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Vibrato/tremolo forces my guitar to get out of tune... Please help!


Gulliver

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Hello all,

I play acoustic guitar for a bit more than a year now and a couple of months ago I started practicing electric guitar, so I still consider myself as a beginner guitar player so please don't laugh at my stupid problem! :o

Anyway, yesterday I decided that it's time to try out that vibrato/tremolo thing My guitar (Yamaha RGX-TT) has Wilkinson VS-100G and it works okay except that after using it the instrument goes out of tune! To be more precise strings G, D, A and E get out of tune (for almost half a tone sharp), whereas two higher strings (E and B) seem to be un-affected by my tremolo exercises. I tried to tighten the corresponding screws, but alas - without any audible success So my dilemma is:

is there something that must be done to prevent those four strings getting out of tune or should I get rid of that (bad?) vibrato/tremolo system and get a new and a reliable one? Btw, I am very pleased with the guitar itself, it sounds good and I feel very comfortable playing it. Just that tremolo thing seems to be out of order and that is quite a PITA...

Any advice would be highly appreciated.

I am back.
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Is that a locking trem system? I am assuming so, since you say "tighten the screws" If it's a locking system, and the clamps are secure, perhaps the neck is not stable? If it is NOT a locking system, what you experience is pretty much why they invented locking systems.

 

Non-locking systems can be used, but a little more delicately than diving to slack and then bouncing back up. Sometimes a little tug up (going sharp) on the bar will bring you back closer that just letting the springs return you to neutral.

 

Listen for pings and pops as you work through the range of the bar. Any sounds like that indicate the strings may be hanging on the nut or bridge point, and not sliding smoothly in the slot. If they "pop" they have little chance of accurately returning to pitch.

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Billster, thanks for your reply.

Honestly speaking I'm not sure if it is a locking or non-locking system...

 

Here is the link to some pictures of RGX-TT

 

Maybe looking at them you can say whether it's locking or non-locking...

 

Originally posted by billster:

Listen for pings and pops as you work through the range of the bar. Any sounds like that indicate the strings may be hanging on the nut or bridge point, and not sliding smoothly in the slot. If they "pop" they have little chance of accurately returning to pitch.

I don't have my guitar with me right now, but I think - yes, some strings do "pop" (if I got what you mean) a bit... What must be done to prevent them popping? Should I rise them up a little?

 

Uh... sorry for my English.

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Gulliver, the link didn't work, but I found another info page. I see that it is listed with Sperzel locking tuners, so the nut is open to causing tuning problems. The nut needs to be free of any small abrasions that will catch the string and prevent it from sliding freely. I'm not a fan of lubricating the nut (no innuendo intended :D ), but there was ceaseless discussion of tuning issues here.
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The Wilkinson trem-bridge (non-locking) that Yamaha has used a lot is generally a very good unit; it (and the rest of the guitar's string-path) does need to be properly set-up and maintained, though, and your strings need to have been well stretched.

 

Do you mean you tightened the screws that hold down the saddles on the bridge assembly, on the top of the unit? Or somewhere else?

 

If those strings are going sharp, then as Bill suggests, they are most likely catching in the nut-slots and/or behind the bridge-saddles and pulling the string tighter along its "speaking length" from nut to bridge. The wound strings are more susceptible to this, as the winding can easily "snag" and "catch".

 

Try this: (Quoting myself here for convenience)

 

Put a TINY dab of Radio Shack "Archer"-brand Teflon gel lube (Catalog/Item/Part No. 64-2301A) in the nut-slots and bridge-saddle-grooves and on any moving parts or points of friction (especially on a whammy-bar set-up). Works great! It's clear, and stays put quite well.

 

I mix my own "Super Lube-Goop" with that and some powdered graphite.

 

I can't remember what, where, when about the graphite, it was just something that was around the house, I think you can find the stuff in most hardware stores and the like; they sell it for putting into temperamental locks, etc.

 

I just mixed it up in a little plastic bottle. DO NOT get it on bare wood or scratches and cracks in a finish, especially maple. With the powdered graphite, it'll make a stubborn grey stain that wicks under clearcoats and around nut-slots on maple (and into the wood) like a sonuffabitch! Careful application will do you fine, however. A small gob of goop will do. "Slicker 'an snailsnot onna brass doorknob inna rain!"

 

I've heard great, glowing remarks on those Graph-Tech saddles, too; Teahead loves his. I've yet to try 'em myself, though. (They make 'em for Wilkinsons, too.)

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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When I tune up my Stratocasters, I always incorporate the vibrato bar into the tuning. I'll tune a string, and then shake the bar back & forth a bit - and then re-check the string. I abuse the hell out of the vibrato during performance, yet my guitars generally stay in tune for three songs or so before I need to re-tune. And if a string goes out during a performance, a quick shake of the bar almost always brings it back in tune.

 

I've gotten to know this tuning method so well that usually when tuning I don't even need to get the string perfectly in-tune. I get it almost there, then I shake the bar and voila!- the guitar is in tune.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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the wilkinson is a great trem, but there are many friction areas in the string path. yamaha uses a plastic nut. but it is cut nicely and only needs a little lube or poliching in the slots. i believe your ty tabor uses sperzel locking tuners. my experience with my pacifica 812w (w= wilkinson vs100) is that the nut is the main culprit. my 7 year old was "playing" my pacifica yeasterday for about 1 hr, with the trem arm in. i was quite suprised that the tuning wasn't off as much as i thought it would be. he must have worked it quite abit and smoothed the nut slots in result. check into a graphite nut or lube as Kevin suggested.
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Also, with the locking tuners, you may want to make sure there aren't too many winds in the string post. That's because too much slack might occur when you start to bend heavily, and/or use the trem a lot.

 

In most cases, if you're using standard tuning, you'll only need about half a turn when using locking tuners. That, along with the other tips listed, should help alleviate tuning problems.

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My .02 cents would be first to make sure you have completely stretched the strings out. And second sit down for a good while, like a half an hour at the least, and have a good ole' whammy bar session. Don't worry about keeping the guitar in tune just work on working the springs on the tremolo. Sometimes they need to be stretched themselves before they will stop pulling the strings sharp.
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Oh, yeah! I almost forgot: quickly pull back up all the way on the bar when you're done using it, muting the strings if that isn't a part of what you want to "play"; also try tugging on those strings occasionally if they go a tad sharp. (It pulls the "stored slack" bavck from behind the nut and bridge-saddles.) You just might be pleasantly surpised by their going back in tune. I do this with my Les Pauls frequently, no whammy bar involved!

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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