I have a Korean Squire Strat, serial #6115529. It came to me for polishing, a broken jack, and a fret dress/setup. I put on strings and was getting them up to pitch to do the setup and I noticed the bridge had lifted way up-see pic.

This is my first time dealing with an electric guitar with a tremolo bridge. Is this repairable or should I replace? If I replace, what would be considered a decent low dollar replacement?

Looking forward to your replys. - Lee

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Hi Lee.... Nah, nothing's broken. it looks like the new strings have a different "force of pull" on the trem system. The angle (height) of the bridge is adjusted with the trem springs that attach laterally to the body, underneath. Take off the plastic plate (on the back, where the strings get installed) and look at the spring system.

Some guys use all 5 springs, most use 3, but there's no "right" number. However many are in there, tighten the 2 big screws that hold them into the body and that will stretch the springs, slowly bring down the bridge as the tension gets equalized. Do this after your strings are brought up to pitch.

Most players like the bridge to sit just a hair off the plate, so it looks flat-down to the plate, but really isn't. That gives some "return room" when the trem's being used. Some guys like them actually sitting flat... but again, there's no right-or-wrong here. Oh, and there's a whole school of thought where the trem block is actually intentionally "jammed tight" with a block of wood so it doesn't move at all.  

Lots of variables, but just know that you can adjust that angle with a big ol' screwdriver:)

Mike's a like faster on the draw than I am. if you want the bridge to sit flat(ter) you may be better off adding springs than tightening the claw too much. Sometimes the screws have not been pilotted all the way through and can break (especially on an Asian guitar like this). Don't ask me how I know 


There is nothing wrong with the guitar or bridge. The reason the bridge is tilting is there is insufficient spring tension to keep it flush to the body. Some players prefer this set up as it allows them to both raise and lower the pitch when using the vibrato. The down side to this set up is all the strings drop in pitch when bending strings. A more stable setting is with the bridge flush to the body with sufficient spring tension to counter any bending, but...

This is the way you received the guitar so you could assume this is the way the customer wants the bridge set. You may want to give the customer a call before adjusting string height/radius/intonation to determine what he/she wants. Or you can set it up this way and discuss it when the guitar is picked up. 



Hello Mike and Joshua!

Thanks for taking time from Memorial Day to reply, and so quickly! This IS a great forum to be a part of. Glad to know nothing's broken.

I'll get in there and see what's going on. The guitar is to be a surprise gift from a sister to a brother and I don't know anything about his playing style/prefs other than he plays guitar. I'm going to go for nearly flat and have her tell him to contact me if he doesn't like it set up that way.


Great advice so far, Lee.

If it's a "surprise gift", just give it a good setup and expect it to come back for a personalized setup if the future owner wants a tailored setup. Depending on his skill level, he may or may not know what a good setup is like.

A nice "customer appreciation" approach would be to include an additional 'personalized' setup in your price.  An extra $10 or $15 should cover the 'labor only' second setup.

Since you're new to electric setups, I wish you the best. Setting up trem bridge Strats is not guitar repair 101. There are several idiosyncrasies that Strats have that need to be worked around.  If you run into any (like "why won't the low E string tune properly" or "why is the G string always sharp/flat when I play an open G chord") just give us a holler.

BTW: Korean made Squires are NOW considered very high quality imports.  If his sister finds another....send her my way :) :)

Have a great week, Lee :-)

Hi Lee!  I think what you have decided to do is fine. Here's some additional info to help in the future.

Some players, particularly those that begin their Guitar playing career with stop tailpiece instruments, become used to resting the fleshy part of their palm on the back of the bridge as a resting point from which to pick.

Muting Strings used to be a popular thing too, and those type of players also rest their fleshy palm edge, right across the bridge. Another consideration is whether they typically use finger Vibrato on the Fretboard with bends etc.

