Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 1: Overview

As all of you know I recently purchased an old Ibanez RG565 equipped with a floating tremolo system (Edge, based on Floyd Rose). A great guitar, but the day of rejuvenation has come.

In this huge guide I will take you through the many steps you need to take when you’re taking care of your guitar. This guide can be used with almost any guitar, even if doesn’t have a floating bridge.

Do not be afraid to leave comments or questions!!


Note that the methods I use are MY preferred methods and the way I have been successfully fixing and restringing Floyd Rose guitars for 10 years, both professionally and privately. There is no perfect way to do this, but my way has resulted in many perfectly set up Floyd Rose guitars that never fail to perform. 


The picture below includes every tool and gadget I will be using in this guide (except the cutters). Note that you will probably not need ALL of these items. This is just for this guitar and for this one time situation. I will explain their usage when the time comes. It’s also good to lay the guitar down on a table and put some kind of support on the head/neck. This will make it easier when you’re working on it and it will also prevent some frustration that comes from having the guitar in your lap.

From left: Dunlop 65 string cleaner, Dunlop 65 Polish, D’Andrea Lemon Oil, 5-56 Universal Oil, Sweatband, Rag, Pegwinder, Multi-tool, Fine rag and Screwdriver

There are many factors that matter when changing strings on a Floyd Rose guitar.

Are you changing your strings?

-If you’re changing to the exact same model you were using before, then it’s pretty straight forward

-If you’re planning on changing your string gauge, make or changing the string type, you might run into some trouble.

The bridge will react differently to different string gauges, makes and types. If your guitar is perfectly set up right now and you change to either a thicker or thinner gauge, then your bridge will either be pulled up or pulled back. If you’re unlucky you might even have to adjust the neck. I’m praying I won’t have to do this in this guide, haha. In some cases you might also have to adjust the intonation.

As you can see on my picture, the strings are pulling the bridge a little bit too far for my taste. This is easily fixed by adjusting the springs on the back of the guitar. I will cover that in a later post. I will also change to a lighter string gauge, so I’m hoping the problem will resolve itself.


That’s pretty much it for the preparations. In the next post I will be removing the strings and setting the guitar up for cleaning.

Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 2: Removing the strings

In this post I will be removing the strings and also preparing the guitar for cleaning.

Removing the strings
This may sound ridiculous. Can’t you just tear of the strings? NO. Doing this may damage the guitar and it will make it more difficult to keep things under control. There are many ways of restringing the guitar, as you can see on the picture. This is not my preferred way. I always cut off the metallic balls you can see in the picture. Why? Because that’s how I were taught to do it and it’s also more appealing to the eye if you ask me.


Step by step…

Remove the locks. Remember, the locks should be tight, but never TOO tight. This is especially important on older guitars.


This next step is something many people forget. You NEED to put something that will support the bridge once the strings are gone. I’ve always been using sweatbands and they work great. You might need to push down the bridge a bit using your whammy bar to get the sweatband to fit in there. The sweatband works as a substitute for the strings and simulates the strings pulling the bridge up. If you skip this, your bridge will sink down and “hit” the wood, making it much harder to work with.


Now it’s time to tune down your strings. As you do this, you will notice an increased pressure on the sweatband (or whatever soft object you use to support the bridge). Once the strings are completely slacked you can either unscrew the blocks in the bridge and simply lift them out. Since my current setup still has the metallic balls i will use a pair of cutters to cut off the top end of the strings. I’m using a peg winder to save some time.


Note that you might have to apply some pressure to the whammy bar when you’re releasing the bridge blocks.

IMG_20141008_121941   IMG_20141008_122653    IMG_20141008_122715

Now you have a perfectly prepared guitar, ready to be cleaned! Remember to take breaks and drink lots of fluids, like coffee. If something goes wrong, take a break and think about the issue. Fixing your guitar should be fun and free of frustration! And be careful when removing the thinner strings like B and E. These strings are like razor sharp homing missiles!

_20141008_123630  IMG_20141008_123714  IMG_20141008_112353

That’s it for removing the strings. In the next part the cleaning begins…

Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 3: Cleaning

In this post I will be cleaning the neck, applying oil and polish the body and head.

Dunlop 65 “Guitar Polish&Cleaner”

First I’ll polish and clean the guitar. Using the Dunlop here is not compulsory, but it gets the job done and it’s not that expensive. Don’t overuse it, and use a fine rag. You can also use pressurized air to easier remove the dust from the pickups and bridge.


5-56 Universal Oil

Use on NON ELECTRICAL parts. This is not compulsory, but it can help in certain situations. Are your tuners cracking or getting stuck? Apply some oil and hold a rag underneath. Do this both on the top and in the crack where you turn them. Make sure to check if the screw are tight while you’re at it. Are your springs squealing and making unwanted noises? Apply some oil to them and to the parts of the bridge that are connected to the springs. I wouldn’t recommend applying oil directly to the bridge, whammy hole or the fine tuners. But in some situations I have, and there was no damage. I also apply some oil to the nut.

