Trem and string gauge change advice

  • Hey all


    Probably a slightly dumb question but here goes.


    Last week I purchased a new Jackson which has a Floyd Rose trem. I was initially expecting to send it back due to the Indonesian Quality Control issues but turned out to be a belter of a guitar, absolute excellent piece of workmanship. The trem after dive bombs and all other abuse just snaps right back into tuning which means it's good for recording.


    Now it came tuned to E with 9s installed. My guitars are all drop tuned to Eb with 11s on. I am looking to change the Jackson either Eb with 10s or 11s (I have 10s on my standard tuned guitars)


    I watched a video of a guy explaining blocking the trem to do the change, nothing too difficult about it so more than happy to make the change. His explaining involved changing string gauge or drop tuning but not both.


    Is there anything I should be aware off when adding a higher gauge and lowering the tuning? Would a set of 10s replacing 9s and dropping a semitone in effect even the trem out or would 11s be better?


    Cheers, I would put this on a guitar forum but there seems to be a good spread of knowledge on this forum and I trust you guys.


    Mike

  • Why not start with the 10s, and if there's not enough tension, then go to 11s? Surely there's a way to adjust the tension directly? Also, the nut and saddle cuts might be too narrow for the larger gauge.

    Go for it now. The future is promised to no one. - Wayne Dyer

  • Thank you for the advice.


    Never considered the nut width! Good point, 10s may be a better option for the initial change, I also don't want to put any additional tension on the truss rod.


    It's set up so well at the moment I just don't want to screw it up.

  • Why not start with the 10s, and if there's not enough tension, then go to 11s? Surely there's a way to adjust the tension directly? Also, the nut and saddle cuts might be too narrow for the larger gauge.

    Going from 10 to 11 doesn't make any difference in the nut or on a fixed saddle. But he's using a FR so there's no narrow in the bridge. Treble or bass string. The same is true going from 46-49-52. With a 56 in the bottom you probably need to widen the nut slot though.

    Think for yourself, or others will think for you wihout thinking of you

    Henry David Thoreau

  • For anyone who is doing this for the first time a few tips.


    Once you have the guitar open, you block the saddle based on adding and subtracting load on the fretboard. For example;


    * E to Eb with 9s is subtracting weight from the saddle, in this case the saddle will sink into the cavity. You want to block the spring side of the trem.


    * E to E but with 10s you are adding tension to the saddle. This will raise the trem out of the cavity so block the trem at the none spring side.


    * I blocked the spring side with a stack of 5 pences. As the spring side was quite tight I added a stick of plastic to the coins and then taped them together, this came in hand why they shifted and I had to move them.


    * block both sides of the centre spring to ensure the trem does not tilt.


    * I blocked the none spring side with whatever I could find fitted as long as it won't compress under pressure.


    Here was the point to my question as it fell between the cracks of point 1 and 2:


    If I change from E using 9s to Eb using 10s, am I adding or subtracting tension?


    As I was replacing each string one at a time and had no way of knowing , I found I blocked the saddle on the spring side which was fine, but as I tuned the strings it started to rise. I then loosened up and blocked both sides of the saddle so it sat flush and tuned the guitar to Eb.


    This is the best bit of information I found that was a "aahhhh" moment for me, when you are near the end of the process tune with the screws in the cavity, not with the pegs!


    Here was my process using the example of going from E with 9s to Eb with 10s:


    * remove the locking nuts

    * tune the guitar to E (or so the saddle is level) with the tuning pegs

    * block the saddle at the spring side both sides of the centre spring so the saddle is level.

    * replace each string one at a time

    * check the bridge is still level.

    * once replaced block the other side of the saddle so the trem will not rise when tuned. (if you are going from E to Eb with the same gauge string you will not need to do this)

    * tune the guitar so it is perfectly in tune

    * stretch the strings and retune.

    * put the locking nuts back on

    * fine tune the guitar from the trem.

    * remove the block on the none spring side

    * remove the coins from the spring side.


    Now the guitar will be out of tune and the saddle will rise but don't reach for the tuning pegs or the trem tuners.


    Sit with the guitar in the playing position; do not do this part on a bench or laying flat as gravity will cause the bridge to sink a little. Tune the guitar using the two screws holding the metal plate the springs attacbh too and not the tuning pegs.


    Now with a screw driver start to tighten the 2 screws in the cavity that the springs are attached too. Do this evenly as you will find the low E takes a while to tune and will suddenly shift a few cents when you tighten the high E side spring. It is also key to ensure that the plate the springs are attached to is not lobsided, keep it straight and parallel to the cavity wall.


    Once you are in tune stretch the strings and tune again that way. Once you are in tune the trem should level.


    Additionally I took the locking nuts back off, tuned and hung the guitar for a few hours to let the strings and neck settle. Did some recording last night, a few dive bombs and it went straight back into tune..


    I hope this helps someone out there.


    Mike

  • Better getting a tremol-no for a FR bridge. At least what I would do if I had a FR. Less hassle when changing strings. :wacko:

    Think for yourself, or others will think for you wihout thinking of you

    Henry David Thoreau