Floyd Rose Bridge Setup: 7 EASY Steps To Dive Bombing For Beginners!

Floyd Rose Bridge Setup
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Performing your first Floyd Rose Bridge setup by yourself can be daunting. But trust me, this can be a lot easier if you have the right tools, and a little bit of know-how. Today, we show you how to do it the EASY way!

Floyd Rose Bridge Setup: Take A Deep breath!

If you have found yourself at this article, then a sequence of events has occurred. Maybe you just bought your first guitar equipped with a Floyd Rose, and you are preparing to change strings for the first time. Maybe you are just thinking about buying a guitar with a Floyd Rose, and you want to see how to set it up since you heard so many horror stories.

But most of you are here because something catastrophic has happened, and your guitar is probably unplayable. There are a million things that could have happened, but for some reason you have totally messed up the Floyd Rose bridge system on your guitar. Don’t worry, you have not permanently broken anything.

The first thing you should probably do is put down the guitar, and read our article on how a Floyd Rose bridge actually works. This is simple physics, there is no mysticism going on here at all. A Floyd Rose bridge setup relies on a fulcrum lever system, but you don’t need an engineering degree to understand how it works. However, this can be very confusing for beginner guitarists!

Your Floyd Rose bridge may be sitting at a high angle, sticking up out of the body. Then again, it may be sunken down into the body of your guitar. These are the two most common issues first-time Floyd users have, and the first thing you need to do is take a deep breath. One of a few things has happened:

Why Is My Floyd Rose Bridge Messed Up?

  • The tuning has changed
  • Different string gauge used while restringing
  • Different string brand or type
  • A broken string
  • Re-stringing the first time (all strings are off)

Chances are, your Floyd Rose bridge setup was probably done at the factory, or the store that you bought your guitar from. Every company uses different brands and gauges of strings. For example, Fender uses Bullet 9’s straight from the factory. Schecter uses Ernie Ball Regular Slinky 10’s for their Floyd guitars. The best way to find out the gauge and brand is to check the “official” site for your guitar brand.

If you do not want to stick with factory strings, that’s okay! This setup process will walk you through how to do a Floyd Rose bridge setup from scratch. You can use whatever strings you want, or whatever tuning you’re comfortable with using.

Let’s get started with your Floyd Rose bridge setup. If you follow these instructions step by step, you should have your Floyd perfectly setup and ready for some big dives! We can begin by getting the tools you will need.

STEP #1: Tools & Choosing A Tuning

Floyd rose bridge setup

The first step to performing your first Floyd Rose bridge setup is gathering the tools you need. Most Floyd-equipped guitars came with two Allen key wrenches for you to use. If not, or you got the guitar second-hand, that’s ok too. You can get almost all of these tools from the hardware store. You’re going to need:

  • A new set of strings
  • Small screwdriver (for the back plate of your guitar)
  • Large screwdriver (for adjusting the springs)
  • Something to block your bridge (we will discuss this below)
  • Floyd Rose Trem Arm/Bar
  • 3mm Allen key (For most adjustments)
  • 2.5mm Allen key (For setting intonation)
  • A tuner (duh)

The strings you pick need to reflect the ONE tuning you plan on using. You can use our guide here if you are wondering which strings are best for your desired tuning. You also need to pick a tuning to stick with. Floyd Rose Bridges are designed to be stable, so changing tunings will mean repeating this ENTIRE process every single time! Its best to pick a tuning/string type and stick with it.

Blocking the bridge is going to be the most important part of the Floyd Rose bridge setup. You can do this a few different ways. I like to block the bridge from the top (photo below, next section). You can also block the bridge from the back cavity of the guitar, by blocking the sustain block itself. I like to use a thin piece of wood, and before this I used a few popsicle sticks/tongue depressors to block the Floyd.

