Restringing and Cleaning a Floyd Rose Guitar -Ibanez

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Restringing AND cleaning a Floyd Rose Guitar or any of its LICENSED counterparts

This tutorial is ideally suited for the following Floyd Rose models:

  • Original Floyd Rose (Includes all OFR models except Speedloader)
  • Schaller Licensed Floyd Rose (Includes all Schaller Licensed FR models)
  • Gotoh Licensed Floyd Rose
  • Ibanez Edge, Lo-Pro Edge, TRS (and its variants), ILT1, Edge Pro III
  • ALL Licensed Floyds

For other models like the Ibanez ZR trem, Edge Pro, Edge Pro II and whatever locking floyd system out there, most of this tutorial SHOULD work on it.

Also, note that this tutorial deals with a FULL removal of strings. Not a 1 by 1 replacement of strings. Why so? Because with a Full Removal, you can clean up the trem cavity and all the gunk in your trem. By right, without string breakage, you should only change strings once a mth, by then, its high time for a clean up. Unless you play in a dust free environment. 

All the stuff that's here is really up to you to try out, if you dare to, that is.  So here goes.

You got to change your strings on your FR axe. So... these are the things you absolutely need at hand:

  1. Allen Wrench (To open locking nuts and to loosen string clamps)
  2. Screwdriver (cross head)
  3. String cutter
  4. Peg Turner
  5. Guitar Tuner
  6. Material for a Trem Jammer (Note its NOT a tremolo block, the big metal block of the trem where the springs hook onto, thats the trem block)

Now this trem jammer is just something used to jam the trem so tuning up is easier. It can be made of a deck of cards, a couple of hard erasers, piece of wood, just something hard. Its meant to be used in a couple of places.

  1. Under the trem's fine tuners. So it blocks the trem from moving down. Not very recommended because its harder to remove
  2. Inside the trem cavity, infront of the trem block. (Trem cannot be pulled up)
    Not very recommended as the springs will hook over the trem block and jammer will really get jammed.
  3. Inside the trem cavity, behind the trem block. (Trem cannot be dive bombed)
    This is what I do... yes, you might have to fiddle with the trem claw screws but thats not a big problem.

Ok, now that you have the equipment, lets note something very very important.

At all times, use TENDER LOVING CARE on the instrument. Most of the screw, allen screws and tightenable parts are only to be tightened FINGER TIGHT. Absolutely no brute force is required. You ruin a screws or allen screw, you will have to get screw remover tools to get that thing out, and screw removers aren't the nicest tools around. If that don't work, then you will have to DRILL IT OUT. So don't force your way around things ya? 

Lets go...

Take off the tremolo cavity cover.
Now, unscrew the screws carefully, they are drilled into wood.

Create a Trem Jammer
Fill up the behind of the trem block with your trem jammer material. Remember to get your trem at PERFECT floating point. For whats your trem's floating point, check your respective trem brand's website... Basically, the knife edge will have to be perpendicular to the trem posts.
For Ibanez ppl, look here. Edge Floating Point

Ok, with your Trem Jammer ready, you will now...

Take off the Trem Springs

2 ways to go abt this.

  1. Use an Allen wrench and yank off the strings.
  2. Plug in your trem arm, flip guitar over, place guitar on your lap so that the trem arm is pushing (well, the guitar is upside down) the trem down (doing a pull up). THEN use an Allen wrench and pull of the strings.

Take off the Trem
Carefully lift out the trem and then start to remove the strings. So you will have a nice piece of equipment that costs a couple hundred in your hands. Put that aside and MAKE SURE THE STRING BLOCK DO NOT FALL OUT.

Remove old strings
You can either slide the strings thru the locking nut, or take off the locking pads totally and remove the strings. Do take off the locking pads unless you want the wound strings to shave off your locking nut's finish. You can cut them anyway to make life easier.

CLEAN the guitar.
Polish the head and tuners... clean up the locking nut... clean the fretboard, oil it, clean frets... clean guitar body...trem cavity...

For the trem, you can use cotton ear buds dipped in some Dunlop 65 cleaning fluid, to reach those hard to get places. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, spray ANYTHING onto the trem. If you really want to clean up the trem, you can remove the intonation screws and move the saddles aside, but of course, you'll lose your intonation.. but thats not too hard to set... if you are not confident, then don't.

Reinstall trem
Place the trem back in the cavity. No need to attach the strings yet.

Install new strings
Ok, for this, I recommend stringing the guitar with the ball end of the strings at the head. (Just my own personal preference)  Why? You will never have a scratched up guitar bag. You will never get stabbed by that high e string again. You will however, find it just a bit weird, which is really no problem at all. Which ever method you choose, plonk in the Low E string (how much slack? Refer below) ...

  • Cut off Excess. (How much to cut? Refer below)
  • Lock it to the trem.
  • Tighten the Low E till the trem starts to rise just a bit.
  • Flip the guitar over carefully, don't let the trem drop out, use the trem arm if you have to, and install the springs with the help of the allen wrench to pull.
  • Install the rest of the strings, don't worry abt tension, just make sure they aren't slack.

How much slack to give the strings?
Low E - Half-way-around-guitar-tuner worth of slack. Doesn't break unless you make it break so no need for slack.
A - Half way around.
D - Half to one time around.
G - 3 rounds.
B - 6 rounds.
E - 6 - 8 rounds.

Why so much slack on the high strings? In case they break (usually at the trem) , you can just run some slack off the tuner and reclamp the string to the trem. Tune up and you are ready to go again. 

Usually, 1st timers over compensate... with experience, you'll know how much string to cut off.

With all the strings in, its time to...

Plonk in the trem jammer. Now, two things will happen.

a) The trem jammer will squeeze in nicely and bring the trem back up to floating point.

b) The trem jammer wouldn't fit in because the string tension is too low.

If its (a), GOOD FOR YOU!!! Just tune the guitar up with the trem jammer in place... should the trem jammer come loose before you finish tuning, that means then spring tension is too high: take the screw driver and carefully loosen the trem claw screws. (the big screws that go into the guitar body and hold the trem springs)

After some time, the tuning will be PERFECT but the trem jammer is still stuck in there... when that happens, all you have to do is just remove the trem jammer and check tuning. If its shaper on the lower strings (E, A and D), just loosen the trem claw screw thats on the bass side. If it is flat, tighten the screw. Do the same to the higher strings (E, B and G). Remember, that any adjustment on a floating trem system affects ALL strings so if you tighten the bass side claw strings, check the treble strings tuning...

If its (b), you will have either tighten your strings or loosen your claw screws, till the trem jammer can squeeze in. I recommend you tighten your strings, especially the bass strings. Then do the above.

Fine Tune Up...
With all that restring, loosening/tightening trem claws and what not, the strings should be stretched nicely. So use the fine tuners and play your heart out with your nicely cleans and finely tuned Floyd Rose!

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