Other Guitars

Tight tremolo arm

My Jagmaster has a very tight tremolo arm (strat type tremolo). My SMJ 62 SX guitar with Jaguar JM type tremolo is also tight. OTOH, my T.Rose with Bigsby is like spahetti. I prefer the spaghetti action on the tremolo arm. It seems that I have to be very forceful with the above tremolo arms just to get the effect I am looking for. In addition the strings return to pitch very quickly and it does not feel like surf music. Any ideas?
Julian, it appears that you got a bad apple on the Jagmaster... but, fear not, I will take the offending ax off of your hands!!! (i really would like a jag) Are you talking about the actual action of the tremlo or the movement of the arm?
When I play I have to exert a lot of force to push the tremolo arm down in both the Jagmaster and the SX. Both guitars stay in tune and that is nice, but it seems the tremolo arm should be easier to push down. It comes back to pitch very fast.
I had a Strat that was the same way. In fact, I hated that aspect of it. Never could really figure out what to do with it. When I got my gretsch with the bigsby i thought it looked cool, but assumed it would be the same as the strat. Boy was I wrong. I think it is just the difference in the way the two systems work. Not sure what, if anything, is available for a workaround.
I assume it is tight springs in the strat. However if I take springs out the bridge will come up and ruin the action. Will it play in tune? I also assume it is a tight spring in the SX.
On the Jag you can adjust the spring tension at the rear of the trem block. Either loosen the screws or remove some springs. It'll take some tinkering to get it right.
This might work for the SX.
dmanlow: Thanks! In the past------------ I have adjusted that screw in the SX. It seems I arrived at that tension or tightness because the guitar played in tune after using the tremolo. I will go ahead and loosen the screw and see what happens this time. I used to have 11s and now I have 10s. Regarding the strat tremolo: I can never get those things to work right. In my cheap strat I ended up blocking the tremolo. I have never manipulated the Jagmaster strat type tremolo. Because it played in tune out of the box I was afraid to fool around with it. I will report back later today. I will say it is annoying to have the strings come back to pitch so fast with a tight tremolo.
I loosened the spring of the JM, Jag type tremolo of the SX with pleasant results. The strat type tremolo produces a warble that is not condusive to surf music. A note can go down in pitch almost 1.5 tones and then it comes back to pitch instantly. I am afraid to adjust it.
Don't be afraid. I'd suggest running 3 springs and tuning the guitar to pitch. Loosen the 2 screws holding the spring retainer plate on the back of the guitar until the trem plate begins to float off of the top of the guitar body. Tune to pitch again and tighten the 2 screws holding the spring retainer plate on the back of the guitar until the trem plate begins to rest on the top of the guitar body. This should get you in the ballpark area you want to be. Some guys like the trem to float a bit while others prefer it to sit flush. Adjusting the 2 screws holding the spring retainer plate will allow you to dial in your preference. If your trem is too stiff you likely have too much on tension on it. Either too many springs or the screws are too tight. I like to arrange the springs as shown in the pic below.
dmanlow: Thanks once again. The SX tremolo now works fine and I am still in tune. On the Jagmaster (strat type system) the bridge is flush. I just realized that it is not so much the stiffness that bothers me. If I press down the tremolo arm the pitch goes down 1-1.5 tones and comes back up to pitch almost instantly. It simply sounds awful and not surfy at all. In the past I got frustrated trying to set up these tremolos because the bridge would come up too much and it ruined the action. Then I would lower the action by adjusting the saddles. Then I would tune up to pitch and the bridge would come up even more. I am planning to replace the stock humbuckers with oversize P-90s from guitar fetish so I need the tremolo to sound surfy.
dmanlow: Update: The tremolo system of the Jagmaster has three springs in slots 1,3, and 5 (slots 2 and 4 are vacant). The only difference from your photo is that in your case the outer springs and the center spring are convergent. IN my guitar they are perfectly parallel to each other. Instead of loosening the claw screws I removed the middle spring. The tremolo arm action was softer and not stiff. The bridge came up a little bit. I tuned the guitar back to pitch and noted the guitar would go out of tune a lot while using the tremolo. Despite having a softer tremolo arm the warble is not yet surfy and the guitar tries to come back to normal pitch too fast. Or perhaps it simply goes down in pitch way too much and one hears a different effect. Maybe I should make a recording of these sounds and compare to the other guitar tremolos.
Not sure what to tell you other than keep experimenting.

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