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 Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability) 
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
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Post Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Hey all,

Thanks up front for any help you can give me!

I'm having an issue with the guitar going out of tune with using the whammy/tremolo/vibrato. It can go out a full step in either direction depending on whether I bend the trem forward or backward.

I bought a 2017 G&L used. The guitar was hardly packed when it shipped and fortunately it didn't suffer any damage during shipping, but the setup was WAY off. I did a setup and the guitar sounds and plays wonderfully, except for the tuning going way out of whack when I use the trem.

What I did so far, following the G&L manual:
    Set the neck relief: the truss was too tight and the neck was straight as an arrow
    Set the trem claw tension: the back of the bridge was resting on the body of the guitar
    The bridge height was off
    The strings were too wide a gauge for the nut slots, and were sitting on top of the nut (replaced the strings with Ernie Ball Slinky 10's)
    Re-seated the neck
    Lubricated the nut slots with graphite/petroleum jelly once I set everything else up and realized the guitar was going out of tune each time I use the trem. Lubrication didn't help, but I might try to Big Bends Nut Sauce.
    One thing I am finding is that I had to set the bridge lower than G&L specified. I keep going back to setting the bridge at 3/32 (low e saddle is 1/16 above the bridge). If I set it 4/32 (the way newer G&L's are apparently setup at the factory) to 3/16 (what the manual suggests), I have to lower the saddles basically down to the bridge to get the action right (1/16 at the 22nd fret), and it still doesn't play or sound as good. However, I find the guitar holds tune slightly better when using the tremolo with the bridge in the higher position.

Any suggestions before I consider going to the guitar shop?

While raising the bridge to G&L specs doesn't fix the problem, I'm wondering if my setup contributes the issue?

Conversely, I'm also wondering if the tuning issue with the tremolo is related to the reason I can't get the action right when the bridge height is 4/32-3/16?

Or the there is something getting in the way of the bridge returning to baseline - grime, or damage that occured during shipping?

Lastly, I'm wondering if I am overthinking this, and the bridge is not the important part of the equation: maybe I just need a new nut, or to get the nut reslotted/fixed up (maybe the wide gauge strings the previous owner used messed up the slots)?


Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:39 am
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:50 pm
Posts: 216
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
its all about the pivot points,,, the bridge plate could have blunt pivot edges, the posts could have blunt pivot points too. the bridge cant behave wrong if the pivot points are correct, its the only source of issues.. considering all else has been checked worth looking at i would suggest


Last edited by geoff douglas on Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:35 am
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:01 pm
Posts: 28
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Heady Jam Fan wrote:
Hey all,
Lastly, I'm wondering if I am overthinking this, and the bridge is not the important part of the equation: maybe I just need a new nut, or to get the nut reslotted/fixed up (maybe the wide gauge strings the previous owner used messed up the slots)?


It seems to me that at this point, you really really need to know what is binding. I would start with the strings off. Pull each string back and forth through its nut slot. Do they all slide easily? If not, there's your problem.

If the strings slide freely, you want to check the tremolo mechanism for free motion. Remove the springs if you need to. Eliminate anything that keeps the trem mechanism from moving freely.

If neither of these checks turn up anything useful, the problem is beyond my understanding... :D

Incidentally, if you're suspicious of neck angle, the first thing to do would be to take off the neck and see if there is a shim in the neck pocket. All other things bneing equal, a shim toward the headstock should make you lower the bridge saddle height, and a shim toward the bridge should make you raise it.

--Al Evans


Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:48 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
geoff douglas wrote:
its all about the pivot points,,, the bridge plate could have blunt pivot edges, the posts could have blunt pivot points too. the bridge cant behave wrong if the pivot points are correct, its the only source of issues.. considering all else has been checked worth looking at i would suggest


This is what I'm arriving at as well, the more I'm exploring.

