Jackie Part 2 (Replacing the tremolo bridge)

Why replace a tremolo bridge with one of the exact same type?

Because it’s rusted to hell and looks infectious, that’s why.

Being a cheap beginner’s guitar, Jackie has cheap parts. The tremolo started getting rustier and rustier of it’s own accord. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of the “rustic” look, but this was getting obscene.  To the point where the screwheads were wearing themselves away.

So I bought and fitted a new tremolo, here’s the two in comparison;

IMG_0649

Yeah. Pretty damn haggard. So I spent some time researching, and bought one online that was the same specs, and the same black finish. This tremolo was purchased from the fine purveyors of spare guitar parts, WD Music. For more parts suppliers and other useful bits and pieces, check out the links page for my recommendations!

Anyway, installation itself was pretty straightforward. Remove the strings, desolder the ground cable from the claw arm (or just cut it, strip the end and tin it with solder), and then simply unscrew it to remove.  Then repeat those actions in reverse order to fit the new one, easy! Or so you’d think, keep reading.

Here it is installed;

IMG_0651

Some of you with a keen eye may notice that the far left and right screws into the body are different to the rest. This leads me on neatly to the next topic of this post;

Measure, measure, and measure again.

When buying a new tremolo or any bridge, measure every damn part of the original even down to the last screw, in terms of length, diameter, and whatever else.

Granted, it makes sense to measure the string spacing to ensure you get a suitable tremolo for your guitar. However, as I learnt you have to make sure that EVERYTHING matches, else it can turn into a bit of a pain.  As it turned out, the screws that came with my new bridge were of a wider diameter than the originals. We’re not talking by 0.001 of a mm either, we’re talking minimum 0.5mm.

That might not sound like much, but when you’ve lost your electric screwdriver it’s a hell of a difference.  Screwing those two in by hand taking great care not to wear the screwheads took me about an hour.  An hour for two damn screws.

These are basically ALL of the measurements you want to take;

  • String spacing between outer saddles
  • String Saddle width & depth
  • Centre to centre spacing of mounting screws (you may also want to measure between each screw hole, just to be sure)
  • Main “plate” of the bridge, the part that sits on the body.
  • Tremolo block dimensions OR;
  • Centre to centre spacing of screws to fit tremolo block*

* I say this, because you may find a tremolo bridge that is PERFECT in every way, except for the block. The block might be too tall (or short) for your tastes.  In guitar work, every 0.5 of a mm counts towards your tone! Tremolo blocks in particular can really affect your sustain.

As a final point, be picky when buying tremolo’s online.  If you have the choice between a cheap one with next to no dimensions specs outside of “string spacing – 52mm E to E”, and one three times the price with full specs that match your trem, always go for the more expensive.  With a tremolo you won’t know it doesn’t fit until you’ve got it out of the packaging, measured it, and realised your mistake.  And then you probably won’t be able to get a full refund for a useless part.

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