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pics, review and the right way to lock down a stang trem.

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pics, review and the right way to lock down a bridge on a guitar ending in stang.

okay. i got a fender mustang mij reissue in sonic blue. i hated the tortise-shell pickguard so replaced it with a white perloid one. also, i wired in a single-coil sized humbucking hot rail into the bridge position. i love the look and coulour of this guitar, the small neck makes it perfect. though i placed 11's on it already, the guitar was horrible out of intonation with the stock strings. fit and finish are superb, the guitar is everything i expected. well, obviously i was having extreme tuning-stability issues with the mustang. first, i land-locked the floating bridge with the electric tape mod. then, i scoured this wonderful website for options for locking down the trem. i have locked down all the stratocasters i have by removing the tremolo springs, pushing the bottom of the bridge all the way up (from the back) and lodging a sawed-off drumstick horizontally between the metal bridge and the guitar's cavity. instant lock down, killer sustain and rock-stable tuning. i have 2 jag-stangs and have had them for a several years. one is a sonic blue original first-issue that is like new. i don't play it, but keep in a case for the sake of preservation of one of my favourite guitars. the second is a pawn-shopper in fiesta red with several chips in the paint. i play it regularly and it stays in suprisingly good tune given it is in it's stock setup. no modifications have ever been done to it and i don't feel that they deserve the bad wrap they get out of the box. the only thing i hate about this guitar is it's lack of intended contours on the front and back. man, that would this guitar capable of being perfect. yeah, i know that there are a lot of people doing really fine work along the lines of adding the contours. however, i'm weird about permanently altering things like that. so anyway, the main reason i wanted the mustang is because of it's contours. so, after exploring my trem-lock options, i opted for the one described in the faq tutorial by removing the springs and screws, flipping the tailpiece and bolting everything down solid in one piece. i found the directions a bit hard to follow without pictures, but eventually figured it out. however, i wasn't really sure if the washers were to be placed on the bottom side of the bridge plate before the bolt, or on the top of the plate between it and the flipped tailpiece. i tried both ways. underneath, the washers were too big to fit into the hollowed body and hit the body of the guitar. on top looked a little tacky and truthfully just isn't needed. so, i eliminated the washers and just locked the tailpiece down directly to the bridge plate. everything worked fine. i kept this setup for about a week, but something wasn't feeling right about it. i mean it played and sounded the same, but occasionally by low e would pop out of it's saddle and i found myself pre-occupied with looking at the strings that were now going through the back of the guitar and straight onto the saddles. this pre-occupation was the apparent lack of string-tension from the tailpiece to the saddle. the tail flip eliminates the intended function of the strings being strung through backwards and wrapping under the tailpiece and back up at an angle to the saddles. this way allows more string tension which increases sustain, keeps them from popping out of their saddles and what i feel is a more solid set up that allows actual notes to reverberate through the wood more efficiently. okay, well i decided that the flipped way wasn't providing nearly enough stabilizing tension. so, i took everything apart again and placed the washers back between the plate and the tailpiece flipped back the correct way. i did this in hopes of having enough room to run the string through and under while still having a locked down bridge. well as you know, any washer you will find sticks out too far and prevents the high and low e strings from being able to pass through. theoretically, you could run both e strings around the washers placing them at slightly inward angles and back straight in the saddle. that sounded disastrous and i didn't even consider the option. i know many of you feel that the stock way is adequate with the spring tension at it's highest, but playing strats for years i have come to find that with hard strumming patterns, a hardtail is the only way to go for tuning stability. finally, after some trial and error, i figured out how to hardtail a mustang while keeping everything stock, no permanent modifications, keeping intended string tension and for cheap. heres how:

1. unscrew the entire tailpiece, remove it from the guitar.

2. remove the tremolo springs and the stock screws that go up through the metal plate and into the tailpiece.

3. go to the hardware store with your tailpiece and find 2 bolts with nuts that fit the thread. they need to be about 1.5 inches long.

4. now go to a place like lowes or home depot and buy a little baggie of tiny washers that are no larger in diameter than the head of your bolt. the hole will actually be slightly smaller than the bolt's head. the exact ones i got can be purchased at lowes in the bolt/nut./washer cabinets. you need 4 washers total and 5 come in the baggie i got. here is the exact information: hillman #10 flat washers stainless 806403.5 H#882047 A25.

