5 Essential Tips for Changing Your Floyd Rose or Floating Tremolo

Are you considering swapping out your guitar’s floating tremolo or Floyd Rose? While it may seem like a simple task, there are a few crucial points you should keep in mind. In this article, we’ll provide you with five essential tips to ensure a smooth transition when changing your floating tremolo. Make sure to read till the end for the most important tip that will help maintain your tremolo’s longevity. So let’s dive in!

  1. Know Your StudsThe studs, or posts, are the large bolts on which the knife edges of the tremolo rest. Understanding the specifications of your current studs is vital because replacement tremolos may not always align perfectly. For example, original Floyd Rose tremolos require studs spaced approximately 74 millimeters apart. If you’re upgrading from a Wilkinson trem to a different floating style, stud spacing can vary. Ensure that the stud spacing on your guitar matches the original Floyd Rose design. Additionally, pay attention to the size of the stud holes in your guitar’s body, as different tremolos may require routing to accommodate larger bushings.
  2. Check Your RouteBefore installing the new tremolo, examine the routing in your guitar’s body. It can be frustrating to receive a second-hand tremolo, only to find that it doesn’t fit due to an incompatible routing. Most manufacturers, such as Floyd Rose, provide routing diagrams on their websites, offering precise measurements in millimeters or inches. Compare these dimensions with your guitar’s routing to determine if any modifications are necessary. In some cases, a minor adjustment with a Dremel tool or file can resolve the issue.
  3. Never Adjust the Tremolo Height Under Full String TensionOne critical tip to remember is to never adjust the height of your floating tremolo while the strings are at full tension. Doing so can lead to damage, especially if the tremolo is made of softer metals like zinc alloy. Adjusting the studs while the knife edges bear pressure can create recessions in the base plate or score the studs themselves. To adjust the tremolo height correctly, unlock the nut at the top and detune the strings slightly, allowing the knife edges to lift off the studs. Make the necessary adjustments and ensure the tremolo is set to your preference. Following this practice will enhance the longevity of your equipment, especially if you’re using a Floyd Rose special or licensed tremolo with softer metals.
  4. Verify the String SpacingWhen replacing a tremolo, it’s essential to consider the string spacing. While most floating tremolos have a standard spacing of around 0.420 inches, variations exist among different models. For instance, Floyd Rose offers a low-profile Pro version with string spacing closer to 0.400 inches. If you’re accustomed to a specific string spacing, ensure that the new tremolo matches your preferences. Research and check the specifications before purchasing to avoid any potential dissatisfaction down the line.
  5. Avoid Metal MismatchWhen swapping a tremolo, never mismatch the metals. Mixing different metal qualities can result in long-term damage or wear. For example, installing a titanium trim with old zinc alloy studs can lead to grinding or damage over time. Some tremolos come with replaceable knife edges, so it’s crucial to match the metal quality between the knife edges and the studs. If you decide to upgrade any hardware or screws, be cautious about mixing metals, as it can potentially affect the trim’s threads.

By following these five essential tips, you can successfully swap your floating tremolo or Floyd Rose without encountering unnecessary problems. Remember to take your time, double-check measurements, and ensure metal compatibility. Happy swapping!