Strat with Trem: When string bending the others detune

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by 5er Driver, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. 5er Driver

    5er Driver Member

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    I use .010 -.046 strings, bend up a full step, and don’t use the whammy bar. At the moment the trem is unblocked, has 3 springs, and is about 1/8“ off the deck. As I said in the thread title, when I bend a string or 2 the others detune to where I can’t play a chord that’s in tune. I really don’t want to block the trem. To stiffen it up I suppose I need to add 2 more springs. However, I don’t want the action to change up or down and still want the trem an 1/8” off the deck. So when I fit the 2 extra springs do I just adjust the claw to compensate for the change in action? I’d hate to have to adjust the height of the individual saddles………...Will the trem then be stiff enough that string bending will not detune the other strings?

    Thanks.
     
  2. JimLamme

    JimLamme Member

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    Yeah you can add two springs and back out the trem claw to compensate. It won't detune so much but still will to a small extent.

    Btw, 1/8" seems like a quite lot for a trem to be floating. How many steps would you be able to pull up (if you catch what I mean)?
     
  3. 5er Driver

    5er Driver Member

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    Thanks Jim, it came set up that way from the Custom Shop. I figured the 1/8" was normal. I don't use the whammy so I couldn't tell you for sure, but probably a step and a half.
     
  4. AudioWonderland

    AudioWonderland Member

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    More springs won't help. String tension = Spring tension no matter how many springs you use.. A floating trem will pull up when you bend a string. Just fact of life. If you are not using the trem I would recommend blocking it
     
  5. Don A

    Don A Silver Supporting Member

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    I set my trem so that it's almost flat to the body. I use a guitar pick between the bridge and body to set it up. This way, it seems that the strings have less of a mechanical advantage on the bridge and it doesn't move as much when I bend. Also. when the bridge does move, I can hold it down without the fear of the pitch going too high.
     
  6. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    This would seem to be the case but I have found otherwise. I avoid this detuning issue with a Floyd equipped guitar by using 5 heavy springs. Totally better.
     
  7. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    You're right, and adding more or stiffer springs does in fact help this.

    This is true for static spring tension, but once we look at dynamic tension, things indeed change.

    Imagine the extremes - assume you could use one single spring which could be adjusted well enough to hold the bridge where you want with the strings under static tension. Assume then that when you bend a particular note one full step up, that spring extends .5 inches to match the increased load.

    Then switch to five springs and adjust to the same position at static tension. Bend that string, you increase the tension to the same degree, but now that increase is distributed among five springs instead of one. Now the springs' length (and therefore bridge position) will only extend about .1 inches.

    That's not actually completely accurate, as coil springs don't have a constant force/deflection ratio along their travel, and you may instead end up with something like .15" deflection in the end, relative to the .5" single spring scenario, but you get the point. Fewer lighter springs lean slightly toward the constant tension clock spring model, while more or stiffer springs shift further away from that.

    My question however, is why do you really want the plate off the body. I know it's all personal preference, but in my experience I've never seen much use for this on a Fender style trem. Unless your body is recessed for a Floyd-type trem, you don't get enough increase in pitch to sneeze at, and these tremolos are typically not useful for much more than a mild vibrato anyway. I typically set Fender style trems hard against the body, with the strings adjusted to keep it flush up to about a full step bend in most areas. This still leaves it loose enough to use the tremolo just fine.

    Of course I understand that some people really like the neutral feeling when they want to wiggle the bar. If you want it floating though, this is just something you'll have to learn to live with, plain and simple. You can stiffen it up by adding more springs, and this helps a bit but doesn't make the problem go away entirely. The Trem-Setter is another option, but this creates a detent in the center and you loose that neutral feeling as well.

    It's not a Floyd Rose, so I say set it firmly back, enough to not lift when you bend, but still be usable (I prefer fewer springs in this case). If you really want it off the top though, you can add more springs and loosen the claw, but you'll still be left with some tuning instability as you bend.
     
  8. Pickaxe

    Pickaxe Member

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    Does anyone remember the Tremsetter? I had one on an early 90's Strat Plus and I remember it was pretty effective.
     
  9. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    I use the Wilkinson Convertible bridges on three of my trem equipped guitars, some of the reason being what the OP has described.

