Tuning and Setup Hints
If the guitar is not returning to pitch after using the tremolo arm, put a little lightweight machine oil under the head of each screw (do not loosen the screws). This will effectively oil the knife-edge of the tremolo.
The correct adjustment of the six brass screws, which act as a pivot and anchor the tremolo system, is level with each other so the bridge floats 1/16" off the body. These 6 screws are factory adjusted and you really should not have to adjust them at all. If it becomes necessary to adjust the 6 notched screws, make sure the guitar is detuned or you will ruin the knife-edge. Adjust the screws incrementally so the notches under the screw heads are fitted with the corresponding hole in the bridge. These holes serve as the knife-edge on which the tremolo unit rocks. Again, this is a very tricky adjustment and could ruin the knife-edge if done improperly.
The Bridge saddles should be low in the range of adjustment to keep the action low and leverage of the bridge in good working order. They should be adjusted so that the height of the string at the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string is 2/32". If the tremolo bridge is not floating 1/16" off the body, remove the tremolo back plate. Adjust the claw screws about 1/4 turn at a time until the bridge floats perpendicular to and about 1/16th off the body. Tune to pitch and check, re-adjust until the bridge sits properly.
The intonation may be adjusted by moving the 6 phillips head screws facing the tail end of the guitar in and out with a phillips head screwdriver. Match the octave (fretted) note of all six strings with their corresponding 12th fret open harmonics by shortening or lengthening the strings with the adjusting screws.
Remember to tune and retune until the process is complete.
If you are unfamiliar with making these adjustments, we recommend that the guitar be taken to a qualified repair center.
Preventing Bridge Bite
Anytime you loosen or remove the strings on your tremolo equipped guitar, you want to take steps to protect your guitar's top. See the following video for tips on preventing bridge bite.
About The PRS Tremolo
Back in 1984, Paul Reed Smith was granted a patent on his tremolo system. The design elements are simple and resemble the traditional fulcrum tremolo but with some important differences.
- In the front of a PRS bridge, the six mounting screw holes are counter-sunk from underneath, providing six brass knife-edge fulcrums. These rest against the six notched brass body mounting screws. This knife-edge set-up ensures that the bridge will return to pitch after use.
- The pocket in the tremolo bridge keeps the six individually adjustable saddles from moving sideways, thereby eliminating another traditional cause of tuning instability.
- The tremolo block is drilled out so the ball ends rest right up under the bridge base plate. This leaves less string behind the bridge saddle so there is less chance of detuning.
- There are no rough edges.
- The bridge is made of brass, a metal that rings beautifully. The block, intonation screws, height-adjustment screws, and the string slots on the saddles are all left un-plated for increased sustain and fidelity of tone.
- The unthreaded tremolo arm fits into a hard plastic sleeve staying where you put it, via a small set screw on the side of the bridge that faces the tail end of the guitar (where the intonation adjustment screws are located) therefore it will not wobble or break off in the block.
The Gen III Trem functions in all the same ways as PRS’s patented tremolo always has, and includes two notable design updates. Both of these updates maximize the transfer of the strings’ vibration through the bridge and into the body of the guitar, supporting the fidelity of the guitar’s tone and maximizing sustain.
- The screw has larger thread and a custom head design, creating more mass and more contact from the screw to the bridge and the bridge to the guitar’s body.
- Grooves have been added to the bridge plate. The grooves are radiused to match the radius of the height adjustment screws, again so there is more contact and a better fit.
- A. The mounting screw holes are countersunk from underneath, creating a knife-edge set-up that ensures the bridge will return to pitch after use.
- B. The bridge’s sidewalls create a pocket that keeps the six individually adjustable saddles from moving sideways, thereby eliminating another traditional cause of tuning instability.
- C. The saddles feature a compound radius so that the string breaks across the saddle at the optimum angle for contact and vibration transfer through the bridge. The Private Stock Gen III Trem also features locking saddles. These saddles hold the ball ends in place preventing any movement in the block and further ensuring the guitar returns to pitch after use.
- D. The tremolo arm is unthreaded and features a small set screw that allows the player to customize the feel of the arm and find a comfortable playing position.
The Gen III trem also has a few notable updates that further support the fidelity of the guitar’s tone and maximize sustain.
- E. The mounting screws have been redesigned with larger thread and a larger custom head. This added mass creates more contact from the screw to the bridge and the guitar’s body, resulting in greater sustain.
- F. Grooves have been added to the bridge plate. The grooves are radiused to match the radius of the height adjustment screws, again so there is more contact and a better fit.
I. John Mann bridge (Gen I)
Approximate years in production: 1985 – 1995.
II. PRS Patented Tremolo (Gen II)
Approximate years in production: 1993 – current.
III. PRS Gen III Patented Tremolo
Offered in Core production via the "58/15" limited run in 2015.
IV. PRS Gen III Patented Tremolo with locking saddles
Offered through the Private Stock program beginning in 2011.