Floating Stratocaster bridges, more sustain?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by ksandvik, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. ksandvik

    ksandvik Member

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    I have locked down the two bridges on my two Strats mostly as it's hard to keep a Strat in tune using the tremolo with no locking tuners or locked nuts like a floating tremolo. So one might as well just lock them down.

    Anyway, it's been nagging me for a while now if I also removed some of the sustain by locking down the bridge to the body. Should I have it up a couple of millimeters from the body to get more sustain as that's really one of the nice things with Strat-like guitars and it would be a shame to dampen this.

    Sorry if this has been asked before.
     
  2. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    more likely a decked bridge will have more sustain
     
  3. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    If one is set up properly tuning shouldn't be a problem.

    On my current Strat I have the plate to the body for the first time out of many Strats I've had over decades.
    I added two springs to make it 5 and the bridge is on the body with just enough pressure to keep it there but no more.
    The two added springs took it there without any adjustment to the claw.

    I have more sustain and resonance than I had with it floating.
     
  4. gatornavy

    gatornavy Member

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    I've noticed more sustain floating, but each guitar is different. You'll get plenty of people saying one option is better for sustain than the other. Although mine is floating, I also have installed 5 Raw Vintage springs, so that may make a lot of difference too.
     
  5. Lespaulsignature 74

    Lespaulsignature 74 Silver Supporting Member

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    I have two Strats, one is not actually decked but the Tech who works on my guitars put a small block of mahogany between the block and body so I guess it's technically decked! My other Strat has a floating bridge, both Strats have Callaham steel trem blocks, Callaham vintage bent steel saddels and (5) five Raw Vintage springs, I honestly do not notice any difference in sustain.
     
  6. gmann

    gmann Member

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    I think you get more sustain with the trem plate flush to the body. I've never really experimented with it both way so I can't say for sure. Mine have always been flush. I know my 2 hardtails sustain like crazy.
     
  7. phel21

    phel21 Member

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    Unless we're talking about an antique relic, I'd set up a strat with:

    - Staggered locking tuners (I like Sperzels) and loose the string-tree(s)

    - Fit a Graptec Tusq nut

    That should take care of the basics wrt tuning stability. In some cases I have also used graphite-based saddles (also Graphtec) which further contribute to tuning stability and even adds sustain for some bridge models. These saddles are often referred to as "string savers" for obvious reasons.

    Finally install a Tremol-no to access hardtail-territory. Being able to lock/unlock the bridge quickly enables drop tuning and steel-bends. In locked position it also adds sustain similar to what you get with a tremolo-bridge resting against the body.
     
  8. David Garner

    David Garner Member

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    I have a tremol-no on mine, and I don't notice a difference when it's locked versus floating.

    I also disagree that you can't keep one in tune floating -- I also don't notice a difference there. The difference, and the reason I use the tremol-no, is precisely what phel21 says. I can stay in tune on compound bends, etc. That's the only reason.

    If you're having tuning issues, I'd guess the nut is the problem. Barring that, I'd bet you haven't set the trem up right (you need to equalize the spring tension against the string tension for it to work properly, and that takes some trial and error because every guitar is different).
     
  9. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    If using the bar, the strat stays in tune better with a floating setup. No locking tuners or nuts needed!!!!! Learn to string/tune well and that eliminates 95% of tuning problems. Best tuners are the old vintage style. So easy and hold well.

    There is MORE sustain when decked or even more when blocked. The energy is coupled. Easy to test and see for yourself. Pop low E on a floater, then pull bar up and tune E down to same pitch, pop it and hear and feel the note with more authority, ringing longer.
     
  10. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    I dislike floating trems. I plan on checking out the Super Vee stuff though. Supposed to be real nice. Superior tuning stability, superior sustain. We'll see.
     
  11. 11justin22

    11justin22 Member

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    I've had them both ways, decked defiantly has more sustain. But I like the sound of floating better
     
  12. vibrasonic

    vibrasonic Member

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    I have mine decked. More sustain i think. No tuning problems when i use the Big Bens
    nut sause, great stuff.
     
  13. robertkoa

    robertkoa Member

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    I have a floating Wilkinson and when I blocked it completely I noticed an increase in bottom end and sustain, better pitch stability.

    Not how long it sustains but how long it sustains at or very near full volume.

    A much more important statistic , IMO.
     
  14. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    I have a V50 on a Carvin Bolt. Complete POS. Blocked it and it still won't stay in tune. Yes I know how to set-up a floating trem. Considered the V400, but will likely try the Super Vee instead.
     
  15. rrhea

    rrhea Member

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    The only reason for a floating tremolo, imo, is if you can really use one (and enjoy using it). If you are not doing Jeff Beck craziness or true vibrato with the bar (vibrato always rises in pitch, then lowers to the original note), then there really is no need for having it set up to float.

    I love floating trems and have all mine set up this way, and tuning stability is just fine. I actually like the tone difference with a float versus decked, and this is more the original Strat sound that Leo and crew intended. Not that that matters, really, but people do forget that Strat trems were designed to float from the get go.

    RR
     
  16. Honk

    Honk Member

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    Well you say there's no reason, then you give a damn good one: sound! I was just messing with this stuff yesterday. I tend to prefer a fixed bridge from a playing point of view (so my finger vibrato doesn't get soaked up, strings don't go flat during bends etc.), so a partsocaster I built a few years ago has been decked hard since I assembled it. I never even screw in an arm, so why have it floating, right? But I was looking it over, wondering why its primary tone wasn't very Stratty, more generic and unplaceable, like an accent you can't pin down, and decided to set it up floating. Immediately more of that Stratty, twangy shape to the notes. Less contact between bridge and body thins it out, not in a crappy way, but in an archetypal Strat way.

    Currently wondering if I can have the best of both worlds, blocking both sides of the 'inertia' block to hold the tremolo at an angle: floating sound with fixed stability. Probably not. :bonk

    BTW, original poster, there are some amazing videos on YouTube about keeping a Strat in tune with any amount of tremolo abuse.
     
  17. ksandvik

    ksandvik Member

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    Thanks, as I expected there was no definite answer. I might as well keep the Strat bridges locked to the body as they are fined-tuned to my playing needs and how I approach the neck.

    I agree that locking tuners and the right lubricating or lubricated nut is the way to go with crazy tremolo use. For moderate one, maybe those are not needed.
     
  18. Matt L

    Matt L Supporting Member

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    Same here. I prefer the tone and feel when floating. I'll grab my Tele or Gibsons if I want ultimate sustain.
     
  19. jackson

    jackson Supporting Member

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    That's a great question. Conventional wisdom is that you get more sustain if you tighten everything down, but I believe you get more sustain with the floating trem. When it's floating, the whole assembly seems to become more of an extension of the strings, and with the springs and movement I think the whole assembly vibrates sympathetically with strings and helps them sustain the vibrations. You can hit a note, and move the trem slightly, and it seems like you can extend the note, if that makes sense. But, you really have to know what you're doing to keep it in tune. But, watching Jeff Beck play an entire concert with the same guitar, and never touching the tuners, really opened my eyes and ears. It everything is working right on the guitar (mainly the nut), and you spend a lot of time tuning and stretching the strings, and repeating that, it's doable.
     
  20. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    Raise your action, use at least .010-.046 sets and lower the bass sides of the neck (more) and middle(less) pickups. Generic advice for stratocaster setups assuming regular single coils.
     

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