IMG_20141008_134517   IMG_20141008_134503  IMG_20141008_134606

D’Andrea Lemon Oil

Time to fix that dirty neck. Some people say “DON’T USE LEMON OIL ON MAPLE NECKS”. I’ve been using lemon oil on my maple necks successfully for 10 years and they feel amazing. But still, keep this in mind and do a Google search on your specific brand/guitar before doing anything like this. If you are still feeling unsure about it, consult with your local music store or just skip the oil. You can clean it without oil!

Since this is the first time I clean the fretboard on this guitar, I’ll do it thoroughly. You can also use other tools for this, like toothbrushes or just something that would make for a good scrubbing tool. I’ll use my trusty green rag.

1. Apply the oil, wait a 30-60 seconds to allow the oil to settle just a bit.

2. Scrub away the dirt.

3. Repeat until it’s clean enough. I usually apply one more quick layer at the end then wipe it off so there’s no visible oil left. Generally you do not want to leave oil on the board for too long.

IMG_20141008_140024  IMG_20141008_140048  _20141008_140716

That’s it for the cleaning. Coming up is restringing.

Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 4: Restringing

In this post I will be restringing, adjusting and fine tuning the guitar. If everything goes well I shouldn’t have to adjust the neck. If I’m extremely lucky I shouldn’t even have to adjust the springs. Never expect this and consider yourself lucky if your guitar is perfect when you’re done.

Cutting off the balls…

Okey so here’s where some people might go “What the F*** are you doing?!”. I cut of the metallic balls on the strings. Why? Because they serve no real purpose on a guitar with a floating bridge. If you know how to “tie” a string on the head, there’s absolutely no need for them. If you decide to leave them on, look at the first part of the guide to see how they are mounted. Then you simply put the strings on “backwards” and cut them to the perfect length down at the bridge before put them in with the blocks. Leaving the balls on might save some time, but who wants to have balls on their head?

IMG_20141008_142313   IMG_20141008_142548

Mount the strings

Just like when you took of the strings, use your hex key (multi-tool) and unscrew the block a bit. You might need to push down the whammy bar a bit. The string should rest comfortably before you screw the block in. Keep in centered and push it down towards the body a bit. Begin tightening the block, remember not to tight. Make sure the string is secured by applying a bit of pressure, not too much.

IMG_20141008_142639    IMG_20141008_142720

Repeat the process

I like to mount all the strings at the bridge first. I’ve been told to tune up all the strings at the same time to even out the pressure. This might not be necessary, but it’s good to take safety precautions when working with an instrument that is 20 years or older. Once all the strings are mounted at the bridge, make sure all the screws and blocks are tight and that you’ve placed the strings correctly according to their thickness,

IMG_20141008_144434    IMG_20141008_144522

Mounting the strings to the tuners

Like most of the things I’ve mention here, there is no exact way to mount the strings on the head (tuners). I like to wind the strings at least 2 times around the tuners. I know some people do more, and some do less. I’ve never had a string break after using two turns. If you put the balls on your head (hilarious every time) you’re pretty much all set.

Step by step

1. Put the string through the hole and make sure it’s placed correctly on the nut

2. Angle the string up, and make sure you have slack.

3. Wind it up! Make sure you’re turning the right way. Keep the angle on the string and make sure it winds correctly.

4. Remember, not too tight! We want a good balance when we tune it up at the end.

IMG_20141008_145213  IMG_20141008_145226   IMG_20141008_145355  IMG_20141008_145529

Repeat this process

Once you’ve got all the strings mounted, then it’s time to tune. Before you tune it up, remove the sweatband. Not removing the sweatband can result in broken strings. This is due to the fact that the sweatband is raising the bridge. Once its gone, your strings will be getting an increased pull, resulting in an higher tuning. Tune the guitar to your preferred tuning then remove the sweatband. At this point you can start figuring out what needs to be done. If you’re lucky, you’re almost done!

IMG_20141008_152438      _20141008_151153

That’s it for this part. In the next part I will discuss adjusting and fine tuning.

Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 5: Adjustments

In this final post I will discuss adjustments, fine tuning and making your guitar perfectly setup.

Setting up the bridge

Were you lucky? Then you can skip this step. I was kind of lucky and I wont be adjusting the bridge right now. I like it when there’s a small tilt, especially because I like my action to be low. Were you unlucky? Let’s take a look at it. Make sure your guitar is in tune before you start looking for tilts.


Is your bridge tilting towards the head?

This means your strings are pulling too hard. You probably picked a thicker string gauge or tuned the guitar higher than you did before. This is fixed by either adding another spring in the back or tightening the springs. Note that if you add a spring, you will need need to do adjust the screws or else the springs will pull way too much.