There are also products that you can use, that are designed for blocking your Floyd. You can use a “Trem Stopper” that will make things easy when changing strings. Floyd Rose even makes The Tremolo Buddy Clamp that will keep your bar depressed, keeping the bridge level while you work on your guitar! But I just use a simple piece of wood, and a cloth to protect the finish.

Speaking of, for a Floyd Rose bridge setup, you want a good work area. I sometimes use the dining room table, and put a towel down to protect the finish of my guitar. You want to have enough space to work, especially if you are a beginner to doing a Floyd Rose Bridge setup. Have a cup or dish handy for the screws and parts, so you don’t lose anything!

  1. Floyd Rose Tremolo Stop Lock Nickel | Guitar Center

    Perfect for setting up your Floyd Rose bridge, or blocking it to make your Floyd “Dive Only”. This easy to install gadget is super easy to use!

  2. Floyd Rose The Tremolo Buddy Clamping Maintenance Tool

    SIMPLE! The Tremolo Buddy from Floyd Rose is a lightweight, durable and easy-to-use tool designed to simplify normal maintenance tasks on a Floyd Rose or any floating tremolo system. This unique design offers a simple solution to tackling the major problematic maintenance areas of a tremolo-equipped guitar by helping to keep tension on the bridge.


STEP #2: Blocking The Bridge

Floyd rose bridge setup
Two ways to block: My preferred on the left

Blocking the bridge is the first physical step we are going to take. You can do this with the strings on or off, it doesn’t matter. As I stated above, you can block the bridge from the top, or use something in the back of the guitar. I showed both in the pic above, but I almost always just use a piece of wood (like in the picture).

The whole point of this is to get the bridge as close to being level with the guitar as possible. Having the bridge level and parallel with the body of the guitar is the proper way a Floyd Rose bridge setup should be at the end. When we are done, we want the bridge sitting perfectly parallel with the body.

Since we are going to be adjusting the springs in the back, as well as using the tuning pegs, blocking the bridge makes sure the bridge doesn’t sink into the body when we remove the strings. We want the bridge itself to be stationary the entire time we are working, in the same position as if we were playing it. That is, until it is time to remove it and fine tune the Floyd.

This is probably the part that everyone has the most trouble with. Find something that works for you. You can buy the gadgets that we mentioned in the first step, or you could fashion a piece of wood like I have. As I said above, some people even use simple things like popsicle sticks!

If you type “Blocking A Floyd Rose” into Google you will get all kinds of images, as well as the products I have listed in step 1. If you are going to use a Floyd Rose guitar, then you might as well make an investment, and get something that works for you. Just make sure not to use something that damages your finish!

Floyd Rose bridge setup
Choose what is easy for you! Google Images

Step #3: Put On New Strings

If you have old strings on the guitar, then go ahead and remove them. With the bridge blocked, there is nothing to worry about as far as the bridge moving. Usually the moment you start loosening the strings the bridge would start to sink into the guitar cavity. The bridge is stable while blocked.

If this is your first time doing a Floyd Rose bridge setup, then even taking the strings off can be confusing for a beginner! That’s ok, we can walk you through this part too. If you are used to restringing regular fixed bridge guitars, this can seem like a lot! This is where your 3mm Allen key comes in:

  • Block the bridge
  • Unlock the nut screws, and remove the clamps.
  • Unwind the strings from the tuners (like a regular guitar)
  • Use the bridge clamp screws to release the string ends
  • Dispose of the old strings
  • Get your new strings
  • Cut the ball ends off of the new strings
  • Insert the ends into the string clamps (Don’t over-tighten them!)
  • Wind the strings around the tuning pegs like normal

At this point you can go ahead and try to tune up to your desired tuning. It may or may not stay in tune just yet. Just like regular guitars, strings still need to be stretched. It should still be pretty close to the tuning you’re going for. You can stretch your strings after they are tuned as well, just like a “normal” guitar.

If you are not changing anything from the factory setup, then you should be almost good to go. If you ARE changing things, then let’s continue on with the next steps. Even going up one size in string gauge will throw your Floyd Rose bridge setup out of whack. So if you are changing anything at all, move on to the next steps.

