6 Screw Fender Tremolo Divebomber

I divebomb my 6 screw Fender Tremolo all night long and it stays in perfect tune, no matter how much I abuse it.

So, I shot a quick video about my #1 (live stage guitar) 1982 Fender Frankenstein Stratocaster and discuss how I set up my 6 screw tremolo for divebombing…

It’s not locking tuners, in fact, I use vintage hollow-post (Gotoh SD-91’s) and it’s not an angled claw either.

It’s just getting the nut cut correctly, but it involves not just depth, width, fall away and floor profile, but the often overlooked lateral misalignment of the strings through the nut.


Whats the nut made out of?

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I used brass (this time) because I was wearing out the Graph Tech Tusq XL nuts playing everyday (in the recording studio for hire) and gigging nightly.

But the material used doesn’t matter…what matters is getting the pull straight through the nut with no lateral misalignment. If you can achieve straight pull, then nut slot width needs only to be approximately .004" above string gauge, which is my preference. But, on many guitars, even ones I am seeing coming out of Fender in Corona, the lateral misalignment is so acute that the setup techs are cutting the slots wider in an effort to compensate and it doesn’t fix the problem.

Although Warmoth CNC’s their tuner holes, there are variations in tuner placement based on where the neck is placed under the clamps by the operator and in some cases, I’ve had to plug and redrill Fender USA, Warmoth and Musikraft necks to correct the misalignment issues.

The slots also need to have a curved bottom (the Stewie-Mac files have this profile) and the last 1/3rd of the slot needs to “fall away” from the string.

I’m using vintage tuners (Gotoh SD-91) with a Gibson/Kluson on the low ‘E’ to improve string angle through the nut. Locking tuners only correct string wrap anomalies, but they are totally unnecessary. String trees are not needed with the vintage, short-post tuners.

If you are using long-post tuners, like the Grover 136G6, then a string tree matmy be needed on the b/e strings. However, it’s important to use a roller tree and a small spacer to reduce the downward pressure across the nut slot…

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That colour … :heart: :drooling_face: :drooling_face: :drooling_face:

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I would imagine a softer material like plastic would actually tend to grip the strings. And make quite a difference? As you’ve always got an angle in the strings at the nut, so that pressure would really require a harder material to keep loose and intune?

I’ve never actually changed my nuts… So I am only imagining

I’ve used bone with good results…but, I have also setup many stock Stratocasters with the stock Fender plastic (Corian?) nuts that worked perfectly.

Brass is one of my favorite materials, but I do not think it’s the only choice.

@gabrielthorn - it’s Rustoleum ‘Sun Yellow’ spray paint with Rustoleum Clear over the top.

It looks different depending on how the light hits it…

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Here is a good example of the lateral misalignment that I encountered with my brand new Warmoth neck. This is the factory fitted and CNC slotted Graph Tech Tusq XL nut as installed by Warmoth on my YelloStrat.

Note how the strings do not run straight to the tuners. Tilt your phone away from you and sight down the string paths like looking down a gun barrel. The lateral misalignment should “jump out” at you:

Lots of extreme pressure here on the low ‘E’ string. I corrected this by using a long post tuner in this position:

Here’s what heavy (daily/nightly) tremolo use did to the Graph Tech Tusq XL nut. As you drop tension, the strings raise up out of the nut slots and they began sawing sideways in the slots because of the lateral misalignment. It was a constant fight to get the guitar back in tune.

The Graph Tech Tusq XL is really soft and even softer than the synthetic nuts we are seeing on many other guitars.

By making my own nuts now from blanks, I can control string alignment through the nut.

However, I’ve seen a few new Fenders, that the local Fender Warranty Tech asked me to look at, that could not be repaired without plugging and redrilling some of the tuner holes.

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This is priceless information regarding the nut thanks for sharing. Makes total sense.

Now you’ve got me thinking about spraying my Squier I’ve got some metallic purple paint in my garage. Who dares me to do it ?


Do it…these wild colors look great!!

My purple Schecter Hellraiser C1FR:

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Facebook blocked my video saying the “comment goes against community guidelines…”

When appealed, they said the video and its comments are “misleading” because a stock Fender Tremolo cannot be made to stay in tune…yet they don’t block Carl Verheyen’s video, and Carl doesn’t divebomb his Stratocaster.

