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Polymaker

Trem placement info

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Hi all,

I'm planning a build that will be using an Ibanez ZR II tremolo and I need some help relative to the placement of this thing.

I've bought an 7-strings ZR II with the adjustable spring wheel (ZPS3FE IRC) and I couldn't find any technical drawing but I've seen on the forum that some seems to have used it in their build (at least the 6 strings version, aside from the width I think everything else has the same dimensions).

First off, regarding bridges in general, how do you place the unit relative to the theoretical bridge line? Do you center it around the min and max saddle position?

Regarding the Ibanez trem, any information would be appreciated (CAD drawings would be a blessing). The main thing I'd like to know are the dimensions regarding the placement of the trem unit relative to the spring plate, since the springs on the ZR are not directly attached to the trem block and rather to a bar that leans against the block, the placement of the spring plate is crucial for the trem to work properly.

 

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Whoops, I meant Ibanez EZ (edge zero) tremolo. I couldn't find the edit button on the post.

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This was discussed quite recently, actually:

The thread is more about placement of a fixed bridge, but the principle of positioning for optimal intonation is still the same. Note you will probably have to partially dismantle the trem in order to dry fit it to your body. The sustain block will certainly have to come off in order to get accurate placement.

I'd also highly recommend doing a practice run with the trem cavity routes before committing to router to body.

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Polymaker, have you tried contacting Ibanez to get a tech drawing, or at least proper measurements?  If they wont help try a local Ibanez service tech to see if he can acquire one for you with the promise of lunch or a six pack if he can help you out.

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On the Ibanez bridges, you can set it up so that the scale length makes it to the middle of the saddle range. Then, you have to figure out how to setup the posts compared to that. Ideally, you'd have an example you can copy (easiest) or ask Ibanez for a drawing of the tremolo (probably hard to get), or maybe find one on the 'net. 

Floyd Rose publishes routing diagrams and I'm pretty sure that the Ibanez Original Edge routing diagrams are available on the 'net as well. 

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It's been a while, but as I recall the common wisdom seemed to be orienting the middle of the "travel range" at your scale length for adjustable intonation bridges.

But this common wisdom never made sense to me... here's a good chance for me to be educated I guess. ;-) Compensation at the nut is making up for sharping the string as you push it down. You make up for it by moving the saddle back, which flats it back a bit. There shouldn't ever be the need for a saddle to go towards the fretboard. That being the case, you could theoretically put the high E saddle 100% forward and orient that spot to be at your scale length.

By doing this, you also optimize the range for the low E. I have sometimes wished for more travel distance on the low-E saddle, and this would at least give you the maximum.

That said, there are always going to be slight miscalculations, etc, so you could build in a tiny bit of wiggle room. But I wouldn't think the scale length at 50% of your saddle adjustment range is a good plan since you shouldn't need to move the saddle forward ever.

Willing to be educated. :)

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7 hours ago, GregP said:

It's been a while, but as I recall the common wisdom seemed to be orienting the middle of the "travel range" at your scale length for adjustable intonation bridges.

But this common wisdom never made sense to me... here's a good chance for me to be educated I guess. ;-) Compensation at the nut is making up for sharping the string as you push it down. You make up for it by moving the saddle back, which flats it back a bit. There shouldn't ever be the need for a saddle to go towards the fretboard. That being the case, you could theoretically put the high E saddle 100% forward and orient that spot to be at your scale length.

By doing this, you also optimize the range for the low E. I have sometimes wished for more travel distance on the low-E saddle, and this would at least give you the maximum.

That said, there are always going to be slight miscalculations, etc, so you could build in a tiny bit of wiggle room. But I wouldn't think the scale length at 50% of your saddle adjustment range is a good plan since you shouldn't need to move the saddle forward ever.

Willing to be educated. :)

You're not entirely wrong. There's more to it than just that. For example, changing string gauge can affect intonation. 

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FWIW, I've never had to move a saddle forward on a freshly installed bridge if I position it at the scale length point on the guitar. For this reason I always position the saddles nearly as far forward as possible to allow maximum backwards adjustability when placing the bridge. Shouldn't matter what type of bridge it is.

Depressing the string to a fret causes it to bend, which in turn raises its pitch. Therefore it makes sense that increasing the scale length (moving saddes away from nut), rather than decreasing the scale length (moving saddles towards nut) will compensate for this behaviour. If the bridge has been positioned as above, it shouldn't matter what string gauge you use - the string will always bend upwards in pitch when depressed and will need an increase in scale length to compensate.

A saddle that needs to move towards the nut after the bridge as been installed at the scale length position on the guitar because the strings want to pitch flat when played in the upper registers suggests that the bridge wasn't placed correctly to begin with, or something is wrong with fret placement.

The only time I can think you'd need to move the saddle forward is when the string gauge/material changes, but this assumes the bridge was already positioned correctly when installed. Even in this case, the distance from nut to saddle after moving the saddle forward will still be [scale length] + [extra compensating length].

