Decking the strat

So in another thread about strats talk about floating bridges got me to thinking about why I have mine floating. I never use the trem, the arm was screwed once when I first got the guitar and now lives in the case. Fender spec is to float 1/8" I believe and that was the way this was set up I when I got it (second hand).

But if it works, don’t fix it … right? … Never been my moto and I’ve got scars to prove it.

Floating the bridge has three disadvantages I can think of. Bends are generally a little more difficult as the bridge is detuning while you are stretching the sting. Playing a bend at the same time as a note that isn’t being bent will detune the note not being bent. Also palm muting can potentially impact tuning. The one advantage is you can use the trem to increase as well as decrease pitch.

So, it’s a 10 minute job and a few quid on some additional springs.

Here’s the bridge floating …

And the original spring set up …

Added two new springs and tightened up the claw screws a tad …

Bridge now decked …

Checked the action and intonation - no change needed, so we are good to go!


I’m thinking about doing this on my Strandberg. I want to use thinner strings and the bridge is REALLY easy to detune with the palm if I do that. It sure seems to me that an opposing spring pull would allow for string gauge changes without the detriment of how the bridge sits.

I don’t know how a Strat bridge is floated. I see that when the bridge is pulled fully to the body by the springs, it sits flat like my PRS sits when it is balanced properly to its neutral position. It seems to me yours should sit flat before it is pulled. Maybe you can comment on that?

Hi Michael (@sequences ) So with the vintage strat bridge it’s a really simple set up. When floating the bridge can move in both directions, and while this gives some funky trem effects there are real downsides as I noted.
Leo always recommended some float, presumably to get more out of the trem system, but then he wasn’t a guitarist! To this day I believe the spec says it should float.
What I’ve done is to avoid any balance at all - there is now more tension in the springs than the strings so it’s actively pulled onto the deck and bending a note won’t move the bridge.
I couldn’t comment on the Strandberg trem, but i imagine that lighter strings are going to need other adjustments - neck relief, action and intonation even if the trem is locked.

Hi Paul,

I was asking more about if the bridge in its neutral (un-decked) position being not parallel to the guitar top is usual. In your image, it goes parallel after the bridge is pulled all the way to the decked position and I didn’t see you add any block between bridge and body. Is the bridge really supposed to be non-parallel in the neutral position? Feels weird to me. :slight_smile:


Oh I see - yes, that’s is ‘normal’ for a vintage floating bridge on a strat.

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It depends on the setup requested. If you would like to be able to sharpen as well as flatten the notes with the whammy bar, then you need some space for both motions - the small space between the body of the guitar and the bridge shown on the 2nd image allows for sharpening the notes.

The second option is to limit the movement of the bridge to allow only for flattening the notes (i.e. divebombs). And the third option is to deck the bridge so as not to be able to use the whammy bar to change the pitch of the notes.

When I had my Strat set up, the luthier told me that the Fender design of the floating bridge is probably the oldest one and hasn’t changed much in the past 60-70 years. This is why it’s more prone to affect tuning stability than newer designs such as the Floyd Rose.

I’m going to do the same for my Strat. Would you define a little more what “tighten the claw screws a tad” will be? How much is a tad?

As long as it’s totally flat on the body and doesn’t move with a big bend or altered tunings then you don’t need to touch the screws. I put about 1 turn on each so it was solid with a big bend. You don’t want to put too much pressure on the trem springs as it could potentially damage the finish. Like everything guitar maintenance, small incremental movements.

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Excellent. Thank you.

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I did the same on my Squier strat when I had it, but didn’t buy additional springs - adjusted the claw screw instead.

With that config I found that re-tuning to drop D would still affect the tension enough I had to retune the 5 other strings. I’m curious if you have that issue with the 5 string setup?

Even if the trem is decked or blocked (or come to that if it’s a hardtail guitar) detuning will have some impact as it effects the tension on the neck I guess. If the trem is flat on the deck then detuning shouldn’t move the trem block at all - tuning up might if there’s not enough tension in the springs.

If you compare pic 2 and 4, it appears there is less of a ‘gap’ between the bridge and the body in 4 and the angle has changed too. It looks like this is lowering the action slightly.
You weren’t tempted to just put a sliver of wood/plastic under the bridge to keep it in its original ‘anatomical’ position? :thinking:

My Dean Zelinsky Tagliare (pictured in my icon) is an S-type. I’ve never even attached the vibrato bar (I refuse to incorrectly call it tremolo). It stays in tune like a rock. I’ve never taken the plate off to see how many springs there are.


Technically yes, although the pivot is close to the saddles so it wasn’t enough to make a difference, I checked and would have raised the saddles slightly if I got any buzzing. Decking like this is the normal way of removing the float.

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Yeah, it does… but the detuning impact of one string on my fixed bridge tele is really minor, whereas on my decked squier strat it was pretty significant.

Some more discussion here

I keep mine flat and tight, with just enough give at the screws for dive bombs :metal: don’t get any problems with tuning now.

Seems most folk above have it sussed :+1:

Interesting - If the bridge was tightly enough decked it should have taken it out of the equation. Maybe with three springs there wasn’t quite enough tension when you detuned.

Anyhow, another reason why the tele is better than the strat :slight_smile:

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One thing I did to lock off the trem system was to create a block so it couldn’t move.
I tightened the strings until the bridge was flat, then lined the back of the trem block hole (the bit behind where the trem block lives) with a couple of layers of clingfilm, then squished some two-part epoxy putty into the gap. I made sure I wasn’t coating anything, but made sure I completely filled the gap. (I used Milliput).
Then before it was completely cured I removed the clingfilm and Milliput, peeled off the clingfilm and left if for a day to cure.

I sanded it down to make it smooth, then put it back into the gap, and loosened the screws a tiny bit, just enough so the trem block locked against the newly created block, and it stopped it moving completely.

…mind you, I found that the whole guitar was a piece of garbage and after trying all sorts to get it to intonate I binned it :grin:

Enough for the bridge to touch touch guitar body. This will depend on the number and strength of springs and the string gauge.

You can also add in a block of wood.


image c/o this web page.

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Hi mathsjunky.
I decked my strat with wood inside the back.
I loosened the springs off totally and fitted a small block of wood behind the bottom of the tailpiece (bridge). So it sits same as if springs were tightened up.
The back plate has to be removered to restring it as the holes in the backplate dont line up with the string holes in the bridge. ( On mine anyway, :smile: ).
I did have to alter the truss rod very slightly to sort the action out, but so easy to do.
Never had any tuning issues or string hitting frets etc.
Didnt improve my playing any but not sure I can blame Fender for that :joy: