How to Tune With a ZR Tremolo

Written by simon foden Google
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How to Tune With a ZR Tremolo
Joe Satriani executing an upward pitch bend with a ZR tremolo system. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

The Zero Resistance Tremolo, or ZR Tremolo, is a double-locking floating tremolo system designed by Ibanez. The double-locking floating tremolo concept was pioneered by Floyd Rose in 1983 to combat the problem of poor tuning stability in guitars fitted with a tremolo. The ZR is very similar to the Floyd Rose design and offers the same benefits. The main difference between the two systems is that the ZR has a ball-bearing pivot and the Floyd Rose as a knife-edge pivot. Operationally, these elements do not affect the tuning process. However, the ball-bearing based pivot typically has a smoother action.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2.5-mm hex key
  • Guitar tuner
  • Guitar cable if using an electric tuner

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  1. 1

    Turn each thumbscrew on the bridge so that it sits at the halfway point. The thumbscrew is for fine-tuning the strings when the nut lock is on. With the screw at halfway, you have equal tuning scope in each direction.

  2. 2

    Fit a 2.5-mm hex key into the nut lock covering the E and A string at the top of the guitar. Turn the hex key counter-clockwise to loosen it. You don't need to remove it completely . Repeat this process for the remaining two nut locks. The nut lock applies downforce to the strings, effectively putting a stop on them in the same way your fingers do when you fret a note. This prevents the strings from pulling on the tuning machines when the tremolo is in use. With the nut lock fastened, the tuning machines have no influence over string tension.

  3. 3

    Fit a clip-on tuner or plug in to an electric tuner. Play the bottom E string and observe the tuner display. If the display points to the right, the note is sharp. If it points to the left, the note is flat. If it points dead centre, the note is in tune.

  4. 4

    Tune the strings remaining in the standard manner. Turn the tuning machines to tighten and loosen the strings. Tighten the strings to correct a flat note and loosen the strings to correct a sharp note.

  5. 5

    Fit the hex key and fasten the nut lock. Turn the hex key counter-clockwise to tighten it.

  6. 6

    Check the tuning again. The downforce from the nut lock can make the strings go slightly sharp. Turn the thumbscrew counter-clockwise to correct a sharp note. Although the double-locking system prevents the tremolo or tuning machines from influencing string tension, it does not mitigate the effects of humidity, which can cause strings to go out of tune. If they do go out of tune, use the thumbscrews to make minor corrections.

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