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A bit on how I set my trem up for whammy use.


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#1 Mad-Mike

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 02:50 AM

1.) The Bridge Design
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Sorry about the blurry picture, it's the best I could do with the 3 megapixel camera I have. Anyway, see the cigar-tube-like bar at the bottom, you have 3 holes in it, the two innermost holes adjust the spring tension, the outer hole is for the trem bar, and the trem bar is held in by a grub screw. I'll go over this later on after reassembly. Above that is the bridge, the holes on each side adjust the action. The bridge uses a #2 Hex Wrench, the spring adjustment uses a #2.5, and the whammy bar uses a 3. My guitar was modified with a regular screw in place of the grub screw so I could just use a screwdriver.

2.) Dissassembling this monster
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As you can see, the rocker bridge pulls right out, it's held in by spring tension alone.

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Five screws hold the trem plate on, the trem is it's own assembly. As you can see, in this somewhat blurry picture, the cigar tube attaches to a post, and the post connects to a spring, there are 2 springs, and they simply snap onto the posts. These posts pivot on a "knife edge" on the metal plate. They can get worn, but surprisingly, the wear does not hinder the trem as much as one might think. The posts have 2 notches in the end going all the way around, these are used to increase spring tension in combination with the poles themselves, the closer the spring is to the bridge plate, the more tension is exerted on the tailpiece to pull it backward.

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Right here we see the bottom of the bridge plate, the two springs hook into a pair of raised metal slots in the bottom of the plate. They can be removed with some care and a pair of needlenose pliars, if they need replacement, but chances are, considering how unpopular it is to use this trem system, they probably aren't, and are probably a pain to get off the bridge plate, so it's better just to leave em.

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The posts protrude through the holes, but they are too wide to pull through, so here's how I remove them.....I just simply unscrew them from the bottom of the tailpiece....

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Here's the posts removed with the tailpiece. Now it's time to clean off the trem plate, I try to get rid of as much of the black gunk around the pivots as possible. I use some kind of grease to lube the pivots and the screws. So far I've used the following stuff.......

- Vaseline, works great, but way too much to use one something I as little as this, and yields very funny looks at the checkout at some places.

- Blistex, what I used this time, it smells a little weird, but wears off after awhile.

- Trumpet Tuning Slide Grease, you school band people now have an excuse to buy band instrument supplies other than for a horn.

The reason for lubing them up is to both protect from corrosion and other toxic elements from the metal. I'm probably the nastiest to their trem than anyone here. The other reason is friction, the less of it there is, the better the trem will stay in tune.

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After greasing up the pivots, you'll want to install the posts, tailpiece, and springs again. Till it looks like this. It's at this time to decide upon first or second notch for the springs. I use the one closest to the trem plate (second) because my springs, after over 8 years of whammy'n action, will fall off the first one. You also might want to make a rough adjustment of the tailpiece, I'd say roughly a 3rd of a centimeter off the plate with the springs at-ease, that's what I use, fine adjustment comes later after the strings are installed. Make sure the tailpiece has the holes for the string's ball ends aimed towards the headstock, not toward the bridge. The trem bar hole should be on the right side (right handed guitars), or the left side (left handed guitars), basically, the trem bar hole should be towards the volume/tone controls.

Then I take some 3M tape, a VERY small amount, about as small as you can get off the container, and wrap it around the action screws on the bridge, and point some tape at the tip to act as a wedge to get the screw into the bridge post with the tape on it. The tape get's cut up on the threads of the posts, and gums it's ways into the post holes, creating a good amount of gumminess to hold the screws in place, but still leave them adjustable.

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Then I put graphite in the nut slots. I usually use cheap mechanical pencils for this, mostly because I'm too friggin lazy to sharpen a regular wooden one. I also lightly deburr or clean out the gunk with a needle file if one is handy. In the end, the slots should be clean except for the graphite worked into them by the pencil.

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After this, I install the strings, on some guitars, with some string gauges, the bar might be a little too low to start with, I start with the Low E for this reason, and press down on the trem bar while I run the string back through the hole out the back of the bar, then under the bar and over the bridge saddle, then up to the headstock. With stock kluscons, I hold the string about 3 tuners above the tuner it goes into for the lowest 3 strings, and cut them at that point, then insert the tip into the hole, bend it sideways into the slot, and wind them neatly on the capstans, with the excess going down towards the headstock. I cut at 4 tuners on the headstock on the g string, and don't even bother cutting the B and high E, of course, this is using 009-042 gauge strings (that's what I use). You might have to adjust the cutting for the Klusons if you use heavier strings. I usually have 2-3 winds on the lowest 3, and 4-8 on the highest 3.