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6 hours ago, guitar2005 said:

You're not entirely wrong. There's more to it than just that. For example, changing string gauge can affect intonation. 

Sure, but the saddle will only need to be adjusted backwards. ;-) Lighter string guage, your strings need to move LESS backwards. Heavier string guage, your strings need to move MORE backwards, meaning you'll want that extra range.

Remember, the bridge is positioned without string tension in mind at all. Pure scale length. So even with the lightest possible strings (including theoretical strings not even in existence!) and the high E barely gets any extra tension at all (hardly pulls sharp), you barely adjust the saddle back while intonating. But you do move it back a LITTLE.

That's my real reply. But come with me into daydream land....

---------------------------

If you're someone who always uses really heavy heavy strings, I guess you could theoretically face a choice... but I would personally never build a guitar like this. And that choice is this: you KNOW that you use heavy strings and that even the high E will be back a bit from the scale length. To give the other saddles maximum backwards range, you could move the entire bridge back so that the high E saddle, while 100% forward, is at around the point you expect it to be (based on experience, measuring other guitars with similar setups, etc) for proper intonation. In this case, you'd really HAVE to use a little bit of wiggle room... it's only sane... but speaking of sanity...

I would never do this with a typical adjustable-intonation bridge. You can't predict if you'll go lighter in guage, or if your guitar might end up in someone else's hands (a gift, deciding to recover some desperation $$, gets passed along after you yourself... pass along...), and this kind of decision could cripple the guitar's overall usefulness.

But you could theoretically do it. ;-)

---------------------------

I do think "pre-setting" compensation points (following a pattern or formula taken from non-intonatable bridges), could become more useful if you're doing individual-saddle bridges instead of a typical adjustable bridge.

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@Curtisa You're saying that the high e saddle on a tremolo(or standard bridge) should be moved to it's furthest point towards the nut and compensate the rest of the bridge accordingly to the scale of the guitar in most instances?  What if the guitar is tuned down to say B standard and the player is using very heavy strings?  Wouldn't the builder need to worry about the distance of the low E string's break point across the saddle?  I ask because I have seen a couple videos where a guitarist of a certain popular death metal band had to resort to taking a dremel to the fine tuner riser on his floyd rose to get the low A&E strings to intonate.  Said band usually tunes to B or C standard.  When I watched the video all I could think of was why didn't the manufacture already take the guys low tuning and intonation of the bridge on the custom guitar he was hacking.

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3 hours ago, Bjorn218 said:

@Curtisa You're saying that the high e saddle on a tremolo(or standard bridge) should be moved to it's furthest point towards the nut and compensate the rest of the bridge accordingly to the scale of the guitar in most instances?

I'm saying that as a starting point the high E saddle is moved nearly all the way forward, the bridge installed to the scale length based off that one saddle and everything else can then be adjusted for correct intonation from there without running out of adjustement range on the saddles.

It doesn't actually make that much difference which saddle(s) you pick to move forward when placing the bridge. As long as the furthest-forward saddle is used as the initial placement it will work every time. The reasoning for using the high E as the basis is that it will require the least amount of intonation correction in order to play true in every position, whereas each lower string will require increasingly more compensation. By positioning off the high E you've giving yourself enough leeway for the remaining lower saddles to continuously be pushed further away from the nut to compensate for the increasing intonation errors that the thicker strings will have.

 

3 hours ago, Bjorn218 said:

What if the guitar is tuned down to say B standard and the player is using very heavy strings?

Wouldn't matter. Irrespective of the string gauge, string material, action or base scale length, the string length still needs to be increased  to slightly more than the nominal scale length to compensate for intonation innacuracy due to the bend the string must undergo when being depressed onto a fret. The bend increases pitch, which must be compensated by increasing scale length to offset this behaviour.

On a guitar that was already built and set up for a certain string gauge, and the player wanted to switch to a different tuning or string gauge, I can see that some saddles may want to move forward, but the resulting saddle position will still be [scale length] + {a bit].

 

3 hours ago, Bjorn218 said:

Wouldn't the builder need to worry about the distance of the low E string's break point across the saddle?

The low E will need the most compensation of all six strings. Trying to predict how much compensation without knowing what strings will be installed, how it will be tuned or how high the action will be set is nearly impossible (but perhaps guessable). However, assuming that the high E will be the closest to the actual scale length is a safer starting point.

 

3 hours ago, Bjorn218 said:

I ask because I have seen a couple videos where a guitarist of a certain popular death metal band had to resort to taking a dremel to the fine tuner riser on his floyd rose to get the low A&E strings to intonate.  Said band usually tunes to B or C standard.  When I watched the video all I could think of was why didn't the manufacture already take the guys low tuning and intonation of the bridge on the custom guitar he was hacking.

I'm not familiar with the story so I couldn't say - what gauge strings does he use, does he prefer to use new or old strings, was the guitar damaged, was it built correctly to begin with, did he know what he was doing (taking a Dremel to a custom sounds a bit extreme), But if anything it sounds like he would've been trying to get more backwards adjustability on the saddles to get the detuned A and E strings to intonate properly.

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