Floyd Rose Bridge Setup

Step #4: Claw Adjustment

If you are replacing the strings with the same ones that the guitar previously had, then you can skip this step. As long as you are using the same brand and gauge as before, you shouldn’t have to do much adjustment with the claw, and can skip these steps to the end.

Now that you have your strings ready to go, keep the bridge blocked for the moment. If you do not have cut-out access to the back cavity of your guitar, get the small screwdriver and just take the cover off completely. If you are a complete beginner, go ahead and take off the back panel no matter what, so you can see how this all works. Put the screws to the side, where they wont get lost!

Go ahead and tighten the screws on the claw, adding tension to the springs. With your block in place, this shouldn’t make the bridge move. I like to tighten the screws in equal turns each time, until the springs are nice and taught. Don’t go crazy here and screw the claw all the way in. We just want to tighten it a good bit to make sure the bridge sinks into the body when we remove the block.

If you are going to be using significantly heavier strings than what you started with, then you definitely do not want to skip this step. The springs are what balance tension with the strings, to make the bridge float. So we want to make the bridge pull back when we remove the block, and tightening the springs will make the bridge pull back.

Step #5 Tune Your Guitar… Again

Since the bridge is completely blocked and the locking nut is still off, this should be really easy. Go ahead and tune your guitar to the tuning that you have chosen. Now is also the time to check and make sure that your string clamps on the bridge are nice and tight. Be careful not to screw the clamps in too tight, as you could damage the bridge.

Go ahead and stretch your strings as well, if you haven’t already. Everyone has a different way of doing this, but I like to strike a string and do a bend. You can also fret the 7th fret, and pull up with your other hand. However you like to stretch your strings, go ahead and do it now.

Once the strings are stretched, it’s time to tune up one more time. Make sure the strings are holding tune, and are ready to go. Once you are satisfied with the tuning stability, its time to move on to the next step. The bridge should be level from being blocked.

If the bridge lifts even though it is still blocked, then you need to go back to step #4. It should not be lifting at all as you tune. If it is lifting, then you need more tension on the springs in the back of the guitar.

Step #6: Removing The Block & Leveling

This is the part that loses most beginners, and where frustration can easily set in. But keep your head level (pun intended), because this is pretty easy once you get used to it! You tightened the claw, so the bridge should be sunken into the body. This will throw your guitar out of tune, and that’s okay.

This is the hardest part of the Floyd Rose bridge setup for most people. But don’t worry! Everything is under control. Since the bridge is sunken into the body of the guitar, we have control over the tension now. We will be using the screws in the spring claw to get the Floyd Rose level again.

floyd rose bridge setup

Now it’s time to get the bridge level again. This can be frustrating, but remember, you are going to be keeping the same strings and same tuning with this guitar. This is the only time you have to do this, and once it is set up you can just block the Floyd Rose and restring the guitar (Steps 1-3)!

Start to loosen the springs in the back, use equal turns on each screw. Do this until the bridge is level with the guitar body. Is your guitar mostly in tune? If so then make any micro adjustments and go to the final step!

If you have the bridge level with the body of the guitar and it is NOT in tune, we have to do some adjustments.

  • If the tuning is flat, but the bridge is level, then tighten the springs and tune again to pitch
  • If your tuning is sharp, but the bridge is level, then loosen the springs and tune again to pitch
  • Or:
  • If you are in tune, but the bridge is pulling forward, tighten the springs a tune again to pitch
  • If you are in tune, but the bridge is still sunk into the body, loosen the springs and tune again to pitch

This may be a back and forth situation for a little while, and it can be seriously frustrating. But you will eventually nail it! This is why we keep the guitar in one tuning, and use the same gauge/brand of strings. If you are consistent, then you don’t have to do this every time. The Floyd Rose bridge setup is usually a one-time thing.

