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.

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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.

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Some tape to measure where the proper cavity should be.

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Our weapon of choice: a 12mm router bit with a ball bearing on top.

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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!

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And we’re done. Almost.

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A bit of black paint to finish off the freshly cut wood, pickguard in place; we’re almost there…

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Yup. Done. And she works just fine.

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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!

About Orpheo

Orpheo is a long-time member of the Seymour Duncan forum with an interest in the technical side of luthery and pickups and plays jazz, blues, rock and metal on predominantly carved top single cutaway guitars.
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  • Addis Solis

    the problem was the floyd rose itself, the base plate wasn’t straight. But i think it’s cheaper to route the wood than installing a better tremolo sistem.

  • Dave

    I had a black Mexican Strat with a Floyd (in a way still have it cause I sold it to my dad), but I never had any issues with it never returning to zero. I just routed a Jackson V project Ive been working on.

  • http://Techgage.com/ Matthew Harris

    You do know that those Strats have a micro-tilt setup, right? Float the floyd, tilt the neck and enjoy nice low action all without routing the body.

    • Lars L

      I just bought one of those HSS Floyd Rose strats – had no idea about that Micro-Tilt feature! Thanks for the tip! So perhaps I start with some micro-tilting, before I (maybe) go ahead and route my way to a floating tremolo…

      • http://Techgage.com/ Matthew Harris

        I had mine floating about 1/8″ even above the deck. It worked as well as my recessed floyd equipped e9 Squier does.

  • Omri KB

    Looks just like the Floyd Cavity in my Jackson Dinky, well done….

  • Jay Hale

    I prefer recessed Floyds. So much more comfortable.