1. The Rules have been updated regarding posting as a business on TGP. Thread with details here: Thread Here
    Dismiss Notice

Strat trem claw setup question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by drolling, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. drolling

    drolling Member

    Messages:
    6,100
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    I'm not even sure that's what it's called. Inside the cavity on back, that piece of steel with teeth to hold the springs from the trem block. I always thought that it was supposed to be parallel to the edge of the hole (90 degrees to the strings) but a buddy just told me that it should be at a slight angle. It makes sense, seeing as how each string exerts a different amount of tension, but I don't even know whether there's more tension on the high or low strings. So, which way should it be angled? Tighter on the bass side or the treble side? How many degrees? How do you guys do it? I've got the screwdriver in my hand, but I need some expert input here. Thanks.
     
  2. Kevan

    Kevan Member

    Messages:
    479
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    New Albany, OH
    Since they call me "Trem Boy", I'll give this one a shot....

    Yes- your strings pull on the trem at different tensions, BUT....since your tremolo block (the big chunk of metal that goes from the bottom of your trem to the back of the guitar for the springs to hook into) is a solid piece, the tension is equal on that block at all spring hole points. If your claw is perfectly parrallel to the block, one spring will pull equal at all 5 positions. In real life, the claw will slip along the claw screws and settle at an angle if you put the spring at the far edges, but we're talking about a perfect world. :)

    Now, about your CLAW. That's the "piece of steel with teeth to hold the springs". Yes- you *can* angle it to change the pull of the outside springs. Just remember a couple of things will happen:
    1. The 'feel' of your trem will change. It will get stiffer or lighter depending on if you tighten or loosen, respectively, the trem claw screws.
    2. The spring that has more tension applied to it will wear out quicker. It's working harder, so it will need replacing sooner. Conversely, the spring that is under less tension won't need to be replaced as often.

    You can angle your claw if you want to, but it honestly only changes the tension on the outer-most springs.
     
  3. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pleasanton, CA
    If you prefer your trem bridge to float, meaning you can pull up as well as push down, then a properly set up trem will have the claw at an angle. It isn't an arbitrary angle, though. There is a proper procedure.

    First, put new strings on the guitar. Remove the spring cavity cover. This is just about thick enough for what you are going to do.

    Place the cover between the bridge and the top of the guitar, so that the bridge is clamping the cover in place. Now, tighten the two spring claw screws, a bit, so the cover will be held firmly in place.

    Tune the guitar to concert pitch. Stretch the strings adequately, and make sure intonation is correct, and your action is the way you like it.

    That cover should still be held in place by the bridge. Remove it. You should notice that the pitch of the guitar will rise. Do not retune the guitar. Instead, slowly adjust the two spring claw screws so that the two E strings come back into tune. The inside strings will be very close, if not spot on.

    What you've done is equalized the tension of the springs against the tension of the strings, when the bridge is floating, and the guitar is tuned to concert pitch. If the strings are new, and the nut doesn't bind, the bridge should return to the correct position after trem use. Of course, if a string breaks, the guitar goes hopelessly out of tune, but that's part of the joys of a trem.
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    I think this is the first time I've ever disagreed with Jim! :)

    What Kevan says. The claw should be straight. There is no difference with regard to bridge movement or tuning stability in having it angled, because both the claw and the trem block are rigid pieces of metal, so the force of the springs is simply summed, no matter how they are stretched individually. Simple principle of engineering.

    Also, the common 'fan' of springs - which is often alleged to keep the guitar better in tune - is bogus, for the same reason. All you're doing is putting a little more tension on the outer springs than the middle one, and possibly even causing tuning problems since the outer springs will rotate slightly on their mounts as they stretch, which could lead to them sticking. The reason this method arose IMO is because some people were too lazy to put the springs on the outer hooks, which is harder because your fingers get caught against the cavity wall.
     
  5. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pleasanton, CA
    You communist!

    I've always followed this procedure, straight from Fender, and the spring claw was always at an angle. I have always used four springs, when floating the bridge. The middle slot was empty.

    Currently, I set my Strat up so that it doesn't float. The bridge is flush with the body, and I use five springs. I don't use the trem on my Strat, so I treat it as if it were blocked, even though it isn't.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    If you then readjust it so it's straight, by tightening one side exactly as much as you loosen the other, you'll get exactly the same set-up.

