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tuning stability improvements with strat tremelo

sethmeister

Member
Messages
2,105
After years of dealing with it I've finally decided to do something about my 91 American Std. strat going out of tune every time I use the trem. I don't hammer on the thing, I just use it for adding vibrato and sometimes lowering a note by a half step or so but thats enough to alter the tuning.

Would changing to an LSR roller nut and locking tuners solve this problem?

How will the LSR nut affect tone? Will it accomdate size 11 or 12 strings?

How about a graphite (graphtech) nut?

Any recommendations on which locking tuners to use?

Thanks folks...
 

Structo

Member
Messages
9,554
First make sure your nut is properly set up.
That is, the strings don't bind or the slots are too deep.
I haven't personally heard many good things about the LSR nuts.
I do use the graphtech nut on several of my strats and they seem to be decent.
Also there is a product out there called Nut Sauce.
Yeah, no kidding.
Made byBig Bends.
It is like vasoline with graphite and Teflon in it.
Put a little on the properly sized nut and on the string bearing part of the saddles.
I also use Sperzel locking tuners.
They are staggered so you don't need string trees.
But if you already have the trees don't worry you don't have to take them off but they may add to the string not returning to zero.
The other thing is to make sure your trem is balanced properly.
Some like it flat on the body others, floating.
Have enough spring tension so when you do a bent double stop the fixed note doesn't go flat.
Yours is a vintage trem right? Six screws?
Some say they are hard to keep stable others swear by them.
It can be done, it just takes some fiddl'in.
 

Neill

Member
Messages
2,510
staggered tuners, lubed nut, properly filed nut, and straight string pull are key. locking tuners aren't necessary, but help cut down the number of winds around the tuning peg, which also helps stability.
 

Neill

Member
Messages
2,510
btw, as per a recommendation by a fellow tgper - who is unbelievable with a bar - ive found that carmex (in the squeeze tube) works excellent as nut grease.
 

Den

Gold Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,013
Many players, including myself, have had great success with the LSR nuts. I have one on my American Deluxe strat and it performs flawlessly ... and although I'm not a gorilla with the trem, I do use it and can play all night without having to retune.

I asked John Suhr his opinion when he was building my Standard. He said that he had no problems with LSR's, and in addition to helping in tuning stability, you'd have a nut that would never wear out.
 

sethmeister

Member
Messages
2,105
First make sure your nut is properly set up.
That is, the strings don't bind or the slots are too deep.
I haven't personally heard many good things about the LSR nuts.
I do use the graphtech nut on several of my strats and they seem to be decent.

Did the addition of the graphtech have any affect on tone vs a bone nut (or whatever you had previously)?

I also use Sperzel locking tuners.
They are staggered so you don't need string trees.

Yeah I'm thinking of going w/ Sperzel. I'd like to get rid of the string trees anyway so the staggered tuners is a benefit.

Yours is a vintage trem right? Six screws?
Some say they are hard to keep stable others swear by them.

No actually it's a two point.
 

gitarboy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
627
First make sure your nut is properly set up.
That is, the strings don't bind or the slots are too deep.
I haven't personally heard many good things about the LSR nuts.
I do use the graphtech nut on several of my strats and they seem to be decent.
Also there is a product out there called Nut Sauce.
Yeah, no kidding.
Made byBig Bends.
It is like vasoline with graphite and Teflon in it.
Put a little on the properly sized nut and on the string bearing part of the saddles.
I also use Sperzel locking tuners.
They are staggered so you don't need string trees.
But if you already have the trees don't worry you don't have to take them off but they may add to the string not returning to zero.
The other thing is to make sure your trem is balanced properly.
Some like it flat on the body others, floating.
Have enough spring tension so when you do a bent double stop the fixed note doesn't go flat.
Yours is a vintage trem right? Six screws?
Some say they are hard to keep stable others swear by them.
It can be done, it just takes some fiddl'in.

I can't agree with this more... I've used this (nut sauce) on all of my strats and never had an isssue... make darn sure that your strings are stretched out, even if they're not new stretch them before you start each gig...

