How to restring and balance a Floyd Rose locking vibrato
Many players who buy a Floyd Rose-equipped guitar don’t realise they’re dealing with an intricate piece of equipment until they have to change their guitar’s strings. Don’t panic: we can get you through this.
You’ll need to assemble a toolkit. Get yourself an electronic tuner, a pair of snips, fresh guitar strings and a couple of screwdrivers and add them to the Allen keys that you should have received with your guitar. If you take your time and follow our simple guide, you’ll be a Floyd aficionado in no time.
Before you think about changing the strings, stuff a duster under your Floyd just like in the picture above. This keeps the Floyd in a ‘floating’ position when you release the tension on the strings.
Bolt loosening 1
Loosen the bolts on your locking top nut with the Allen key supplied with the guitar and detune the strings. Keep going until the strings have no tension on them at all.
Bolt loosening 2
Using the same Allen key, loosen the bolts that hold the strings in place on the Floyd. The strings can now be removed. Coil the old strings and dispose of them carefully.
Ditch the ball ends
Grab your new strings. Using your snips, cut the ball ends off of each string. Be careful that the ball ends don’t hit you in the face - it can happen. Dispose of the balls.
Block 'n' roll
Push the end of the string into the correct block in the Floyd’s saddles. It’s very important that you make sure you can feel the string hit the bottom of the saddle.
Clamp the string
With the string held in place, use your Allen key to tighten the bolt that clamps the string. Be gentle, though: you can damage the saddle if you tighten the bolt too much.
With the string bolted in place, thread it through the correct notch in the locking top nut and begin winding it around its machinehead. Repeat steps 4 to 7 with the other strings.
Tune and stretch
Tune the guitar, stretch the strings and tune it again. When the tuning settles, remove the duster. If the tuning is still a bit wonky, tune, stretch, tune until it settles properly.
Look at your Floyd side on. If it sits parallel to the guitar’s body, tighten the bolts on your locking top nut. Check the tuning and adjust the fine-tuners on the Floyd if necessary.
A vibrato too far
If the Floyd is too far forward (as above) or back, you need to adjust it. Remove the plate on your guitar that covers the vibrato cavity to find some springs and a claw that holds these springs in place.
If your Floyd is sitting forward, tighten the two large screws. This will increase the spring tension and pull the Floyd back into position. If the Floyd is sitting back, loosen the screws.
Turn the screws slightly, tune and check your progress. You’ll eventually get a balance between the tension of the strings and the springs. Now tighten your locking top nut.