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Strat - blocking trems

Postby Madman_Greg » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:11 am


I am hoping some of the Guitar Guru’s that frequent this section can point me in the right direction.

I have had a Roland VG-88 for some years. And to be honest hated putting the pickup on the guitar (double sided tape) and the black wart that has the control knobs etc… on my real Strat. So much so that it gets put on for a while then taken off for a much longer while.

So I picked up a Squier Strat at a boot sale a couple of months ago with the intention of permanently installing the pickup and black wart.

I would like to block out the trem to assist in better tuning stability, Now I know some might say, well set the trem up properly and you will not have problems. But this is a cheapish guitar and I have no plans to use the trem, so want to block out the trem.

I have seen a few different options, wood, even coins and extra springs via searches from the web. I do not think I am not that interested in sustain as the GK2A midi pickup is the main thing here.

Any thoughts and guidance much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any responses.
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Re: Strat - blocking trems

Postby zenguitar » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:15 am

First up Greg, there's nothing wrong with blocking a Strat trem. There are a lot of guitarists out there who never use the trem but prefer the sound of a trem Strat over a hardtail Strat. And Eric Clapton is high on that list, so you are in good company.

Tonally, there are a few things going on when you block the trem compared to a hardtail. First of all, all that missing wood from the trem cavity changes the body resonances. Secondly, the trem assembly sounds different to a hardtail. And the trem springs function a little like a hardware reverb.

There are two ways of blocking the trem, both equally valid. One is to fit a lump of wood between the back of the trem block and the body so the trem can't move in either direction. The other is to tighten the trem claw so tight that the springs pull the trem plate flush against the body, which does allow you to use the trem for down bends if you want to.

I've done both conversions many times for customers. My personal preference is the second, because I feel that gives the best 'trem spring reverb' which I like, and can be fine tuned by using different strength springs and 'tilting' the trem claw to make the springs on one side tighter than the other.

However, the 'trem spring reverb' might slightly confuse the Roland pick-up tracking. Not a great deal, but it might slow it down a fraction. So you might want to consider replacing the trem completely with a hard tail bridge, although it would have to be strung through the rear of the bridge rather than through the body.

So, I would suggest tightening the trem springs first to pull the trem plate flat to the body. If you have tracking problems, whack in a wooden block between the trem block and the body, and finally consider a hardtail bridge if all else fails.

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Re: Strat - blocking trems

Postby Mister Natural » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:37 am

zenguitar wrote: The other is to tighten the trem claw so tight that the springs pull the trem plate flush against the body, which does allow you to use the trem for down bends if you want to


This is my tech's preferred way of setting-up the Strat as well

He likes using 3 springs with "girly"-sized .09 strings, 4 springs with my pref .11 set

Not sure I get the "natural reverb" thing that Zen describes but . . . OK; if it works for you; I'm cool with it

the Strat is an amazing instrument; cheap or otherwise - proper set-up is essential to it's happiness
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Re: Strat - blocking trems

Postby Dan Bo » Fri Nov 18, 2011 10:44 pm

zenguitar wrote:The other is to tighten the trem claw so tight that the springs pull the trem plate flush against the body, which does allow you to use the trem for down bends if you want to.

+1

I add 2 more springs to the trem and tighten the claw.

Personally i hate it when I bend the B string and the E goes flat...... .

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Re: Strat - blocking trems

Postby Madman_Greg » Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:55 am



Many thanks for the replies.

I have another guitar I acquired at a boot sale (Yamaha Pacifica for £40) which when set up is going to be gifted to a young lad that wants to learn guitar. So I tried it on that first. This only has two springs on the trem at present, but it all appears to work well and does the job. I have ordered some more springs for both guitars.

Re the reverb thing Zen was talking about. I can only imagine this is part of the bell like quality you get with some strats and is a result of the springs never entirely damping the vibration and reflecting some of the vibration back. Will let Andy comment.
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Re: Strat - blocking trems

Postby zenguitar » Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:16 pm

Madman_Greg wrote:Re the reverb thing Zen was talking about. I can only imagine this is part of the bell like quality you get with some strats and is a result of the springs never entirely damping the vibration and reflecting some of the vibration back. Will let Andy comment.

Pretty much spot on.

If you think about how a spring reverb tank works it converts the audio signal into a physical vibration that then excites a number of springs. Then a transducer at the other end converts those mechanical vibrations back to an electrical signal. The sound travels down the spring, some of it is converted and some of it is reflected back down the spring.

The mechanics of a strat trem are remarkably similar.

And taking it a stage further. If you strike a trem spring you will hear it sound with it's own pitch. That pitch depends on the spring tension and the material it is made from. So by adjusting the trem claw, trying different springs and arranging them in different patterns you have a lot of control over the pitch of all the springs.

Using that you can 'tune' the resonances of a guitar. Either into a favoured key, or to spread them across all keys equally.

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