I've read before that a Floyd Rose bridge should be parallel to the body of the guitar.

This is an image of the bridge on my guitar:

picture

You can see that the left side of the appears to be a little bit lower than the right. Is this correct? should the bridge be parallel?

If so, how can I go about correcting this? I have an extra spring that came with the guitar. Currently there are 3 springs in it, but I could get the extra one added. But I was under the impression that the extra spring was only for higher guage strings, and I have .9's on mine so I didn't think it would be necessary?

  • 3 springs is enough for .9s and flexible enough : you have to adjust the claw to adjust the position. More or less springs will affect the response (and IMO 2 is laughably soft, and probably a pain to keep in tune) – Pif Feb 15 '11 at 10:10

The Floyd Rose bridge should be parallel with the body; if it is not, you will have to make major and unnecessary adjustments to the other parts of the guitar in order to get a good action and correct intonation/'overall set up' (which you will likely find hard with the bridge at that angle.).

The correct method to bring the bridge parallel is to adjust the spring plate which your bridge is attached to/floating on. (Using a spring instead is perfectly acceptable if it produces the required result and brings the bridge parallel with the body; you may find however that the spring provides too much or too little tension and that you still have to make spring plate adjustments).

This is done by adjusting the screws which attach the plate to the guitar. If you would like to increase the tension of the springs(lower the bridge), then you need to tighten the screws(bringing the plate closer to the body of the guitar).

This is needed if you increase the gauge of your strings, thus increasing the tension of the strings on the bridge. If you put smaller gauge strings on the guitar you will likely have to untighten the screws(move the plate further from the wood).

Any adjustment to the spring plate screws should be done a half/quarter turn at a time with the strings slackened; each time you make an adjustment you will need to retune the guitar and check the bridge.

This can be a tedious process, but i know from lifetime of using Floyd Rose equipped guitars that this effort is required to get the best out of the guitar. (Completely parallel might be a pain; as near as possible is good enough)

Assuming you intend to keep the same gauge strings on the guitar, once you have done this the first time, you shouldn't have to do it again when you change strings; unless something else major changes.

Edit: In your image - the distance of your strings from the pickup will also affect the tone of the guitar.

  • 1
    +1 I personally don't mind a- very - slight tilt, but I would definitely setup my whammy if it was like in that photo. It's a laborious bitch to do but it's not that otfen you have to. – Pif Feb 15 '11 at 10:17
  • Would you ever use "blocks" to fix the position of the bridge, then tune and setup the guitar and then adjust the plate position to match the tension of everything else? I've seen various videos that use this technique to short circuit the process of retuning and making small adjustments. – alex.pilon Mar 31 '17 at 17:26

I don't think there's anything wrong with the bridge as you have it set up. Sure, you could set it up so that it's parallel with the body, but it's not necessary. It all depends on how you want to use the whammy bar. The more the bridge tilts forward, the more you can pull the whammy bar back and raise the pitch of the strings; conversely, the more it tilts backward, the more room you have to push the bar down and lower the pitch of the strings.

Jeff Beck, for example, has his bridge (which isn't a Floyd Rose, but still) tilted way far forward---much more so than yours---because he wants to be able to pull the bar back a lot. I guess you have to ask yourself, "I am a dive-bomber or am I a screamer?" Not that you can't be both, of course; it's just a question of degree.

If you decide you do want to adjust the tilt of the bridge after all, you have two options:

  1. You can add the extra spring. This will definitely do it---maybe too much, even---but it will also make the tremolo "stiffer", i.e. harder to whammy, if you will. That's good for staying in tune, but bad for actually using the whammy bar for its intended purpose.
  2. You can adjust the plate to which the springs are connected in the back of your guitar. Turn the guitar over on its belly and remove the rectangular plastic plate through which you thread your strings when you re-string the guitar. You'll see that the tremolo springs are attached to a metal plate. This plate is held in place by some screws that you can tighten or loosen. Tighten them and you'll raise the spring tension of your existing springs, which may be enough to pull your bridge back without having to add the extra spring. The only disadvantage of this approach is that you can only tighten the plate so far---once it's flush with the wood of the guitar, that's as tight as it gets.

So, again, I don't think you need to worry about this. But if you do want to lower the bridge to parallel, my advice would be to adjust the spring tension plate first and see if that does the trick, and only after that would I add the extra spring.

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    But JB uses guitars that don't have a cutout for the bridge. It seems from the photo that pulling the whammy bar shouldn't be a problem if the block's parallel to the body. – Pif Feb 15 '11 at 10:16
  • I have one guitar set up with the bridge far forwards, one with it far back and the others as horizontal as I could manage. This is mostly for the divebomb/scream options, but also give some nice tonal options. – Doktor Mayhem Feb 22 '11 at 15:02
  • I've had a Floyd not parallel to the body, and I've had issues : basically only one direction would go back to tuning. I've corrected the angle and everything is smooth (not to mention the overall action and pickup height are easier to set up). I'm not sure the Beck comparison is correct, for two reasons : 1 - a strat trem is quite different; 2 - the guy has a guitar tech. It's quite different if you have to set the whole thing up and take care of it yourself, especially if guitar playing is a hobby. – Pif Mar 16 '12 at 10:00

Hi Dave (I guess that's your name), as you can tell from the answers you've already received, it's important that a Floyd-Rose-style tremolo is parallel to the body. The reason is that the knife-edge stays in the right degree to the carve in the pin/bolt. So that it will have the same pressure on the upper and under side of the carve. This is important for your tuning stability and the main reason why you should do that.