This type of player is likely to want the Combined Bridge Tailpiece on a Stratocaster set flat against the body of the instrument with no backward (upward pitch) movement available on the Vibrato Arm. 

They usually want everything in regard to tuning as stable as can be. Fitting 5 springs is the simplest way to enact this, and they are usually supplied with Fenders at purchase for this purpose.  

But equally, you don't want the Bridge pressing too severely hard into the finish, so you may need to slacken off the two large screws at the end so the systems tight, but not overly so.



Other Players like to use the Vibrato (or Tremolo) Arm as opposed to using finger induced Vibrato at the Fretboard.  And they use the Arm, even if they are bending strings.

They might well prefer for expression to play quite a lot of the time with the Vibrato Arm in their 2,3 and 4 fingers, while they hold the pick between their thumb and 1st finger.

They will probably rest their arm as an anchor, and their hand will float over the string area and these people require a "Floating Vibrato or Tremolo" with a small degree of lift to the rear of the Combination Bridge /Tailpiece.

With the rear plastic plate removed, the distance from the Tremolo Block to the wood behind it should be 3/16". You can place a piece of wood this thickness in situ while making adjustments and changing strings etc.

The instrument set up with light gauges strings, should require 3 springs fitted. heavier strings require extra springs and they can be spread in different ways 3, 4, or 5 and tweaked to perfection with the large screws at the end.

Use a drop of 3 in 1 oil on the top of the instrument, where the front  screws of the Combination Bridge /Tailpiece pivot. this aids in preventing the system from binding.

The gap between the Tailpiece and the top of the body can vary according to the Player. For Vintage Style Tailpieces 2 or 3 16th, but a modern 2 pivot screw American Standard 1/8th".


Boiling all this down, when they come in, ask the Player if they prefer a Flat Tailpiece or a Floating Tailpiece, and if they don't know, you can explain the advantages of both. Ultimately they will fall into one camp or the other, but for best tuning stability which is very important for a beginner, a Flat Tailpiece is the safest way to go.


Depending on the precise instrument, you may find for "general ball park" intonation purposes that 1,2,3 strings move progressively back with the 4 string forward again and the 5 and 6 moving progressively back in similar fashion.

Sometimes the spring in the Low E needs shortening in half  to obtain proper intonation via an accurate Tuner.


Often Players like to adjust pickups so they get the loudest signal possible, i.e. close to the strings.

On Stratocasters in particular, this is a bad idea, in the worst cases it produces wolf notes,  and the benefits of backing off the pickups somewhat should be easily heard if you strum some chords. You just get a better more balanced sound altogether in my experience.


As they have broken the jack socket, it's worth advising your customers that they can prevent this damage occurring in the future.


Fred has designed a good tool its worth investing in for routine maintenance.  So tell them about that as the problem will occur again in the future. People appreciate a repair man that's on their side!,_pickups/Special_tools_for_...




I think it was Frank Ford who designed that tool?

For sure! Our esteemed Frank Ford.

It says so in the link I read before I posted it!

Profuse apologises and thanks for putting that straight.



Best Regards



"Fred [edit: Frank] has designed a good tool its worth investing in for routine maintenance. So tell them about that as the problem will occur again in the future."

This is a GREAT tool and I wish that I could afford one.  However, for Strats & Les Paul's, the easiest way to tighten the jack screw is to simply unscrew the jackplate and use a 1/2" deep well socket ($2.79 @ your local auto store) to tighten it while securely holding the jack with your other hand.

Frank's tool is especially effective and valuable when working on on hollow/semi-hollw guitars and Tele's with the 'stock' jackplate.  It also saves amp techs time by not having to pull a chassis when a jacknut is loose.

Hey, there's something we could all have a hoot with. We'll start calling Frank "Fred"... just because we can:)

.... or not.  


Once again, your post made me laugh.

No disrespect.... but how about: Fred Chevy?  I mean, if we're gonna haze Frank, let's do it right.

