“Locking” Up A Floating Bridge

Dimebag Neck Bridge Pickup Pantera Damageplan
Going crazy on the whammy bar can be a lot of fun!

Floating bridges are great. You can make all sorts of weird and wacky noises diving and raising the whammy bar. From simple pitch variations to harmonic squeals, car engines revving and fluttering noises, floating bridges provide hours of fun. There is a great list of sounds and how to do them in Peter’s article on Five Fun Floyd Rose Tricks.

But what happens if a string breaks? Suddenly your guitar is all out of tune and everything comes grinding to a halt. What happens if you want to switch to drop-D, for example? You get the low E down to D just fine, but everything else goes a bit too sharp.
So what do you do to deal with the times you don’t want to do all the crazy whammy sounds? There are a number of options to sort out blocking the bridge, from the free DIY options like stuffing the tremolo cavity with a wood block to tremolo stoppers of various designs. They don’t allow you to switch from floating to blocked on the fly though. There are options that allow you to switch between floating, dive-only and blocked but they cost a bit of money. What if there were an option that would allow you to switch between floating and blocked/dive-only on the fly that could easily be found around homes and easily be purchased at most hardware stores?

The cheap tremolo stopper solution.
The cheap tremolo stopper solution.

Well the good news is that you can. Remember that barrel-bolt lock you might have on your toilet, bathroom or shed door? Well, the right sized one is the perfect candidate for “locking” your bridge.

Find yourself a 38mm or similar size barrel-bolt at your local hardware store (anything bigger won’t really fit in the tremolo cavity).

I originally wrote about this idea on my blog http://www.lonephantom.com. You can also see my original post, The $4 tremolo stopper. Please remember that performing any modification to your guitars is done at your own risk. We will not take responsibility for any damages.

Step 1:
the main barrel-bolt is the only part you need, so get rid of the secondary part. Put the bolt in the locked position, with the pin sticking out, like it’s locking a door. Hold it in your tremolo spring cavity with the bolt against the sustain block, without pushing on the block.

Step 2:
Use a hand drill with a 2mm or 3mm drill bit to drill a slight indent to mark the first screw. Get one of the screws that came with the barrel-bolt and screw it in with the appropriate Phillips head screw driver.

Step 3:
Line the barrel bolt up with the edge of the tremolo spring cavity, ensuring it’s parallel and make another slight indent in the screw hole diagonally across from the first screw. Then screw the next screw in with your screwdriver.

 

Tremolo stopper in the locked position.
Tremolo stopper in the locked position.

Step 4:
Repeat the same process for the last two screw holes and hand-tighten all four screws to make sure the new tremolo blocker is nice and secure. Now marvel at your awesome new cheap-as-chips tremolo stopper!
With the barrel-bolt engaged in the longest position, your tremolo is set to dive-only. And with it engaged in the shortest position your tremolo is full floating.

Tremolo stopper in the floating position
Tremolo stopper in the floating position.

Now, with the stopper in the middle of the cavity there’s no real room for the middle spring. I’ve worked with this in two ways. One of my guitars has two heavy duty springs installed. The guitar in these pictures has the third spring in the second position between the sustain block and spring claw. The bridge still balances nicely when in floating mode with the springs in this configuration.

So there we have it. A fantastic little adjustable tremolo stopper for a few dollars and a little work. If you have any cool cheap or DIY mods, why not use the comments section to tell us about them.

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3 Comments

  1. Have any unwanted, extra cable off your headphones?
    What I like to do is, get the upper side of the frame, and either drill a hole to bolt a screw in, or just melt and stick any piece or bent plastic on top, as a hook (in the middle) using any kind of soldering gun. Then swirl the extra cable around the frame onto the top, getting it even to the middle, and wrap it over the front side. (or back. depending on which way you went with in the first place).
    This usually helps when your headphones break, and you have that extra, thin cable off the inside, that connects the two phones together. (usually placed inside the frame. so you can’t see it unless opened).
    Hope this helped. Might have some more DIY ideas.
    Apologies for no photos.

  2. I got sick and tired of adjusting my floyd to change tunings so I installed a second claw by bolting it to the body of the guitar while leaving the original spring claw in its initial position. You have to either file or cut off the metal fold that holds the screws to make adjustments on your second spring claw but it’s effective as hell if you always use the same gauges. All you have to do is adjust the floyd for the lower tuning and mark the position and then screw the additional claw to the body. After that you just set up the original claw for the higher tuning that you want to play in and bam, all you have to do when you want to switch tunings is move the springs and retune.

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