5. next, take a drill with a bit that is barely too large to fit in the hole. drill the hole out just enough for the bolt to thread onto the washer. do this to all 4 washers.

6. even though these are the smallest diameter washers that will fit these bolts, when placed between the the tailpiece and plate they are still a tiny bit too big to allow the 2 e strings to go toward the bridge in a perfectly straight line. what you must do is take a grinder and grind one flat edge on each washer. envision a flat tire, that is what they should look like. if you don't have a grinder like myself, you can do what i did. take some sharp wire-cutter pliers and try to snip off the portion of the washer you would have grinded. unless you have super-human strength, you won't be able to do this. however, it will leave a perfect guiding line cut into the metal for you to chisel. yes, chisel. like michael angelo, i placed a beveled chisel on the guidance line of the washer that was placed on concrete. i gave it 2-3 intense whacks with the hammer and the unwanted portion shot off my porch and into the night, leaving me a nice, flat edged washer. do this to all 4.

7. now, place your 2 bolts with the nuts threaded onto them and at the bottom though the bottom side (non-shiny) of your tail-plate. now, place 2 washers on each bolt and screw the bolt into your tailpiece facing the stock position. (larger holes facing the headstock) turn the bolts as far as they will go up through the tailpiece. you will be able to see them reach the top, looking down through the hole.

8. turn the washers up the bolt to where they are touching the tailpiece. now, start to tighten the nut that is on the underside of the tailplate causing the plate and tailpiece to come together with the washers in-between them.

9. tighten the bolt snug, but not tight yet because you have to align the 2 washers on each side to have their flat sides exactly together and vertically just like the strings. do this on each side and the low e flat side and high e flat side will be facing each other. it may be tricky to get the two to align their flat sides together. i used a little flathead screwdriver to help adjust them. when they are all set up and aligned correctly, screw the nut down really tight.

10. put your tailpiece back onto the guitar.

viola! now your tremolo is locked down rock solid. run your strings though backwards as intended, wrap them under and thanks to your tiny washers, they will have a perfect little space between the tailpiece and tail plate just a little larger than an 11 e. string. the flat edges on the washers you cut now allow both e strings to go in a perfect, straight line onto the saddles. you have all the benefits of a hardtail now without the sacrifice of much needed string tension between the bridge and the plate. since i have done this, she plays like a dream. i like how the strings go in backwards better anyway, i think it is a brilliant design and looks radical. i have noticed that the guitar resonates a lot more and i can actually feel the wood's tone vibrating against my body a lot more than it did with the flipped tail. the flipped tail is a good idea and easy to do. however, the lack of string tension is an issue with me and creates more problems than it is worth. i hope this helps. i'm just trying to offer mus-jag-stang lovers an option to make it the best it can be in a locked-down setup. if anyone tries it, let me know how it worked out. oh.. and well, bad pictures are better than no pictures.

luke black.


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cool, that might be useful once i get my mustang.

I was thinking about doing something similar to what you did, with the white pickguard...

except im curious how easy/hard it will be to hunt down a left-handed pickguard and black PU covers (for a decent price at least)

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Both E strings clear the nuts on mine and i didnt grind them, maybe you foriegners get different sized nuts, im drunk as a skunk and its 1 am here but ill take a pic showing the strings clearing the nuts on my JS later on today sober and in daylight.

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the objective here is to lock the trem.


sorry...my ps skills are crap, but you get the point. all you have to do here is, put a screw in each cavity that sticks out even to just touch the trem posts when the trem bar is finally pulled fairly close to vertical by the strings. Once done, the guitar looks unmodified and all you will have are two tiny screw holes in the back of the cavities.

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i dont get it. how does 2 screws in the body lock my bridge and let me use the intended tailpiece direction? please explian.

It doesn't really. Yeah you have a positive stop, but that only locks it in the down or "dive" direction. You can still pull up, and (more importantly) if you break a string, it will still go out of tune. You need a positive stop against the direction that the springs are pulling in. I've been working on one, but havn't come close yet. I'm trying to adapt a Tremel-no type device, but it won't fit up too well. Plus there is the issue of the plate...

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  • 11 months later...

i am in doubt about how im gonna do this. I will need 2 screws, 2 nuts and 2 washers. I was planning to put them on UNDER the plate, but you say the washers are too big for that, what if i don't use washers then? would that be harmful, ok or wouldn't work?

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  • 1 year later...

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