Viewing 37 posts - 1 through 37 (of 37 total)
  • Guitar tuning problem
  • Premier Icon Jerm
    Full Member

    I am sure this is obvious to others but my brain can’t work it out.

    I have a guitar which I have never played. It’s a Squier Standard Strat. My daughter wants to try to play but we can’t tune it. I know there are lots of apps and stuff but that isn’t the issue. The bridge on it it is designed for a tremalo arm and is supported from behind by two springs. I tune the strings one by one but by the time I get to the final one, the first ones are out of tune as the last ones create more tension and therefore pull the the bridge further away from the body. This happens each time so all that happens is that the bridge gets pulled further away from the body but I never manage to get all the strings in tune. I am sure there must be a simple solution to this but my Google powers have failed me. What am I doing wrong?

    The only solution I can come up with is to stick a piece of wood in the back so the bridge cannot move at all but surely there must be something better.

    Thanks very much.

    Premier Icon mattyfez
    Free Member

    I never manage to get all the strings in tune. I am sure there must be a simple solution

    Tuning a gutar is awalys a comromise unless the anotation is 100% perfect, which it never is.

    Premier Icon Scapegoat
    Full Member

    Funnily enough, wedging a block of wood to lock the trem is the go to fix! You could try lighter gauge strings, but a learner isn’t going to use the trem much anyway

    Premier Icon mattyfez
    Free Member

    Thats when your ear comes in, tune by harmonics, and your ears, rather than a digital tone.
    It’s a balancing act, but getting the guitar set up by a trusted local tuner will more than likely help.

    Premier Icon mattyfez
    Free Member

    but a learner isn’t going to use the trem much anyway

    That’s a good point, get rid of the trem bar whilst you learn.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    It’s a floating bridge/trem, don’t block it, it’ll be fine and stable once you know how to tune it.

    Always tune a string up to pitch on a floating bridge/trem.

    1. Start on the low E tune that to pitch, then, A> D> G> B> highE> as normal.

    It will sound out of tune when you play a chord.

    Go back to point one. tune each string up.

    It’ll sound more in tune. but probably still out of tune.

    Got back to point 1, and repeat. You’ll see it gets less every time, until it’s fine. It will be fine. About 3 or 4 times should do it, may be more, may be less.

    You just need to balance the tremolo.

    This is why float bridge/trem guitars are rubbish if you want to use alternative tunings. The strings aren’t inpendent of each other and are balance on a string (which you’ll also notice when bending to and playing multiple strings).

    Premier Icon simondbarnes
    Full Member

    Funnily enough, wedging a block of wood to lock the trem is the go to fix!

    https://www.musicradar.com/how-to/how-to-block-a-stratocaster-tremolo

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    there is no need to block it, you just need to tune it right and it’ll be fine after that. I leave my strat with the floating trem and it’s very stable.

    You can do it faster, if you over tune low E and every string there after a wee bit less. (but leave that for now, and just do it the way I said.)

    Premier Icon mattyfez
    Free Member

    Also bear in mind, brand new strings need to be broken in, they will stretch (a lot) and requires re-tuning untill they settle, they are quite like elastic bands unless you thrash them in, to take out the ‘give’. and then retune them.

    I tend to be really hard on new strings, knowing they will go out of tune as they stretch, and need to settle. And then re-tune them again.

    Premier Icon lesgrandepotato
    Full Member

    Seosamh has it tune it several times tuning up. Once it’s tuned a few firm strums and a final tune. It’ll find it’s own equilibrium soon enough.

    Premier Icon mc
    Free Member

    New strings, or old strings?
    If old, strings do go bad, and can reach the point where they simply won’t tune.
    If new, they could be slipping in the tuners if they’ve not been wrapped correctly.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    btw, could be it just needs a set up. You menton the bridge pulling away from the body, that’s fine, mines sits a good 2/3mm higher. Really depends on what you want it to do.

    If the tuning method above makes it go higher, the guitar probably needs a set up. (you can just take the backplate off and screw the trem block tighter so it won’t lift off the body.)

