The Floyd Rose bridge is a breakthrough piece of guitar technology that locks the guitar strings in place at the nut and the bridge. This locking mechanism allows the guitar to stay in tune better and opens up a world of opportunities with the Floyd Rose tremolo.
While the Floyd Rose bridge is an impressive piece of hardware, changing your strings or tuning with one of these bridges can be a huge pain! In this article, I will walk you through the step-by-step guide on how to restring a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge and discuss what is so great about the equipment in the first place.
What you’ll need
- 3mm hex key
- String winder
- Wire cutters
- Guitar tuner
- Rag or towel
Step-by-step guide: How to change strings on a Floyd Rose bridge
Here is my step by step guide to changing your strings on a Floyd Rose tremolo.
Step one: Place a rag or towel underneath the floating bridge
When you release the tension in the strings on a Floyd Rose bridge, the floating bridge may fall, causing the screws to fall out. Place a cloth under the floating bridge to prevent scratching your beautiful instrument or spending ages searching for the tiny screws.
Step two: Remove the first locking nut
Remove one of the three locking nuts using a 3mm hex key and unscrew the locking mechanism counterclockwise.
Step three: Loosen the tuning peg and free the string
It is important to remove one string at a time. This way, the guitar maintains the same tension throughout the entire process.
Loosen the string by turning the tuning peg clockwise until the string is loose enough to unwind and remove from the peg. To do the job faster and easier, use a string winder.
Step four: Loosen the screw on the floating bridge
Once the string has been taken off the tuning peg, take the 3mm hex key and unscrew the saddle lock screw holding the string at the bridge. It should only take one or two turns till the lock loosens.
Step five: remove the string
Once you’ve loosened the screw at the bridge, remove the string.
Step six: Cut the end of the new string
Discard the old string and pull out the new string. Use a wire cutter to cut the ball end and the thicker wound portion of the string.
Step seven: Place and secure the string in the bridge
Use the hex key to tighten the screw of the saddle lock.
Step eight: secure the string in the tuning peg
Place the string in the small hole of the tuning peg with the end part pointing in the same direction as the peg. Keep some slack in the strings before tightening. I generally go for around four fingers of space between the fretboard and the string. Then, start winding the tuning peg counter-clockwise, ensuring the newly wound part of the string goes over the hole in the first turn and under the hole in the second turn.
Step nine: tune the guitar string
Once the string has some tension but is still a bit lower than the standard pitch, turn on your guitar tuner and tune the string. Continue re-tuning the string until it holds pitch.
Step ten: repeat with each string
Repeat the above steps with all six strings.
Step eleven: stretch the strings
Once all the strings have been changed, stretch them by pulling on each one individually, holding the string down at the third fret. Then, re-tune the strings and repeat the process until they stay in tune.
Step twelve: reinstall the string clamps
Replace the three locking nuts using the hex key to screw them in clockwise.
Step thirteen: Clip the excess string length
Use the wire cutters to cut the excess strings from the tuning pegs. I recommend leaving around a quarter inch just in case the string slips.
Tips for restringing a Floyd Rose bridge
Here are a few tips to ensure restringing your Floyd Rose bridge goes smoothly.
One string at a time
Remove and replace one string at a time when changing the strings on your Floyd Rose bridge to ensure that the tension stays the same. If you remove all 6 strings, the sudden change in tension can damage the neck and even cause the guitar to warp slightly.
Use the same gauge strings
If one string on your guitar breaks, make sure to change it out with the same string gauge as the other strings on the guitar. Using different gauge strings can cause the neck to twist over time.
How to tune strings on a Floyd Rose bridge
Tuning is another huge headache for guitarists who own a Floyd Rose bridge. Due to the tension on the strings from the nut and bridge locking mechanisms, tuning a Floyd Rose bridge is a bit more complex than a standard guitar.
- First, you’ll need to losen the locking nut using your 3mm hex key so that the strings are freed.
- Adjust the fine tuners at the bridge so that they sit in the middle position. This way, when you fine tune the guitar, you can adjust the strings higher and lower.
- Tune the strings. Start by tuning the low E, then the A, then go back to the low E. The strings will easily go out of tune as you change the tension of the other strings, so you will need to go back and retune each string after tuning a new string.
- Once the strings are nearly perfect (it’s ok if they are a bit flat as the locking nut will raise the tension slightly), tighten the locking nut.
- Fine tune the guitar until the strings are tuned to perfection.
How often should you change your guitar strings?
There is not a set amount of time to change your guitar strings, but as a general rule, you should change them a minimum of every 100 hours of playtime. A number of factors can also affect the longevity of your strings, including sweat, humidity, and playing style. This means that a guitarist who plays and practices frequently may change their strings every 2 weeks, while a more casual player can wait up to 2-3 months.
What are the benefits of a Floyd Rose bridge?
Even though they may be a pain to maintain, many guitarists swear by the Floyd Rose bridge. Here are some of the main benefits of the Floyd Rose bridge.
Outstanding tuning stability: The Floyd Rose bridge can stay in tune after a 30-minute heavy metal set. The bridge and nut locking mechanisms do their job very well.
Tremolo sound: The tremolo system on a Floyd Rose bridge is unique because of the nature of the floating bridge. Guitarists can push down on the tremolo arm to lower the intonation and raise the tremolo arm to raise the intonation. This opens up a lot of unique opportunities for lead guitarists.
Fine tuning: Although tuning may be much more difficult with Floyd Rose bridges, the ability to fine tune the strings allows guitarists to get precision you just can’t have with standard bridges.
Changing the strings on your Floyd Rose bridge may seem daunting, but the task is easier than you may think! Of course, it will take longer to tune than a standard fixed bridge, but the benefits of a Floyd Rose bridge make the extra maintenance worth it!
If you have any questions about your Floyd Rose bridge, or if there are any other musical topics you’d like me to cover, feel free to reach out!