Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Tuning a Floyd Rose Tremolo can be challenging to say the least. As a guitar repair guy, it’s my least favorite of tuning tasks. Once it’s dialed in, it’s all cupcakes and rainbows. The time spent getting to the cupcakes seems like a never ending one step forward and two steps back.
I decided to spend a little time writing about Floyd Rose tuning so I could understand it better myself.
I detailed "the easy way" method at the end of the article.
Here is the Floyd Rose string tuning instructions site. I’ll be using them as a reference but I've since figured out my own way.
Floyd Rose Instructions
· First, loosen up the locking nut.
· Second, set all the fine tuners to the middle position. Makes sense.
· Third, tune all the strings to the desired tuning. This is where is gets weird.
· Fourth, when you’ve finished tuning all the strings, go back and check the low E.
· Every string is way off right? Grit your teeth and embrace the suck. 😪
Frustrating isn’t it? Don’t worry, no one gets this right the first time.
Here is what is happening:
Each time one of the strings is tuned to pitch, it changes the tension on the springs which throws the other strings out of tune.
“every time you change the tension (or pitch) of one string, the other strings change pitch in the opposite direction. “ Floyd Rose String Tuning Instructions.
Floyd Rose Instructions for tuning the bridge
“re-tune the strings starting again with the low ‘E’ but this time tune the E, A, D, G, and B strings a little bit sharp, then the high ‘E’ to pitch. If the low ‘E’ is sharp, re-tune as just described only tuning the first five strings a little flat. You must tune the strings a little sharp or flat to get to your tuning.” Floyd Rose String Tuning Instructions.
The Easy Way: The herding sheep method.
Imagine you're a shepherd and you're trying to herd Six sheep. How would you get them all together and moving in the same direction?
First you would get one sheep under control and then another. Once you have two you would add another and another until eventually all of them were moving in the same direction and under your control. Right?
A methodical approach.
· First, tune one string to pitch, we will call that the Low E.
· Next tuning a second string to pitch, we will call that A.
· Once string A is tuned, string Low E is out of tune.
· Re-tune string A and String Low E. Both should be in tune now. Congrats, you’ve got 2 strings in tune and working together.
· Now add another string, we will call that D.
· Once string D is tuned, strings A and Low E are out of tune.
· Go back and re-tune strings A, Low E, and D until all 3 are in tune. Congrats, you have 3 strings in tune together. Or 3 sheep moving together.
· Now add on one string at a time until you get all 6 tuned Don’t add a new string until the previous ones are all in tune together.
Now that you’ve got all the strings in tune. It’s time to level the bridge.
· If your bridge plate is level with the body, give yourself a pat on the back. 😁
· If not, don’t worry, it’s pretty simple.
· If the bridge is tilted back, you’ll need to loosen the spring claw screws. I would recommend 1 full turn of both screws.
· Re-tune the strings. (Don’t worry, it will be a lot easier this time around.)
· Re-check the bridge for level. Rinse and repeat until the bridge is level with the body.
Over Tightening The Screws a little.
If the bridge is leaning forward, you’ll need to tighten the screws on the claw arm. I would recommend over tightening the screws a bit. Tuning the strings is a little easier when the screws are over tightened. Once the strings are tuned, just loosen the screws until the bridge is level. This seems to be one of the quickest ways to tune a Floyd Rose.
Phew😪, I hope that didn’t take too long. I knew you could do it.
Finally, we will be adjusting string height by raising or lowering the bridge and taking measurements at the 17th Fret.
The bridge adjusts with same hex wrench (3mm) used to loosen the nut and the saddles. There are two identical “rocker screws” on either side of the bridge. Adjust the screws until the proper string action is acquired.
For Floyd Rose style guitars action should be 1.5mm-1.75mm. No more than 2mm.
When changing strings, change strings one at a time. You won’t have to go through the marathon of tuning over and over.
Once the balance between string tension and the springs is settled, as long as you stick to the same gauge string, your bridge will stay level.
Good luck and kind regards,
NoVa Guitar Setups