trem returning sharp

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by lchender, Dec 29, 2004.

  1. lchender

    lchender Member

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    Hello all! I'm wondering if anyone has experience with setting up a trem on an Ernie Ball Music Man Axis Super Sport. I'm having a bit of a strange issue. I use 10s on this guitar and the trem always seems to return sharp. As soon as I do a bend, the individual string that was just bent shifts back into tune. If I do that for each string, they will all shoot back into tune. Ernie Ball replaced the whole tremolo system and there is no binding going on at the nut. I'm stumped! I've tried floating the trem vs. setting it up more flush to the body, like they come from the Ernie Ball factory. I've tried using 4 trem springs instead of 3. I've tried offsetting the trem claw slightly to the treble side. I cannot get rid of this! I'm not talking about big dive bomb whammy use, either. All the but the teeniest trem use will return the guitar sharp. Anyone else experience this and/or know how to fix it? Thanks.
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    It's probably sticking in the nut.

    Whatever the cause is, it's almost certainly at the headstock end. If the tuning sticks in the same direction as the last trem movement, the problem is friction somewhere at the bridge end; if it sticks in the opposite direction it's at the head end.

    If bending the strings moves each in turn back to tune, it's not the bridge since that would affect all six at the same time.

    If it's not the nut, does this model have string trees? Have you tried lubing the nut grooves and (if it has them) the string trees?

    Do you have the tuning key screws (the ones that hold the buttons onto the safts) overtightened? They keys should turn easily and the spring washer under the key should be compressed but not squashed flat - this is to release backlash in the gears.

    Are you putting too much string winding on the tuner posts?
     
  3. lchender

    lchender Member

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    It's definitely not binding at the nut. I've made doubly sure that the nut slots are wide enough and the slots have been thoroughly lubed. It's not too many winds around the tuning posts. These models have Sperzel locking tuners where you don't really wrap around the post at all. You pull the string through taut, lock the string, clip it and tighten to pitch. You don't even end up with one full wrap by the time you're in pitch. No string trees on this guitar at all. So, perhaps the only thing that's left to consider is the actual locking tuners? Maybe they need replacing or adjusting or something? I know little about Sperzels. This is the only guitar I own that has them. Pretty puzzling, huh?
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    The Sperzels are excellent - I have them on my old Strat, no problems at all. They're widely regarded as among the best available.

    But - something about them is rather odd. Sperzel advise that you tune down to the note with them. This is contrary to the practice with just about every other machinehead. Personally, I don't - I tune up to the note like normal, and they seem to work fine - but if you're not doing this it's something worth trying.

    What shape did you make the nut grooves BTW? Hopefully smoothly-rounded u-shaped, not v-shaped. Not trying to insult your intelligence, just checking. It has to be either the heads or the nut.
     
  5. lchender

    lchender Member

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    I actually didn't do the nut slot work. A friend of mine who is a luthier and a tech did. I did lube the nut, though. I presume he knows what he's doing with shaping nut slots. BTW, it's only the Low E, High E, B and G strings that return sharp after trem use. Strangely, the A and D strings are unaffected. I'll try tuning down to the notes and see if that makes a difference on the offending strings. Still, it seems strange that the A and D don't misbehave.
     
  6. lchender

    lchender Member

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    OK, tried the tuning from above thing. Again, the A and D strings stay happy and in tune regardless. Using this tuning method, the Low E, High E, B and G strings come back in tune after trem use. However, as soon as I bend one of the offending 4 strings, THAT string will shoot flat. (about the same amount it used to shoot sharp after using the trem) Weird, huh?
     
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    If two strings are unaffected, you can identify it for sure - swap one of the heads where the string doesn't stick with one of the ones that does. If you're careful you'll probably be able to keep the same strings.

    If the problem moves with the head, it's the head; if it stays with the same string it's the nut.
     
  8. Kevan

    Kevan Member

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    You can also try lubing the posts and knife edges of your trem. PTFE-based (Teflon) is recommended, but any sort of lube should help- graphite, white lithium grease, etc. Hell, Satrinai uses ChapStick. :)

    You don't drive your car without oil in the engine, right? Why should you drive your trem w/o lube?
    :D
     

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