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Maybe a good Q for Rusty, but tossed-out to whomever can help.

A customer brought a '92 USA Strat (ZO0313**) in for a general cleaning & "fussing". It's got a Fender trem setup and I'm having a heck of a time trying to set the intonation because there seems to be very limited access to the allen screws that lock the saddles down.  

The screws take  a 3/32" wrench and I'm only able to access the ones that already sit back from the trem block.  Sure, taking the assembly out gives me the access, but I can't set the intonation without the whole assembly in place.. a conundrum.  

Pics are worth the proverbial 1,000 words so here's a couple.... anybody with the trick to this one?!

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I can't help but, out of curiosity, what is the name of this type of bridge and what does the top look like?

Hi Robbie... it's one of the many variations of a "standard Fender" tremolo. If it's got a special name, I sure don't know it.  

Most have relatively easy access to the saddle lock-down screws, but this one has screws that tend to "hide", tucked under the line-of-sight of the trem block... most perplexing.

Mike, are you using ball end Allen wrenches? I have a set I bought years ago which have saved me many, many times on just this type of problem.

Hi Ned... yessir, ball end wrenches, indeed. The angle of offset helps a bit, but still not enough to get to the ones that are set farthest back.

Also, I fear that even a couple of the ones that are "out in the open" may have to be set forward (under the trem block) to intonate properly... and then how to tighten 'em down?  Arrghh...

It hasn't had the block  installed back to front has it?

Jeff, that's a great thought.... very "out-of-the-box" and totally within the realm of possibility.  I'm in for the night but will absolutely take a gander first thing in the AM.   Thank you! 

The block orientation/offset seems right. Is the neck mounted correctly?  Also, is the bridge plate floating? - or flat on the body?

Hi Thomas.... the owner likes his bridge plate to be "barely floating"... so it sits maybe 1/16" or less from flat, although the problem exists whether it's flat or floating, since the issue exists at the 90-degree junction of the block and the plate.

I'm with you on the block orientation... Jeff got me so curious that I had to go to the shop to take a gander, and there are 6 cut-outs in the block to accommodate the set screws, but those cut-outs (while making room for the screw heads) also serve to "tuck" them away under the block, out of range for the driver to get to them.

The neck is mounted correctly insofar as I can tell. The guitar is in overall fair intonation, but could use a little fine-tuning... and that's what had stopped me cold. Thanks for the thoughts... I need to sleep on this one:)

Hi Mike.

The "scientific" name for that critter is "The American Deluxe Locking Tremolo".  Fender abandoned that imaginative design in 2005 and supplanted it with the standard 2 pivot point American Standard trem.

Jeff's suggestion got me thinking.....

Based upon the fact that the trem arm set screws are in the proper orientation, I think that the inertia block is installed correctly.  Ratzzzz...I was rooting for it to be a 'user error' so Jeff's theory could be validated.

Here's a snapshot for the trem from the Fender blurb sheet:

Have you checked to make sure that the machine screws that secure the bridge plate to the inertia block are tight?  Perhaps loose machine screws would skew the block...I don't know....just a thought.

I guess that if all else fails, a bit of precision grinding with a motor tool could engineer some access into the inertia block.

It also seems that the standard (non-locking) American Standard trem unit is a drop in replacement. (;

Good luck with this buddy,

Paul

Hi Guys,

First things first, the trem-block is installed correctly along with the nasty trem-end holder arrangement.

I recall being reduced to tears by one of these suckers some years ago:  so to be safe -   

Take the bridge out and,with your new found access, loosen the vertical screws that you are trying to get at in the picture and adjust the saddles using the horizontal intonation travel adjustment screws that move the saddle back and forth.   Set up the saddles in an eye pleasing manner approximating general intonation adjustment and snug but don't tighten the vertical screws.

Reinstall and set the bridge up with the final action and stuff dialed in and check the intonation.  If it's not so good,  back off the trem springs a bit (a good idea), wind up the pivot posts to raise the bridge above the body a bit and tilt the bridge plate forward and you should be able to get to the horizontal intonation adjustment allen head screws and tweak them against the string tension. The snugged saddle screws allow the saddles to move back and forth against string tension but not to lift off the bridge plate.

Set up, re-check the intonation and repeat this until you get sick of it or manage to dial in the intonation.  Once done, remove the bridge again and tighten the saddle screws to finally secure it all.

There is probably a better way, but I don't know it and I apologize if it's simple and someone tells you the day after you have wasted your life on this thing.

Tell me how you went or if you found the right way to do this easily - thanks,

Rusty.

Newer American Standard bridge on eBay...bidding up to $20 with only 2 bids and 2 days to go...$90+ new.

Might be cost effective to suggest an upgrade.

Rusty, Paul, Robbie, Jeff, Thomas, Ned, et al.... regardless of how this ends-up, I'm indebted to have such a collective wealth of knowledge available here.  No doubt this is exactly what FF had in mind when he set this blog in motion. Good work.

Sounds to me like I'll eventually be trying to convince the owner that a replacement trem is the way to go... not only to spare me the grief, but the other repair folks down the road. The reasons why Fender dropped this puppy in 2005 are becoming abundantly clear:) 

However, prior to that ...and being a tinkerer at heart... Rusty's procedure above has me intrigued. It sounds like a lot of fussing, but it also sounds quite do-able... which is light-years ahead of where I'm at now.

So just for the experience (and to validate the fact that this contraption needs to go away) I'll give that a go and report back. In the interim, it's Valentines Day and my dance card is full if you get my drift... so this will be given full attention and zeal tomorrow morning.

Again, most appreciative of the thoughtful responses. Oh, and the diagram is priceless, Paul... it opens up a new slant at all of this for me. Thank you one & all.  Next stop: eBay

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