    Interesting... I've only got three on mine at the moment, with 11s on, and the back of the bridge floating around 1/16" above the body. I don't think they're the original springs though, so they may be stronger.
     
  7. drolling

    drolling Member

    Messages:
    6,100
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2005
    I'm going to try everything that has been suggested and see what works best for me. Your input has been very helpful. I can feel my brain growing-just trying to take it all in!
     
  8. 60Pbass

    60Pbass Guest

    Hi

    Strat setups are as different as night and day. I'm a bassist but have played guitar off and on for years using usually a strat and here's the set up I use which is courtesy of Albert Garcia (long time Fender employee who has set up 100's of strats). This is from an article I read (I think) around 92.

    Start out with no strings and no springs in the trem, the claw should be about 1" from the rear wall of the cavity.

    "preset" the bridge saddles to Fender's factory pattern, set the high e to exactly the scale length, the b slightly back, the g slightly back from the b and blend d a e slightly ahead of the g and mostly straight. This is basically to keep the strings from getting kinked in front of the saddles in case you have to move em back while setting the final intonation.

    String up lightly, but not to pitch just enough to keep tension on the tuning pegs and on the floating trem unit but loose enough so that you can move it up and down

    Go to the back of the guitar and "block" the trem block in roughly the middle of the cavity. Use tapered blocks of wood. I use the tapered pine shims that you use to shim up door jambs and cabinets. You can stack em to get the thickness you need and cut them short so they don't get in the way of finishing the rest of the setup. You want to move the tapered shim in or out till you get the rear of the trem block about 11/32nd's of an inch from the back of the cavity.

    Then tune to pitch and the tension will keep the block in place. Once at concert pitch or wherever you usually tune, you need to slide the tapered block in or out till the bottom of the bridge plate is roughly 3/32 from the top of the guitar.

    Retune if needed and capo at the first fret. Set neck relief (fender says .012 at 7th fret but I set mine to about .004 / .006 as .012 is pretty high).

    With the capo still on set the string height at the 17th fret to Fender specs (4/64th) but I set the bass e higher to 5/64th and blend the other strings down to the 4/64th setting.

    Remove the capo and check the string height at the nut. Measure at the first fret, Fender specs are between .018 and .022 between the top of the fret and the bottom of the string. It's more a matter of personal taste. You might need to raise or lower string height at the nut to suit your style, but usually you can just leave it alone.

    Adjust pick up height. Fret it at the last fret and adjust pu's to spec. For most strat's Fender says 1/8" for bass and 3/32 for treble. I lower the bass side to keep the intonation cleaner and kill overtones.

    Play the guitar and check for buzzes or fret outs and correct if needed by using neck, bridge or fret adjustments. Now is the time to set the "final intonation" when the trem is still blocked and before the springs and string-tensions get involved.

    You notice that we have made all setup adjustments with the trem blocked and no springs. This makes "sure" that the guitar plays in tune and feels right. All the basic stuff is done.

    Finally, with the block of wood still in place and holding the trem, install the springs. You loosened up the claw in the first step so the springs should go right on with very little stretching. I use .009's and 3 springs one in the middle and one at each end of the block connected to the middle 3 hooks on the claw. Use your screwdriver and start to tighten the claw slowly while watching the block of wood. I tighten both sides equal keeping the claw straight. You want to match the "spring" tension equal to the "string" tension so watch the block of wood. When the tensions are equal the block will loosen and fall out or you can "easily" pull it out. Boom you're done. On most strats the claw will be roughly 21/32nds to 5/8 of an inch from the cavity wall when you get done.

    If all is well you should have a pretty decent playing strat. You might have to fine tune the nut slots or lube em up a bit if you get creaking or binding there. I use powered graphite (aka #2 pencil lead sanded on to a plate) to lube my nut.

    If you decide you want to crank the bridge flat to the top of the guitar, just tighten the claw and reset your intonation.

    I forgot to mention that I don't know if this setup works for the newer Fender fulcrum style trem as all I use is vintage style.


    Good Luck

    Later
     

Share This Page