Installing a new tremolo bar on your guitar can be a daunting process if you aren't accustomed to making modifications to your instrument. Tremolo bars, also referred to as whammy bars, give the user the option of loosening or tightening the strings by pushing or pulling a bar attached to a floating or pivoting bridge. Many tremolos are suitable for Gibson guitars, and many of these will fit directly into the holes previously used for your bridge and stop bar. Learning to install a new tremolo for your Gibson can save you money on a professional installation.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Flathead screwdriver
- Hexagonal key
Remove the strings from your guitar. To access the bridge and stop bar currently attached to your guitar, the strings must be removed. Use the tuning heads at the top of the guitar to loosen the strings. Unwind the strings from the tuning posts and pull them through the flat, rectangular stop bar at the opposite end of the guitar.
Unscrew the existing bridge and stop bar, and remove them from your guitar. Use a flathead screwdriver to undo the screws at either end of both the bridge and the stop bar. Look at the guitar so that the headstock is on your right. Locate the bridge by looking directly to the left of the pickups, and find the stop bar to the left of that. Once the screws have been removed, remove the bridge and stop bar.
Examine your new tremolo system. Count the amount of screw holes in the unit. Tremolo bridges are much larger than a typical fixed Gibson bridge, and usually will cover the entire space between the previous stop bar and bridge. Floyd Rose tremolo bridges have two screws in the top two corners, and other brands such as Stetsbar will have four holes, one in each corner. New tremolo bridges should come with a protector, which should be placed over the furthest two holes from the neck of the guitar, to protect the paint work of your guitar from the new bridge's moving section.
Line up your new tremolo with the existing holes on your guitar. After the bridge and stop bar have been removed, there will be four holes in the body of the guitar. Line up Floyd Rose-style bridges so that the two holes in the top of the tremolo line up with the old bridge holes, which are located close to the pickups of the guitar. Line up Stetsbar-style bridges so that all four holes match the ones from the stop bar and bridge. On Stetsbar bridges, the Gibson-style bridges should be closest to the pickups, and on Floyd Rose-style bridges, the six black circles should be separated from the pickups by the six metallic saddles.
Screw in your new tremolo bridge. Generally, all of the screws will be operated by a hexagonal key, but some bridges will require use of a flathead screwdriver. Tighten each of the screws to the same degree to ensure a level bridge.
Connect your tremolo arm in the relevant hole. On Stetsbar-style bridges, the hole is in the centre of the unit, slightly behind the stop bar section of the unit. On Floyd Rose tremolo bridges, the hole is located on the underside of the bridge, closer to the tone and volume controls. Screw in the tremolo bar by turning it to the right. Stop turning the tremolo when you easily can pivot the bridge using the arm, without tightening it fully. Restring your guitar.
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