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My Floyd Rose tutorials

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  • My Floyd Rose tutorials

    1) Tune a Floyd

    The Floyd Rose is a floating bridge. It is not fixed to the body, but rests on two poles. The balance is achieved by countering the string tension with springs. This brings to the rule number 1: unless you have A LOT of experience, do NOT change the string gauge by yourself: the tension will change and your neck will suffer.

    The Floyd system has two units: the bridge itself and the locking nut. The bridge locks the strings too, that is why a Floyd and its many licenced derivatives are considered a double locking tremolo. It ensures tuning stability after abusive use of the whammy bar. Judge by yourself: My licenced cheapo Floyd is 17 years old and stays in tune PERFECTLY even after a good dozen of full divebombs.

    But of course there is a pay off: The bridge has to be stabilized all the time you tune and it's a hassle. This means that Floyds don't like alternative tunings. Each change in tension in one string changes the tuning of others.

    Make sure you clip out the ball ends. They won't fit the Floyd. Or else put them through the machineheads but it looks ugly :P

    Ok... so your strings are on the guitar, they are stretched though not tuned? Now you need to tune...
    1) ensure the strings are properly locked in the bridge. Use an allen key to tighten them if necessary. (I'll add pictures later)
    2) that's when problems start... People have different ways of doing it. I mess about a lot with the spring tension at the back so tuning is also done differently taking care of this. Let's just assume the spring position, string gauge and wanted tuning are constant. The way I do it:
    Usually the locking nut is unlocked because the fine tuners don't have such a big range. I tune my low E to proper pitch using the mahineheads, then I do the high e, then A, then B, then D, then G. And I repeat it. All the way. Usually it takes 3 to 4 times doing this. When the guitar is in tune, I simply lock the nut and use the fine tuners to finish.

    Changing Tuning
    You want to drop D?
    Some people would unlock the nut for the E and A strings, drop the E, lock again, fine tune and here you go. Well unfortunately... Your strings will still be relatively in tune with each other, but they won't be perfectly in tune.
    As Damage mentioned, open tunings really won't work well. I wouldn't try them. I haven't yet myself. I usually keep mine in E standard but right now it's in Dropped C. Here's what I had to do (it still is tuning. Tune with the locking nut unlocked, and when you lock it again, fine tune)
    1) I tuned all the strings a full step down.
    2) I slackened the spring claw at the back to re-establish balance
    3) I tuned again
    4) I slackened again. By now the bridge should be in the position you want it. It may take more, depending on how you do it and how you want it.
    5) I dropped the D, and tuned it all over again a few times until it was perfectly in tune.

    A word on springs
    The more springs the more tensions. People most often use 3 springs in a ||| configuration. Next comes the /|\ configuration. It makes bending the lowest and highest strings a little easier. To be honest, I didn't notice much difference.
    Some people use 2 or 4 springs. I don't see why not. But to me, 3 springs is perfect.

    Oooooook I think that's it. To everyone who say that Floyds are a hassle: I have just started playing guitar. This guitar pictued here is my first electric guitar. I never had a problem with the Floyd. You just have to know what you're doing before getting one, or learn about it before tweaking it.
    Though you do have to be patient
    Last edited by Pierre; 03-19-2006, 07:49 AM.

  • #2
    Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

    2) stringing a Floyd

    So today was a big day: I had a spring to add and new strings to put on... so here's what I did, in order.

    1) I set up my working space. It needs to be well lit, secure, and comfortable. I put an old sock between the Floyd and the body so that if anything happens it doesn't snap against the body and chip the paint even more. You don't want nor need to take any risks. All my tools were sorted out in order of use. What you usually need: a 2mm, 3mm and 4mm allen key, a philips and flathead screwdriver, cloth, some small screwdrivers, and anything else you ever use.

    2) if your trem cavity is usually covered, uncover it. You want easy and quick access to it. Mine was uncovered.

    2 bis) I took the knobs out of the guitar: they somewhat get in the way of polishing

    3) I unlocked the locking nut and tuned all the strings down. The Floyd was resting against the sock which is good. I did not tune them down all the way, because I had to turn the guitar over to untighten the spring clamp. Had I detuned them all the way, the Floyd would have just come out of the guitar, maybe scratching it on the way or sending pieces flying. It never happened to me but who knows, I made a lot of stupid mistakes too... no one is secure. Anyhoo after this, I took all the springs off, I took the Floyd off, and I untightened the string blocks locks from the tem unit.

