How to Hardtail a Floyd Rose – Step by Step Guide

Floyd Rose systems are, in effect, double-locking tremolos that allow for huge divebombs and other crazy vibrato work without dropping the guitar quickly out of tune, as is often the case with Strat-style trems. Despite the benefits, Floyd Rose bridges aren’t without their drawbacks.

In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide you will learn:

  • What are the disadvantages of a Floyd Rose bridge?
  • What supplies and tools do you need to block a Floyd Rose?
  • How to hardtail a Floyd Rose?

What Are the Disadvantages of a Floyd Rose Bridge?

Many like the idea of having a Floyd Rose bridge, but realize that the drawbacks can outweigh the advantages for them.

Changing strings on a Floyd Rose is no simple task

Once you remove strings, you affect the overall balance of the system and you might find you have to make adjustments to your setup. This turns what should be a quick job into a long and difficult one.

There is no way to quickly adjust tuning

If you’re only playing one guitar and need to switch to drop tuning for a single number while performing, there’s no fast way to do this on a Floyd Rose. Both string locks need to be undone and depending on how different the tuning you’re moving to is, you can affect spring tension, which may require more adjustments to the whole system.

A single string break can put the whole guitar out of tune

Because a Floyd Rose bridge setup is such a carefully-balanced system, it relies on the tension of the tuned strings pulling against the springs of the floating trem. If one string breaks, this reduces the tension against the springs, throwing everything off balance and this will put the whole instrument out of tune.

Sustain is limited

If you need sustain, a Floyd Rose is not the ideal bridge. A lot of the strings’ vibrations are dampened by the trem springs, which can cut short sustain significantly in some cases.

What Supplies and Tools Do You Need to Block a Floyd Rose?

In order to hardtail a Floyd Rose, you will need the following:

  • A screwdriver (size and type dependent on the screws on your guitar’s cavity cover)
  • A ruler or pair of calipers
  • A short piece of 1” deep hardwood
  • A wood saw
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • New guitar strings
  • Pliers or string cutters

How to Hardtail a Floyd Rose

Step 1 – Remove the Rear Cavity Cover

First, take your screwdriver and remove the screws holding your guitar’s rear cavity cover in place. Be careful as you’re doing this, as slips may cause damage to your paintwork. Put the screws in a container to avoid loss.

Step 2 – Remove the Strings

Unlock the nut and slacken down the strings. Because they have been clamped, there could be damage that becomes exposed once you remove the locking nut, so replacing them with fresh strings after you finish the job is highly advised. Once you have slackened down the strings sufficiently, cut them off at the top and pull them out from the saddles, then remove any excess from the tuning posts.

Taking off the strings removes tension from the trem springs. This will make blocking your Floyd Rose much easier.

Step 3 – Loosen the Tremolo Spring Screws

In the rear cavity, you will see the trem springs suspended from 2 points. The upper point will have 2 screws in it – loosen, but do not remove, those screws. This will release the tension on the springs and make it easier to install the block.

Step 4 – Measure the Gap Between the Tremolo Block and the Base of the Cavity

The bottom point that the springs are attached to is a solid metal piece known as the trem block. You’ll now need to take your ruler, or calipers, and measure the gap between the trem block and the base of the cavity, as well as the depth of the cavity.

Step 5 – Prepare Your Wooden Block

The actual “block” that you’ll use to hardtail your Floyd rose is a literal wooden block. Now that you have the measurements, mark them off on the piece of wood you have ready. Next, take a saw and cut out the block you have measured on the plank.

Once you’ve cut out the block, double check that the dimensions are right by placing it in the cavity. If it’s a little too big or it fits snugly, take it back out and move to the next step. If it is too small, you will need to start over with a new piece of wood and expand the dimensions before moving on.

Step 6 – Finish the Block

Once the block is the correct size (or slightly too big), you can sand it with your 150 grit sandpaper to smooth off the edges. This won’t affect performance, but unfinished wood may end up leaving debris in the rear cavity and is more likely to give you splinters if you ever adjust it in future.

If you’re working with a block that’s slightly too large, just keep sanding until it fits snugly. Handheld orbital or benchtop belt sanders will make light work of this, but regular sheets of sandpaper will also work just fine.

Step 7 – Install the Block

Once your block is ready, you will need to slide it into the gap between the trem block and the base of the cavity. You can now retighten the screws that you slackened earlier. Note, that you shouldn’t retighten to the same tension you had earlier, keeping some slack in the springs will maintain downward pressure on the new wooden block.

If you find that the now looser springs rattle and make unwanted noise, you can put a piece of foam in behind them.

Step 8 – Restring the Guitar and Tune

Take your new strings and insert them through the trem block and over the saddles. Take the end of the string and put it through the hole in the relevant tuning post. Pull the string tight then back off the tension around 2 inches. Crimp the string by bending it at the desired position, hold the string firmly and start to tighten the machine head until the string is taught. Repeat for each string, once all are installed, tune to your desired tuning, and trim off the excess string.

Depending on your reasons for hardtailing your Floyd Rose, you may also want to remove the locking nut and replace it with a quality synthetic bone nut. If you are happy to continue to lock the strings, close the locking nut and you’re now finished.

Final Thoughts on Hardtailing a Floyd Rose

This is a simple job that doesn’t require the services of a luthier. Floyd Rose bridges are great tools, but they can limit the versatility of a guitar. If you have been struggling to overcome these downsides, hardtailing your FR will bring an immediate difference in the playability of your guitar.

  • Simon Morgan

    Simon is an Orlando based musician, but originally hails from Newcastle, England. He started playing bass and guitar in 1998, and played the local scene throughout his teen years before running away to work on ships. These days his passion is budget guitars, amps and pedals - though he's not afraid of the finer things.

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