Tuner and Bridge: A "vintage" guy tries to get hip. Make fun of me, then help

record83

Active member
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57
OK, so the floodgates are open. Here is another thread about hardware and here is another stubborn "vintage" aesthetics guy...

I play in a Blues/Blues Rock band. Talking a boat load of Strats, a custom Tele, hardly any pedals, through a Dr. Z Maz 18 NR. I love it. And yes, I love the crappy vintage hardware! I love the way it looks, despite it's technical obsolescence and downfalls, I don't have much of a problem with it...

However, we got a Halloween gig at our local bar, and as a joke, we are playing first set as the normal blues band, then 2nd in costume playing 70's/80's hair metal and then a third set playing 90's grunge/alternative rock. The metal set has a lot of dropped tuning and bar divebombing. I am in need of a new guitar (or parts!)

I just put some old schaller locking tuners I had on one of my strats (with the old 6-screw trem) to help facilitate the heavy playing and whammy bar activity. It seems to help, but I don't think it's good enough. So to justify my tremendous non-stop G.A.S. I am looking to quickly build, or soup up something to handle this style of music.

If I have to go with a floyd, I'll do it. BUT, after gathering information I see there are a lot of options out there for bridges and tuners. I have stayed clear of 2 point trems, I have one that gives me trouble (plus I knew two techs in my formative years who hated 2-points and said to stick with 6 screw if the choice was between the two!) But, I see most people are in favor of those. What locking tuners seem to be the best? Is there hardware where I can dive bomb on locking tuners (without a floyd) and stay in tune pretty decently? Is there hardware out there where I can just soup up a vintage-style strat with little molestation?

I can't apologize, I love the look of the vintage stuff. I would like to get away a standard looking strat that has been modified, but I am also willing to just buy a cheap Jackson, ESP or SOMETHING with a floyd on it. Any input would be appreciated. I'll try to keep an open mind  :toothy10:
 

Cagey

Senior member
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24,425
Any locker is going to be better than an old-style friction tuner. But, the three that seem to gather the most adherents are the Schaller mini-lockers, the Sperzels, and the Planet Waves Auto-Trims. I'm partial to the first two. They're high-quality parts and they work equally well, although I prefer the Schallers because of the deeper knurled locking nut. Makes it easier to lock/unlock the thing. Some people also like the fact you can get polished finishes rather than satin. The Planet Waves parts are much like the Schallers, but they have an automatic string-trimming feature where it lops off the excess string when you start winding up tension on the string. In my mind, the jury's still out on the life expectancy of that feature.

You may be aware, but in case you're not, you don't want any wraps around the post on a locking tuner. It defeats the purpose of the things. A big part of the reason friction tuners are so inconsistent and variable is the wraps of string on the posts. With lockers, you pull the string through tight, lock it down, then bring it to tune. If you're ending up with 2 or 3 wraps on the post, you've wasted your money on lockers.

You also need a properly cut nut that doesn't hang up. The best is the Fender LSR nut, but the Graphtec TUSQ nuts work fairly well with no modification to the neck. Done right, you can toss the string trees and eliminate another source of tuning instability.

Couple all that with a two-point Wilkinson, and you can wank and crank all day long and the thing will stay in tune.

6 point vibrato bridges are subject to too much fulcrum friction, so they have an unreliable return to neutral. It's not a good design. Not even Fender uses them anymore unless somebody's willing to pay extra for lower performance. Some of their expensive "signature" guitars, for instance, use that design because whoever's signature they're using also used that design. It's just foolishness, but there are those who thrive on such things.

Floyd Rose's design also works well, but it's unnecessarily complicated and requires irreparably modifying the neck. Once you go down that road, there's no turning back, although when you get right down to it, that's true of most designs for one reason or another, sometimes several.

If you're truly into "vintage", you can't have locking bridges, tuners, or specialty nuts because none of that stuff existed before the early '80s, so you're out of luck when it comes to staying in tune. Vibratos were the bane of the guitar player's existence before then, which is why they came up with the improved hardware. Necessity is the mother of invention.

But, if you have an audience of 500, it's unlikely more than a few are going to know, care, or even suspect that your instrument isn't a period-correct piece. On the other hand, the vast majority will be able to tell if you're out of tune.
 

reinhold

Senior member
Messages
148
You say for the second set there a lot of dropped tuning.  Are all of the songs you will be playing in the same tuning?  If not, don't go with a floyd.  If they are, go for it!  I love floyds for the near 100% return to accuracy so if I need to go a little crazy with the bar for effect, I can and won't have to worry.
 

reluctant-builder

Senior member
Messages
816
I remember the first guitar I saw with the LSR nut was a translucent wine-red Strat with a black pickguard. It was sexy as hell. Of course, they only make that nut for right-handed guitars, so I was shit out of luck ... but I envy anyone (that is to say, righties) who can use one. I cranked on that trem in the store and the thing stayed in tune pretty well, even without locking tuners.

