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I bought a used Fender Mexican strat online many months ago. Its bridge came lifted. I read some threads here (I'm posting them below) that say this can lead to intonation problems, and indeed I've never been able to get all strings in tune (the upper string is always at a higher pitch than the strings below, so if e.g. E and A are in tune, A can't be in tune with D).

I'd very much like to leave the bridge tilted like this, so I could pull or push it with my hand (like Jeff Beck does), but I'm afraid of breaking the bridge.

I don't know what's the gauge of the strings because I haven't changed them, but to me they feel like regular 10 gauge.

My questions are:

  1. Do I have to make the bridge for this Mexican strat flat (or can I fix the intonation just with the saddle screws)? If yes, how do I do it (just by changing springs position and/or adding more tension springs?)?
  2. If I can leave the bridge lifted, can I push/pull it with my hand, or will it break something (i.e., I should only move the bridge with the tremolo arm, and not with my hand)?

Pics:

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Related:
guitar bridge lifted-up
Guitar bridge out of place?

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Several things. First is that the arm is a lever. A lever gives more leverage. So using our hand instead will produce less leverage, so less chance of breakage.

Second is with the bridge like that, there's lots of movement to raise the strings' pitch, but little to drop it. The bridge needs to be able to move both ways, so tighten the screws underneath until you have the balance you want. Three springs is o.k., but why not put them all parallel.

Third is there will be room to sort out intonation, which at the moment, looking at the saddles, isn't right anyhow. The tiny springs are only there to take up slack and stop rattles, if needed, they can be made shorter.

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  • Thank you for all your points! I was wondering why the springs weren't in parallel, seemed like a weird configuration, but I didn't want to mess it up. I'll put them in parallel now. And sorry, but just to be sure: the way to fix the intonation would be just by changing the saddle's tiny springs' tension? Or should something else also be done? – flen Jan 15 at 10:00
  • Looking now at the saddle's picture I also spotted something unusual, the strings for both Es aren't aligned in the middle, like the other strings. Do you think this could be an issue? – flen Jan 15 at 10:03
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To get the Jeff Beck floating bridge thing, you need to be able to go both up and down, and I think you've used up all the down. Here's Carl Verheyen explaining how to set up a Strat so it floats, which should guide you.

I would tighten the claw and retune to balance. That should make it behave more nicely and allow intonation. Best of luck.

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  • This video is perfect, thanks for sharing it! But by retuning to balance, do you mean loosening/tightening the saddle screws? Sorry for the silly question, I'm very new to this technical understanding, all I've ever done with a guitar was playing it – flen Jan 15 at 9:55
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    I can't get deeper into proper setup for a Strat than Fender can. support.fender.com/hc/en-us/articles/… – Dave Jacoby Jan 15 at 10:47
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    On the last picture, the piece that connects the springs to the wood is called the claw, and if you tighten it, it will tighten the spring tension, making the bridge flatter. Then, I'd set string height (the allen screws at the top of the saddles), then intonation. Tune up, fret the 12th fret. If sharp, detune and move the saddle back some. If flat, move it forward. Don't adjust with strings under tension. – Dave Jacoby Jan 15 at 10:54
  • This is great info, thank you for it! Searching now for tutorials to set the string height, I also found an interesting series on Youtube for setting up the guitar youtube.com/watch?v=9ILFo9oUsl8 Thank you very much for your explanations, now I have the essential knowledge and courage I needed to finally fix this – flen Jan 16 at 5:18

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