Solving Floyd Rose Troubles With Guitar Surgery!
A buddy of mine bought a replacement guitar for his beloved Strat. The neck was just too worn out and instead of buying a new neck, he just got a new guitar. He chose something very close, a Mexican-made Fender strat, factory loaded with a Floyd Rose tailpiece and a humbucker in the bridge position. Unfortunately he was having major issues with his Floyd: it just wouldn’t return to its neutral point. Tuning issues can be caused by bad tuners, poorly cut nuts, worn knife edges (the section of the Floyd that pivots against the studs in the body) or wobbly studs – but it wasn’t any of those issues. There wasn’t enough space for the trem to get to a neutral point, at all. So after two band rehearsals he got fed up with the issue and decided to solve the problem once and for all. In his opinion he needed to make the trem a full-floating one in stead of a flat mounted bridge. The trem won’t just return to its neutral point, but will also have the ability to be pulled ‘up’, increasing the pitch as well as being able to lower the pitch.
Here we see the problem very well. The baseplate can’t lie flat on the body without raising the trem, which would make the action high as a kite.
Some tape to measure where the proper cavity should be.
Our weapon of choice: a 12mm router bit with a ball bearing on top.
Pickguard? Gone! Lots of tape, double-sided stickytape and one template for each side of the route. Measure, measure: cut. Measure twice, cut once. Let’s go!
And we’re done. Almost.
A bit of black paint to finish off the freshly cut wood, pickguard in place; we’re almost there…
Yup. Done. And she works just fine.
Beauty shot. The trem comes back to its default position, no more tuning issues. This mod worked great!
Sometimes a mod can be a lot easier and (thus) a lot cheaper. Some guys would have raised the trem and raised the neck too with a shim, but in my opinion, you want as little ‘stuff’ as possible between the neck and between the body, to maximize the body-neck joint. More wood to wood contact is always my goal, so I would have gone with this option. You could’ve also routed the neck pocket under an angle, which would have the same effect as a shim, but that wouldn’t allow for a bend-up with the trem, albeit a slight one in this case. This mod could be done by yourself but only if you are familiar with working with wood, or if you would like to learn working with wood and you don’t care about the looks of the final result. Otherwise? Just go see a tech! There are at least ten good reasons to see a tech, and this one might be a good eleventh!