Changing Strings on Zachary Tremolo Guitars

Owner's Manual

Fender Custom Shop

You will find that the locking tuners I use are amazing in terms of simplicity of design, functionality and light weight. As some may know simplicity really intrigues me in everything that I do and these tuners are so good, so absolutely perfect, so much better than anything else, that if I would have designed some locking tuners, these would be it.

Again never do anything stupid when handling your guitar. Severe and irreversible damage may occur and then you will be unhappy. If you lack knowledge and experience you could be facing disaster. Although these tuners are very simple to use, you should know a few things about them. I just don't want you to do anything dumb or impulsive.

Basic Operation

The tuners have a little rod inside of them which automatically locks the string as the tuner is tightened. This rod is threaded inside the tuner and as you tighten the tuning peg and start winding the string, the little rod gets threaded against the string at the same time at a great force to lock the sting in the tuner shaft. Conversely, when you detune your guitar, the threaded shaft inside the tuner will automatically loosen and release the string. Or it should anyway.

As simple as this, however it may not work just as perfectly each time and you must know a few more things, especially if you are not mechanically inclined at all, this may seem like rocket science to you.

Many times the locking rod in the tuner shaft will get stock with the string and will not release the string. You will be scratching your head as to what to do. You may then think of going to the garage and getting a screwdriver because you see a slot on top of each tuner. If you ever ever think of using a screwdriver on your tuners or anywhere else on your guitar for that matter, the gates of Hell should open up for you. You deserve a severe fate of eternal damnation.

What you do is make your own screwdriver out of a thicker plastic pick. You can get fancy and sand one side of an old pick so that it is completely flat if you like. It will work better in this way. The pick is what you use as a screw driver and if the string will not be disengaged, then all you do is put this plastic pick in the tuner slot on the top of the tuner and try to make the tuner not turn on top as you are detuning the tuner with the tuner button at the same time. This will release the locking rod inside the tuner and it will come free from the string. Make sure you turn the tuner in the right direction and make the slot on top of the tuner not turn. This will disengage it from the string.

A few suggestions

I would strongly recommend that you always string one string at a time. This way you will not loose the position of the tremolo in relation to the top of the guitar. If the tremolo falls on an angle then you will need to use a longer starting string length with your new string and this means that it will wind around the tuner much more. This defeats the purpose of a locking tuner, which needs a very little wrap to work at its best.

So change one string at a time.

If you really need to remove all the strings at the same time, for whatever reason that may be, then do this. You must make yourself a little wood or plastic, non-damaging shim to put underneath the back of your tremolo. The trem will sit on this shim and be pulled on it by the force of the springs. You do this in order to support the trem against the pull of the springs and in order to maintain the relative angle of the bridge in relation to the guitar top. If you use a support shim then make one which will support the bridge a little bit angled upward. That is the best for string changes.

Actually changing the strings

Detune the old string, so that you unwrap the sting from the tuner. If the string releases then fine, remove the the old string. If it does not release, then use the trick with the plastic pick to stop the top of the tuner from turning as you detune the tuner. This will release the string.

Remove the string from the guitar

Thread a new string through the bridge, make sure its seated all the way in the trem block and then position the tuner so that the opening of the tuner is straight in line with the string direction.

Put the string under the string retainer.

Pull the string through the tuner shaft and pull it tightly with your hand as you simultaneously tune or tighten the tuner as if you were sharpening the pitch. You can use a string winder but be sure you don't scratch the headstock of your guitar, some of those string winders are crap and loose. Make sure you turn the tuner button in the right direction.

Tune the new string fully to pitch.

If you did things right then the new string when tuned to pitch should not wrap more then 3/4 of the way around the tuner.

Now go and change the next string.

Tuning Stability (stretching the strings)

Do Zachary guitars go out of tune even with their amazing tuning stability, tremolo set up and Mission Impossible nut???

Yes they do but only if the strings are not stretched. The strings will never go out of tune due to the tremolo unit or the nut or the string retainers. The guitar will only go out of tune if the strings are not stabilized and were not stretched.

So each time you change a string you must stretch the string. To do this, after tuning the new string to pitch the first time, you simply pull up in the middle of the string length (the middle of the fingerboard). This will detune the string as you will see. Now, tune it to pitch again and stretch it again by pulling up on it again. The string may get detuned again. Tune it to pitch again and repeat this stretching procedure several times.

You will find that the strings with the thicker cores will stretch the most, especially the (wound 6th, 5th), and the (unwound 3rd) string will need the most stretching. Be careful not to pull up too much on the strings with thin cores like the (wound 4th and plain 2nd and 1st), because you will break them. Just pull up on these gently.

If your strings are fully stretched, you will enjoy the famous Zachary tuning stability.

Set up

Remember that the tremolo on Zachary guitars are fully floating and the tremolo plate angle should be exactly parallel to the guitar top.

Also remember that all Zachary guitars are set up with Zachary Optimum Gauges (ZOG) strings. You must use the same brand and gauge of strings or your trem will not work at all. You can use a heavier set such as ZOG 11 but then the trem springs will have to be tightened to compensate for the increase in string tension.

You however cannot use lighter strings than ZOG 10. The tremolo will simply not work.

Frequency of string changes

I ma not big on changing strings. I only change strings as they break. You will find that the high E will break first and maybe another of the thin core strings but usually you will not need to change the other strings. Don't be neurotic with string changes. The less the guitars are fiddled with the happier they will be.