string trees - to use or not to use...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Itai, Oct 25, 2004.


  1. Itai

    Itai Guest

    can someone please explain my about string trees?...

    thanks.
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    If you don't use them, you often get buzzing in the nut and poor sustain, especially on the first and second strings, because the break angle is too shallow (even with staggered-height tuner posts).

    If you do use them, you often get poor tuning stability, especially on the D string, due to too much break angle and the string tree being another point of friction.

    I think one string tree, and staggered posts, is the best set-up on a Fender headstock.

    Like this...

    [​IMG]

    The posts are staggered 4 & 2 (G and top E lowest). If you sight across the headstock, the strings all break over the nut at the same angle, and the top two change angle at the string tree by the same amount too. Perfect... Sperzels :).
     
  3. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    On my new Chapin Stratahoula we decided to omit the tree altogether in the interest of tone.

    So far the only issue I've had is you have to be careful when you pick it up right by the nut (and somone playing it yesterday acoustically at NYCTF managed to dislodge the E string). I like it this way by I'd be lying if I could tell you why! Can't put my finger on it.

    By the way John, you really ought to fly over for the next NYCTF - you'd enjoy it for sure.


    Best, Pete.
     
  4. spaceboy

    spaceboy Member

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    yeh, that extra friction is a pain. I have mine out of the tree at the mo until i can be arsed to give the tree a little filing over - it was starting to stick quite badly...

    but i didn't know about the sustain... and it was only quite recently that my lack of sustain started bugging me... hmmm...
     
  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Try increasing the height of the tree - you'll need a different spacer and maybe a longer screw. You may be able to find a better compromise than the existing height - especially if the stock tree is flat on the headstock face, the one on the Strat in the pic is about 3/16" up off the head. I think that's the original spacer, but I might be wrong. You can also see I've tilted it over so the tree 'splits the difference' between the angles of the strings either side - that keeps the strings from hanging up on the edge nearest the nut.

    [​IMG]

    I also put a little grease under the contact points of the tree - but then I don't change strings often, so this isn't a pain; it might be if I did.
     
  6. 908SSP

    908SSP Member

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    What about using graphite string trees? Shouldn't effect tone as it's after the nut.
     
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Well, the machineheads are after the nut too, and they definitely affect the tone.

    But the only string trees I've ever thought did affect it noticeably were those horrible roller ones.

    Actually I don't think graphite (ie: graphite-loaded plastic, which is what it really is) is that great an idea even for reducing friction, on parts like this anyway - it's too soft. Hard metal is actually lower friction, especially if lubricated.

    Another bad design is the Fender 'point contact' tree that they use on the US Stds - it's OK on the plain strings, but if you use one on the D (which Fender did) the contact point is small enough to snag in the gaps between the string windings... :rolleyes:

    IMO still the best ever is the normal 'butterfly' vintage Fender type. The contact surface is smooth, slightly rounded and if set just right there are no edges or points to cause snagging. Leo got this one dead right.

    I'm not a believer in 'original is always best' though... those really are Sperzels on a '64 Strat :).

    (although it was a wreck before I got it, with the worst attempt at fitting other tuners I've ever seen... the Sperzels were the best way of fixing it)
     
  8. alderbody

    alderbody Member

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    ...that's a nice 64' headstock!

    is it yours, along with the rest of the strat?

    btw, i would go for more original klusons... :)
     
  9. alderbody

    alderbody Member

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    as you can see, i replied before reading all the thread.

    so it is a '64 and it's yours!
    and the spretzels... had to go there...

    great!

    i envy you! :)


    i also lubricate the string tree and never had problems with string breakage.

    especially if you apply some lubricant on each saddle at the point where the string touches it, you get extra protection.

    some people lubricate the nut slots, too.

    (of course it depends on the material the nut is made of)

    mine is bone and i'm one of the people who did it.

    I agree with your opinion about traditional string trees.

    i had to replace them on my Am. Std. with "originals"
     
  10. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    It's not actually 'mine' - just on permanent loan from a good friend :).

    Some idiot fitted other machineheads (I think Grover minis, from the marks left), and made the most horrible mess of it. I can't tell whether they used a blunt builder's drill or what, but they not only left great big ragged holes, from one they took out a HUGE splinter from the back. I mean really huge... then obviously just tossed the fragment :mad:. Then fitted the Grovers, and so overtightened the collars that there are imprints almost 1/16" deep on the front :eek:.

    Then some time later, someone tried to refit Kluson copies, but they didn't make any attempt to fix the woodwork... just tacked the heads across the gaping holes and wrapped the bushings with paper tape so they wouldn't fall out. The heads were so loose that if you used the trem you could actually see them moving around - which as you can imagine did wonders for the tone and tuning stability :rolleyes:.

    So... he asked me whether I could restore it. I said no, not to 'original' anyway, the damage is just too great. I recommended fitting good modern heads which would make it functional and cover as much of the damage as possible visually... and I had some Sperzels lying around.

    I fixed the large splinter just by creating another one from some scrap maple, as close as possible to the size and shape of the hole, gluing it in and smoothing it down. I also reinforced the edges of the holes and filled all the other old screw holes and minor damage with a mixture of epoxy and maple dust.

    It now looks like this...

    [​IMG]

    And no, I did not enlarge the splinter hole before filling it! :eek: It's about 1/4" deep in the middle too. How anyone could be so stupid on any guitar I don't know... but on this one it beggars belief.


    After all that I really like it as a player's guitar, and he's a collector more than a player, so he just suggested I keep a hold of it for as long as I want. I didn't charge him for the work ;).


    Itai - apologies for hijacking your thread! FWIW, this guitar stays in tune extremely well, with the original vintage trem at the other end :).
     
  11. Itai

    Itai Guest

    ;) that's ok i dont mind....

    what do u think about roler trees?
     
  12. alderbody

    alderbody Member

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    ...another apology to itai... :)

    john,

    regarding the wider tuner holes, if you wanted to fit klusons you could try adapter bushings.
    They could fill the gap, unless the "vandal" drilled the holes with a ...magnum!...

    I used the adapters for fitting klusons to my Am.Std. and they worked fine (after filing the inner holes a little cause the keyposts were slightly wider)

    btw, i got them from WD Europe (actually it's in England as you possibly know).
     
  13. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Hmmm... I never thought of that, but if you'd seen the mess before I fixed it, you're closer than you may think :eek: :).

    The holes weren't even properly round. The kind of thing caused by a big, powerful drill that 'chatters' in the hole as it's going through. I almost wish I'd taken a pic of it now, but it really was very disturbing :(.

    To be honest, I never really see the point in those 'return to Kluson' bushings, they're at best a compromise once the hole has been bored out. I think I'd even have had to dowel and drill again to get those to fit in this case too.

    I don't actually think Klusons are bad heads (I've got the originals on my '65 Jaguar, which stays in tune fine too), and I wouldn't normally change them - but given that true originality has been lost anyway, I do prefer to just fit some that are a definite upgrade. I certainly don't regard the vintage hardware as sacred either functionally or visually... although I wouldn't hack up a nice old guitar in normal circumstances.

    I don't like roller trees - not the ones I've come across anyway. They do IMO sound worse than solid ones, don't actually work any better, and look ugly as hell :).
     
  14. alderbody

    alderbody Member

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    i got your point and i really agree with you.

    although i would try to get it as close as possible to the original, cause i like things that way.

    ...different approaches to the same goal! :)

    you've done an excellent job, though! :AOK
     

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