    ( that's when I decided that I was going to, Dun dun, clean the whole darn thing. So I took EVERYTHING out of it... that's what resulted of it:

    I cleaned it all using a product that prevents rust from forming and cleans up metallic parts. And then carefully reassembled it.
    That was halfway through the assembly: I actually had assembled some parts the wrong way. First big mistake, when you do something like this for the first time, do a diagram with clear explanations. In my case, the spring block was the wrong way You see how the saddles are not all at the same heights? That's to fit the fingerboard radius. For an OFR it's usually of 10'' I believe. I'm not sure about this one unit (Jackson JT6). When I reassembled it, I put all the saddles at the same level. This meant that I had to intonate it later but I had a nice surprise, 4 strings were intonated properly this way. I'm not going to bother with the others, intonating is a pain in the ass with those and my tuner isn't all great.
    Here's my Floyd when assembled, taken from my previous tutorial on tuning:

    4) I lemon oiled the fingerboard. I rubbed carefully but strongly, taking all the goo off and making it smoother than a baby's er, cheeks.


    I didn't capture the difference well so if you don't see it, nevermind. Just know that it now smells better and looks slightly better too. Ah it plays better too

    5) I polished the body. All clean and nice.

    6) Now comes the big deal... I cut the ball ends of the springs about 3 quarter of an inch from it, and inserted the cut end into the saddles, then locked them with the spring blocks. I placed the Floyd Rose into its posts carefuly, not rubbing the knife edges too much against them. I put each strings into its machinehead and tuned a little. They were still very slack and didn't make the Floyd go out of place.

    7) I secured the Floyd with its springs.
    Last edited by Pierre; 03-19-2006, 07:46 AM.


    • #3
      Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

      part 2 of restringing:

      8) I tuned up. Before tuning make sure that every fine tuner is in its middle position, as to have movement in both directions.
      This is my very poor winding job. I suggest everyone to learn how to wind properly, I never did and I always regret it, noone even seems to know how to do it properly around me. It's helpful.

      9) Well the guitar is now in tune... so I locked the nut, and did loads of pull ups on the whammy bar, to stretch the strings. I played the guitar for a bit, always checking on the tuner. When it stopped detuning I unlocked the nut and tuned back again properly. I don't think you need to lock the locknut first, but if you don't the Floyd will naturally not stay in tune as well as with it being locked, therefore misleading you in whether your strings are stretched or not.
      The guitar is now in tune. I put the knobs back on, and here it is:

      With the 5 springs at the back

      10) I checked for buzz and various other concerns. There was none. The guitar was very well set up. The action is lower than the previous gauge, without having changed it, and it doesn't buzz AT ALL. I'll check again tomorrow and do more stretching, just to be sure. I then cut the unnecessary bits of string that were hanging on at the machineheads, and I was done.

      That's what a locknut looks like when out of the guitar. I took it off and checked every parts of it. Sometimes the little blocks you can see can cause problems. Just moving them usually solves it. At first my high e was very weird to tune, a lot of movement on the machinehead seemed to have little effects on the string. After I snapped one, I just took the nut out and moved the block a little, and it was then fine.

      I went from 10/52 to 11/49 by the way. Just to try basically.
      Ok I think that's it. Any questions, ask for them

      Oh also: if you don't plan on oiling your fingerboard: don't bother with that. Change you strings ONE AT A TIME. It'll be much easier and quicker. When they're put on, just stretch them and it's ready.


      • #4
        Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

        3) blocking a Floyd Rose

        And it's me again. I couldn't just stop at a full restringing and set up, so I decided today be the day I would block the Floyd Rose.

        'but what is the point of having a super-cool-whammy-bar-that-never-detunes-from-hell if it's to block it?' will you ask me.
        Well there are several reasons. Let's examin them.

        1) I want to drop D. DAMN FLOYD!
        Block it! I set mine up for E standard, which means that I can drop it by any steps I want, on any strings, and the Floyd will not move (unless of course I tune up )

        2) I don't use the Floyd. What's the point?
        See 1) and why it's good to block it

        3) I never pull up with my Floyd, I only dive, and it annoys me that it's floating.
        Well block it, and you may still dive

        I'd also add that mine doesn't stay too well in tune. The E string is big and the wound part comes out of the center whenever I pull up on the whammy bar (I hope that made sense?).

        Anyhoo, what I did:

        I blocked my Floyd from the bottom of the cavity (space 1) so that I could loosen the spring claw and take the springs out. Then I measured the spaces that I need. You want (for sustain and tone reason) as much wood to make contact with your guitar and spring block.
        Set up your Floyd in whatever position you will want it in. Don't bother about tuning or action as of now, and leave the locknut locked (you won't need to adjust the tuning too much unless you'll want to change it, so there's no point in unlocking it)

        The measurements I took were:
        1)Thickness (space between guitar and spring block): 8 mm
        2)Height (from guitar's 'bottom' (from behind the guitar) of the cavity to under the springs): 15.5 mm
        3)length (of the spring block, to maximize contact): 49mm
        These were not extremely accurate measurements but I couldn't really do better with what I had.
        I went to a small shop selling tools and DIY stuff, and they cut me the piece of wood, for free ( ).