The strings are then tuned up to the pitch that I usually set the guitar at (concert pitch in my case, though some use different tunings). After tuning them the first few times, I pull the string up off the fretboard about a centimeter to stretch it out, and then retune it. What this does is stretches the metal out, this is part of how the guitar's tuning becomes stable. I do this about 2-3 times, I don't stretch them too much or then when I use the whammy bar, the metal will retract, and the strings will go sharp, which comes to the next part, the whammy bar itself.......

4.) Installing/fixing the Whammy Bar

The whammy bar installs into the hole in the tailpiece nearest the volume/tone controls, and is held in by a grub screw. However, the pain in the arse about this thing, at least on the Jag-Stang (as I hear the old ones on vintage Mustangs have a rubber plunger to hold it in place), is that the screw tightened up against the bar wears a groove in the bar if you move it around, as well as wears the tip of the screw. I found a workaround to this using rubber plugs for car tire repair. I cut the small end off, insert it into the hole where the grub screw goes, then screw the screw in over the piece of rubber. The screw then holds the rubber against the bar, holding it in place, but not cutting a groove into it. This works really well so far as I've been doing it. Nice part is the bar can be moved out of the way when not in use, but no metal damage occurs.

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This is an optional mod for more upward travel that I have done. The Mustang/Jag-Stang trem bar also acts as a "trem-lock" feature oddly enough. If locked into place without the grub, and a string breaks, I've had it hold the guitar in tune before because of the excess bar hanging out under the tailpiece and locked in with the grub screw. But since I do Dimebag type shreiks and squeals with this thing that involves upward bar movement, I wrapped a light coat of electrical tape around the end of the trem bar, leaving the metal below just as long as the tailpiece is thick, so that no extra metall protrudes under the tailpiece, allowing more upward pitch.

Now more string stretching.......

The key to stretching strings to work with a non-locking system like this is not to stretch them fully like you would on a hard-tail, but have them stretched out just enough to not go flat, but not so stretched out that you do a bar dive, and they go sharp from the metal particles pulling back together under the release in tension. So after stretching out the strings, now it's time to do a few bar dives to allow the metal to contract back onto itself, in the end leaving the guitar able to do a full bar dive and come back up to pitch. It's basically physics at work. As for upward pulls, because the strings are stretched out enough, it should be fine, but playing the strings in a little is not a bad idea.

The stem of the trem bar should also be about 85-75 degrees back from the vertical. 48 is too much, and 90 tends to bring out tuning problems when using the bar both ways, especially when the strings are stretched out.

Anyway, this is what I go through to get this thing to stay in tune, overkill, it is, but it does not need it every time, only once every few years or more. These photos were taken after my Jag-Stang had not had this done for almost 5-6 years of the 7-8 years it's been with me. The string stretching is the only thing I really do every time.

And no, I did not go through the trouble of measuring this stuff. I may be exact, but I'm not THAT obsessive compulsive. I just have good eyes for making measurements.

Questions & comments welcome.

UPDATE: Feb 2010 - How the Fender Mustang Vibrato Works

I drew this diagram last night.
http://i31.photobuck...nctionality.jpg
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#2 Loco

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 11:48 AM

Just wanna say Mad-Mike, you've gone to a helluva lot of trouble here! Well done and thanks for sharing all this research.
Go kiss my axe!

#3 iCEByTes

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 08:59 AM

should be added on guides :)
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#4 Fran

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 02:29 PM

Interesting stuff mike.
I picked up a JS today (i'll post some pics later), brand spanking new at a good price so i had to have it!
I tried you trem set-up method and the tuning stability improved instantly, i'll put it through its paces at rehearsal tomorrow and see just how stable it is.
A couple of other things i've done is use plumbers PTFE tape (a non-permanent seal used on screwed together fittings) on the bridge post screws and tailpiece screws. Them suckers are moving nowhere. Also graphite in the nut slots obviously.
The next thing is pup upgrades. I have a SD JB and hotrail i've not used in ages so they may be getting installed next week.

#5 iCEByTes

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 10:24 PM

hey . Fix it please :)

or add on guides

its works better than any other guide

Mad-mike Jag-stang Setup 4 life

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#6 iCEByTes

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 07:35 PM

somme mod please fix it

its very , very cooler Way to settup
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#7 robert(original)

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 12:08 PM

awsome mike,
you should really be a tech, at a shop or something, your no nonse approach to things is classic.

