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Strat trem pulling strings sharp

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by rhyming_orange, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. rhyming_orange

    rhyming_orange Member

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    New Strat owner here, and generally very happy with it (I’ve been a tele player for years, so this is new territory for me), but the tremolo arm imposes a quirk I haven’t been able to solve.

    I like to use the whammy bar for subtle vibrato, and it works well for that - or would, if it didn’t consistently pull the high e and b strings sharp every time I use it. The rest of the strings stay in tune very well, save for those. I’ve got some Big Bends Nut Sauce, and I dutifully applied it to the nut slots, but it doesn’t seem to have solved the problem of the strings going sharp.

    Is it likely to be a problem with the nut slots not being cut right, or the tremolo mechanism (springs, etc?).
     
  2. RicOkc

    RicOkc Member

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  3. david57strat

    david57strat Member

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    Congratulations on your new Strat purchase!

    I had the exact same issue, for a long time, with my '96 Standard Strat. I used the liquid graphite, etc. on the nut and it helped, for a short while, then the problem persisted and just drove me nuts.

    About ten years ago, I finally bit the bullet and had my luthier fabricate and install a slip stone nut, and Fender locking tuners, and I've never had the issue since, no matter how I bend strings or use the bar.

    [​IMG]

    It stays very solidly in-tune, and now I can enjoy playing the guitar, rather than yanking strings back into place, after doing bends, or using the bar : -).

    This past September, I installed a set of EMG DG20 pickups, and am getting amazing sounds, noise-free!!!!. No more 60 cycle hum.

    [​IMG]

    All these years, I've only been able to enjoy positions 2, and 4, on the 5-position pickup switch, in this room, no matter how I wired stuff, or what I used, to reduce the hum, electronically; but now, everything works, and smooth as glass. I have this incredible tonal flexibility that I've never had before, with this one. So many new possibilities.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  4. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    Try backing out the tremolo spring on the treble side just a bit. Setting up a floating bridge just right sometimes requires some fiddling.
     
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  5. david57strat

    david57strat Member

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    Here’s an interesting video on benefits of setting up a floating bridge on a traditional Strat tremolo to stay in tune.

    Being able to reach absolute, predictable pitches, while bending up on the bar, would be priceless, for me.

    Right now, mine is decked, so I don’t have that option.

     
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  6. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    I have seen that video before but have never seen the need to go to such exremes. If it works for him, great.
     
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  7. sturge

    sturge Member

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    If it's only 1 or 2 strings that go out, I would focus on the nut slot, tuners and string tees vs bridge end.

    Lot's of info on how to set things up properly but it starts with having good equipment. Not long after finding my '73 in a pawn shop way back in 1978, I replaced the cheap stock 'cast' trem block/saddle assembly with a better quality Wilkenson unit which was machined from a solid piece of steel. Also experimented with setup, how many springs to use, etc. Eventually I installed locking tuners (Sperzels) and it's been super reliable. I've gigged with it for years and it's rock solid. A few years ago I decided to change from 'floating' to 'blocked' which still allows me to use downward trem but it won't go out of tune if I break a string in the middle of a lead.
     
  8. macatt

    macatt Member

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    Angling the claw makes no difference. The bridge plate is a solid piece. It moves as a single unit no matter if there is more spring tension on one side than the other.

    Angling the claw to get specific intervals on different strings is B.S.

    S Mac
     
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  9. macatt

    macatt Member

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    It's the nut that made the difference.
    As long as the strings are wrapped around the posts properly and are stretched properly, regular standard tuners won't slip.
    The only advantage to locking tuners is somewhat quicker re-stringing and fewer wraps are necessary.

    S Mac
     
  10. macatt

    macatt Member

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    I repete.
    This business of angling the claw to get specific intervals is BULL$#!%.

    S Mac
     
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  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Member

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    .

    Did you upsize strings on this guitar from 9s to 10s? Could be binding in the nut slots.



    .
     
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  12. david57strat

    david57strat Member

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    It seems to work for Jeff Beck, and some others. You're more than welcome to your opinion, though, brother.
     
  13. david57strat

    david57strat Member

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    I disagree, there. Aside from the greater ease of changing strings, with locking tuners, the different break angle from the strings over the nut, staggered tuning pegs/posts (on the locking tuners) obviated the need for using string trees ever again.

    I don't need to use them at all now - and now I can get away with it. I like that. I see that as an added benefit - but not necessarily strictly for tuning stability.

    I've been properly wrapping my strings around the posts and stretching them religiously, for almost forty years (learned that early in the game), with each string change, so that wasn't the issue, for me.

    Strings, binding at the nut, is an issue for some of the less expensive Strats, though (and one where they cut corners, parts-wise), and mine was one of them.

    I also noticed that they used cheaper pots, and less (if any) shielding in them.

    I only paid about three hundred bucks for mine, back in 1996. I spent some bucks, gradually making improvements on it, but they were worthwhile expenses, for me, since I still love the guitar and play it all the time, to this day.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  14. macatt

    macatt Member

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    I agree about the break angle and the (in most cases) elimination of string trees.
    What you are referring to is the advantage of staggered tuning posts.
    The fact that locking tuners lock is not in itself relevant to string break angle.
    It just so happens that most locking tuners are also staggered.

