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 Post subject: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:26 am 
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I have a question about how to block your tremolo.
I have a MIM Strat and I never use the whammy so I want to block the tremolo just for better tuning and sustain.
I have tightened the claw screws, loosened the 6 screws and wedged a block of wood in there.
My question is about the 6 screws. Do I leave them loose or tighten them down?

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:43 am 
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The two outside screws must be tightened only until its touches the bridge plate, no more than that. The four inside screws must have a 0.05mm spacing between them and the bridge plate.
If you tighten all them in, you could risk damaging your bridge and body if someome inserts the tremolo and try to use it.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:24 am 
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ok thanks I will do that.
Just to confirm I have this right. Looking at the bridge the back side of bridge is flush to the body but the front side with the 6 mounting screws are NOT flush. The side with the 6 mounting screws had to rise to allow C area in the picture to be moved back enough to allow for a block of wood. Not my strat but a good example.
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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:32 am 
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Clapton is perhaps one of the few guitarists who blocked the tremolo on their Strats.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:51 am 
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I disagree with joaokorb regarding the six screws.

If you block your trem properly has you show, the trem and bridge will not move at all. If you installed a trem arm and tried to use it, you would probably snap the arm off before the trem moved. Here is how I blocked my trem (Sorry, I don't have any photos, but your photo is basically correct):

1. I loosened the six screws just enough so they were loosely touching the bridge plate.
2. I loosened all six strings to relieve tension on the trem.
3. I tightened the trem claw enough to pull the bridge plate tight to the body.
4. I used a machined aluminum block the block the bridge, but any hard wood such as maple will do. I sanded the block so that I had to lightly tap the block into the space that you show at "C". It will not fall out of its own accord.
5. I tightened the strings to apply tension to the trem.
6. I loosened the trem claw to relieve tension on the trem.
7. I tuned the guitar to pitch.
8. I tightened the trem claw just enough so that it did not rattle, but not enough to exert any real tension on the trem.
9. I tightened the six screws back down so that they were touching the bridge plate but not applying any significant pressure on it.
10. The trem is now locked solidly and will not move no matter how much bending you do.

Because the aluminum block was initially installed as a slightly tight fit, tuning the guitar applies even more pressure to the trem which in turn squeezes the aluminum block even tighter between the body of the guitar and the trem's inertia block. The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are. At this point, springs are not even necessary except to ground the bridge to the claw. You could just use one slightly tight spring for that. I have all five in place just for looks, but they are just tightened enough so that they do not vibrate excessively.

It may sound complicated, but it is very easy to follow and results in an extremely solid trem mounting.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:59 am 
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bluesky636 wrote:
I disagree with joaokorb regarding the six screws.

If you block your trem properly has you show, the trem and bridge will not move at all. If you installed a trem arm and tried to use it, you would probably snap the arm off before the trem moved. Here is how I blocked my trem (Sorry, I don't have any photos, but your photo is basically correct):

1. I loosened the six screws just enough so they were loosely touching the bridge plate.
2. I loosened all six strings to relieve tension on the trem.
3. I tightened the trem claw enough to pull the bridge plate tight to the body.
4. I used a machined aluminum block the block the bridge, but any hard wood such as maple will do. I sanded the block so that I had to lightly tap the block into the space that you show at "C". It will not fall out of its own accord.
5. I tightened the strings to apply tension to the trem.
6. I loosened the trem claw to relieve tension on the trem.
7. I tuned the guitar to pitch.
8. I tightened the trem claw just enough so that it did not rattle, but not enough to exert any real tension on the trem.
9. I tightened the six screws back down so that they were touching the bridge plate but not applying any significant pressure on it.
10. The trem is now locked solidly and will not move no matter how much bending you do.

Because the aluminum block was initially installed as a slightly tight fit, tuning the guitar applies even more pressure to the trem which in turn squeezes the aluminum block even tighter between the body of the guitar and the trem's inertia block. The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are. At this point, springs are not even necessary except to ground the bridge to the claw. You could just use one slightly tight spring for that. I have all five in place just for looks, but they are just tightened enough so that they do not vibrate excessively.

It may sound complicated, but it is very easy to follow and results in an extremely solid trem mounting.


So with this way the front side with the 6 mounting screws are NOT flush to the body but risen up a bit?


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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:04 am 
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ics1974 wrote:
bluesky636 wrote:
I disagree with joaokorb regarding the six screws.