My fear is that, since the seller didn't package it well, a "bump" damaged the knife edge or pivot point. Hopefully it is just some grime, but I cannot see any debris. I plan on cleaning it out and lubricating. I'll hit it with some very fine sandpaper if I see some minor rough patches.

Any advice, especially with visuals, on how to do this? I'm assuming I have to start by removing the strings, but I'm not super familiar with the G&L bridge and how to disassemble it: if I need to remove the posts, or if the bridge plate comes right off.


Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:53 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Al Evans wrote:
Heady Jam Fan wrote:
Hey all,
Lastly, I'm wondering if I am overthinking this, and the bridge is not the important part of the equation: maybe I just need a new nut, or to get the nut reslotted/fixed up (maybe the wide gauge strings the previous owner used messed up the slots)?


It seems to me that at this point, you really really need to know what is binding. I would start with the strings off. Pull each string back and forth through its nut slot. Do they all slide easily? If not, there's your problem.

If the strings slide freely, you want to check the tremolo mechanism for free motion. Remove the springs if you need to. Eliminate anything that keeps the trem mechanism from moving freely.

If neither of these checks turn up anything useful, the problem is beyond my understanding... :D

Incidentally, if you're suspicious of neck angle, the first thing to do would be to take off the neck and see if there is a shim in the neck pocket. All other things bneing equal, a shim toward the headstock should make you lower the bridge saddle height, and a shim toward the bridge should make you raise it.

--Al Evans


Good points. When I re-strung the guitar, I checked that all the strings could glide freely through the slots. At least when there was no tension on the strings, they moved freely.

I'm hoping to avoid a shim - I can't see how else I would get the bridge and saddles to the height specified by G&L. However, it seems G&L has lowered their suggested height in their bridge specs, and many people prefer a slightly lower bridge. I do recognize I would need a shim on the bridge side of the neck pocket if I wanted to perfectly match the G&L manual. I haven't checked for a shim, which is good advice - I did re-seat the neck and didn't feel like there was a shim. However, I don't think this is the problem with the tuning stability, at least thus far.

I haven't disassembled the bridge, but I did check that there are no contact points or "mess" in the cavity routed in the body that is preventing smooth movement of the bridge. Again - any advice for disassembling the bridge is appreciated!


Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:00 am
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:50 pm
Posts: 216
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
if there is no spring binding and the felt washers arnt chewed up in the pivots, and if the claw tension on the pivots is roughly equal, and the nut is well lubricated and slot size vs string size is correct, even though its a 2017 model,, if it still doesnt hold tune, it can only be the pivots.. just because its a new guitar, 2017, doesnt mean it cant have a bad pivot set.. cant think what else either it could be,,, over stretched strings,, thats a possibility,,,


Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:23 am
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Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
I suggest holding off on disassembly the bridge at this point.
Please post some photos showing the nut and the bridge from the side to insure that the bridge plate is parallel with the body.
Also, make sure that there are the felt washers under the bridge around the pivot bolts.

The current setup post in this sub-forum is factory setup and is intended to be a good starting point. The manuals in the Gallery are
for earlier years,Version 2 is for build years1988-2008.

For posting photos see: Tutorial: Posting photos.

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Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:32 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
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Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
geoff douglas wrote:
if there is no spring binding and the felt washers arnt chewed up in the pivots, and if the claw tension on the pivots is roughly equal, and the nut is well lubricated and slot size vs string size is correct, even though its a 2017 model,, if it still doesnt hold tune, it can only be the pivots.. just because its a new guitar, 2017, doesnt mean it cant have a bad pivot set.. cant think what else either it could be,,, over stretched strings,, thats a possibility,,,


Thanks!

"slot size vs string size is correct, even though its a 2017 model"
What do you mean by this?

The felt washers appear to be perfectly in-tact from what I can see.


Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:51 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Craig wrote:
I suggest holding off on disassembly the bridge at this point.
Please post some photos showing the nut and the bridge from the side to insure that the bridge plate is parallel with the body.
Also, make sure that there are the felt washers under the bridge around the pivot bolts.