Steve :BEER
 

Pantalooj

Member
Messages
3,423
Many players, including myself, have had great success with the LSR nuts. I have one on my American Deluxe strat and it performs flawlessly ... and although I'm not a gorilla with the trem, I do use it and can play all night without having to retune.

I asked John Suhr his opinion when he was building my Standard. He said that he had no problems with LSR's, and in addition to helping in tuning stability, you'd have a nut that would never wear out.

+1 on the LSR nut.

I have one in my American deluxe too and find it helps keep things in tune. Tone and sustain wise I can't hear any negative impact vs an American deluxe with a standard nut ('course each guitar will be different on those fronts anyway ... but the tone and sustain I get from mine are A1).

I have a tusq nut in my Suhr and it stays in tune equally as well ... so just installing an LSR alone might not be the end of it ... it's the combination of things that previous posts in this thread mention that all need checking.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,764
just remember it's a lot more surgery to install the lsr, as the slot has to be widened significantly.

and bizarre as it sounds, sometimes the am stds stay in tune better if the bridge is kept floating, as one-way dives can come back sharp due to tuner shifting or ball-end shifting, a problem i've fought much less often with vintage-style strats.
 

Festus

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,565
Good point about keeping the trem floating.

The nut slots might need to widened - by a hair. I've found that to be the main culprit when my trem guitars don't return to pitch. Widen the nut slot, pretty much problem solved.

just remember it's a lot more surgery to install the lsr, as the slot has to be widened significantly.

and bizarre as it sounds, sometimes the am stds stay in tune better if the bridge is kept floating, as one-way dives can come back sharp due to tuner shifting or ball-end shifting, a problem i've fought much less often with vintage-style strats.
 

John Phillips

Member
Messages
13,038
and bizarre as it sounds, sometimes the am stds stay in tune better if the bridge is kept floating, as one-way dives can come back sharp due to tuner shifting or ball-end shifting, a problem i've fought much less often with vintage-style strats.
I always find Strats stay in tune better with the bridge floating (if you use the trem). Yes, I know this is contrary to popular belief. The reason is very simple - when you bend the bridge down, there are tiny friction hang-ups, almost always - usually at the nut (no matter how well lubed it is or if it's a roller nut). If it then goes back to rest against hard the body, these hang-ups remain. But if it can float, the slight movement of the bridge as you continue to play will release them.


The things to check IMO are:

The nut. The grooves need to be correctly cut - wider than the strings, with a smoothly u-shaped bottom, not a tight fit; they should slope down gently towards the headstock, but not so steeply that the front edge is then a sharp 'point contact', which will increase the risk of snagging, especially on the wound strings.

String trees. These should not be lower than they need to be, because it increases friction under them and at the nut. Fit higher spacers if you need to. If you want to be really fussy, you can bend the post over slightly so the tree 'splits the angle' between the string on either side of it.

Machineheads. Locking ones are better, but you can string conventional ones well enough to work equally well too, if you're careful... it's just more fiddly. The ideal arrangement is where each string has about the same break angle over the nut, which you can achieve by adjusting the length of each string on the post. This does conflict with the rule about keeping the minimum wrap on each post (especially on the G string, if there's no string tree), but you just have to find the compromise that works for you - for me, it's more wrap, but making sure I stretch the string hard as I wind it on, so it doesn't slip afterwards (wind on only by turning the key, never by wrapping it onto the post by hand - that guarantees a loose, twisted wind which will slip). The low E often has to wind upwards on the post.

Bridge pivot screws. These MUST NOT be screwed down too tightly - if you do, it will cause the bridge to bind against the body and the underside of the heads (on a six-screw bridge). The correct adjustment is with the screws set to exactly keep the bridge flat on the body when it's pulled back (slacken the string to set this, it's easier). No higher, no lower. It's also a myth that raising the middle four screws helps - if they're adjusted perfectly, it makes no difference, although it is better to adjust the two outer ones first, then the middle four - you'll be able to get the exact setting right by feel and watching the back edge of the bridge for lift. On a two-screw bridge it's much less critical because the grooved posts keep the alignment and take all the friction, but the bridge still must not bind against the body.

Springs. No matter how many you put on, keep them straight. The 'fan' arrangement causes binding because the springs must rotate slightly on their mounts as the block moves.

