I recently changed the strings on my strat from 9s to 10s. I play with my fingers and not a pick, so lighter gauge strings for me are hard to pluck because they bend so easily when I pull on them, thus making it difficult to play fast runs or to tremolo pick. When I changed my strings, my trem started lifting, which is fine because I like to be able to go up and down in pitch. But now if I push down, the strings go down in pitch and don't go back up, when I pull up they go up in pitch and don't come back down. It wasn't like that before, what should I do to fix this?

  • Sounds like part of the problem is that you aren't yet skilled in finger-plucking. Practice, slowly plucking as gently as possible while still getting the attack you want. Only when you achieve that should you start to speed up. And don't increase your practice speed in large jumps. Apr 8, 2020 at 14:29
  • @CarlWitthoft - it's not to do with how OP plucks, but to do with use of the vibrato arm, which doesn't return to its original position after use.
    – Tim
    Apr 21, 2020 at 6:15

2 Answers 2


The action and keeping in tune are not particularly related. You could adjust the springs that balance the string tension, but it seems like the problem is more to do with the strings binding at the nut end of things.

Lubrication in the form of graphite in the nut slots is always a good starter. It's possible that the strings are binding due to nut slots being too tight (narrow), but with .010"s it's doubtful.

  • I've tried that and it didn't work:( Apr 7, 2020 at 22:06
  • Exactly what did you try?
    – Tim
    Apr 21, 2020 at 6:16

When you press down or pull up on the bar does it stay in the position you moved it to or does it snap back to the home position? If it snaps back then Tim’s advice is on the money. If it stays where you move the bar to then it seems like there is something wrong with the tremolo itself, like it is catching on something or whatever it hinges on is damaged.

  • No, it always goes back to position Apr 7, 2020 at 22:07
  • @Adriannunez the bar itself may go back to position, but the entire linkage may not. Apr 8, 2020 at 14:30
  • Sounds like it needs a closer look by a tech or in these conditions maybe a phone consultation unless you’re mechanically inclined and can try and figure out what’s wrong. Stock Strat tremolos are always going to knock the guitar out of tune a bit but not coming back from a down or up pull is not right. Apr 8, 2020 at 17:32
  • In the meantime, as a temporary fix: remove the tremolo cover plate from the back of the guitar, gently wedge a little block of wood, any old wood, between the tremolo block and the guitar body, replace the cover and play away. I performed this temporary fix a quarter of a century ago, and both the guitar and I have gone on to lead relatively normal, whammy-less, lives. Apr 9, 2020 at 8:23
  • Wit new strings, there's always the possibilty that they weren't stretched (bedded in) properly - or even have too many windings round the tuning posts.
    – Tim
    Apr 21, 2020 at 6:18

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