    Reno922 likes this.
  20. ross

    ross Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Location:
    Tucson AZ
    Put a new neck on my strat and spent hours checking for the solution to a dull G string with new strings. I checked the neck, the nut, adjusted the truss, adjusted the saddles. Checked everything I could think of. I put the guitar on a neck jig, checked the fret level no problems. I put new strings on it set the relief almost flat, like all my strats, set the action, the G still sounded bad. I hung it on the wall and decided I would get back to it later. Then it came to me to check the pickup height. I had never changed the pickup height but I did put on a new neck. One of my pickups looked a little high, reset all the pickup heights and the problem went away. It's not always the nut but almost always.
     
    Slartybartfast and Reno922 like this.