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1. Drilling The Holes For A FLOYD ROSE Bridge
2. TODAY'S Q & A: Your Questions Answered
3. Become A PYOG Affiliate



1. Drilling Holes For A FLOYD ROSE Bridge

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Although this makes me feel REAL old, I was the first guy in Toronto, Canada to get a Floyd Rose bridge with fine tuners. (I wanted to scan that original bill just to show it off, but I've got WAY too much junk in my garage, so I'll leave it for another time. I purchased it from Steve's Music Store in 1983... or early '84.)

I waited for roughly 6 months for it to finally come in. When it arrived... man, I could hardly wait to install it!

Now, for those of you who don't have my main book, HOW TO Create A Factory Guitar Finish... the first guitar I made and painted was truly one hunk of SH*T! I think I did EVERYTHING wrong on that guitar.

Back then, there was no web to find information, or no 'HOW TO' books on how to install a Floyd, so as I had done for a lot of things up until then, I just decided to "wing it."

Now, winging it may be good for solos, but not good for installing something that has to be installed PRECISELY. In other words, I messed up that first install real good. But, after 2 decades of installing them, I think I've got it figured out. ;)

If you're planning on installing a FR bridge, or want to learn, I'm sure this info will be useful to you.

(In fact, if you're painting guitars, you need to learn every aspect of putting them back together and wiring them up - it all goes together.)


With this body and neck, I had to drill ALL of the holes. There weren't even holes for the neck plate in the back of the body, so that's what needed to get done first.

I started by marking the holes on the back of the body while my neck plate was in place. Once the holes were marked, I drilled them using my $100 drill press. (A cheap, but wonderful investment! - see FIG 1)

FIG 2 shows a shim that I place in the front of the neck's cavity before putting the neck into place. This changes the angle of the neck slightly. When the Floyd isn't countersunk into the body, it tends to need a little lift to be able to make it function properly. This shim seems to work quite well. It's about 1/16" thick.

Without the shim, I have to screw the bridge right down as far as it can go, but still, the action is usually high, and the bridge won't drop down properly being that far down; it tends to hit the surface of the body which will scratch the body all up.

It's important that you use a shim when your body is not countersunk (as in the way Ibanez and ESP countersink the spot where a FR bridge sits).

Just getting this part of the set-up right will take some work. Each guitar will be a little different because each body's neck cavity is a different height, just as the thickness of a neck differs from one neck to another.

IMPORTANT: Once you've actually installed the bridge and you're setting it up, you may have to try different thicknesses of shims to try and get the best action as well as optimum usability from the FR bridge. I may loosen the strings and try as many as 4 or 5 different shims until I get it perfect, so don't be afraid to do that yourself.

While holding the neck in place (FIG 3), I use a power drill to mark the holes for the neck screws into the neck. However, I don't drill all the way through; I use the marks I made and then finish drilling the holes with my drill press (FIG 4).

When the holes are drilled, I place the neckplate into place and screw in the neck screws, so the neck is in there perfectly snug (FIG 5).

FIG 6 shows my guitar is ready for the bridge.



Before I drop the bridge into place to start preparing to drill my holes, there are a couple of things I need to do beforehand.

First, I like to protect the finish from the sharp edges underneath the bridge.

Secondly, I need to determine exactly where the bridge will sit, distance-wise, on the body.

To begin, I take some masking tape and lay it in between the pickup hole and bridge route. I like to use masking tape when drilling into a finish. It almost eliminates any chips from occuring.

Then, I place a piece of cardboard (FIG 7) and tape it down behind the bridge. Now, when the bridge is resting on the body as I prepare my drill marks, there's no way the finish can get scratched. (See FIG 8 & 9)

I also place some cardboard in front of the bridge route, too. Again, to keep the finish from getting scratched. (FIG 8 & 9)

With the area now prepared, I can figure out where my bridge needs to sit.

Without getting too technical (meaning, exact measurement), the distance from the nut to the 12th fret should be the same as the 12th fret to where your string passes over the saddle of the bridge. (Each string is slightly different and will need to be adjusted, intonation-wise, later.)

But as long as your bridge is pretty much in the correct position, you'll be able to intonate it properly.

If you're using a commercially-bought body, most likely, their bridge route is in the correct position, so all you'll need to do is position the bridge and drill your holes.

I have a Warmoth body and they use a measurement of 1/2" forward from the front of the bridge route for their Floyd Rose sleeves/studs (see FIG 10), so that's the measurement I normally use.

So, along my piece of masking tape, I mark 1/2" across and place my bridge into that position (FIG 9). I then take the measurement from the 12th fret to where the string passes over the saddle. If that's accurate to the one from the nut to the 12th fret, I'm all set - I know that that distance is perfect.

From there, it's now just a matter of moving the bridge along that line so that my strings line up correctly on the neck. (see FIG 11)

To do that, I lock both the top and bottom E strings into place in the bridge and tighten them up using the tuning pegs.

Underneath, I usually just use one spring to add a bit of tension so that as I tighten the strings, the bridge doesn't lift so easily.

When I've got my bridge placed correctly and I have the strings lined up on the neck the way I want them, I mark the center of the holes where the studs will go - first with a pencil, then with a center-punch. (See FIG 12)

I press deep enough when making these center guide holes so the tip of my drill bit goes right into them and I get a perfect hole. (See FIG 13)

Now, that the holes are drilled, it's time to get my sleeves into the body. The drill bit I used was a 3/8" drill bit which give me a very snug fit. The only way to get them into the body though, is with a little force.

For this, I use a rubber mallet and some wood (see FIG 14). I place the wood on top of the stud which is inside the sleeve. I use the rubber mallet to hammer the sleeve/stud into the body.

Before doing this, you should remove the masking tape prior to hammering in the sleeves/studs.

After hammering in the sleeves/studs, I was then able to put the bridge into place and put the entire guitar together.

*When drilling any holes into a body, you should always use masking tape. This cuts down on chipping the finish. In fact, your holes should end up perfect while using masking tape.

When removing the masking tape, use the same technique described in my book for removing tape after painting.


2. TODAY'S Q & A: Your Questions Answered

Q: I'm searching for a body and neck for my 5150 project at good price. Any ideas where I can find them?

A: My goal is to have Kramer-style kits in a couple of months. I'm finalizing my order with the company I'm working with in Taiwan. I also plan to have San Dimas-style strat kits, ESP Kamikazee-style kits, Les Paul kits, and more. As I know more, I'll let you all know.


Q: I am working on a guitar that my sister had given me, but what I found is that there are some hairline fractures in the wood. I was wondering if you have ever encountered this problem? How do I fix it?

A: Yes, I've had hairline fractures in wood before. It's a fairly easy fix. I use 10-minute epoxy for stuff like this. It hardens in 10 minutes so that gives you enough time to mix it, get it into the fracture using a scraper, and fill the gap. The kind of epoxy I'm referring to is the kind where you mix a hardener in with a resin to produce a substance that is extremely hard when it dries. You should be able to get this at any hardware store. Try to remove as much excess as possible once the fracture/crack is filled. You may very well have to sand the top, or the entire area once the fix is done, but this stuff will do the trick.


Q: I've read on some forums that guys recommend sanding in between the color coats. Should I be doing this?

A: Personally, I don't sand the color coats unless I have a flaw, or a run/drip. By sanding the color coats, you could inadvertently scratch the paint leaving an obvious flaw. If you've pulled off masking tape because you painted some sort of design, fixing that becomes much more difficult because you have to REMASK in order to fix any possible scratches. Why risk it?

If you're sanding it because you think the next coat will stick to it better, that's not necessary with lacquer. New coats of lacquer will bind with old coats of lacquer. That's just how lacquer works. If you ever want to test it, try this: Spray several different colors of lacquer on top of one another - 5 colors will do. Spray a different color each day. Then, when you spray your last color, stick your finger into the paint. You'll go right to the base/surface and your finger will have every color on it.


Q: Is there a method for painting the pickguard to match the finish of the body?

A: Your body gets painted first in its entirety. Then, after it's adequately dried, I place the masked pickguard in place (after you've applied the base coat onto it) and draw my design onto the masking. Then, just cut out what needs to be removed and spray.

Remove the rest of the masking following the same length of time I discuss in the book. You can also clear coat it, if you wish. Use the same techniques on the pickguard that you would for the body.


3. Become A PYOG Affiliate

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See you soon...

John Gleneicki
Author - The Book Series
AOL IM: paintyourownaxe

John Gleneicki has been painting guitars professionally for over 25 years.
He's a former Guitar WORLD Columnist and has also done
custom airbrush work for such companies as ESP Guitars.




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