Gary Brawer on Maintenance: The Things We Do for Trem

Last time around we looked at some trem-related products on the market, so let’s talk about a few D-I-Y trem tips that might help you out in a pinch.
Image placeholder title

Last time around we looked at some trem-related products on the market, so let’s talk about a few D-I-Y trem tips that might help you out in a pinch.

Here’s a way to quickly disable your floating trem temporarily, which is something you may want to do when recording some heavy rhythm tracks or whenever you need extra tuning stability. With a floating system, notes can go flat from the pick hitting the strings, and then the bridge snaps back, giving you some out-of-tune notes and often a “boing” noise. Take something like a guitar knob, pencil eraser, or shape a piece of wood, and put it under the back of the trem, keeping it at a neutral height so if you pulled up on the arm the rear of the trem would be held up. Tighten the springs or add a spring to hold the trem against the new “block.” Only use enough tension to keep the trem in place so it will not move when bending a string. A more permanent solution is to shape a piece of wood to fit between the trem block and body in the trem spring cavity. Glue or screw it in place for easy removal. A tip for fitting the wood block squarely to the trem block: Take a piece of 180 grit sandpaper and cut it in a 4" long strip just wider than the trem block. Push down on the trem arm and insert the sandpaper, with the rough side facing the new wood block, let go of the arm and evenly pull the sandpaper out, sanding the protruding areas off to make a perfectly mated block.

On this same subject, we’ve also determined that the weight and length of the trem arm adds to the boing factor. Ibanez came up with a great solution for Joe Satriani: They made the arm out of carbon fiber, and it worked pretty well. I think titanium may be next.

People often ask about trem springs as well. I have definitely felt a big difference in springs from a tension point of view. Raw Vintage spent some time coming up with the same formula as a vintage spring and you can tell the difference. Eric Johnson was in the store recently and bought a ’60s Strat. It was missing a trem spring. He spent a while testing springs out of my collection until he found one that responded and sounded the way he wanted.

Want to keep your Floyd Rose but lose the locking nut? Here’s what you can do: Pull the strings through the tuning pegs so that the ball ends are now up on each post. Then pull the string taut and clip it just behind the Floyd saddle. You’ll then have just enough string to feed it into the bridge and clamp it. It will only take about one turn to get it up to pitch. It’s a poor man’s locking tuner! With a properly slotted and lubed nut it will stay in tune great.

All of these tricks will get you more familiar with how trem systems operate, and that will make it easier for you to come up with trem tricks of your own.

Gary Brawer is bald, he’s bad, and he gives a sh*t about your guitar. His many clients include Joe Satriani, Metallica, and Neal Schon.