    Premier Icon chipps
    Full Member

    If you’re a beginner, I agree with @scapegoat. Block the trem, or buy a couple more springs so it’s strong enough to not float. Unless it’s set up well, using it will always cause tuning issues and if you’re struggling to tune it, why add to the issues?

    A blocked trem was good enough for Clapton. And a down-only one worked for Van Halen 😊

    Premier Icon Jerm
    Full Member

    Thanks for all of those responses. They were really helpful. The strings are old. I have had the guitar for 10 years. I dabbled a bit for a month or two but otherwise it has sat in its bag.

    I kept persevering but it just seemed to move the bridge further out. I will give it another go.

    I took the arm trem arm off it. Bizarrely my daughter would rather have an acoustic so has no interest in such things.

    Premier Icon mc
    Free Member

    I’d start with a new set of strings.
    For a standard beginner friendly Strat, you’ll probably want a 9-42 set.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    Jerm
    Full Member
    I have had the guitar for 10 years. I dabbled a bit for a month or two but otherwise it has sat in its bag.

    Buy new strings before you do anything. 😆

    NYXL’s are a good go to.

    Also sounds like you might want to ask someone that knows what they are doing to have a look at it. particularly if you are changing string gauge. which I’m guessing you won’t know.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Full Member

    Blok of something behind the tremolo block and loosen the screws on the ‘claw’ that the springs hook on to so the stings really pull the block into place. If you want to be able to use the trem to drop the string pitch put a block in front of the trem and tighten the strings.
    Personally I’d go with the first option for a bit. Floating bridges are just another pain until you get used to them so get a few hours under the belt before introducing unnecessary complications.
    For trems I often find that the yellow 2 part hose bleed clamps you get with Shimano brakes is a good size as is the yellow piston spacer for Shimano brakes.

    20200913_112426

    Premier Icon Jerm
    Full Member

    I think I’ll go for a block of something until the shops open again then I can take it to someone to have a look at who can put it right for me. If it’s going to be easier to keep in tune without the tremalo then that is what I will go for.

    Thanks once again for all your help.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    *engage pedant mode* There is no bloody tremelo on a strat.

    There is vibrato i’ll even accept whammy bar but there is no bloody tremelo on a strat.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Full Member

    Another tip for tuning a trem that is floating is that changing broken strings is no problem if you are only changing one, but when you put a new set on have a block that ‘just’ fits in the gap behind the block, loosen the spring tension so the strings hold the block in place and then tune up. The block will make sure nothing moves too far out of position when the tension is applied and you can soon get everything in tune and then stretch the strings. Once you’ve done that just gradually re-tension the spring claw until the block just drops out and there you are, floating trem back where it was.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    I think I’ll go for a block of something until the shops open again then I can take it to someone to have a look at who can put it right for me. If it’s going to be easier to keep in tune without the tremalo then that is what I will go for.

    just tighten the screws, you don’t need to block anything.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Full Member

    *enRage pedant mode* No the vibrato is on my Fender amp.

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    Persist, following seosamh77’s advice, once it’s in tune it’ll stay in tune unlike fixed bridge guitars which require a tune each time the temperature changes slightly. Check out the Fender site, there’s all the information on how to set up the floating bridge and tune a Strat. The floating bridges on the basic Squiers work fine.

    When you change the strings on a Strat it’s quicker to change them one at a time and tune before moving onto the next. You can always tune a string until it breaks trying so old strings aren’t the problem.

    Edit: I don’t agree with seosamh77’s last post, if the bridge was set truly floating then tightening the springs without a block will drop the action and you’ll end up having to raise the saddles = more hassle than using a block. And five springs, WTF ?

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    I was just about to come back on and mention that educator, beat me to it. Blocking/tighting the trem will lower the strings, defo agree.

    changing bridge height by blocking or tightening, will require saddles to be adjusted and changing string gauge (assuming you don’t currently know what’s on it) will probably need the truss rod to be adjust if the gauge is changing.

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    And five springs, WTF ?

    first pic that came up, no mine. 😆

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    Poor Jerm, I bet you’re now wishing you’d never asked. Follow seosamh77’s advice on progressively tuning up and Eddiebaby’s advice on using a block if you wish.