I made a graphic for you (and everyone that has the same question) that should be easier to understand than plain words:

Floyd placement

I hope that helps :) sincerely, Markus Schwalbe

  • Thanks Markus. This info is useful. I've decided that I'm going to bring the guitar into a specialist to do the job because it's just too easy for me to make a balls of it. – Anonymous Apr 27 '11 at 14:57

A stamped steel baseplate equipped floyd rose should be flat (parallel to the body, perpendicular to the posts on which it rests). Your bridge is an Ibanez bridge which are cast(maybe?) and "three dimensional" in design, yours looks like an "Edge Pro" but I can't be sure. If it is, then the top of your bridge and the bottom of your bridge are actually parallel to each other and it is correct to have it flat and parallel to the guitar body, this parallel top and bottom design is kind of an outlier in the Ibanez world (though, I believe there is a growing number of Ibanez bridges that now have parallel tops and bottoms).

If you happen to have an Ibanez bridge that is NOT parallel top and bottom, you must heed this information below.

To have a point of reference when trying to adjust your bridge angle correctly, you must base the attitude of the bridge off of the knife edge insert. You cannot use the top of the bridge. The Ibanez Edge, Lo-Pro Edge and other models, have this "three dimensional" divergent top and bottom baseplate so when they are properly set up to be parallel to the body, they actually don't actually appear level. They appear as though they're crooked because the top diverges from the knife edge plane.

One thing I've learned to do is draw a straight line down the side of the bridge with a sharpie to assist me when making sure they're level. You might want to try it! Diagram 1

enter image description here

There is a metal ruler taped to the bottom of the bridge in both pictures. I was using this to help me draw the line.

This is easy. The bridge is to your liking, however I usually keep it back side down lower than the front. It's simple to adjust. Just look for the bracket retaining shims on the nut and loosen them with a standard zero tollerance 6 bit. Once they are loose, you can now unloosen each tension machine by a few turns of the gimbal. Be sure to have an approximation guide and slack adjusting tensioners the measure the extra slip. Then once you have done that, go to the back of the guitar and look for the bottom spring retaining bracket and loosen the two screws about 1/5 of the way from the recess alignment. This should float your bridge down towards the well. Then, take a standard 9v battery and shim it under the bridge differential assembly. The bridge should now be approximately parallel to the body. Last step is to go to the bridge and look for the fine tuning machines and adjust them halfway to the inference slope. Now you are ready to tune the guitar to the closest standard tuning without putting any extra tension on the bridge (Don't pull the bridge up). Mine usually tunes to about D or D# (Eb). Then remove the battery. look to see that the bridge has remained semi parallel to the body. Now begins the tedious part. Use the retinaing bracket screws to tighten the string tension. This will pull the bridge down. Once you have done that, retune your guitar, this time coming a little closer to standard E, don't worry if you don't get the standard E in tune right away. It usually takes me about 10 tries to get the tuning close. The idea is to have the perfect ballance of tension between the bridge and the strings at standard E tuning. If the strings are too tight, that will pull the bridge forward, like in your picture, if the strings are too loose, that will pull the bridge down. The idea is to "float" the bridge between the strings and the springs, with the bridge acting as the fulcrum. I usually step up each adjustment by a quarter pitch each time, depending on how out of tune it is. I always tune each string in sequence as I'm walking the tuning up. Once I get close to standard tuning, I clamp down the bracket retaining shims with a firm locking, being carefull not to overtighten them. Just snug is enough. Then I use the fine tuning machines to get the perfect tuning. This whole procees usually only take me about 20 minutes or so. not hard once you get the hang of it.

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Getting the bridge parallel to the body, without adjusting the spring plate, or adding another spring (witch will change the guitars default factory tension) can be done like thus;

* adjust the fine tuners to the middle position, following the neck radius.
* undo the string locks so you can adjust the tuning pegs.

* drop the 4th string a whole step.
* drop tune the 3rd string until its in key with the 4th string.
* drop tune the 2nd string until its in key with the 3rd string.
* drop tune the 5th string until its in key with the 4th string.
* drop tune the 1st string until its in key with the 5th string.
* drop tune the 6th string to match the 1st string.

* repeat until the back of the bridge is ~-3mm -> ~-4mm into the bridge recess. 

Because of different string gauges, and bridge tensions you will need to tweak each string back up using the following sequence.

* tune the 6th string to E flat.
* tune the 1st string to E flat.

* repeat if required.

Then tune the other strings using the following sequence. The tuning will change slightly as you tension each string. Just get them in tune with each other by tweaking each string up/down like this.

* tune the 4th string to D flat/ish.
* tune the 3nd string to G flat/ish.
* tune the 5th string to A flat/ish.
* tune the 2nd string to B flat/ish.
* tune the 6th string to E flat/ish.
* tune the 1ts string to E flat/ish.

* repeat if required.

Check that the angle of the bridge is at least -3mm into the bridge recess then tune the strings to E A D G B E using the following method.

* tune the 6th string to E sharp/ish.
* tune the 1st string to E.
* tune the 5th string to A sharp/ish.
* tune the 3rd string to G.
* tune the 2nd string to B.
* tune the 4th string to D.

* repeat until the bridge is parallel to the body and the guitar is in tune.

* tighten the string locks at the nut position on the neck.
* tweak each string using the fine adjustments in the order above.
  • All this assumes that the bridge was good before a restring, and the same gauge strings are going back on. Using a different set will mean other adustments, too. – Tim Oct 9 '16 at 8:02

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