Is your bridge tiling away from the head?

This means your springs are too tight and therefor are pulling too hard. You probably picked a lighter string gauge or tuned down your guitar. This is fixed by loosening the springs or removing one spring. I recommend using 3 springs.


The optimal bridge look

If you’re a perfectionist, then this is how you want your bridge to look. Completely in line with the body.


How my bridge looked before any adjustments

A small tilt away from the body. It’s hard too see since the shape of these old Edge bridges are so fancy looking. This is my preferred setup and I use the same tilt on all of my Ibanez Guitars. I recommend trying out the three different tilts before you settle for one.


Finishing up

Once you’re happy with your bridge then “reset” your fine tuners (the small valves at the bridge). By resetting them i mean adjust them until they are in line. Once you’ve done that, tune your guitar. If everything looks OK then put on the locks. Cut of any extra string to make it look nicer, or keep it just in case a string breaks.

Congratulations, your guitar is now (hopefully) perfectly set up! An issue I haven’t discussed yet is the neck. If you have encountered problems with the neck when you changed strings, don’t worry. I’ll be discussing this in my next post. I’ll also be talking briefly about intonation.


In the next part I’ll be discussing issues with the neck, intonation, tips and tricks and some more adjustments.

Images used:


Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 6: Neck, Intonation and tips & tricks

In this “bonus” post I will be discussing some issues that might arise when you’re working with your Floyd guitar. I’ll also be discussing some tips & tricks that might help you along the way.

Are your springs making noise?

Cover them up! Put something between the springs and the back hatch (cover) to prevent the springs from making noise. The previous owner had put some rolled up paper, which works great. You do not want to put something that would prevent the springs from extending or something that would stick to the springs or the hatch.


Are your switches or pots making unwanted noise?

A temporary fix to this is using something called “Contact spray”, or “Electrical Spray”. Spray it directly into the switch, or directly into the pots (from the outside NOT the inside). You do NOT want to spray it from the inside.

This can fix crackling noises, tone degradation and also sudden signal breaks.

Before you do this, do a Google search on your specific guitar and also educate yourself about “Contact Spray”. And as always, do not overdo it. Also know that this is only a temporary solution.


Not happy with your whammy bar?

There can be a couple of problems if you’re unhappy with your whammy bar. First of all, something can be wrong with the bridge. The hole in which the whammy bar goes can be worn out, and the screw that keeps it all together can be worn out (not common).

But an easy thing to do is changing out the bushings, this might be the solution to your problem. The bushings, or “Torque Bushings” as they are also called, are the little white plastic things attached to your whammy bar. These are different on different guitars, but this is how the look on Ibanez Guitars, especially the ones from the 80’s and 90’s. Changing these badboys will tighten up your whammy bar and that little “gap” you might have felt before will be gone.



Might be the most frustrating thing you can do with your Floyd Rose guitar. You can spend countless of hours trying to get that one string to be in perfect intonation and still fail. I noticed that my A string was actually really badly intonated when I changed my strings. Before you do this, read up on the subject. This will help you understand what you’re actually doing.

The way to fix this is not pretty and takes A LOT of patience. Remember to take small steps every time to assure you’re not missing that perfect spot.

Step by step

1. Figure out if your string is too high or too low in pitch by using a tuner

2. You can do this by tuning your third fret to a perfect pitch, then check the pitch of  the 15th fret. They should be almost identical, but if they are not, you need to fix the intonation of that string.

3. Once you’ve figured out if its too high or too low, tune down all the strings. This makes the guitar easier to work with.

4. Tune down the specific string even more. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to loosen the bridge saddle for that specific string.

5. If your string was too high, you need to move the saddle closer to the head. If your string was too low, you need to move it away from the head.

6. Repeat this until the string is intonated. You need to tune up your guitar for every check…


Neck adjustments

I will not be doing any neck adjustments in this guide. But I will discuss it briefly.

If you suspect your neck is warped or crooked you can check it a couple of ways. First way is to look at your guitar from the bridge point of view. Does it look flat or warped? Might be hard to see this if it’s just a slight warp, but if it’s a major warp you will see it.

Are frets buzzing even if you haven’t changed your springs or bridge? Your neck might be warped. If your 1-3 frets are touching even when your not playing then your guitar might have responded badly to your string change.

I strongly recommend doing research on the subject before you adjust your neck. Consult with your local music store or just let them do it.

IF you attempt to do it yourself, remember to take SMALL steps.

You need an allen wrench (hex key) and unless you dont have a cover (like Fender) you need a screwdriver.

IMG_20141009_133758  IMG_20141009_132834  IMG_20141009_132843

That’s it for this guide! Thanks for reading and make sure to follow my blog if you enjoyed the guide.