My First Guitar Mod

Hey, all. Thanks for sticking around between posts! It’s definitely been a while.

In the past couple weeks, I changed the tuners and strings on my 7-string guitar. It’s far from perfect. I ruined two 80-gauge strings and broke the tremolo bar coupler trying to do things without thoroughly preparing, but I learned quite a bit about the built-in Floyd Rose bridge.

Changing the tuners was way easier than changing the strings! The stock tuners were easy to remove, but I had to drill new holes in the headstock because of the guitar’s “reverse” headstock.

Tuners usually have a guide peg that keeps the tuner from rotating in the main post hole. I probably won’t end up changing the tuners again, but I maybe could have avoided drilling if I got lefty-guitar tuners. It was tough to get the holes lined up perfectly straight, even with the included drill guide.

In the end, the tuners are straight enough, and the gold tuners look really good with the guitar’s blue paint.

The harder part was changing the strings! I’ve changed the strings on my dad’s Kramer guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, so I figured the first three steps would be the same: (1) remove the nut clamps, (2) use the tremolo bar to raise the bridge, and (3) loosen the string locks. What I hadn’t thought to do was check the body cavity first, so I snapped the tremolo bar coupler (at the threads) because the previous owner had taped two wooden pencils together and set it behind the bridge to restrict the tremolo movement. I had just bought a pair of cheap tremolo arms and 2 sets of strings specifically for this operation, so I was pretty bummed that I bent the new arm and made it useless.

While waiting for the replacement coupler, I went ahead and removed the bridge completely so I could install all of the strings at once.

This is when I ruined the thicker gauge strings. I was taking the unwound cores of the strings, which usually go through the tuners, and locking them on the bridge side. This worked really well for the first 6 strings, but the 7th string is thinner on one side so it can easily fit in the tuners. Since the string was essentially upside down, the string sounded terrible so I installed the 7th string from the second set of strings and got the same result. After the second attempt, I thought I needed to move the bridge saddle to fix the sound, so I tried a lot of saddle settings before further consulting the internet. This was before I realized I was installing the string wrong, so I even left a customer review on the manufacturer’s website saying I thought it was cool that the string changed gauges for the upper register. I’m very sorry, Wired Guitarist, but I couldn’t figure out how to delete my underinformed comment. I really just didn’t install it right.

After realizing, I went to to try and find the appropriate gauge replacement, ordered two single strings, and corrected my mistake by removing the ball end and locking the resulting loop into the bridge after replacing the arm coupler.

Now that the strings are all good, I’m happy with the sound of my first mod. I’m keeping the wooden pencils behind the bridge until the strings are sufficiently stretched, at which point I’ll remove the pencils and have full-range motion on the tremolo arm.

To wrap up, if you ever purchase a used guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, check the body cavity before you plan to do anything! Until next post, happy listening.

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