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6-screw vintage Strat trem tuning stability

wox

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,635
Got it dialed in to where I can barely even knock it a little out of tune...

  • MJT body
  • Fender American Performer neck, refinished and refretted with Jescar 57110-SS
  • Tusq nut and vintage F tuners from the 70s
  • BKP Mothers Milk pickups
  • Callaham 6-screw bridge with brass block, set floating with around 1 step of pull-up

 
Last edited:

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,748
The main problem with the Strat trem design is the strings can hang up on the saddles when the trem is used. The strings have to slide on the saddles when the trem is used and seldom return to the same spot. Over the years I've learned to unconsciously pull up on the trem arm after use in attempt to get back to being in tune. Works most of the time but not always. But a good Strat was the best fit for me in a gigging scenario so I just lived with the inherent flaw. And 2 point trems were always tonally lacking to me and none stayed very long. I currently have a dozen Strats and they are all 6 pointers!
 

wox

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,635
The main problem with the Strat trem design is the strings can hang up on the saddles when the trem is used. The strings have to slide on the saddles when the trem is used and seldom return to the same spot. Over the years I've learned to unconsciously pull up on the trem arm after use in attempt to get back to being in tune. Works most of the time but not always. But a good Strat was the best fit for me in a gigging scenario so I just lived with the inherent flaw. And 2 point trems were always tonally lacking to me and none stayed very long. I currently have a dozen Strats and they are all 6 pointers!
Yep, anyone know if there's something different about the Callaham saddle design? It seems high quality but otherwise pretty standard, but this is the most stable I've been able to dial in a 6 screw trem ever I think.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,151
Yep, anyone know if there's something different about the Callaham saddle design? It seems high quality but otherwise pretty standard, but this is the most stable I've been able to dial in a 6 screw trem ever I think.
Probably because cally saddles are very hard and are less likely for the strings to dig into them and create a rough surface that the strings can catch on. Thats why they are also so bright too. A lot of people don't like them becaue of that, myself being one of them. But they are very hard.
 

Jahn

Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,495
Good point about burrs on the saddles catching the strings. I recently flipped the E saddles around on my 1982 strat since the grooves really dig into the crap metal of those saddles. Really helped with tuning stability Now that the high E string had a fat groove to sit in and the low e string sits on top of the previous narrow groove dug into the saddle.
 

IanRubbish

Member
Messages
375
Those trems hold great tune when setup right. The 6 screws should be dead nuts on the same height, if any of those screws are a different height you can get tuning issues when using the bar. If those are set the same, the nut slots are free of burrs and lubed, and you strings are set in the tuners correctly, you are in business.
 

gkoelling

Member
Messages
17,089
Got it dialed in to where I can barely even knock it a little out of tune...

  • MJT body
  • Fender American Performer neck, refinished and refretted with Jescar 57110-SS
  • Tusq nut and vintage F tuners from the 70s
  • BKP Mothers Milk pickups
  • Callaham 6-screw bridge with brass block, set floating with around 1 step of pull-up

Do you have any setup suggestions to help it stay in tune? My Strat is basically a wall hanger because it just will not stay in tune if I use the bar.

Thanks
 

wox

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,635
Do you have any setup suggestions to help it stay in tune? My Strat is basically a wall hanger because it just will not stay in tune if I use the bar.

Thanks
A properly cut nut is a big part. Tusq works very well.

As said above, getting the 6 screws the same height is important. I've also seen setups with the middle 4 backed out farther, to make the bridge almost work more like a 2 point. Not sure if there's merit to that.

I imagine the smoothness of the Callaham saddles are helping me. One of the tuning problem areas is how the string travels over the saddle and where it returns to when returning from a dive, so I'd start with making sure your saddles are smooth and clean, maybe a bit of graphite.
 

gkoelling

Member
Messages
17,089
A properly cut nut is a big part. Tusq works very well.

As said above, getting the 6 screws the same height is important. I've also seen setups with the middle 4 backed out farther, to make the bridge almost work more like a 2 point. Not sure if there's merit to that.

I imagine the smoothness of the Callaham saddles are helping me. One of the tuning problem areas is how the string travels over the saddle and where it returns to when returning from a dive, so I'd start with making sure your saddles are smooth and clean, maybe a bit of graphite.
Thanks, I'm using a Tusq nut and have Highwood saddles on it. I like the Highwood's for the design that eliminates palm shredding from height adjustment screws protruding through the top of the saddle. They also have a very smooth groove in the top of the saddle to fight the string from being caught.

After reading your earlier posts in this thread I adjusted the 6 screws as they were definitely not equal. I'm now thinking of tightening them all the way down, then loosening them each equal amounts to get them closer to being the same.

If I can even get close to the performance of your Strat I'll be real happy.

Thanks for the thread.
 

sahhas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,656
my main guitars , i use a vintage style 6-screw trem, but i only use the 2 outside screws, and then i use locking tuners to keep it in tune. it works fine for me.....
 

Wishing Wells

Member
Messages
199
I find that if I have the strings nicely warmed up, stretched, etc and use the trem a bit, then tune, they will hold the tuning pretty well.

If I haven't used the trem in 6 months and try to use it, it'll go out pretty badly.
 

jackson

Member
Messages
3,275
After too much trial and error, I believe the key to keeping a Strat in tune is stretching the crap out of the strings, rinse and repeat, although mechanical issues can also be the problem.
 




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