Floyd Rose troubles

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UnexplodedCow
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Floyd Rose troubles

Postby UnexplodedCow » Sat Jan 08, 2022 12:18 pm

I've been messing with my Bolt+C. Lovely guitar, has served me well for about 7 years, though I've been moving toward active pickups, and started swapping some in (hint: either shave the covers on an EMG, or remove about 2mm of material on either side of the pickup routes for mid 2000s Carvins).

While in the middle of putting it back together, my eye caught something in the trem cavity: a crack. Treble side trem stud wasn't moving, but the body has a diagonal crack running almost the entire vertical length of the stud insert. Not good. I pulled the insert, and the crack didn't budge. Cranked on the guitar body and compressed it, no change. So, it's a stable crack. I wicked/pushed in some liquid super glue, and don't really expect a problem.

It lead me down a rabbit hole, however, to see what may have caused it aside from the possibility of improperly drilled hole, or perhaps a long-term issue with wood seasoning, as I suspected too much moisture that dried out over time and may have caused such a crack. The diagonal angle was interesting as I've not seen that on any trem stud cracks before. I decided to inspect the Floyd Rose.

I didn't need to look far. I had noticed a touch of knife edge wear on the OFR about a year ago, deburred it, and went along my way. At that time, the body was not cracked, so this is a fairly new development. I'd been playing the guitar more in the past 4 months or so, and believe it to be this recent.

The treble side edge has issues; the chrome chipped and fell off, and the steel underneath has crumbled. Looking closer with a loupe showed me that the plate is made of ferromagnetic cast metal - my guess is steel, and it may be hardened, but it is absolutely cast. There are other tell-tale signs such as mild casting texture, so the molten metal was cast, then machined, and probably hardened. Either way, something happened to be wrong in the baseplate of my unit. Lovely.

I started digging, and a replacement chrome baseplate is out of stock from what I could find, and over $100. I started looking at replacement units, because why not? I started measuring and comparing specs. As it turns out, an OFR or their 1000/special series are the only units that would directly fit my guitar, mostly due to body routing. Given the price of an OFR, I opted for a Gotoh 1996T, which as been my favorite. A Schaller is pretty close, but about 2mm larger in the baseplate dimensions, which requires routing the sides and little back/side spots of the baseplate route. The Gotoh, conversely, requires only routing the back/side baseplate section (about 2mm removal), and uses 11mm diameter, 30mm long inserts. OFR uses 10.2x20mm inserts. The longer inserts will help with the potential crack issue (assuming it isn't stabilized enough), and requires a little less routing. Hooray.

My guitar is 12" radius on the frets, the Gotoh is 14", and the stock locking nut is 10". A Floyd 1000 series R3 nut is 12" radius, and with a couple 0.001" and 0.002" shims, I can easily match the 12" radius better than what the factory did.

Overall, kind of a disappointment, and I've not seen this kind of wear in an OFR before, and I've heard everywhere that the baseplates are "hardened steel." While that may be true, it is not a bent plate steel, but cast. The Gotoh, again, is bent steel plate, which will not have the brittleness or consistency issues. Can't say I'd suggest the OFR much anymore - they were already expensive, but after seeing these things are cast - no thanks. Yes, it's a real OFR, with the embossed casting of "made in Germany," so definitely Schaller made. Even the original nut has an issue with the 1st string creating a groove in the material. I've not had that issue out of even cheap import Floyds, so I wonder what in the heck was going on with quality at the Schaller factory back in 2004. Sure, it took a while, but dang.

My suspicion is that the knife edge crumbled, placing an undue lateral load on the stud, causing the body crack. I can't prove it, but the diagonal crack really makes me wonder. We'll see what happens once the Gotoh arrives, but this guitar *will* be resurrected. Still a bummer.