While a Floyd is irreversible and requires mods to the body and the neck, the LSR requires a wider nut slot, too ... but at least it's still usable in a non-trem guitar -- and doesn't need body mods -- and it isn't obnoxiously huge and rife with knobs and doodads.

I wish the LSR was available for lefties. It's a shame turning it around renders the design useless.
 

drewfx

Senior member
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1,204
I would say get an LSR or other low friction nut, any decent locking tuners, remove the string trees, use at least a reasonable amount of spring tension, and use bullet end strings.
 

animal control

Senior member
Messages
107
reluctant-builder said:
I remember the first guitar I saw with the LSR nut was a translucent wine-red Strat with a black pickguard. It was sexy as hell. Of course, they only make that nut for right-handed guitars, so I was shite out of luck ... but I envy anyone (that is to say, righties) who can use one. I cranked on that trem in the store and the thing stayed in tune pretty well, even without locking tuners.

While a Floyd is irreversible and requires mods to the body and the neck, the LSR requires a wider nut slot, too ... but at least it's still usable in a non-trem guitar -- and doesn't need body mods -- and it isn't obnoxiously huge and rife with knobs and doodads.

I wish the LSR was available for lefties. It's a shame turning it around renders the design useless.

My left handed friends often point out challenges I wouldn't have thought of, but as a guitar player/builder you seem to be confronting them daily.

BTW, a little survey I've been doing unscientifically for some years now. When you tap your foot to music, do you tap your right foot or left foot?
 

Cagey

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animal control said:
BTW, a little survey I've been doing unscientifically for some years now. When you tap your foot to music, do you tap your right foot or left foot?

That's an interesting topic that I think a lot of people would contribute to. I know I have stories. But, it probably needs its own thread. Why not start one? This one is for a "vintage" guy who's trying to catch up to at least the late 20th century, if not sooner.
 

record83

Active member
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57
Thank you for the input guys. You all have persuaded me. I was just kicking around the idea of building another guitar on a whim and I already purchased the parts! Clueless last night, placing the order the next! You guys are dangerous. I can't be held responsible for my decisions, you all PUSHED me to buy these parts, RIGHT?  :laughing7:

All I am going to say is look out for a Neon Pink Strat (yeah, you read that right) with black hardware, Wilkison trem, LSR nut, Schaller locking tuners. Yes, welcome to the...80's? Quite a departure for me.

And for the record I am not really a "vintage" guy or purist, I just like the look a lot and that's just the type of stuff I use. Playability and tone come before having "vintage correct" parts on everything. Yeah! I know, I Know.....no comments Cagey!  :toothy10:

I need another guitar like I need another hole in my head. I just had my wisdom teeth out, so that's 4 holes too many already!!!!

And I use both feet when I stomp to the music... :cool01:
 

Cagey

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24,425
Well, good for you! You're going to be very pleased! Warmoth makes some really nice stuff, so even though it's neon pink, this is liable to become your favorite guitar. Did you also order a neck, or do we have to embarrass you into that as well? <grin> Not to take anything away from their bodies, but that's another area where Warmoth really shines if you ask me. Get a Pau Ferro neck with an Ebony 'board and some stainless steel frets, and you'll be sleeping with that guitar, forsaking all others until death do you part. I ain't kidding. That is the neck of doom.

I enjoy the appearance of vintage gear, too, but I wouldn't own any. The stuff is just too problematic. It's kinda like looking at '60s and '70s muscle cars. Beautiful designs, but dangerously impractical and unreliable. For example, a 1970 Chevelle Super Sport (or any of a number of cars from that era) was a thing of beauty, but the brakes, suspension, weight distribution and steering were terrifyingly bad. It was some sexy sheet metal wrapped around a monster engine, is all. Too bad you couldn't count on it or control it worth spit. But, designs improve over time, and today even the cheapest KIA or Hyundai handles better than any of those old beauties did, and will last 5 times as long with 1/10 the maintenance.
 

reluctant-builder

Senior member
Messages
816
animal control said:
BTW, a little survey I've been doing unscientifically for some years now. When you tap your foot to music, do you tap your right foot or left foot?

Ha. It depends. I tap with both feet, though not simultaneously. When learning, I read that I should tap with my right foot so not to bounce my guitar on my left leg, but I sometimes find that I tap my left foot, anyway.

When I play the drums, I use a regular configuration, but my left foot is much better on the kick drum than my right is. Still, since every appendage is required, I've just forced them all to work in sync and to improve. Having my left foot on the hi-hat isn't a bad thing; each foot has to be somewhere.