If you block your trem properly has you show, the trem and bridge will not move at all. If you installed a trem arm and tried to use it, you would probably snap the arm off before the trem moved. Here is how I blocked my trem (Sorry, I don't have any photos, but your photo is basically correct):

1. I loosened the six screws just enough so they were loosely touching the bridge plate.
2. I loosened all six strings to relieve tension on the trem.
3. I tightened the trem claw enough to pull the bridge plate tight to the body.
4. I used a machined aluminum block the block the bridge, but any hard wood such as maple will do. I sanded the block so that I had to lightly tap the block into the space that you show at "C". It will not fall out of its own accord.
5. I tightened the strings to apply tension to the trem.
6. I loosened the trem claw to relieve tension on the trem.
7. I tuned the guitar to pitch.
8. I tightened the trem claw just enough so that it did not rattle, but not enough to exert any real tension on the trem.
9. I tightened the six screws back down so that they were touching the bridge plate but not applying any significant pressure on it.
10. The trem is now locked solidly and will not move no matter how much bending you do.

Because the aluminum block was initially installed as a slightly tight fit, tuning the guitar applies even more pressure to the trem which in turn squeezes the aluminum block even tighter between the body of the guitar and the trem's inertia block. The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are. At this point, springs are not even necessary except to ground the bridge to the claw. You could just use one slightly tight spring for that. I have all five in place just for looks, but they are just tightened enough so that they do not vibrate excessively.

It may sound complicated, but it is very easy to follow and results in an extremely solid trem mounting.


So with this way the front side with the 6 mounting screws are NOT flush to the body but risen up a bit?


Read the last paragraph again: "The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are."

The trem plate is completely flush to the body.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:27 am 
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bluesky636, everyone has its peculiarities on settting up our own strats. glad to hear your strats work that way for you.
But in my point of view, the tremolo springs play a big part in tone/ressonance, vibrating the strings into the body, and by locking the 6 screws tight, you´re applying all the force to the top of the wood and the bridge plate, and the less tension on the tremolo springs, or the less springs you got, the less ressonance to inside the body you´ve got. By reducing the springs to 2 or even 1 like said, reduces the sustain and lacks tone, but all IMHO.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:01 pm 
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bluesky636 wrote:
ics1974 wrote:
bluesky636 wrote:
I disagree with joaokorb regarding the six screws.

If you block your trem properly has you show, the trem and bridge will not move at all. If you installed a trem arm and tried to use it, you would probably snap the arm off before the trem moved. Here is how I blocked my trem (Sorry, I don't have any photos, but your photo is basically correct):

1. I loosened the six screws just enough so they were loosely touching the bridge plate.
2. I loosened all six strings to relieve tension on the trem.
3. I tightened the trem claw enough to pull the bridge plate tight to the body.
4. I used a machined aluminum block the block the bridge, but any hard wood such as maple will do. I sanded the block so that I had to lightly tap the block into the space that you show at "C". It will not fall out of its own accord.
5. I tightened the strings to apply tension to the trem.
6. I loosened the trem claw to relieve tension on the trem.
7. I tuned the guitar to pitch.
8. I tightened the trem claw just enough so that it did not rattle, but not enough to exert any real tension on the trem.
9. I tightened the six screws back down so that they were touching the bridge plate but not applying any significant pressure on it.
10. The trem is now locked solidly and will not move no matter how much bending you do.

Because the aluminum block was initially installed as a slightly tight fit, tuning the guitar applies even more pressure to the trem which in turn squeezes the aluminum block even tighter between the body of the guitar and the trem's inertia block. The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are. At this point, springs are not even necessary except to ground the bridge to the claw. You could just use one slightly tight spring for that. I have all five in place just for looks, but they are just tightened enough so that they do not vibrate excessively.

It may sound complicated, but it is very easy to follow and results in an extremely solid trem mounting.


So with this way the front side with the 6 mounting screws are NOT flush to the body but risen up a bit?


Read the last paragraph again: "The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are."

The trem plate is completely flush to the body.


Then how would you have no gap at the the back side of the block? Notice in that picture the back side of the block is as far back as possible to allow a peice of wood to be inserted.


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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:43 pm 
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joaokorb wrote:
bluesky636, everyone has its peculiarities on settting up our own strats. glad to hear your strats work that way for you.
But in my point of view, the tremolo springs play a big part in tone/ressonance, vibrating the strings into the body, and by locking the 6 screws tight, you´re applying all the force to the top of the wood and the bridge plate, and the less tension on the tremolo springs, or the less springs you got, the less ressonance to inside the body you´ve got. By reducing the springs to 2 or even 1 like said, reduces the sustain and lacks tone, but all IMHO.


