Upgrading your Floyd Rose trem system.

Speedin Bob

Getcho Groovy Face ON!
#1
I've been meaning to write this up for a while and this is not an endorsement of any particular vendor. I've used several of them and have yet to have a bad purchase experience.

Preserving your instrument comes first. ALL of the items discussed here are reversible back to stock form with minimal effort.

What this thread is NOT intended to do is to start a tone argument. In the end, if upgrading provides is even minimal improvement to your ears, it is a win.

Upgrading the hardware and components of your Floyd Rose tremolo serves three purposes and each will be addressed:
  1. Improvement over factory materials
  2. Increased sustain
  3. Aesthetic improvement
The most common and 'baseline' upgrades I use on all of my Floyd Rose equipped guitars are listed from cheapest to most expensive. There are other items on the market but were not listed for simplicity sake and this thread will be a long read anyway.
  1. Stainless steel nut clamping screws
  2. Stainless steel saddle screws
  3. Stainless steel string lock screws
  4. Stainless steel sustain block screws
  5. Sustain block (Brass)
  6. Titanium string lock blocks
Stainless Steel Screws

They are available all over the interwebz and perhaps at your local hardware store. Installation, aside from the three sustain block screws, are a simple swap. They are silly cheap if you dig in and document things like head shape, thread pitch, etc. Taking one of each with you to the store helps if you're so included. The tricky ones to locate are the string lock screws.

The benefits of stainless hardware include aesthetics, strength, and corrosion resistance from long term effects of exposure to moisture, various bodily fluids, other liquids. In short, steel rusts, stainless has much less likelihood of doing so.

There are kits on eBay containing nut, saddle, and string lock screws for around $30. Done.
Sustain block screws are cheap. $2-5. Solved.

Sustain Blocks

Fulcrum type trem systems have them. Factory Floyd Rose blocks are shit. Brass seems to be the most common material used in upgrades. There are other materials out there.

The result is a upgraded sustain block increases sustain, period. As for tone improvement, it has been my experience there is a noticeable improvement.

There are several offerings out there and prices vary and start around $30 if you look around. There is Floyd Rose brand, FU-Tone, Killer Guitar Components, GuitarFetish, etc. Not all blocks fit every Floyd Rose licensed trem. Do your research and ask the vendor if unsure.

Yes, there are L-shaped blocks. Those require power tools to remove chunks of wood from the body to retain the factory range of movement. Good luck with that. Not worth it and is permanent.

Installation isn't difficult. However, ensure you mark each saddle to the center of the corresponding saddle screw head before removing it or else you'll have to reset the intonation of your guitar again. That is for another topic and, frankly, is a pain in the ass and Sharpie marks wipe off.

Titianium String Lock Blocks

They are silly simple to install and can be done at your next string change or on an ad-hoc basis.

Why? Two main reasons.
  1. Factory steel string lock blocks trap moisture between it and the saddle and corrosion (rust) is the result. The string block needs to move freely.
  2. Over time, the increase pressure from the string lock screw can cause the string block to mushroom and hindering free movement when tension is relieved. Add in overzealous torque to try and compensate for reduced free movement and you'll (literally) be using a hammer and pin to get the string block out and risk damaging the saddle. I've had to do this on a guitar purchased second hand and it SUCKED!
Do they improve tone? Not in my experience. Insurance from the above justifies the expense.

Unless you have access to or contacts at a machine shop, There are really only two vendors out there; the Floyd Rose brand at around $30 per set and FU-Tone at $39 respectively. It is somewhat expensive however it is titanium and good luck mushrooming these sumbitches with a skinny hex head wrench.

Summary

For between $100-$120, you can lengthen the life of your Floyd Rose (or equivalent) trem, increase the overall sustain quite a bit, and improve your instruments tone.

But wait, there's more....

Adam with FU-Tone.com just updated his installation video HERE and it also includes intonation and floating the FR.
 
Last edited:

Speedin Bob

Getcho Groovy Face ON!
#5
Below are the steps and tips to upgrading your Floyd Rose tremolo. The guitar in question is a Chapman Guitars Norseman that comes with a 1000 series Floyd. A Chapman Guitars ML-1 Hot Rod with the Floyd converted to black is also pictured to illustrate the visible upgrades on that color.

The steps below are written from the assumption you are reusing the strings already on the instrument.

The most important step is TAKE YOUR TIME.

1. Lay the guitar on a clean flat surface with the neck supported. I like to use bath and microfiber towels.

2. Loosen and remove the factory locking nut screws. Replace with stainless steel fasteners but do not tighten yet.

Locking nut 2.jpg

3. Using the trem arm, press down and place a blocking device in the trem cavity and under the string lock screws.

TIP: I prefer the rubber coated handle of wire cutters to protect all surfaces.

4. Loosen the guitar strings from smallest to largest. As you loosen the strings, the bridge should remain its pitch with the blocking device. Adjust as necessary.

TIP: The locking nut keep the strings from going bonkers at the tuners.

5. Press down on the trem arm toward the bodywhile loosening the string lock screws. You may needed to move your blocking device
Suspended & String lock screws.jpg

6. Remove the strings from the saddles and move them out of the way.

7. Turn the guitar over, remove the back plate, and remove the springs from the sustain block.

Backplate.jpg

Rear Cavity.jpg
TIP: You are taking your time, aren’t you?