#8 srice101

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 12:20 PM

when you talk about stringing and you use the trem bar to get the e string through, is the trem bar the same as the whammy bar?

#9 Mad-Mike

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 03:35 PM

when you talk about stringing and you use the trem bar to get the e string through, is the trem bar the same as the whammy bar?


Yeah, different people have different names for the part that the user interacts with to make the pits drop or rise by loosening/tightening the strings.

Whammy Bar
Tremelo Bar (short version: Trem Bar)
Vibrato Bar
Wang Bar (snicker)

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#10 Mad-Mike

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 09:14 PM

Why is this topic not hot?????

Also I think you forgot the spring tension ajustment bit


I know, kind of surprises me. I conquer the #1 complaint on the Mustang/Jag-Stang/Maverick vibrato. Probably just the whole anti-whammy/anti-80's alt-rock thing or whatever. I need to write a new version soon anyway, or make a youtube vid the next time I restring my Stangs, plus now I can discuss the merits of lowering the spring tension in the vintage Mustang vibratos, and so fourth since I have both a vintage example (66' Mustang), and a modern example (96' Jag-Stang).

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#11 Cymastar

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 09:21 PM

I <3 vibrato use...

I don't think it's an alt-rock thing. MBV, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr all relied heavily on vibrato use...

"cobainjagstang123 doesn't make fender jaguars, but if he did, they would probably be the worst fender jaguars in the world."


#12 SmutVendetta

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 01:49 AM

You mean rely. They're all still around n kickin.

#13 Cymastar

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 01:13 PM

You're right, ya know?


I don't know where my head was at...

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#14 Mad-Mike

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 02:06 PM

I don't know as much about Dino Jr., or Sonic Youth, I've only recently (last 2-3 years) been giving them a listen because most of those groups I never heard about. When I lived in Alabama, Alt-Rock for us was basically the usual mainstream subjects (Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Gin Blossoms...etc...), so moving out of that podunk hell was really a change as far as music goes.

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#15 Fran

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 02:38 PM

I know Al is'nt keen on a lot of 'stickys' but this thread should be up there imo.

#16 Arthurjaded

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 04:55 AM

Hi, just wondering if you could help me. I recently changed my scrach plate but now have the strings back on. However the action seems very low. The strings are making a lot of buz and whenever I bend the high E it touches the fret board, can anyone help. Its as high As I can set it!

#17 mcconnachiea

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 06:25 PM

Wow! Cheers mike! I just did this and I am amazed at the results, but I set the bar too high so I can only do pull ups :-mad

Why is that the one allen key you need goes missing? Maybe it went off to do another series of the apprentice......
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#18 mcconnachiea

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 03:21 PM

And another thing I found is that you need light strings or you can't do divebombs :(

Do you use fender super bullets mike?
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#19 Mad-Mike

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 10:44 PM

And another thing I found is that you need light strings or you can't do divebombs :(

Do you use fender super bullets mike?


Sometimes, I also use Earnie Ball Super Slinkey 009-042, if they still sold em' I'd be using Earnie Ball 5150 EVH 009-040 strings as well. The reason I prefer a lighter low-E on my Jag-Stang is to compensate for those "urban assault pickups" that I have installed in that thing, I've been known to bottom out speakers in low wattage combos with a 045 or anything heavier on the Low E, especially when I tune down.

Also, I think you can work with heavier strings on the vintage Mustang vibratos, my Mustang runs with one spring with the one post cranked to near full tension (to balance with the seized pivot) and with 009's, it's still almost all the way back. I think Fender used heavier duty springs back in the 60's-80's on their Mustang vibratos, I've also heard the same about the Jaguar and Jazzmaster vibratos as well. Seems the MIJ/CIJ trems are made with 009 to 012 gauge strings in mind.

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#20 Mad-Mike

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 10:47 PM

Hi, just wondering if you could help me. I recently changed my scrach plate but now have the strings back on. However the action seems very low. The strings are making a lot of buz and whenever I bend the high E it touches the fret board, can anyone help. Its as high As I can set it!


Could be the neck is bottoming out on the scratchplate (hangs too far forward towards the neck cavity, overhanging, and holding the neck up at an angle. Either that or you must have one heck of a shim in there.

I might want to see pics so I know what's going on, could be the neck was screwed down with the back too high as well. Unless there was an angled neck joint on the reissues that I'm not aware of.

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