Adjusting the tremolo bridge

RazzerRazzer Posts: 22Member
Got a fender American deluxe strat  and I am trying setup the tremolo bridge this is my first tremolo bridge guitar , I have read up and I understand how to adjust the bridge and I took some pics of the bridge,   It says on the fender site it should measure 3mm from the bridge  to the body of the guitar which I have done but I also got told it should be level It doesn't look level to me .    

Comments

  • BryBry Posts: 652Member

    If you turn those screws that hold the claw in place they'll pull on the springs and balance that*

     

     

    *may or may not contain traces of bodging, I dont know, but that's how I've done it.

  • RazzerRazzer Posts: 22Member

    Yes if i tighten the screws it will level it close to the body but i was following the guide that it says it should be 3mm from the bridge to body which i have done now if i tight the screws more  it will change the distance that is in the guide 3mm.  Should it be level to the body?

  • manofgresleymanofgresley Posts: 137Member

    There are several videos on You tube covering this and all Strat settings take a look.

  • BryBry Posts: 652Member
    Originally Posted by Razzer:

    Yes if i tighten the screws it will level it close to the body but i was following the guide that it says it should be 3mm from the bridge to body which i have done now if i tight the screws more  it will change the distance that is in the guide 3mm.  Should it be level to the body?

    If leveling the bridge puts it less than 3mm from the body could you raise the pivot posts at all? 

  • RazzerRazzer Posts: 22Member

    hi. I am not sure what the pivot posts are ? the bridge  is a two-point synchronized tremolo bridge ,

  • BryBry Posts: 652Member
    Originally Posted by Razzer:

    hi. I am not sure what the pivot posts are ? the bridge  is a two-point synchronized tremolo bridge ,

    Those two-points are the pivots. I think you need to adjust those to give you the 3mm clearance and then adjust the claw screws to get the whole thing level.

     

     

  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,107Member, Moderator

    My Fender Strat, as supplied and set up by Fender, does not have the bridge parallel to the body.  It is angled up from the two pivot points with a 3mm gap at the rear of the bridge. I do not use the tremolo so have neither adjusted it or checked to see if the settings are correct, but that is how it came out of the box.

  • Graham GeorgeGraham George Posts: 496Member

    Hi Razzer, the Strat' bridge tremolo system has three basic options. Flat to the body, as if it were a hardtail - which means notes can only be bent downwards. 'Floating', which is as your photo, with the backend of the bridge up 3mm's from the body, allowing notes to be bent up and down. And finally 'blocked', where a piece of wood is added inside the bridge aperture at the back of the guitar, disallowing any movement at all. (This last one sounds odd as it's a Strat' but some people A) never use a whammy, or B) buy a Strat' because they just love the tones.)

     

    Some people, like myself, like to bend the notes a long way UP!

    Therefore the 'float' of the bridge needs to be perhaps as much as 5mm's off the body! This may require that the pivot point screw heads be adjusted as well.

     

    When making adjustments to these types of bridges, how it comes set from the factory/store/previous user if it's second hand, will also have a bearing on what you might need to do.

     

    There are three points of reference for adjustment.

    1. The springs at the back. (How many and how tight - changes the tension of the tremolo and therefore the bar/arm and string tension. Three is normal but five can be fitted.) The screws that hold those springs. (Tighter - more tension on the string, looser less tension. This also affects the 'feel' of the tremolo bar/arm.)

     

    2. The pivot points. (Sometimes needs to be raised if dive-bombing a lot, so the bridge doesn't dig into the guitar body, but this should be a tiny amount.)

     

    3. The individual string saddles. (How high or low - creating the 'action' you like.) These individual saddles are also used for the 'intonation' of the strings.)

     

    The below would be applied to a set of 9/42 to 10/46 gauge of strings as a measure.

     

    1. Three springs are normal for the right tension, I have seen them with two, but this creates a problem with tuning. It's easier to whammy, but the tuning suffers as does the action, from too loose a string tension - usually. Five springs are rarely used, although they are available to add. I guess if you are very heavy handed, with a grip like a vise and hands like two bunches of bananas, then you might need all that tension! (Many also believe that the 'springs' are an inherent part of the sound of a Strat' and I have to say that the tension on the springs can be heard it you strum them! I personally believe that any sort of resonances will have a factor in the final sound you get.) Too tight and the bridge will be locked down to the body, so no upward bend and a tight downward stroke on the whammy bar. Too loose a tension and the whammy arm will be too low to use in a downward stroke very far, but upwards will be OK - but too much may break strings at some point.

     

    2. The pivot points are the only other point of contact to the body other than where the strings cross the nut, and where the springs are screwed to the body. Therefore it's an important point of contact on the surface of the body for resonance. The lower the better, but always with clearance for the 'tongue' that slides onto the posts to be slightly above contact with the body, if the tremolo is pushed hard down.

     

    3. The string saddles are for height (action) of each string and intonation (tuning). This is best done after the spring tension and required amount of bend - up/down, has been achieved, as this alteration will raise/lower the whole bridge and therefore the strings.

     

    So all in all it actually only depends on five things, 1) How far you want to bend the strings. 2) In which direction Down only or Up and Down. 3) Don't want to bend them at all. 4) How easy you like the feel of the whammy bar, when pulling/pushing. 5) Not having too much or too little tension on the strings, so that they feel comfortable for your style.

     

    Finally, very light strings are more difficult to adjust and keep in tune, heavier strings with more tension may need less spring tension to allow for ease of whammy pulling/pushing! 

     

    Hope this helps. 

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