How I Block Trems

Please note:  I make these ONLY for in-shop clients, and DO NOT sell them otherwise. 

Not everyone wants a floating tremolo, but likes having the option of being able to change tunings and have stability along with the comfort offered by these bridges on the picking hand. Having the use of the fine tuners is also a bonus as well.

That being said, many have asked how I block floating trems, particularly Ibanez Edge series trems, and the newer ZR series trems that cannot accept the installation of the popular Tremol-No. These units don’t work with ZR trems because of the overall design difference compared with most floating trems that use the adjustable spring claw. For many years the most common way was utilizing various sizes of wooden blocks, and even things like jamming a 9V battery in between the block and the inside wall of the cavity were commonly seen. These primitive methods work to some degree, but were problematic in that these blocks would sometimes shift slightly if they weren’t secured in place by glue or double-sided tape, and frankly, just looks hack and amateurish.

Initially on the prototype and using my ’91 Ibanez Universe as a tester, I utilized two zinc-plated steel bars, but although completely functional, looked pretty rough and a bit too industrial. Then while buying supplies at a hardware store, I spotted some nice, aluminum ‘L’ extrusion meant to secure door weather stripping, and immediately it struck on me that this would be suitable for my trem block-bar idea. After a few initial drawings and measurements, I came about what is pretty much the final form shown here.

Here is a sample cut-off of the raw aluminum extrusion, shown with the final result.  I will sometimes make these for original Edge and Lo-Pro Edge trems with the slightly wider block, and wound up needing to use two side-by-side, but now utilize a wider sized extrusion for these trems.

Here is the initial main prototype, which hasn’t changed much except for countersunk holes and slight refinement.

Below is one of the prime candidates for the StopBar: an Ibanez RGD with a ZR trem.

First, the bridge is setup and balanced to the correct position.

It is then carefully blocked in place with wood ( or whatever) to temporarily keep the bridge in the correct position, while the two spring retaining screws are removed from the trem block. The two Zero-Return springs and bar are also removed at this time.

Remove the two main tension springs, then remove the four screws holding the main spring tension plate and plastic ZR bar retainer. Pull the whole assembly out in one piece. Keep the bridge grounding wire handy, you’ll need to connect it back later.

Place the StopBar into position.

Using the original spring retaining block screws, fasten it to the trem block.

Punch a small pilot into the wood dead center where you’ll drill.

And this is the only real modification to the guitar; drill two 2mm holes – make certain to mark your screw depth on the bit! 

Using two of the tension plate screws, fasten it down. Don’t forget your ground wire…

Carefully wiggle out your stabilizing blocks…

And you now have a super-securely blocked ZR trem that also looks clean and tidy! Go ahead and press, yank, whack, wiggle, change tuning at will – whatever to that trem – IT DOESN’T BUDGE! Yet, you can still adjust your overall bridge action up and down with no problem.

And for those that don’t like the contrasting look of brushed aluminum against the (usually) black, well, I make them in black too 😉