Last week, we posted an short guide to the different Original Floyd Rose models. So, we thought we’d touch on a related subject that often frightens guitarists who have had little or no experience with this. Setting up a guitar with a Floyd Rose. A lot of players just avoid it all together and have to pay someone for a setup. It can be more involved than a fixed bridge setup, but it’s not as bad as it sounds! It’s time for you to learn.

There’s a lot to touch on here, so let’s just get straight to it!

Tools You May Need:

– Wire Cutters

– Philips Screwdriver

– Large Screwdriver (For Springs)

– Allen Wrenches

– Microfiber Cloth

Changing The Strings:

Before changing the strings, something I like to do is take a small cloth (polishing or microfiber cloth) and stick it under the tremolo a bit so that it’s covering the guitar around the bridge. This way, I don’t ding the body with a screwdriver or anything while trying to work with the bridge. This isn’t required, just a precaution.

The first step in changing the strings is to remove the nut. Do so by using an allen wrench (generally 2.5mm) to loosen the clamps on the locking nut.

I prefer to change one string at a time to prevent any major change in tension. This prevents my bridge from falling down into the guitar. I find this makes my life much easier.

Now that you’ve unlocked the nut, go ahead and loosen the string from the tuning machine head, then loosen the clamp on the saddle. Now you should be able to just slide the string right out.

See? This is easy so far!

You now should cut the ball end off of your string with wire cutters. (You’ll notice that a lot of people will just put the strings on backwards to avoid this step). Either way, slide the string into the saddle and gently tighten the clamp. After this, thread the string through the tuning head just like normal, tune to the desired pitch, then cut the excess with your wire cutters.

(I always prefer locking tuners on my guitars. They objectively make string changes much easier. Here’s a little guide on installing locking tuners if you’re guitar isn’t fortunate enough to have them!)

After all of the fresh strings are on, go ahead and remove the cloth under the bridge if you opted to do that, then put the clamps back onto the locking nut, but don’t tighten them just yet! Not until The Fat Lady sings.

(In this case, I suppose I will be The Fat Lady, and singing is me saying “go ahead and tighten your clamps.”)

You’re going to want to make sure the fine tuners on the bridge are set in the middle. This way, once the nut is locked you’ll have plenty of room for adjustment as needed. After this, tune your strings. Tune them again. Then again. Yep, again…Pretty much just keep tuning them forever until they stabilize. I find it helpful to stretch them out by pushing on them a bit near the saddle and the nut.

Adjusting The Bridge:

We’re now going to check and see how the bridge has responded to the string change.

Move the bridge up and down by moving the whammy bar to make sure the tremolo is moving freely. At a resting position, the bridge should stay parallel with the body of the guitar.

If it’s parallel, then great! You can skip to the next section on truss rod adjustment. If not, you have some extra work to do..

If your bridge isn’t floating correctly, go ahead and remove the whammy bar, as well as the back plate of the spring compartment.

If the tremolo is angled backwards towards the body, you’ll need to loosen the springs a bit. Do so by using a screwdriver and turning the spring screws counter-clockwise. If the bridge is angled forwards towards the headstock, tighten the springs by turning the screws clockwise. After adjustments are made, re-tune your strings and check the bridge’s position. You may need to do this a few times until you get it just right.

When finished, go ahead and re-attach the back plate, as well as your whammy bar.

Truss Rod Adjustment:

The next thing you should do is go ahead and adjust your truss rod if necessary. If your truss rod isn’t set properly, it can negatively affect your action, tone, and tuning stability. We have a detailed guide on adjusting your truss rod if you need some help.

String Height:

After the neck is set properly, you can go ahead and set your action! Many people have different preferences on where they like their strings to be. I personally like low action, but someone else may like it a bit higher up.

To raise the action higher, use a 3 mm allen wrench and turn the screw on each side of the bridge counter-clockwise. You do not need to turn this very much, a little turn goes a long way! If you want to lower the action, turn the screws clockwise instead.

After making adjustments, tune the strings and double-check the action to make sure you are satisfied before continuing.

Intonation Adjustment:

An out-of-tune guitar is a bad sounding guitar.. Adjusting your intonation is key for having a good sounding, in-tune guitar. This step is important for making sure you get the most out of your instrument. Luckily, I already written an article called, “How to Intonate Your Guitar”, so I don’t have to write anything else in this section!

Once you have intonated the guitar successfully, tune the strings one last time, except this time, tune them about 1-2 cents flat! You’ll see why in a second…

Go ahead and tighten your clamps.

(The Fat Lady (me) has sung.)

When you tighten the clamps on the locking nut, the strings will go just a tad bit sharp, this is why I told you to tune them a tiny bit flat. If you didn’t listen to me then shame on you. You can also use the fine tuners on the bridge to get the tuning perfect.

There you have it! You have (hopefully) successfully set up a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge!

I sincerely hope that you have learned something from reading this. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our others! We upload articles, guitar reviews, technical guides, and interviews on a daily basis.

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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.

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