8. Place the guitar in a safe place so you have room to work and not risk damage.

Open Cavity.jpg

TIP: This is a perfect opportunity to clean and polish

9. Unscrew and remove the string lock screws.

String lock screw out.jpg

10. Turn the base plate upside down and the string blocks will fall out.

TIP: place fasteners in a bowl the side of your workspace.

11. Turn the fine tuners all the way up until they stop.

TIP: add a small amount of anti-seize to the fine tuner threads at the baseplate. Turn each fine tuner all the way down to the base plate then return to mid-point.

Antiseize.jpg


12. Take a picture with your phone of the bridge looking down at the saddles for reference.

See above photo

13. Take a Sharpie and put a small dot on the left side of the saddle at the center of the saddle screw head.

Saddles off.jpg

14. Loosen then remove the saddle screw

15. Remove the saddle and set aside in the order it came off the trem

See previous photo

16. Repeat Steps 14 – 16 for the remaining saddles

17. Replace the saddle screw with stainless screw

18. Place factory saddle screws into bowl

19. Hold the trem down on the work surface

20. Loosen and remove the three sustain block screws.

Sustain Block screws (2).jpg

TIP: Lay all the pieces of the trem out in order on the work surface.

Trem.jpg


21. Compare the size difference of the factory sustain block to the new sustain block.

Sustain Block 1.jpg Sustain Block 2.jpg

22. Reassemble the trem using the new sustain block and stainless hardware.

23. Screw the factory sustain block screws into the factory sustain block then place removed factory hardware in the bowl.

24. Reinstall each saddle to its original marked location and tighten.

25. Install string lock screws

TIP: put a small amount of anti-seize onto the treads of the string lock screws

Sustain Block Screws.jpg


26. Place the titanium string blocks into the saddles with the intention facing the tip of the string lock screws.

Titanium.jpg

27. Hand-tighten the string lock screws (this is where the anti-seize helps)

Reassembled & Ready.jpg

28. Bring guitar back to work surface and cover with towel.

29. Place string into its respective saddle and snug down the string lock screw with hex head wrench, repeating for each string.

30. Remove towel and place under the guitar.

31. Carefully return the trem to the cavity

TIP: Don’t drop the trem, it will not be pretty for the surface of the guitar

32. Turn the guitar over onto its face while keeping the trem from falling out

33. Reattach the springs to the claw and block starting with the middle spring

TIP: Attach to the claw first then Use forceps or needle nose pliers to hold onto the sprint at the “L” to stretch it toward the block.

34. Seat each spring’s “L” all the way into the block.

FullSizeRender(17).jpg

35. Turn the guitar over and start tightening the strings starting with Low E, A, D, G, B, E

36. Tune the guitar.

37. The trem’s base plate should be parallel to the body of the guitar. Adjust and retune as needed (This is one of the reasons people hate Floyd’s)

Bridge Angle.jpg

38. Snug down the locking nut screws and use the fine tuners to adjust.

39. Reinstall the rear cover plate

40. Place all removed hardware in a ziploc bag(s), label it, and stow.

41. Admire your work.
Headstock.jpg

Installed & Ready.jpg

42. Retune and verify intonation

43. PLAY!!

Observations:

The factory sustain block on a Norseman is 32mm. I opted to install a 37mm sustain block however the increased size caused a clearance issue with the rear cavity cover plate. Dive bombing was fine however pulling back caused the springs and sustain block to rub the plate. I left the plate off and placed it in a separate bag and the screws in the other hardware bag.

For those that have a black Floyd equipped weapon of auditory and facial destruction.

Exhibit A
Upgrades on Black FR.jpg
 
#7
Nice write up man! Plenty clear with the pictures and steps.

One little thing I'd say though is that the string blocks don't get out quite as easy on my San Dimas. Perhaps this is just a personal experience though. I couldn't really get it all the way out.
 

Speedin Bob

Getcho Groovy Face ON!
#8
Wade,

It is a nice contrast unless one's preference is Spinal Tap none-more-black.

@monkey lord noticed and gave my Hot Rod a go on the Midwest Tour in Indy.

Rick,

Point taken. This was on a brand new instrument. However, it is worth considering that the block may be mushrooming inside the saddle depending on the frequency of string changes and/or torquing the string lock screws.

In the process of adding the above hardware to a (used) PRS SE Torero, I had to literally used a hammer, a bath of WD 40 (lube), a small punch tool, and vice spread the width of the string block wto forcibly extract a string block from a saddle. Not fun.

If they don't literally fall out with no pressure applied, they could be starting to mushroom.

Replacement FR blocks are inexpensive. You could try a new set or toss in some titanium and not worry about them again.

I appreciate your post and feedback!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

ed lespaul

Well-Known Member
#10
Different blocks are for different guitar/routing combos. The L blocks are made as replacement for Floyds with a larger cavity, which do not require any additional routing. I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of FUTone, and one of the first things he asked was "what guitar are you going to put it on?" He even offered to put the big block in, for free, if I had the guitar with me (which I didn't). It was a very easy install. He even emailed me a few days later to make sure I was happy with the product. How great is that?!!!!

I posted here, some time ago, about my findings. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is even thinking of going with a bigger block.
 

Robstafarian

The Good and Wise Call Me “Rufus”
#12
It turns out that the Gotoh GE-1996T has a different string lock block than a Floyd. As such, I will have to get a titanium string lock block from KTS.

Floyd:
Ti-Block-drawing.jpg

Gotoh:
Ti-Block-G-drawing.jpg
 
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