Putting string tree on EJ Strat neck, placement and precautions

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,575
So not only does it look weird to me to not have a tree, but as I hold the strings down for the shaper break angle it would create (even with the staggered tuners on an EJ) I find no difference really in the sound of the E and B. If anything, the increased break angle just gives those strings a tad more body, IMHO.

Still, placement of the tree is kinda interesting and I'm open to opinions.

It seems like Fender USA reissues and Custom Shops put it here and I'm planning on doing the same.



However, MIM Fender reissues (see below) often place it a little further away from the nut. I'm guessing this is in error, but if anyone knows a good reason to do so, feel free to let me know.



Finally, if anyone knows of any precautions I should take in drilling the tree into the nitro finished headstock, lemme know. I simply planned to measure three times, mark with pencil, and drill once -- extremely shallow, slow speed with a tiny bit, just to get the hole started. I think I'll slowly screw it in by hand from there.

Oh, and finally, I know an EJ could just as well take the 50s style, round tree. I'm going to use the 60s style because I find the 50s types bind a little.
 

Dr. Tinnitus

Member
Messages
2,843
So not only does it look weird to me to not have a tree, but as I hold the strings down for the shaper break angle it would create (even with the staggered tuners on an EJ) I find no difference really in the sound of the E and B. If anything, the increased break angle just gives those strings a tad more body, IMHO.

Still, placement of the tree is kinda interesting and I'm open to opinions.

It seems like Fender USA reissues and Custom Shops put it here and I'm planning on doing the same.



However, MIM Fender reissues (see below) often place it a little further away from the nut. I'm guessing this is in error, but if anyone knows a good reason to do so, feel free to let me know.



Finally, if anyone knows of any precautions I should take in drilling the tree into the nitro finished headstock, lemme know. I simply planned to measure three times, mark with pencil, and drill once -- extremely shallow, slow speed with a tiny bit, just to get the hole started. I think I'll slowly screw it in by hand from there.

Oh, and finally, I know an EJ could just as well take the 50s style, round tree. I'm going to use the 60s style because I find the 50s types bind a little.
I think you have this well planned out. Go ahead and drill the shallow pilot hole and your string tree will work great.
 

crazymauler

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
273
FWIW, I just finished a Warmoth build HH Strat based on one of my fav player's guitar, also starting another one based on a '63 Strat. I decided to leave the string tree off (didn't drill, didn't install one).
My HH Strat build sounds and plays fantastic without it. One interesting nugget I read here on TGP (I believe from @Husky) is that the string tree helps the E & B strings feel looser (due to a shorter effective string length) but tuning stability is slightly better without it.
My '63 Strat build will probably omit the string tree as well, despite it not being "period correct."
 

Dashface

Member
Messages
5,343
Isn’t the EJ Strat specifically designed not to use a tree though? Like the headstock is thicker or not set back as far or something?

As for placement, it is all over the map and always has been. If you look at ten pictures of a Fender headstock from different years I bet you’ll find at least eight positions :D
 

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,575
FWIW, I just finished a Warmoth build HH Strat based on one of my fav player's guitar, also starting another one based on a '63 Strat. I decided to leave the string tree off (didn't drill, didn't install one).
My HH Strat build sounds and plays fantastic without it. One interesting nugget I read here on TGP (I believe from @Husky) is that the string tree helps the E & B strings feel looser (due to a shorter effective string length) but tuning stability is slightly better without it.
My '63 Strat build will probably omit the string tree as well, despite it not being "period correct."
Interesting. Thanks for the thoughts. I had heard some of this, but for whatever reason, my Strats with a tree don't have any real issues with tuning stability, and I even float the bridge. On the flip side, I don't feel like my EJ is any stiffer on those strings than my Strats with the tree.

Seems like a wash to me, for whatever reason, with perhaps the break angle being a little benefit to the sound of those strings. But ya, I could just be hearing what I want to hear. It's not a pronounced difference.
 

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,575
Eric Johnson Strats all have staggered tuners they aren't all the same height. You don't need a string tree. Why mess it up?
I already pointed out the staggered tuners in my OP. They actually don't make the break angle as sharp as with a tree. Not even close really.

I like staggered tuners though. I have them on my other two non EJ strats, with the tree on each of them. The stagger is good for creating less friction with the tree, but still doesn't achieve the same break. Trust me.
 

Tootone

Member
Messages
5,721
My 2c..

the main advantage of having string trees is reduction of sympathetic overtones, caused by the string behind the nut vibrating. Personally, I hate this howling tone, so string trees are good in my book.

If you like "bending behind the nut" - don't fit them. Obviously this is not possible with a String tree.