The current setup post in this sub-forum is factory setup and is intended to be a good starting point. The manuals in the Gallery are
for earlier years,Version 2 is for build years1988-2008.

For posting photos see: Tutorial: Posting photos.


Thank you - I'll post some pics as soon as I can take them.

There are felt-washers, and the bridge plate is parallel with the body, but I'll get some pics. I've looked at some of your threads, including the one on the bridge height from the factory setup, and read the manual thoroughly - really good reference resources that I much appreciate. My bridge seems to "want" to sit about 1/32 lower. The string height at the first fret, coming off of the nut, appears to be about the right height.


Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:55 am
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Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:00 am
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Location: Canada's Mexico
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Also (in case it wasn't mentioned) check the front lip of the bridge plate touching
the pickguard. Even slight contact can keep it from returning smoothly.

good luck :)


Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:06 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Elwood wrote:
Also (in case it wasn't mentioned) check the front lip of the bridge plate touching
the pickguard. Even slight contact can keep it from returning smoothly.

good luck :)


Good call - I read that in another thread! You can barely see in this picture that there is plenty of clearance:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/bREI9vVgeOOtdVhx1


Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:12 am
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Craig wrote:
I suggest holding off on disassembly the bridge at this point.
Please post some photos showing the nut and the bridge from the side to insure that the bridge plate is parallel with the body.
Also, make sure that there are the felt washers under the bridge around the pivot bolts.

The current setup post in this sub-forum is factory setup and is intended to be a good starting point. The manuals in the Gallery are
for earlier years,Version 2 is for build years1988-2008.

For posting photos see: Tutorial: Posting photos.


Here is an album of photos of the bridge and nut from the side. Please let me know if you need any other photos!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/e5UNC9glfwlF081c2

Thanks for all the help everyone!


Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:10 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:27 pm
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Location: DC Area, Virginia
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
Those strings look pretty deep in the nut slots. not surety angle is correct. The next step I would take is a brand new nut done by a real luthier, followed by a complete to spec setup. See what happens.

Tom


Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:05 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2018 7:35 pm
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Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
FZTNT wrote:
Those strings look pretty deep in the nut slots. not surety angle is correct. The next step I would take is a brand new nut done by a real luthier, followed by a complete to spec setup. See what happens.

Tom


I was thinking I might have to do that. That's not the end of the world, but just an annoyance (and an excuse to switch to a graphtech).

I did a complete setup again including "big bends nut sauce." The tuning seemed more stable in the 10-minutes I had left to play (voodoo chile, no return to tuning ;) ) before my wife got back from yoga.
- I think there the bridge was off somewhat. Some dust/grime came out when lubricating, but it also seemed to "pop" into place when I removed the neck.
- When I removed the neck, there was no shim, as I expected, but there was a small amount of sawdust, which I cleaned out.
- I raised the bridge to 3/32 and got the bridge plate parallel by adjust the trem claw.
- I adjusted the action, but rather than using G&L's suggested 1/16 at the 22nd fret, I did 4/64's at the 17th, which was better but I needed to go up to closer to 5/64s on the low E to reduce buzz
- After all that, I decided to give the neck just a touch more relief

We will see if this does it. Thanks for the help - keep any suggestions coming if I missed anything.


Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:18 pm
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Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:50 pm
Posts: 216
Post Re: Setup Advice (Trem tuning stability)
I remember when a time in G&Ls history, not long ago, that the pivot bolts outside diameter was larger than the bridge plate pivots inside diameter. The only way to get the pivot posts in was to force them. well you can get away with this if magic odds work your way, If its not the bridge plate rubbing on the pickguard as ellwood mentioned and all other obvious hindrances are eliminated,, its worth checking the pivots, failure to check the most important parts of a DFV is not checking the important bits first.


Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:45 am
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