Lube: the string trees, the nut grooves, the bridge pivot screws or posts, the tops of the bridge saddles, and the spring ends... really.

Tune only up to the note.


If that sounds like a lot of work and fuss, it isn't really... most of it only needs doing once or rarely, and the rest you get the hang of quickly and it becomes second nature.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,597
Excellent advice by all. If you hear pinging at all while tuning or playing, your nut grooves are too small and the strings are binding there. Get a set of nut files from Stew Mac that are about 2 thousanths larger than the strings you use (for the unwound strings) and a little larger than that for the wound strings. Lightly run them through your nut slots with no downward pressure (to avoid deepening the slots).

A VERY good guitar tech friend recommends polishing the slots with #1000 wet and dry sandpaper as a finishing touch.
 

sethmeister

Member
Messages
2,105
Thanks guys.

I'm going to start with a preslotted graphtech nut and a set of Sperzel locking tuners. Then I can remove the string trees. Will add a fifth spring to the trem as well. Since I use .11's I imagine I'll need to widen the slots in the nut.

I do keep the trem floating about 1/8" per Fender setup instructions.

Seth

BTW: Mike I bought a pair of sed =C= el34's from you the other day and couldn't believe how fast you got them to me! I think it was less than 48 hours. Thanks, man!
 

Den

Gold Supporting Member
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,013
+1 on the LSR nut.

I have one in my American deluxe too and find it helps keep things in tune. Tone and sustain wise I can't hear any negative impact vs an American deluxe with a standard nut ('course each guitar will be different on those fronts anyway ... but the tone and sustain I get from mine are A1).

I have a tusq nut in my Suhr and it stays in tune equally as well ... so just installing an LSR alone might not be the end of it ... it's the combination of things that previous posts in this thread mention that all need checking.
I have the tusq on my Suhr also ... and find it stays in tune perfectly as well. Both of my trem guitars have locking tuners ... Sperzels & Schallers ... and both stay in tune with no problems.

On my Johnny A, I find the Big Bends Nut Sauce makes all the difference. One last thought ... my guitars stay more "in tune" since I began using Peterson tuners to carefully set the intonation properly. This made a huge difference in all of my guitars, except my Suhr, which was intonated perfectly at the shop.

As said, it's a lot of little details that add up to keeping a guitar in tune, and each guitar may have it's own challenges to overcome.
 

Keifer

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
238
My Suhr Classic has a tusq nut and NEVER stays in tune. low E and G always sharp after any trem use. Switched to locking Sperzels and no change. Having my tech install a graphtech nut this week. Although Suhr said they could deal with it, It really bothers me to pay shipping. possibly both ways , on a new $2, 500 guitar.
If this wasn't the best playing and sounding strat I've had I would have returned it because the tuning issues don't allow for any trem use
 

Guinness Lad

Senior Member
Messages
15,853
There is a video on Youtube that shows you what to do, you don't need anything, you just need to know how to tune it. Check either here or the guitar specific forum for the video.
 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,525
There is a video on Youtube that shows you what to do, you don't need anything, you just need to know how to tune it. Check either here or the guitar specific forum for the video.

That video is ridiculous. Did you notice how the guitar goes hopelessly out of tune as soon as he bends a string? :Spank
 

Husky

Member
Messages
12,697
My Suhr Classic has a tusq nut and NEVER stays in tune. low E and G always sharp after any trem use. Switched to locking Sperzels and no change. Having my tech install a graphtech nut this week. Although Suhr said they could deal with it, It really bothers me to pay shipping. possibly both ways , on a new $2, 500 guitar.
If this wasn't the best playing and sounding strat I've had I would have returned it because the tuning issues don't allow for any trem use

Hold on there brother !
#1 we never charge return shipping if there is an issue and I cant remember every refusing to pay return unless it was out of the country purchased from USA
#2 Most of the time we pick the guitar up as well if it is fairly new and there have been no changes to our original setup.
#3 The G string is an issue with every non locking trem as is in less degree the low E, but did you try BigBends nut sauce? Did you check for lifting the string straight out of the nut slot to make sure there was no binding?
 
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