        And I installed it. I didn't glue or tape it. I just repeated what I did to take the measurements (blocked space 1, untighten the springs, took them off), inserted the block (it fitted fine, but the thickness is 9mm. They didn't have anything with 8 and therefore my Floyd is slightly raised upwards. Not such a big deal, but it minimizes the amount to which you can dive), put the springs back and tightened them. I used 4 this time. I use 11/49 string gauge and with 3 springs I couldn't tighten them enough. It's at this point that tuning starts to matter. Tune up to standard (or whatever will be the HIGHEST tuning you will use, the one having the most tension in the strings) and check to see if your block is tightened properly inside and doesn't move. You may experiement with the number of springs and such depending on your string gauge.
        Last edited by Pierre; 03-19-2006, 07:47 AM.


        • #5
          Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

          Part 2 of blocking:

          I suggest to spend time finding the proper balance. The difference in string tension between E standard and dropped B for instance is VERY big. If you tighten your springs too much in your highest tuning and then drop it loads, it may just... make your Floyd come out of its posts. You have to make tries and such I guess. I'll work on this tomorrow myself and give you news.

          If you will want to dive, you will want to glue or tape your block. Tape can't be too great because it may take off some paint out of your cavity. It's no big deal but it'd matter to me so well, you may as well know. With glue it'd be quite annoying to take off.

          So now unfortunately I can't pull up (the Floyd is blocked in this direction) or dive (the block would fall and hit the springs or be misplaced). Ah well, I don't care. There is a trade off and it's that. Now my Floyd Rose behaves like a hardtail If you ever get bored of your Floyd Rose, this is a very good alternative to the tremsetter (especially if you don't want to drill a hole in your beloved shredmachine) while being way simpler and cheaper to use, however with more trade offs.
          Some pictures now.
          And a little tip. When you tune to whatever tuning you want that will be your 'base', you can keep the fine tuner of the lowest string all the way down. This way you can drop it by a step without having to unlock the locking nut (assuming you'll keep it locked, which is not necessary) by just screwing it upwards. The amount it lets you fine tune is perfect for this.
          This may also be used to block other types of floating trems. People just prefer leaving them non floating anyways, but it'd work.

          If you don't restring string by string, the tension will only be in the springs. Your Floyd will get out of its posts and it may damage the knife edges to put it back, as well as being a royal pain in the ass. When you restring, DO IT THE NORMAL WAY unless you are masochist.
          Do it string by string or decrease dramatically the spring tension while maybe blocking your trem the other way too (putting something under the baseplate)


          • #6
            Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

            Basic truss rod adjustement method:

            The truss rod is a, well, a rod (...) that lies below the fingerboard, inside the neck in a cavity drilled for it. Its action influences highly the flexibility of the wood and therefore its bow. Bow is critical to the neck: climate can change it, the tension on the strings can change it, and it may need adjustements throughout your guitar's life. About guitars with Floyd Roses: the emphasis is often put on these type of guitars, for instance that they need an adjustement with each string tension change (same gauges may have different tensions within brands, as you will see in my case studies). I believe this is simply because Floyds aren't meant for different tunings and that they should be kept in one.

            You may need a truss rod adjustement if:
            Your neck is upbowed (has a bump upwards in the middle)
            Your neck has too much/too little relief (backbow)
            Since the strings vibrate in an uneven pattern pattern throughout their length, the neck needs to adjust to this. The 12th fret, i.e where an open string will vibrate on a longer distance, needs to be further 'down' than the higher frets.
            This may happen through too much string tension, or lack thereof, a change in climate (mainly humidity level) and probably many other reasons I know nothing about.

            See the (blurry) fretline? It curves upwards. This guitar has relief.

            Adjusting the neck is part of the classic 4 step set up (cleaning, adjusting the neck, adjusting the pickup height, and tuning/intonation) which I rpobably will describe in another article soon.