Once you have the bridge level with the body, and the guitar is tuned to the desired pitch, you are almost done! We have one more step to go, and this one is EASY. This step was by far the hardest, and it can take some time to get right. Take your time, and make sure the bridge is level with the body of the guitar.

Step #7: Finishing Touches

Before you put the locking clamps back on, you want to set the fine tuners on the bridge to about halfway. That way you have room to tune your strings if they are sharp or flat. Once you get the fine tuners where you want them, tune the guitar one last time. We are finally at the end of the Floyd Rose bridge setup!

Now that the bridge is level, and the guitar is in tune, you can put the clamps back on the nut. Make sure not to over-tighten the clamps, or it will make your strings go sharp. Once the nut is back on and locked down, we can tune one more time. This time, we tune using the fine tuners on the bridge.

Try doing some dives and pull ups with the whammy bar, and see if you are holding tune. If not, then you may have to stretch the strings a little more. But if the strings were stretched beforehand, then everything should be ready to go.

Now is also a good time to check your action. If you are comfortable with the way it is, then skip this. But if you want to lower the action, now would be the time to do it since all of your tools are out. Remember to adjust the action screws in equal turns on each side of the bridge. Most guitars will be setup from the factory with a decent action.

Floyd rose bridge setup
Adjusting the Action

Floyd Rose Bridge Setup: It Gets Easier!

The more you do this, this easier it gets, just like with anything. But as a beginner, this whole thing can be really intimidating. The good news, is that once you have a Floyd rose bridge setup, then it is usually ready to go for a long time. Floyd Rose Bridges are very stable by design. That’s one of the reasons we love them!

Once you do the initial Floyd Rose Bridge setup that we did today, then everything else is a breeze. To changes strings, all you have to do is block the bridge with the same tool(s) you used today. You block the bridge, change the strings, and tune up!

Doing a Floyd Rose bridge setup on your own for the first time is always a pain. We were all beginners at one point! Once you get it down, then you will get better every time you do it. With a little practice, you will be able to handle any Floyd Rose bridge setup issues in just a few minutes.

Like we stated in our other article, having a Floyd Rose is a lot of fun! You can even incorporate it into your style of playing. Plenty of guitarists use a Floyd to make some amazing sounds, and some use it for subtle bends. How you use it is up to you, once you get your bridge setup then the sky is the limit!

Floyd Rose The Tremolo Buddy Clamping Maintenance Tool

SIMPLE! The Tremolo Buddy from Floyd Rose is a lightweight, durable and easy-to-use tool designed to simplify normal maintenance tasks on a Floyd Rose or any floating tremolo system. This unique design offers a simple solution to tackling the major problematic maintenance areas of a tremolo-equipped guitar by helping to keep tension on the bridge.

Why Is My Guitar Bridge Lifted From the Body?

Your guitar has a floating bridge. This means you need to balance the tension by tightening the springs in the back of the guitar. You want the springs to match the tension of the strings.

Why Is My Guitar Bridge Sunk Into The Body?

If you have a Floyd Rose Bridge, this can mean that there is too much tension coming from the springs in the back of your guitar. You need to loosen the springs until the bridge is even with the body of the guitar.

Is A Floyd Rose Bridge Setup hard To Do?

It can seem a little intimidating at first, but a Floyd Rose is not that hard to setup. It takes a little bit of practice, but all you are doing is balancing the tension of your strings with the tension of the springs in the back of the guitar.

Should I Take My Floyd Rose Guitar To A Tech?

There are plenty of resources that will show you how to do a Floyd Rose bridge setup all on your own. It does take a bit of patience to get right, but the whole idea is to balance the Floyd Rose so it is level.

Why Do Guitarists Dislike Floyd Rose Guitars?

Most of us can find a use for having a Floyd Rose in our arsenal! They can be a valuable tool, that can change the way you play. Some guitarists avoid them, because there is a learning curve to getting them setup correctly.


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