    S Mac
     
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  15. david57strat

    david57strat Member

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    Your points are well-taken, and duly noted. Thanks for clarifying them, brother.

    :aok :aok
     
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  16. macatt

    macatt Member

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    Oh really.
    Where did you read that Jeff Beck angles the claw on his Strat to achieve specific intervals when he pulls up on the trem?

    It's not an opinion. It's a fact that the bridge plate is one ridged piece. It moves as one, and angling the claw having more spring tension on one side than the other cannot make any difference.
    The string diameters do however determine what the intervals will be.

    For instance with a typical set of .010s:
    If you set the trem height so that the 3rd G string rises 1 1/2 steps, The 2nd B will raise 1 step and the 1st e will raise 1/2 step; regardless of the claw angle.

    I've been doing guitar tech work on Strats since the 60s.
    Believe what YOU want.

    S Mac
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  17. rhyming_orange

    rhyming_orange Member

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    OP here. Thanks for all the insight, everyone - I *did* go from 9s to 10s on this, so the nut could really be the culprit here. I'll probably take it by my local luthier and see what he can do, because I've never felt comfortable filing nuts (even though I do most other setup work myself, that's one of those things I'm bound to screw up the first time).
     
  18. david57strat

    david57strat Member

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    I thought I had encountered additional videos, besides the one I posted of Mr. Verheyen's where the altered claw, combined with the modified spring tension (but with the spring tension in the back, being the same as the string tension up front, keeping them in-balance), and fewer springs in the back, did the trick. This is the only one that I have found for sure, that makes that inference.

    Embarrassing - I guess I just heard what I wanted to hear. I've always wanted to end up with a floating bridge that could stay beautiully in-tune, on my Strat, regardless of string bending or tremolo bar technique.

    I don't have any reason to doubt that you know your stuff, macatt - especially now that you mention that you've been doing tech work on Strats for forty years. That leads me to feel a lot differently about your views. A lot of people have no experience (as do I) in technical work, but have plenty of opinions.

    Sometimes, those opinions are based on video reviews/tutorials, but not hands-on experience.

    I apologize if I misjudged you, in that regard.

    If you say you have forty years of experience doing tech work on Strats, then that's forty more years' worth of experience than I have, and I'm not afraid to openly admit it.

    Although I've been playing for nearly forty years, I've always had precision tech work done by a professional luthier, and I've always felt that precision guitar work should be done by an expert - not me, for the best results.

    The only "work" I've done on this Strat was replacing those pickups; but all of that was pre-wired, so it was pretty impossible to screw that up - and as it turned out, it worked, and is still working beautifully, as I hoped it would.

    I'm also noticing that this seems to be the third time you've mentioned the bent claw making no difference, whatsoever, in the bend intervals, when bending up. Wish I had caught that the first two times around.

    Again, my apologies to you.

    Now, I have to ask.

    1. Is having the bridge floated on my Standard Strat going to cause tuning problems, even using the .10s you mentioned, and set up the way you mentioned (obviously, with no claw modifications), or does that depend on the kind of block that was originally installed on my Strat?
    2. Is there no way to get those predictable exact string bends that you mentioned above, without going from .09s to .10s, or is this simply another adjustment that can be made on the guitar, while staying with the lighter strings? I would prefer not having to adjust to the beefier strings; but if that's the only way my guitar would stay in tune, with this new set-up, then I would do that, without hesitation - and I would have the nut cut/modified, to accommodate the thicker strings.
    3. If Mr. Verheyen is accomplishing this with his Strats, is there something he's not telling us, or was he just lucky?
    I keep hearing mixed opinions on this.
    1. Some swear that it is impossible to keep a Strat in-tune, if you float the once-decked bridge, on a vintage tremolo guitar.
    2. Others say it's entirely possible, depending on how you set it up, as well as the quality of materials currently on your guitar.
    3. Still others say, even though it's possible, it's a big ask, and if you want a floating trem on a Strat, that's actually going to stay reliably in-tune, then buy one that already has it, and don't mess with the guitar you have (with the "vintage" tremolo bar). In other words, leave well-enough alone.
    How do you opine on this?

    I hope there are no hard feelings. I really want to learn, so I'm asking you, the guy with four decades' worth of experience.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  19. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    Notes on the claw position-
    As pointed out it is a rigid structure, angling will make no difference except for changing the overall tension a little, which may be all you need to do.

    Now if you really angled the claw and were able to totally relax the spring pressure on one side you could actually build in progressive tension to the motion of the arm. Outside of the Temsetter system which offers a similar principle over a portion of the range I don't think anybody has done this..perhaps for good reason.;)
    To get pull up to a specific tone you have to hard stop the assembly where the tension/tuning demands that it be, usually that means tuning to your desired target at the point where you hit the deck, with strats. Then balancing float level. There is not that much range to work with.
     
  20. Ayrton

    Ayrton Member

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    I am not talking about angling the claw. I am however talking about equalizing the tension across the width of the bridge. Getting optimal performance out of a floating bridge is about finding the sweet spot between the strings pulling in one direction and the springs pulling in the other. This includes left to right as well as front to back.

    The OP changed string gauges, so the pull on the bridge is different. This will require adjusting the spring claw.
     

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