            The first thing I can say about actually adjustening is a word of warning: it is an operation that may damage your guitar. Should you hesitate or be unsure of what to do, ask a professional (this works for any guitar tech stuff that may result in a loss of value of your guitar or damage to it)

            The tools you will/may need:
            Feeler gauge
            Capo/straight edge/pen+rubber band
            Accurate ruler

            phillips head screwdriver (crosshead)

            How to check the clearance:
            Fret the first fret (hand, capo, or elastic band + pen work) and fret the last fret, or whichever fret it is that joins the body (what I do: the 18th on my Strats). There should be some space between all frets. Tap gently to check. After a while you may do it by eye but it's better to just be sure. Do your relief measurement at the 7th and 9th frets.
            Another way is to use a straightedge. Make sure it runs the length of the neck.
            In both cases, check with feeler gauges (available at any motor shops I think) or custom made ones (.11, .10, .09, .008, .12s bits strings for instance , attached to a popsickle stick or something like this to hold them). The typical relief is usually said to be the thickness of a business card, in case you can't measure.

            There are several rules of thumbs that apply to truss rod adjustments but the first one is: like girls, each guitars are different. Keep this in mind when your guitar doesn't react as expected. The other most important would be, for me, that there are MANY factors that influence whatever it is that you are trying to solve. There is a different solution to every problems.


            • #7
              Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

              Part two of the russ rod adjustement:

              Here are a few 'laws' that people should, I think, remember:
              No more than a quarter of a turn at a time
              Righty, tight - lefty, loosy (when facing the body of the instrument, looking from the neck. Clockwise = tightening, counter clockwise = loosening)
              Tightening it allows less movement to the wood. It will straighten and give less relief (upwards bow) to the wood
              Loosening it allows it to move more freely. With the strings on, it will bow more.
              ALWAYS ADJUST AND MEASURE IN PLAYING CONDITIONS as much as you can. Gravity has a lot of influence which you do not want.
              The right amount of relief is good. Too much relief is not. Backbow is not. Straight necks can sometimes work out well (ask Jeff Beck)
              A 'typical' relief is the thickness of a business card (between .10 and .15 if I recall correctly but I'm not good with proper values. Those are not inches but 1/10th of inches, the same measurements used for string gauges)
              Personally I say that you should wait at least an hour before another adjustement. Adjust once, tune until it doesn't change tuning, apply a little pressure on the neck in the direction in which you did the adjustement (loosening: make the center of the neck go down, tightening, press on it so in an upwards strength), let it rest 10 minutes, play it to see how it is. I hear that 10 minutes is enough, but I'm cautious by nature.
              To adjust it, you will need a socket (usually 6, 7 or 8 mm) and most truss rods adjust at the peghead, under a cover (though not always)
              Some adjust at the heel of the neck. You may need to loosen the neck enough (at the bolt on screws) so that you can lift it to access the adjustement screw: be careful not to damage the pickup or pickguard or wood with the screwdriver, or you may need to take the neck off.
              Once again: no more than a quarter of a turn at a time. An eighth is also a good measure. It makes a big difference.
              Keep track of your measures. It may be handy in future cases.

              As long as the strings are detuned enough, or off, it's ok to loosen the truss rod nut (if it needs to be replaced or cleaned, or even worse...).
              Sometimes people overtighten the truss rod, and the nut compresses the neck wood. That's pretty bad. Some spaces may need to be filled, a proper washer added and if the truss rod is damaged maybe another one. Also it may cause cracks in the wood.


              • #8
                Re: My Floyd Roses tutorials

                I wrote all these ages ago and learnt a crapload more since then, I should try and edit them sometimes. Meanwhile I hope they can be of help to someone.


                • #9
                  Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                  No one bothered to read them..?


                  • #10
                    Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                    God I love my Tele!!!!
                    I get weak in the knees at the sight of a vintage Fender amp!


                    • #11
                      Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                      Originally posted by B Bent
                      God I love my Tele!!!!
                      Yeah well dealing with tremelo hassles is the name of the game sometimes, but its worth it because we can do big dive bombs from the black fiery welkins of death!
                      Speak through your fingers


                      • #12
                        Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                        Only sissy's block their floyds....
                        Gear: More junk than I know what to do with


                        • #13
                          Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                          Originally posted by 9finger
                          Only sissy's block their floyds....

                          Good stuff, Pierre. I was thinking about doing the same thing a while back, but you've saved me the trouble! Plus, yours is a lot more informative and had a lot more/better pictures than mine probably would have.
                          It's hard to be metal in girl pants.

                          My Gear

                          ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ


                          • #14
                            Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                            Cheers Pierre!

                            Vault worthy too!
                            Last edited by StrangeSound; 03-24-2006, 01:04 PM.
                            Originally posted by Guitarist
                            Honestly, I like Scott's words. "There is a rhythm to life. Ride the waves."

                            And keep in mind that while nothing lasts forever, nothing is lost.


                            • #15
                              Re: My Floyd Rose tutorials

                              That is the best floyd tutorial I've ever read, I learned a ton! Any average joe can figure out how to maintain a floyd with all the details you included.

                              I think this deserves a spot in the Vault!
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