Thanks to anyone who read this far, I know it's a bit ranty.
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UnexplodedCow
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Re: Floyd Rose troubles

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:01 pm

Received in the replacement trem unit, and decided to show some pictures. Obvious quality differences, despite the Gotoh costing about half that of a German-made Floyd Rose, the quality is better. The posts are considerably longer, and 1mm larger diameter, plus the studs have a central grub screw to lock the post in the insert - no teflon tape required.

The OFR is very obviously cast material, based on the pebbled, unmachined surfaces, as well as the squared edges of the areas where it would normally be bent. The Gotoh shows signs of being a bent plate, which means the steel was processed as a sheet first, and not just cast. The OFR is a lower quality processing, since the baseplate is cast as shaped.

The sustain blocks - huge difference. The OFR is plated brass. The Gotoh is raw brass, but has set screws for the springs. This helps keep it stable. Minor, but noticeable difference.

The fine tuner springs are curved instead of having a sharp bend. Another minor difference, but this will be more consistent over time. Additionally, relief cuts are in the spring ends so they have better support of the clamping screws.

The saddles are rounded and more ergonomic. The arm pushes in, and has a screw at the bottom to locate it. The OFR has a push-in arm upgrade, but it's not the same quality as the Gotoh. Overall, it's a higher quality piece, significantly less than the OFR or Schaller.

Now to get cracking on this guitar and check if several days of curing worked out for the super glue and filling the crack. Otherwise it'll be a whole lot more "fun."

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We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

Guitar theorem: G=X+1 where G= guitars one needs, and X = guitars one has.

Do or do not; there is no understand.

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Re: Floyd Rose troubles

Postby spudmunkey » Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:36 pm

Wow, yeah, that does look like a superior-ly made unit. It's definitely helpful to see some of this side-by-side comparison info.

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Re: Floyd Rose troubles

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:14 pm

Alright, I was able to get it installed. Minor clearance issues abound, and it's mostly 1-2mm differences. The biggest hurdle was indeed the stud inserts, but everything turned out great, looks good, plays great.

Harmonics are brighter, sustain is better/longer, and flutters are, despite about 100g less mass to the Gotoh unit, better than the Floyd ever did. Very smooth/soft feel, and I'm using 2 springs, as is the preference. They're stiffer than usual. Hint: Gotoh makes a good spring and I've been using them for years outside of their trems. Less expensive than Floyd heavy duty ones. Stuff a little foam inside and they won't ring.

I also changed pickups at this point. From neck to bridge, I'd previously used: Wilde L500R, Carvin TBH60, Wilde L500XL.

The TBH never mixed well with the L500s. Too low of output, though it didn't sound all that bad. Kind of muddy by comparison. I've been slowly converting guitars over to actives, and had some EMGs sitting around.

Now the guitar is: EMG 89R in neck (with push/pull volume pot for the 2nd mode), Guitar Fetish "Redactive Gold" single coil, and EMG 60 in the bridge. I know this is kind of a weird setup. I didn't have an 81 sitting around, but honestly, the 60 is just as good, if not a hint better, IMO. The 89 being dual mode gives me neck humbucker or single coil sounds, and those are handy.

I had an 81TW sitting around, but did not feel like routing 1/4" out of the pickup hole. Mostly the thickness of that pickup, plus the harness was the cause. A little clearancing of the pickup route edges is something different and easier.

The body crack did not re-open, so the superglue fix held. I probably stress-relieved it slightly when enlarging the hole for the new stud insert. Also soaked in a bunch of thin superglue to the grain, for both holes, so I doubt there will be issues. Everything is tight and trouble free.

Extra note about the GFS pickup: I was looking for cheap, and figured why not. Frankly, the pickup is not just good for the money; it's flat out good. Sounds like a chimey single coil with nearly the same output as the EMGs. I don't have experience with the regular active models, but the Gold versions are absolutely worth it, and I may try the humbuckers just to see.

All told, this turned out well, I'll try to get pictures of the guitar, but for now it's back to the grindstone of working on songs for a friend.
We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

Guitar theorem: G=X+1 where G= guitars one needs, and X = guitars one has.

Do or do not; there is no understand.


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