Strat two point trem bridge height setting

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Tone, Apr 25, 2005.


  1. Tone

    Tone Member

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    Hi guys.
    I was wondering how everyone goes about setting the height of the two point trems that come on the Am Deluxes. Mine is at stock height now, but I'm going to be raising action a little, and thought It would be a good time to find out, incase I want to experiment with other setup heights and feels.

    I know for Les Pauls, most say that a lower tailpiece produces better tone and sustain. Is it the same type of principal for these strat bridges? And while I'm at it, what are the guidelines for setting the six screw vintage type bridge heights?

    Thanks!
    :dude
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I set them both the same. Carefully adjusted so that when the bridge is pulled fully back, it rests exactly flat on the body. This is the lowest setting. A common mistake is to overtighten the screws (especially on the 6-screw bridge) so the front edge is pulled down too hard. This actually causes the back edge to rise as the angle just behind the pivot holes presses into the body - this puts severe stress on the bridge and body in serious cases it will damage the finish.

    (Worst of all is people who want to 'tighten down the bridge as much as possible', so they crank down those screws then fit five springs all done up to the max, or even worse, force a block into the back. I've actually seen screw heads snapped off like this.)

    I set them the same way no matter whether the bridge is going to stay flat or be allowed to float, the pivot setting is the same. It's quite easy to get right - slacken off the strings a bit so the bridge rests on the body at the back. Then raise the screws so that the front edge comes off the body. The tighten them down again carefully so the bridge is just pulled flat and the back edge doesn't rise - on 6-screw bridges, I start with the outer two, then bring the middle four down until they just touch the plate but don't press down on it (you don't need to leave them higher as sometimes advised, that doesn't help).

    Then you can set the float position to how you want it by adjusting the springs, and you shouldn't need to touch the pivot screws again.

    Almost every Strat I've ever worked on will get the right range of action height by just adjusting the bridge saddles after this BTW (sometimes with a very thin shim in the neck pocket, but not usually) - they're really very consistent.
     
  3. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I just recently bought a AM deluxe and went thru hours of experimenting because normally i use strats with vintage bridges. The AM bridge is an entirly different animal. Set flat as John described i thought i may have gotten a bad piece of wood. Harsh and thin to the point that i was horribly regretting my $1k purchase. I tried everything but it just sounded horrible. Then i discovered the secret to these bridges....they sound infinatly better floating unlike the vintage bridges which sound great flat. This literally took it from harsh and thin to a normal good strat tone. however, not wanting to deal with floating and tuning instability especially when a string breaks onstage, i tightened the claw till the rear of the bridge just BARELY rested on the body. Just enough to create a stop point and not a bit more. I now get the sound of a floating bridge w/o the tuning problems. I also happen to be a believer in lower downpressure at the bridge. So i raised the front up a bit more, probably close to 1/8", then dropped the saddle till the action was the same. The guitar now sounds so much better with all this that i'm not only no longer disappointed, i love it ! The difference is nite and day. Rounder, fuller, less harsh, springy, all the good stuff.
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I actually think all Strat bridges sound much better floating. I know that this is contrary to popular wisdom, but that's what I hear (and I've set hundreds of them up, both ways). I just think they sound far deeper, fuller and richer like that.

    I still start with them set flat even though they'll end up floating though - I just find it gives the best stability - if you set up a 6-screw bridge with the front of the bridge raised like that, and dive down fairly far with the arm, the bridge slips down the screw posts and ends up who-knows where when you let go again. The reason for setting them dead flat is so the movement is constrained by the screw heads and the body. It's not important with the 2-point trems of course, since the bridge sits in grooves in the posts.

    I do tend to prefer higher downpressure at the bridge though (and I'm speaking as an ex-Jaguar player, this is one of the reasons it's ex ;).) I also prefer the stiffer trem feel when the saddles are high and the springs tighter, than the other way round.

    Who'd have thought there are so many ways to adjust such a simple piece of engineering? :)
     
  5. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I agree to and extent, but all i'm saying is that a vintage can be set flat w/o a lot of tone loss like a AM bridge. And if you set it to not pull up for tuning stability then the plate is flat on the body because you can't raise the front like you can with a bridge whose plate screws are of the V notch variety like an AM. the only other option is to block it from going up with something. what i used to do is screw 2"x1" piece of pickguard material or the like under the springs so that it made contact with the block at a point where the plate would be off the body. then like i mentioned with the AM bridge, tighten the claw till the block is barely stopping there as to not affect the tone much. That way you get most or all of the tone benefits of floating bridge with the stability of a bridge resting on the top. This method and the one with the AM bridge with the front lifted and rear of the plate just stopping both rely on the theory that the smaller the area of the bridge plate touching and the least pressure on whatever is stopping it from pulling up make for the closest tone possible to a floater. In short, i think we pretty much agree except on the downpressure issue, but i think thats far more subjective.
     