    I’d just take the time to tune it and if it plays nicely when in tune leave it at that, the Squiers leave the factory very well set up with 9-42 strings so if you replace them buy the same again, your daughter won’t need anything heavier for years (if ever).

    Premier Icon johndrummer
    Full Member

    Get a Tele. Or a Les Paul. Or an SG. You get the idea 😉

    Premier Icon Jerm
    Full Member

    Good grief. My head is spinning with all of that. I know where I am with bikes but this is a whole new world. I will persist for now but on lockdown ending it is off to the nearest guitar shop.

    Premier Icon johndrummer
    Full Member

    I have a few guitars, my favourite to play is the cheapest, a Squier Bullet Telecaster. My least favourite is the most expensive, a Fender Player Stratocaster. Go figure.
    My Harley Benton SC550 (almost a Les Paul) is also very nice

    Premier Icon Edukator
    Free Member

    You don’t have to be able to lace a wheel to ride a bike but getting a Strat set up so it’s nice to play requires a similar set of skills to building a good wheel. I like my Strat though (a Mex), it’s a comfortable tactile thing that hangs well. I’ve never used it in public, that’s invariably a Tele, but the Strat’s frets are the most worn of my guitars.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
    Free Member

    @jerm where are you?

    Sound advice from @seosamh77

    Of my Strats only one still has a floating trem. Others are ‘locked down’ via the screws.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Full Member

    Of my Strats only one still has a floating trem. Others are ‘locked down’ via the screws.

    Not so easy with a 2 point pivot but as you say great with a classic trem.
    My Strat has a tiny amount of pull up. I set it up with a credit card under the back of the bridge and when at tune I pop it out and get just a tiny amount of pull for a better sounding bar vibrato.

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Full Member

    Of my Strats only one still has a floating trem. Others are ‘locked down’ via the screws.

    Not so easy with a 2 point pivot but as you say great with a classic trem.
    My Strat has a tiny amount of pull up. I set it up with a credit card under the back of the bridge and when at tune I pop it out and get just a tiny amount of pull for a better sounding bar vibrato.
    It just feel a bit too stolid to me if fully locked down.

    Premier Icon Tom-B
    Free Member

    Fairly sure that that way you describe is the way that most decent guitar techs would set them up as ‘standard’. I’m a bit weird…..until a few years ago all of my Strats were tuned to Eb, locked down trem and strung 11-54. String 3 was fairly horrible to bend though! I was fairly heavily in a SRV tunnel vision phase at this point!

    Premier Icon iffoverload
    Free Member

    ITS NOT THAT HARD!

    1. tighten the claw on the springs so the bridge is tight against the body

    2. use the trem arm to lift the bridge to the correct height and slip athe appropriate number of bussiness cards/post its/etc under.

    3. tune to pitch

    4. loosen screws on claw really slowly and evenly till cards fall out.

    5. do bridge/intonation when you get new strings

    works like a charm to give correct float and stop the running round in circles with the tuning changing the float changing the tuning changing the float…..

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Full Member

    I started a thread a few weeks back on setup and string gauges and got some good advice and links for things like setting intonation.

    This one

    Premier Icon seosamh77
    Full Member

    eddiebaby
    Full Member
    Of my Strats only one still has a floating trem. Others are ‘locked down’ via the screws.

    Not so easy with a 2 point pivot but as you say great with a classic trem.
    My Strat has a tiny amount of pull up. I set it up with a credit card under the back of the bridge and when at tune I pop it out and get just a tiny amount of pull for a better sounding bar vibrato.

    I usually set my trem up so that I can get a whole tone out of it, or there abouts… problem with that is that if you screws in the claw flat/level to the gutar(what I’d imagine most would do naturally), it’s not even across the strings, some string go sharper than others, it’s a bit of a compromise, but you can equalise how each string moves by tightening one side of the claw more than the other. Not an exact science, but it’s a good way to look at it. You can tune it to somewhere around a half tone if that suits better. Just depends what you like really. Entirely down to a person’s preference init.

Viewing 37 posts - 1 through 37 (of 37 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Thanks for popping by - why not stay a while?IT'S FREE

Sign up as a Singletrack Member and you can leave comments on stories, use the classified ads, and post in our forums.

Join us, join in, it’s free, and fun.