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October 02, 2009
Floating bridge guitar setup
Here is a tip for those who have a non-locking style floating tremolo bridge on a Stratocaster type of guitar, and are having trouble staying in tune. Most of us know that you need graphite or pencil lead in the nut of the guitar to help with tuning stability. That sure helps, as it allows the string to travel more freely over the nut, and it's doesn't get "hung up", so to speak. However, there is another potential problem. More specifically, I have noticed that when the bridge is set to float, and you pull down or up on the whammy bar, some strings actually go sharp! What's that all about? Is the the springs, or the bridge screws aren't set up right? Well, in my case, and perhaps in yours - neither!
The answer came from Master guitar builder John Suhr. I asked him about this problem, and he gave me some very good advice. His customer service is fantastic, by the way, and John builds some of the finest guitars on this planet. What John recommended is to try some lubricant where the strings sit on the saddle. I have some
Big Bends Nut Sauce Tuning Lubricant, which I applied under the strings, right where they sit on the saddle. I then tried pushing the whammy bar up and down a few times, and normally this leads to some strings going sharp. After applying the Nut Sauce however, it is perfect! I am amazed at how well this worked.
So the lesson to learn here - if you have your tremolo bridge set to float and it is a non-locking system, you probabaly have noticed this problem with strings not staying in tune (they go sharp) - apply some lubricant where the strings sit on the saddles. I recommend
Big Bends Nut Sauce Tuning Lubricant because it is well known and doesn't turn into rubbery goey stuff after a while. However, there are other similar products that would work just as well. The goal is to make it possible for the string to glide over the saddle as smoothly as possible.
I am so happy now that I have learned how to deal with this issue. I especially noticed this "strings go sharp" problem was even worse just after I had changed strings. So, from now on, I ALWAYS apply a lubricant where the strings sit on the saddles, everytime I change strings. What a world of difference this makes... I guess should have known this a long time ago, you might think, but as with anything in life, sometimes there are things you miss.