  6. Tone

    Tone Member

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    Thanks, John and Dazco!
    Do you guys happen to have a picture of what your two point or 6 screw style setups look like when you're done?

    I'm still reading through your posts to put together a little step by step for me to follow and go through. I think I got it down for the 6 screw style, but not sure where I should start with the two point trem style. I know most people will say to just leave it alone, or take it to a tech, but I really want to experiement with different heights and feels. I don't like my action too low, so my saddles were raised up a bit from stock.

    What should be my first couple steps for setting up the two point style?

    Thanks!:dude
     
  7. Taller

    Taller Silver Supporting Member

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    I own 3 modern American Strats - have set them all up with 10's, and I haven't felt the need to mess with the bridge height screws at all. [floating bridge]
    I've adjusted the spring claw screws, truss rod, and saddle heights, but not the trem bridge height screws.
    I'm not saying you shouldn't mess with them, I'm just offering my opinion that I have made adjustments to the strings and action to my liking without having to mess with the two fulcrum screws.
    Here's a link to Fender's Mr. Gearhead setup guide for Stratocasters.:)
     
  8. dazco

    dazco Member

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    Well, there's no need to do anything other than just set the action to where it's what you like. But the fact is that if you don't try all these things you may be missing out on a strat thats either a better playing or better sounding or both. if you're happy with it and don't care or worry whether it could be better, more power to you. All i'm saying is that the tone and feel of the guitar can often be changed a lot, even drastically just by finding the sweet spot in how the bridge is set up, not to mention the infinate possibilities withing the balance between the bridge, truss rod, and tilt options. You can mess with all this forever and not find any difference, then accidentally happen upon a setting that makes go WOW in either tone or playability or both. It took me years to learn this and figure it out, yet it still takes time for me to find each guitar's sweet spot. but once i do often they will go from a "i like this strat" to a "this is the ultimate strat". It really can take them from average to great just by finding the perfect setup.

    of course all this assumes your strat isn't already right where your preference is. But the chance it's set up to the best tone and feel for you is unlikly....possible, but unlikely.
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I totally agree. Not just Strats - although they do seem to be more infinitely-adjustable (and sensitive) than many guitars, which may be why they're so popular with so many very different players and styles. I've been setting guitars up professionally for about twenty years now - and I didn't learn this immediately either - so I've got better at knowing how to get to the sweet spot more quickly, but even then it can be tricky, and makes a surprisingly large difference when (if ;)) you do find it. There are still 'good' and 'less good' ones, but I think a larger part of the difference than many people realise is in the set-up.

    It's extremely complicated and to do with the way all the parts of the guitar (and the strings - it's often gauge- and type-dependent too) resonate together.

    That's also why I do not believe in measuring anything, ever - except as a reference to return the same guitar to a particular good setup. All guitars are different.

    The only reason there are 'rules' like the setting of the 6-screw bridge screws is when doing it other ways causes big problems. With the 2-screw bridge there's no 'right' setting, and the only wrong one is if the underside of the bridge binds against the body as the bridge moves back. I still prefer the tone and feel of them low, but that's not the only way. Actually I prefer the PRS bridge a little lower than factory, but not fully down... the six screws there are grooved like the 2-post Fender, not like the 6-screw one.
     
  10. dazco

    dazco Member

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    Absolutly. One of the things i constantly see people talking about that just makes me shake my head is when they ask where to set the string height, and inevitably someone will cite fender's recommendation. It's wacked ! First, like you i set things by feel and sight. Going by measurments would be akin to reading a "how to" sex book describing how to insert your goober as you're attempting the act.:D No measurment means a thing till all other factors are exactly as they need to be for that measurment to be valid ! And even then it's gonna give you fender's idea of what a good action is ! On string height i set the 2 E strings to thier minimum height for minimum acceptable buzz and lack of fretting out on the hi E, then visually sight the string plane and set the other to follow the radius basically. I then get further involved, but basically thats it and worlds different from any "handbook". I think the biggest mistake people make in setting up an axe is to ask and use measurment advice from others, because each guitar is different as is the feel and tone preference of the person asking. Experiment is the key word, and it ain't rocket science like some seem to think.
     
  11. Tone

    Tone Member

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    Thanks a lot you guys!
    I'm going to start "Experimenting" with different setups. :) John, thanks for stating that there is no wrong way to set the two point bridge! I think that's what I was trying to ask, but it did'nt actually come out anything close to those words. :) I guess that's what starting threads late at night does to you.:dude

    One more thing. Anyone got a suggestion for rusty saddle screws, and rust in the chrom chips of bridges?

    Thanks!:dude
     
  12. m.z.

    m.z. "Musician" /Gear Hoarder

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    Bump the old thread to life!!!! 😱
     

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