I played soccer for a long time and was a left-footed shot, though I could shoot with my right. What has your survey told you, so far?
 

record83

Active member
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57
Yes Cagey, I did pull the trigger on the neck as well. I got a showcase Q-sawn Canary/Ebony Vintage Modern Strat neck, Standard Thin, MOP inlay, LSR prep with schaller holes, SS6115 frets. Needed an unfinished neck to get the guitar made before halloween. Was thinking Goncolo, or Pau, but went with Canary because of it's similarity to Maple.

This is actually my 4rth Warmoth neck and my second body. I have a thread in the Tele section of a build that I made like, uh.....2 weeks ago. Yeah, that was impulse too...

Neon Pink. It will be a chick magnet, I swear. Already ordered a fuzzy pink guitar strap. Laugh all you want, but we are going to be in full glam rock costume, so the guitar has to match!

The body will be routed HUM/SINGLE/HUM, but for now just doing a simple GHS Extra Hot VH pickup with Vol knob to start, but I have plenty of options for future pickup arrangements.

Thanks again of the info!
 

Patrick from Davis

Senior member
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2,197
Make a pom pom of shiny silver gift shred mylar from the dollar store on the head of the guitar around the nut, and where the strap attaches to the back of the guitar for some over the top hair metal looks.  Don't forget the El cheapo-rama second hand store scarves as well for any where else that could possibly be used.  Then get another guitar and leave it out in a hurricane or two for the grunge look.
Patrick

 

Cagey

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24,425
record83 said:
Yes Cagey, I did pull the trigger on the neck as well. I got a showcase Q-sawn Canary/Ebony Vintage Modern Strat neck, Standard Thin, MOP inlay, LSR prep with schaller holes, SS6115 frets.

That is going to be a delicious neck!

You should know by now that it isn't the guitar that's the chick magnet, it's being on stage that does it. Musicians on stage are to chicks what strippers are to guys. Hell, you could be a bass player and you'd still get some unusual attention. Not as much, of course, but still <grin>
 

record83

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Haha! Well, we normally play blues, so girls aren't necessarily lining up at the edge of the stage! Plus, our bass player pretty much goes unnoticed. We tease him that when he straps his bass on it is an invisibility cloak. He has on numerous occasions been talking to chicks between sets and getting "these guys are good" or "do you know the band?" remarks, and he is like, "uh....yeah....I am the bass player"

Yeah, this whole guitar was just a joke in my head. Now it's just part of my debt. I hope it's worth it!
 

Cagey

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Worth it? That depends. It's the start of a seriously expensive addiction. You're going to be so pleased with the parts you get you'll be planning your next build before you're finished with the first one <grin>
 

animal control

Senior member
Messages
107
Cagey said:
animal control said:
BTW, a little survey I've been doing unscientifically for some years now. When you tap your foot to music, do you tap your right foot or left foot?

That's an interesting topic that I think a lot of people would contribute to. I know I have stories. But, it probably needs its own thread. Why not start one? This one is for a "vintage" guy who's trying to catch up to at least the late 20th century, if not sooner.

Yeah, thanks for pointing out my subconscious hjack attempt. Aploolgies to the OP.
 
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8,318
Record83, welcome to the board.  I don't think you're quite as stubborn as you think you are.
1:  Vintage snob or not, you've found what works for you.  You've got a great amp with minimal outboard effects.  We should all be so wise.
2:  You're building a guitar you'll really have no use for outside of a few out of character sets for a Halloween show.  I'm far more stubborn in this sense.  I wouldn't spend the time or energy building one guitar for 45 minutes of music only to have no use for it the next day.  Surely some double locking pawnshop throwback and a can of neon pink krylon wouldn't set you back much.  Then again, this board is full of vicarious co-dependent enablers that love seeing pics.  I can't wait to see it either. :icon_jokercolor:
 

record83

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Super Turbo Jack Ace Deluxe Custom said:
Record83, welcome to the board.  I don't think you're quite as stubborn as you think you are.
1:  Vintage snob or not, you've found what works for you.  You've got a great amp with minimal outboard effects.  We should all be so wise.
2:  You're building a guitar you'll really have no use for outside of a few out of character sets for a Halloween show.  I'm far more stubborn in this sense.  I wouldn't spend the time or energy building one guitar for 45 minutes of music only to have no use for it the next day.  Surely some double locking pawnshop throwback and a can of neon pink krylon wouldn't set you back much.  Then again, this board is full of vicarious co-dependent enablers that love seeing pics.  I can't wait to see it either. :icon_jokercolor:

Haha! This makes me laugh and cry. Why did you have to tell it like it is??? All I need is the slightest hint or reason to feed my GAS. I have wanted a "metal" guitar for some time now, so it won't be completely useless after the show, but YES, I totally did build it for this particular show! I spent about 11 times as much (so far) of what I am getting paid at the gig. And to top it off, I am not going to play it on every song.

We should start a thread titled: "what Warmoth body and/or neck did you buy this week?"
 
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