Surf Guitar help !

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Ghostdriver, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Ghostdriver

    Ghostdriver Guest

    hi folks,
    here's the deal. Just joined a surf guitar band, i have recently restrung a strat style guitar but the tremelo bridge is sitting flush against the body so i can only bend down (!) but not up !
    Now theres probably a simple remedy, but after always owning telecasters i have no experience of tremelo actions etc., do i need heavier gauge strings to pull it over more, or is there a way to adjust the springs in the unit.
    Also as a recommendation given the style of music we are gonna do, i am rhythmn guy, so what gauge string would be appropriate, the ones i just put on have a 9 bottom E, i think heavier would be good.

    thanks guys :oops:
    Strat o Novice !
  2. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    With any kind of bridge that is able to sit 'flush' you really don't/can't do any major bending up with the trem arm. You COULD slack your back springs enough for the bridge to sit unnaturally high, but I would seriously recommend that you don't. That would introduce new problems and would totally ruin the sound of your guitar as well as intonation and action. Your bridge is supposed to float about one mm above the body of the guitar, which allows you about a half step maybe a whole step of trem bending power. If you need more bending than that your only good option is to get a guitar that has a cavity carved under the bridge. I know this isn't in your style but this guitar has that such cavity.
  3. Ghostdriver

    Ghostdriver Guest

    thanx Guitarfreak and yes youre right, that guitar is definately a no go for me ! I just seemed to remember a strat tremelo i tried once before had more leeway than i have got on the 'up' bend.
    Maybe i got it wrong....any advice on the strings dude ?

  4. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Maybe you missed the part where I said that you can adjust this yourself. Just go into the back compartment of the guitar and loosen the two long bolts that hold the springs in balance with the bridge. You will get extra height this way, but like I said, 1 mm Adjust each screw a half turn each time then tune back up and eyeball your bridge height.

    As for strings I don't really think it matters. It's really up to personal preference and playing technique. If you have a heavy picking hand you might want to put thicker strings on, but if you play like a butterfly then lighter it is. You can go heavier if you'd prefer.
  5. Genereaux

    Genereaux Active Member

    Dec 29, 2008
    If it's a 'strat trem', there's no "cool" way to float the bridge. The Floyd is the only real floater out there.

    But frankly, for surf guitar, who cares?. Since the Fender trem (well, Bigsbys I guess. But they, too, won't pull back) was the only trem around in the surf music heyday, there isn't any stylistic need to pull up on the bar.
    All of the surfy 'warble' can be accommodated by pushing (or 'pulsing', to coin a term) down on the trem.
    So I would say "don't bother trying to 'float' the bridge", not for surf music.

    Style/technique aside, the Fender trem doesn't lend itself well to 'floating'. Like Guitafreak said, this will increase your string action. Especially around the heel/body join. With the frequent need for staccato picking that abounds in surf music, that will not serve you well.
    You MIGHT be able to off-set the additional height (from the "ramped up" bridge) by loosening the truss rod (which is the common practice for attaining a 'uniform' string height across all frets), but since we're exceeding the design of the stock Fender trem, you would likely find yourself 'fretting out' on most of your pulls.
    Shimming the heel to give a 'tilt-back' angle to neck could also work to mitigate the string height, but wouldn't really avoid any of the pitfalls of the trussrod adjusment.

    So, again, why bother?

    However, I CAN tell you that Dick Dale(the KING of surf guitar) uses 13's or so.
    My suggestion would be; before you adjust anything (bridge or trussrod), put some 13's on.
    More than likely, that will 'raise' your bridge for you. You can play around like that and see if it works for you.......

  6. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Dick Dale used a strat and he got more than enough vibrato. Heavy metal uses floating trems. Surf music is pretty dang twangy, so I don't see any need to up the string gauge. If you do go with a higher string gauge, you may need to add some more springs to the back of your trem.
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Strat standard bridges are floating bridges. They are set up to float at the factory. If you take a close look at a brand new Fender Stratocaster or a Squier for that matter, you will notice that the bridge is about 1/8" from the face of the guitar.

    This is not to be confused the full fulcrum based floating bridges like the Floyd Rose and Licensed versions. Still, to float the bridge is a simple process. Of course once you have the bridge floating you need to adjust the intonation which is not so simple. But, this is an absolutely necessary step.
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