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That dang loose arm! (long-ish)

8/12/1998 12:46 AM
Andrew Curtis
That dang loose arm! (long-ish)
Hey all  
I have a problem with the trem arm on my Floyd  
Rose-fitted Yamaha Pacifica 721. The problem is a simple one which is bound to befall anyone who owns a guitar fitted with a screw-in trem arm - it fits too loosly in its  
cavity. The result is an arm which rattles in its socket creating a clunking sound when it is used (which, incidentally, gets amplified by the pickups).  
At the opening for the socket for the arm is a large nut without any thread , presumably to give a bit more height to the socket. The arm passes through the "nut" and into the socket where it screws in. There appears to be a nylon washer between the bridge plate and the large nut which, I assume, was put in to stop the arm rattling, but it must have worn down.  
(hope I've explained this well enough)  
I have made a temporary solution by wrapping a piece of clear sticky-tape ONCE around the arm above the thread (any more than this and the arm doesn't fit in its socket), but this remedy doesn't last very long as the tape gets chewed up all the time.  
Is there anyone out there who knows of a permanent cure for this disease?  
Thanx in advance.
8/12/1998 10:10 AM

I'm not familiar with the 721 Pacifica. Does it come with a Floyd Rose licensed tailpice, or are you just using those words to loosely describe the Yamaha locking tailpiece?  
Most Floyd Rose type locking tailpieces do not use an arm with a threaded end. They use an unthreaded arm, plain or with some nylon bushings, and are held in the socket with that threaded compression nut on top you were describing. There is supposed to be a nylon tapered compression ring between the nut and tailpiece. The rod gets inserted when the nut is loose, and then the nut gets tightened down a bit until the nylon compression ring "bites into" the rod for a friction-fit. Maybe your guitar doesn't have the correct arm to match the tremelo tailpiece, or it's missing some of the lower nylon bushings, causing a loose fit.  
You might want to stop by a guitar store where they do setups & repairs. They should be able to recognize if all the pieces are right.
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8/12/1998 7:30 PM
Mark Cameron

I think he is talking about the old style and thay almost always come loose and the nylon washers break.Find one of the new style arm assimbley(?) from stu.mac. or All parts,The new style workes much better.
8/12/1998 10:27 PM
Steve A.

Maybe your guitar doesn't have the correct arm to match the tremelo tailpiece...  
    Good advice (although it may not be applicable here). Just wanted to mention that MANY music stores remove the tremelo arms before putting their guitars on display and throw them all into a big box (without bothering to label them). So its very easy to end up with the wrong arm even if you bought your guitar new.  
    Like you say, Andrew should bring it to a good repairman who should be able to evaluate the situation.  
Steve Ahola  
P.S. For a temporary repair, a few tapered wraps of white teflon tape will wonders...
8/13/1998 1:26 PM
Re: That dang loose arm! (long-ish X2)
Ah yes, that problem sounds/looks familiar! I've had the same problems with many "Licensed under Floyd Rose Tremolo's". The problem is that Floyd Rose holds several patents on the design of his tremolo system, but not all companies incorporate all the features of a "real" Floyd into their trem designs. If I'm not mistaken, Floyd holds the patent for the "dual fulcrum" which is the two pivots that the bridge floats on. Most manufactures design a bridge around this, pay royalties, and slap on a "Licensed under Floyd Rose" on the bridge. This does not mean it is identical to an original Floyd Rose Tremolo. The issue is rather fuzzy but Floyd Rose has contracted out the production of "Real" Floyd Rose tremolos to other companies. At one point it was Schaller, but I'm not sure who builds the "Real McCoy" at this point.  
I have had several tremolos like the one you describe, and all have worn down to nothing in about a year. On some, the "nut" you describe allows the threaded shaft to be removed and a new one installed. As someone else suggested, Stew-Mac carries replacements, and they may fit your guitar. I would suggest putting a Schaller Floyd Rose on your guitar, as they kick butt compared to the cheap copies. You'll know what I mean when you hold the two in your hand. The real thing usually weighs twice that of the "imitation". This translates directly to sustain. One word of caution. I have yet to see a conversion that fits without modification. On every unit I've done, the location of the pivot posts was wrong, requiring the bushings to be pulled, the holes filled with hardwood dowel, and the holes re-drilled. At that point, the tremolo is in the right spot, but will not travel freely and hits the guitar body in various places when the arm is moved. So out comes the router and templates to get the cavities right. This usually leaves some bare wood exposed, and some spot painting will ge needed, which requires a bit of skill to be done correctly. It is a big job, requires some expensive tools, but if you have the time/resources can be fun. Stew-Mac carries, tools, books, video's etc and how to do this yourself. It is usually worth paying a professional to do the job though if you will only be doing this once.  
I would also check with a Yamaha dealer, he may carry replacements for the arm and threaded shaft.  
Hope this helps.  
8/14/1998 12:41 AM
Andrew Curtis
Re: That dang loose arm! (long-ish X3)
I just had a closer inspection of the bridge a few minutes ago and it appears that the "nut" I was describing before has a small 5mm extension welded to the bottom, which is press-fitted into the bridge plate.  
There is an internal spring at the very bottom of the socket that gradually presses up against the arm as it is screwed in. Naturally, this makes the bar sit at the correct angle when it's not being held. There is provision at the back of the sustain block to adjust the point at which the spring takes up. Turning a little grub screw clockwise reduces the number of turns necessary to screw the bar in before it starts sticking.  
I've actually tried removing the grub screw and spring which seems to stop the rattling, probably because the thread on the arm runs out and starts rubbing against the unthreaded section. I'm kinda reluctant to keep this going for very long as it may start stripping the thread on the arm/socket.  
Any further thoughts?
8/14/1998 9:40 AM

If the arm and the section it screws into is removable, such as on a real Floyd, you may be able to swap the arm for a Floyd type. I take it from your description though, that this is not possible. It may be cheaper just to purchase a new tremolo from Yamaha. I would check on the web for service centers, as your local stores may be similar to the one's around here. They usually claim one isn't available and try to sell you a "high-end, new-fangled, what-cha-ma-call-it, with extra more options".  
Personally, I would pay for a real Floyd if you like the guitar and plan on keeping it. If you get a local guitar shop to install it, make sure the repair man knows what is involved. Ask him what he plans to do first, and see if he know what he's doing. The first thing he should do is check that the existing posts are the correct distance from the nut. Ask him to check for you. A real Floyd (doubt you'll find one) should be 25" and a Schaller Floyd should be 24 15/16" from the nut. It should be measured with a precision metal ruler that is long enough for a complete measurement. If he pulls out a tape-measure or a 12" drafting ruler - run for the exit. If he pulls out a wooden yard stick, hit him with it before he hurts somebody. :)  
If you plan on doing the job yourself, I would suggest that you pick up the Guitar Player Repair Guide. It is an excellent source of information on the setup, modification and repair of guitars. In fact it is useful even if you get someone else to do work for you. At least you will know what's involved, and you won't get ripped off. And the information on setting up guitars is IMHO required reading for all guitarists.  
If you have any more questions, please feel free to let me know.  
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