Published On: Tue, Dec 11th, 2012

Critical But Stable – Tremolo Workshop

Fender Strat trem units can be a vita and life-affirming part of a guitar player’s arsenal. However, getting them set up correctly so they can take a hammering and still do you proud can be a tricky business. Huw Price is here with all the info you need…

Springs & Claw

Unfortunately we can’t provide any hard and fast rules regarding the number of springs you should use or the way they should be arranged. It really all comes down to personal taste, because some players prefer a light feeling trem while others prefer a stiffer setup to stop the bridge moving when bending strings… and to maintain tuning if a string snaps.
The springs are hooked onto a ‘claw’ that’s screwed to the body of the guitar. If it’s adjusted tight against the body, it will be pulling the springs hard and the bridge plate may end up sitting tight against the top of the body. This will allow you to dip the trem, but you won’t be able to pull upwards.
Most players prefer their trem bridges to ‘float’, allowing both upwards and downwards movement (it’s also thought that Stratocasters sound more ‘Stratty’ that way because you hear a hint of ‘reverb’ from the springs themselves). Here’s where you need to experiment with combinations of springs and various claw adjustments to position the bridge where you like it and achieve the right feel for your style.
Stratocaster trems allow you to use up to five springs. If you’re using a set of ultra-heavy gauge strings, then all five springs may be needed to get the bridge floating properly. At the other extreme, a set of .008″s or .009″s may only require two springs. Most often three springs are used, and they’re either arranged straight or angled for a bit more pull. We’ll get into fine tuning later, but the starting point for most trem setups is a gap of 1/8″ between the body and the back edge of the bridge.



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