Where they are positioned is dependent on the break angle you want. Also some headstocks have a deeper contour/scoop behind the nut, particularly on fat neck vintage models (at least I believe so). This means the face of the headstock is further below the playing surface of the neck.

Put some science into it and measure the break angle with a protractor. The tree should be placed where it gives the desired break angle... and you need to make that decision.

Here is a photo of my 97 Strat headstock. Two "roller" trees that have never let me down, and tuning is steady as a rock.

 

tea312

Member
Messages
639
We have similar things going as we’ve discussed on your other thread. I did use a different combo than what you have going on with yours- I have a MannMade vibrato bridge, locking tuners with staggered post. Don’t need a string tree, e string doesn’t slip and it stays in tune. I was going to use the Gotoh HAP (staggered locking tuners)- but, that one is going with another pernie neck and Spanish cedar body (daphne with sonic blue in nitro) for down the road.

Can you see if you can live without using a string tree and see how that goes (staggered post per EJ specs.) ? Otherwise, the string tree might cause a slight dent on resale if you try to move it later. But, I don’t think I can stop you as you have specific preference on how you like it. E and B string- dry set it and move the tree aligned vertically with the A string post (midpoint/center line) and see what the break looks like (this should be greater) or move it between the mid point between the A and D post.

How is the other red tortoiseshell pick guard working out for you?
 
Last edited:

Dashface

Member
Messages
5,343
My 2c..

the main advantage of having string trees is reduction of sympathetic overtones, caused by the string behind the nut vibrating. Personally, I hate this howling tone, so string trees are good in my book.

If you like "bending behind the nut" - don't fit them. Obviously this is not possible with a String tree.

Where they are positioned is dependent on the break angle you want. Also some headstocks have a deeper contour/scoop behind the nut, particularly on fat neck vintage models (at least I believe so). This means the face of the headstock is further below the playing surface of the neck.

Put some science into it and measure the break angle with a protractor. The tree should be placed where it gives the desired break angle... and you need to make that decision.

Here is a photo of my 97 Strat headstock. Two "roller" trees that have never let me down, and tuning is steady as a rock.

The classic 90s string trees are great.
 

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,575
We have similar things going as we’ve discussed on your other thread. I did use a different combo than what you have going on with yours- I have a MannMade vibrato bridge, locking tuners with staggered post. Don’t need a string tree, e string doesn’t slip and it stays in tune. I was going to use the Gotoh HAP (staggered locking tuners)- but, that one is going with another pernie neck and Spanish cedar body (daphne with sonic blue in nitro) for down the road.

Can you see if you can live without using a string tree and see how that goes (staggered post per EJ specs.) ? Otherwise, the string tree might cause a slight dent on resale if you try to move it later. But, I don’t think I can stop you as you have specific preference on how you like it. E and B string- dry set it and move the tree aligned vertically with the A string post (midpoint/center line) and see what the break looks like (this should be greater) or move it between the mid point between the A and D post.

How is the other red tortoiseshell pick guard working out for you?
Don't get the red guard until tomorrow. I'm diggin the Asher guard on it, but can't wait to compare. :). I'll let you know how it goes.
 

Tootone

Member
Messages
5,721
precautions I should take in drilling the tree into the nitro finished headstock, lemme know.
Sounds like you are exercising due care.

FWIW....

  1. Don't drill anything until you are 100% certain.
  2. Slacken Strings off enough to be taught, but not fighting you while you experiment (dry runs) with string tree positions.
  3. Once you have the desired length, check the centre line keeps the strings parallel/straight to the tuner.
  4. Mark the centre line and distance with a fine felt tipped black marker (it will rub off).
  5. Once you are happy you have the string tree in the correct position, mark through the hole with a scribe to get a fine dot/indentation on the surface. Use the scribe again to make a "centre-punch" hole, so the drill will sit in the right place and not skid across the surface.
You maybe know all this already... but better safe than sorry.

Also, if you decide to go for the modern roller type strings strees (less friction) you need 2 holes... one for the screw, and a shallow correct diameter hole for the locking key/post.

The screw hole (pilot hole) should be as deep as the screw will penetrate.
 

Hudman_1

Member
Messages
734
Isn’t the EJ Strat specifically designed not to use a tree though? Like the headstock is thicker or not set back as far or something?

As for placement, it is all over the map and always has been. If you look at ten pictures of a Fender headstock from different years I bet you’ll find at least eight positions :D
Yes. It’s designed not to need a string tree. The headstock is slightly thinner. Adding a string tree for aesthetics seems like a poor trade off for unnecessary tuning issues caused by string trees.
 

InkStained

Member
Messages
3,805
I have a 97 Strat Plus that doesn't have a string tree. Wouldn't dream of adding one.

So glad this is the sort of thing that never bothered me.
 




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