That's a lot shorter than what we all really call him behind his back: "Mr. Frank Ford: Master Luthier and Supreme Educator."

The greatest privilege we have is being able to call him "our friend". :-)

Quote: "for Strats & Les Paul's, the easiest way to tighten the jack screw is to simply unscrew the jackplate and use a 1/2" deep well socket ($2.79 @ your local auto store) to tighten it while securely holding the jack with your other hand."



For repairmen, sure!

Accepted. No argument about that. The thing is.

I believe all Gigging Players would find Franks Jack Socket Tool a Lasting Investment.


That's the bottom line for me.

For them, its money well spent.



In addition, for Luthiers and Repair Techs.

There's an increasing trend amongst Players these days to line their control and pickup cavities, including the jack socket cavity, with copper shielding.

The thickness of this can in some cases, reduce the normal "safe" space available in the cavity significantly. Thus the potential exists to short the entire Guitar out, using conventional means, subsequently fitting and refitting the socket repeatedly into the cavity, until everything works o.k.

If this problem is encountered by a Luthier, Repairman or Guitar Tech but only once. The full beauty of Franks ingenious device and its great value will become completely apparent.

For sure, a Standard Stratocaster that has no modification or enhancement is not a problem. It's the increasing amount of Instruments that have been heavily modified.

Which is where the complications lie. And where Franks Jack Socket Tool really comes into its own.




Luthiers and Repairmen exist to provide a service that keeps Musicians Playing.

But Musicians should take reasonable steps to ensure their kit doesn't develop problems that have the potential to wreck their performance.  

Simply using this Tool once or twice a year to ensure the recessed Jack Socket is tight, perhaps when they condition their neck, is I think, a sensible routine for each and every Fender User.

The alternative, where symbiotically, the socket gradually loosens, spins and gradually breaks the solder, coupled to the burgeoning overconfidence and lamentable procrastination of the average musician, is a recipe for emergencies no one wants and potential disaster for performers.

For Telecaster owners where other specialist tools might otherwise be required, its a no brainer.



But for me it's about much more than that.

It's really about building relationships, confidence and trust.

A spirit of sagacious generosity, imparting not only knowledge, but far more importantly wherever possible, Wisdom. To Musicians, a breed by nature, very much in need of it.

Instead of a Luthier or Repairman holding all his secrets to his chest, as is the manner of the insecure. When a Musician goes to one for help and gets not only whatever their problem is solved, but is also given a good sound advice and solidly reliable recommendations that are excellent preventative solutions.

The Musician comes away knowing that the person they have just dealt with, is completely on their side.

They subsequently become a walking, talking advert for the business.



Yes, you've given a little.

But Oh! You've gained a great deal indeed.

Mere money could never afford the priceless respect engendered.



For most people.

There are few in this world, that they can completely and utterly trust.

People they KNOW are completely on their side. I think a Great Luthier or Repairman should be one of them.

And prove it, by the manner in which they graciously impart knowledge and educate their clients to be better stewards and custodians of the Fine Instruments they are lucky enough to own.




"For repairmen, sure!

Accepted. No argument about that. The thing is.

I believe all Gigging Players would find Franks Jack Socket Tool a Lasting Investment."

As a pro gigging musician for the past 45 years, I must disagree.  The first thing they'll do is lose it. Secondly, they'd never learn how to use it properly.

It's also been my experience that 99% of all gigging musicians are gear morons.  That's why repair folks exist :)  I've given sage advice on instrument upkeep & preventive maintenance for decades as part of my repair business, but it falls on deaf ears.

You must have a higher quality of clientele.  I applaud your optimism.  I don't know where you are in your career, but after 15 or 20 times of being burned ($$$) by "gigging customers" & customers from hell, I think you'll understand my skepticism.

I tell folks: "I love making music.  I love repairing instruments. The only downside is that my clients are all musicians." :)

What brand of coffee do you drink? I want to get some of that!

Best regards :)


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