I recently had my Jackson DK2 Pro Dinky set up. The luthier who performed the work provided a sheet titled "Tremolo Tips." What I am about to provide is not my own words but rather the words a luthier in my city:
- Keep it clean. If it has rollers, oil them (any light oil). When you finish playing, wipe it off. An old toothbrush helps.
- Install strings correctly! Many experienced players do a poor job. If you don't know how, ask somebody who does.
- Keep the nut clean if it has one seperate from the locking nut. Lubricate it occasionally. Soft pencil lead shavings or dust, in the string gorooves or on the string bottoms workks great.
- String your instrument. Some locking nut types string easier if you replace one string at a time, tuning back to pitch after each string. If you have a locking nut, run strings thru it but do not tighten yet.
- If you have fine tuners on the bridge, center them now.
- Stretch all strings thoroughly one at a time all the way up and down by hand. Do this 3 or 4 times. It is really important.
- Tune to pitch. You will have to tune each string to pitch many times especially if you changed all strings at once. This equalizes string tenstion with tremolo spring tension. Don't worry about exact tuning accuracy each time. Just get it close enough until the pitch starts to stay constant.
- Stretch strings thoroughly once more (do you have tremolos yet?).
- Retune to pitch and be accurate this time (use tuners at head stock).
- If you have a locking nut, lock it now. Do not overtighten or you will strip the lock down screws.
- Fine tune your guitar with a tuner if you have one in the following manner. When tuning most tremolo guitars, the bar must be depressed deeply every time the pitch is changed. Accuracy of the pitch of a string should be determined after the bar is released, not before the bar is depressed. A guitar tuned without using this method may seem in tune until the bar is used the first time, at which point it will return out of tune. This is important, and although it will seem hard at first, you will soon fall into a rhythm of doing it without effort. If you run out of room on the fine tuners, you will have to unlock the locking-nut, recenter the fine tuners at the bridge, tune to pitch using the tuning machines at the headstock, relock the lock nut and finish tuning with fine tuners at bridge. Now do you hate tremolos?
- Continue tuning all strings with fine tuners until non can be changed. Now you are in tune.
- Never tune down to reach desired pitch. If during tuning you raise string pitch too sharp, start over. Go below desired pitch and start up again. Always reach correct pitch while raising string tension. Due to the way tuners are made, they will slip if they have been stopped while going backwards. I believe this applies to fine tuners also.
- Do not leave locking nut unlocked because it's a hassle! This will not work. Your guitar will not stay in tune. If it was designed for use with a locking nut you must use it. Don't be lazy.
- Check to see that your locking nut is really locked by changing the pitch of any string with the head stock tuners. If the pitch doesn't change, it is locked. If it does, it isn't locked. If it doesn't lock correctly, check to see that the plates in the locking nut are installed correctly. Many locking plates have to be in a certain position. They may have tops and bottoms or fronts or backs.
- Never depress the tremolo bar without all strings having some tension on them. The bar can be broken off in the bridge by the spring tension and that's an expensive repair!
Thanks GW for the tips. I hope that this can be of some benefit to others that are struggling with or need more detailed instructions on tuning with a Floyd Rose. I know that I have benefited from these tips.