    But a lot of players just work with it, through a combination of piloting the bar and actually using it more. The best example I can think of is David Torn, who's worked so hard and well with it, that it's basically in his hand at all times and an active element of the production of each note and chord. So if he doesn't want the chord tones sagging, he restrains the bridge with an upward pressure. But then he's also added layer upon nuance upon myriad of other expressive techniques using the bar. Check out some of the Youtube clips of this sublime and genius musician. Lots of players do this in part, but it takes a hell of a lot of work.

    Taking a six screw trem down to the deck and raising the saddles is another tactic, but then you've lost the float and a huge percentage of what makes the bridge unique and expressive.

    The Tremsetter is aimed at helping with this, but after trying them pretty adamently on a couple of Strats, for me they just add too much resistance and additional odd tension, and aren't suited to me.
     
  10. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    IMO, the "right" solution is to practice bending the other strings slightly to compensate as the strings go flat. That said, I've installed Tremol-No units on most of my trem-equipped guitars and they'll all eventually get the treatment.
     
  11. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

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    you might find me somewhere.
    if you're gonna play a strat w/a floating, moving bridge,
    you can definitely learn how to compensate for pitch by using the bar
    (and, your LH) to "fight" the fact that the bridge comes up as you're LH-bending.
    it's a technique, & techniques can be learned, w/practise.
    i think lotsa folks use such techniques;
    i know that i do!

    if the bar is not, to some degree, floating, it will necessarily
    be more difficult to do this kinda compensating,
    especially when the initial LH-bending becomes more extreme.

    if you don't love the bar & its effects at all, just block it:
    there seem to be quite a few ways to achieve this
    w/trem-setters, certain bridge replacements, etc.

    happy holidays, y'all!
    dt / spltrcl
     
  12. Scott Auld

    Scott Auld Staff Member

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    Lots of very good avice in this thread, from techno devices to technique.

    I want to understand the OP's question exactly:

    Is your complaint that after bending a string with your left hand, that the other strings are detuned to the point that you can't play a chord in tune WHILE YOU ARE STILL BENDING or AFTER THE BEND IS RELEASED?
     
  13. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

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    huh..... good point!
    maybe i've/we've misunderstood the 5erDiver's question?
    dt / spltrcl
     
  14. Scott Auld

    Scott Auld Staff Member

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    Most likely, you understood him correctly. But I saw the possibility of two meanings and wanted to clarify. :)
     
  15. mc5nrg

    mc5nrg Supporting Member

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    The effect on the other strings with a floating trem is normal...heavier strings and more springs will minimize the effect.
     
  16. kevinhifi

    kevinhifi Member

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    Yeah, I'm curious what he's asking/how he's playing too. I like to leave open strings ringing while bending one or two of the higher strings, and that's where I run into this issue. I guess that scenario could be considered playing a "chord" that does indeed go out of tune as you bend. I put on 5 springs and tightened the claw down to where the bridge is just barely floating over the body...just like one of the suggestions above. It works well to reduce the detuning, but the tremolo system is stiffer and acts more like a bigsby. It's a worthwhile compromise for me.
     
  17. GASattack

    GASattack Member

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    Fenders recomendation is in fact 1/8" of an inch when you float the bridge.

    I just did a setup on one to Fender specs, and that is their spec.

    Kevin
     
  18. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    this is the part that doesn't make any sense.

    if you don't use the bar, there's no reason for the bridge to be floating, and plenty of reasons to put it flat.
     
  19. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Ha! I completely missed that first sentence!

    Why are we even having this discussion then - put five springs on, screw the claw down hard. Why in the world would you ever want the thing left floating?
     
  20. kevinhifi

    kevinhifi Member

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    While we're on this subject, and I apologize if this is a hijack. But I do think this relates to the overall discussion initiated by the OP.

    What are peoples' thoughts on the effect, if any, on the guitar's sound when a "floating" bridge is in tight contact with the body versus floating. I have 5 springs on and don't really use the tremolo much. I have the claw tightened enough to keep strings from detuning during bends but not so tight that the bridge is actually in contact with the body. There is a slight gap. I've convinced myself that I like the way it sounds with the gap. Any truth to this?
     

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