Wonder who complained???

Floyd Rose Inc.???

LOL :laughing:


I appealed the Facecrook ban. I was told to “Remove all references to Floyd Rose in your title and description” and remove the phrase “Works just as good as a locking tremolo” from your video description… :wink:

I never mentioned this in the video, but I did have these phrases in both title and description. It’s very gratifying that this video scared guys enough to complain and it really shows you what a stranglehold the industry has on us and how far they will go to suppress the truth and control what information gets out.

Guess we all know who complained now… :grin:


I think that your analysis is exactly right, and that binding in the nut (or string tree?!) is what usually results in a string being out of tune. I think that your fixes make perfect sense. But I note that many headstock designs are not straight-thru, and have an abrupt change of string direction! So in cases like that, I think there might be no alternative to a locking nut. I wonder, however, if one can go straight through the nut and then have a ball-bearing to make the direction change… perhaps that would stay in tune and also look (somewhat) cool?

What are your thoughts on roller nuts for a Fender?

What are your thoughts on headless guitars like some of the Strandbergs, as they should presumably stay in tune?

Finally, after you mentioned naval brass alloys in another thread I am suddenly really interested in brass! :rofl:

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The roller nut is a great idea, IMHO, but it’s only offered in one neck width and radius, do that’s somewhat limiting.

I don’t have any hands-on experience with the headless guitars, so I really can’t comment on that.

On the headstocks that ‘break’ the string path in the nut, such as a Gibson Les Paul with a Bigsby Vibrato, I’m not sure there’s anything you can do with that design to get it to ‘divebomb.’ They work within reason for gentle vibrato, but I’ve never seen one that could approach a full octave (like my Stratocaster) and return to pitch.

Have you checked out The String Butler??? It kind of does what you describe.

The Floyd Rose really is a great system. My main objective - with the 6 screw tremolo - was mainly to get it to function reliably without routing my guitar for a Floyd and I wanted to share with others what I discovered along the way.

Hope this helps…


Wow just another reminder that it’s all about the money for these companies. Hey after all they are a company formed to make money, it’s just worrying how they have such a hold over our “free speech” online.

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Exactly right, Man…

I totally dig that they are in business to make money, but is one guy’s video really gonna have people steer away from Floyd Rose???


really nice pictures @VonHerndon

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Thanks!!! Hope they help!!!

You are 100% correct about the importance of cutting the nut correctly, regardless of material used. There’s an art to it and it takes skill, but most of the tuning problems do come from a less than skillfully cut nut. Another thing I’ve found is that you should be able to both divebomb and bend behind the nut without the string going out of tune.

Here’s a little diagram and an explanation of how I have my tech cut the nut slots on my guitars.

I will say that I use white TusqXL nuts that are blank and then I have my tech cut them according to the above diagram. I have NEVER found them to be “softer” or to wear down at all, even with years of playing for around 8 hours a day. I also use Big Bends Nut Sauce on the nut and all contact points. There are many things I do to mod my block and saddles, baseplate, bridge screws, etc. and I do use staggered locking Sperzel tuners so I do not need a string tree. But you can use standard tuners and wind them differently to get an adequate break angle without the need for a string tree on the B and high E strings.

I have very solid tuning as you do. If I do left hand bends that flatten the string slightly, a quick dive with the bar either silently or during the course of playing, brings everything back in tune perfectly. And I do mean perfectly…I check it with my Peterson Strobo HD series digital strobe tuners and nothing wavers by even .01 of a cent.

But I must say again, I agree with you that maybe 90% of vintage Fender vibrato system tuning problems occur because of a poorly cut or less than optimally cut nut.

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Wow, thanks so much for sharing this - great information, and very impressive demo!

Out of curiosity, does this setup still have the “big bend takes a string out of tune until you hit the trem bar to reset it” problem? (Demo of it here.)

Every guitar I’ve had with a trem system (including both Floyd Rose and standard Strat trems) has been able to reproduce this problem (tune G string, do a big bend, check tuning - it’s now flat, then hit the trem bar, and it’s back in tune) and I’d be really curious if you’re able to reproduce it on your setup!