Not true. What you are not recognizing is that even though the trem is blocked and does not move, the forces of string tension vs spring tension are still at work. In my view, when you block a trem by placing a wood (or as I did, a metal block) between the trem inertia block and the body on the side opposite the trem springs, you want to maximize string tension and minimize spring tension. By relaxing the spring tension, the strings are able to apply maximum tension to the trem inertia block which then applies maximum pressure to the wood or metal block, holding it tightly to the body in the trem cavity. If you were to then tighten the trem claw and increase spring tension, I have found that it is possible to pull the inertia block a very slight but measureable amount, away from the wood or metal block, reducing the pressure on the trem inertia block/wood or metal block/body interface. I have found that this in turn decreases sustain compared to having the springs slightly loose.

You can easily demonstrate this effect. If you have the trem blocked as one normally does, put your ear on the body of the guitar. I put my ear against the upper horn where the strap attaches. Screw the trem claw in and out to increase and decrease the spring tension on the trem inertia block. You can hear and feel the vibrational energy change in the guitar body. I'm not talking snake oil here. I can clearly hear the changes and you should be able to also. Try it. It is very interesting. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:54 pm 
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ics1974 wrote:
bluesky636 wrote:
ics1974 wrote:
So with this way the front side with the 6 mounting screws are NOT flush to the body but risen up a bit?


Read the last paragraph again: "The trem plate is tight to the body all around with no space between it and the body where the six screws are."

The trem plate is completely flush to the body.


Then how would you have no gap at the the back side of the block? Notice in that picture the back side of the block is as far back as possible to allow a peice of wood to be inserted.


I'm not sure I understand your question. When set up as I described, I have about 1/4" space (maybe a little more, I don't remember) between the trem inertia block and the body at your point "C". My aluminum block fits tightly in that gap. The bridge plate is completely flush with the body on the top of the guitar.

Now I have seen that depending on the guitar, not all have the same amount of space at that point. I have seen photos of guitars with more space and guitars with less space. I don't know the reason for that unless it is just differences in the routing due to different size/shape trem inertia blocks.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:57 pm 
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bluesky636 wrote:
.... In my view, when you block a trem by placing a wood (or as I did, a metal block) between the trem inertia block and the body on the side opposite the trem springs, you want to maximize string tension and minimize spring tension. By relaxing the spring tension, the strings are able to apply maximum tension to the trem inertia block which then applies maximum pressure to the wood or metal block, holding it tightly to the body in the trem cavity.....


This is exactly correct. When I did mine I took it one step further. I removed the inside springs and left only the 2 on the outside (widest apart) and then after tensioning the strings up to tune I looked at the slight space on the opposite side of the block (roughly where the "B" is in the pic) between the block and the block cavity and I used a piece of wooden wedge typically used for installing doors and windows and tapped it into that space to further increase the pressure on the block to wood contact. I had to use up several wedges before I was able to trim both ends of a wedge in just the right places to make a good tight fit.

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:03 pm 
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BMW-KTM wrote:
bluesky636 wrote:
.... In my view, when you block a trem by placing a wood (or as I did, a metal block) between the trem inertia block and the body on the side opposite the trem springs, you want to maximize string tension and minimize spring tension. By relaxing the spring tension, the strings are able to apply maximum tension to the trem inertia block which then applies maximum pressure to the wood or metal block, holding it tightly to the body in the trem cavity.....


This is exactly correct. When I did mine I took it one step further. I removed the inside springs and left only the 2 on the outside (widest apart) and then after tensioning the strings up to tune I looked at the slight space on the opposite side of the block (roughly where the "B" is in the pic) between the block and the block cavity and I used a piece of wooden wedge typically used for installing doors and windows and tapped it into that space to further increase the pressure on the block to wood contact. I had to use up several wedges before I was able to trim both ends of a wedge in just the right places to make a good tight fit.


I thought about doing that also, but never could find anything that fit well enough into the space. The aluminum block I used just happened to be something I found in my junk drawer. It was actually the mounting block for the cutter head of an old matt cutter I used to have. I was looking for something to use to block my trem, I found the cutter head and :idea: With a little sanding I had it. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:32 pm 
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bluesky636,
Can you please take a picture of what you mean?


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 Post subject: Re: Blocking the tremolo question
PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 4:02 pm 
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Guys, what would happen if you just tighten the 6 mounting screws on top bringing the face plate flat onto the guitar surface. Wouldn't this achieve the same end result... rendering the trem fixed and incapable of moving either way? It sounds too simple so there must be a good reason for all this good natured banter.


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