You are currently viewing How to Restring Floyd Rose – The Best Way With 10 Simple Steps

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Justin Thomas

Author: DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 23 years. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist.

A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia.

displays Edward Bond and Gibson Guitar

Editor: Edward Bond

Edward has been playing the guitar since 2002. So Edward has over 20 years of experience as a guitarist, has authored 15 guitar books, has written for renowned music blogs, and spent a decade teaching music. He began merging his passion for writing and music in 2020 and has written for big guitar websites such as Guitar Head Publishing and KillerGuitarRigs.com.

Originally from Seattle, Edward moved to Norway in 2021 for a master’s in music. He’s studied at the Jazz Institute Berlin and Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and currently resides in Trondheim. His education includes a European Jazz Master’s, a diploma in Film and Game Scoring from Sofia, and a Bachelor’s in Jazz from University of Oregon.

Edward has played in numerous bands and currently, Edward works on his own project Starship Infinity

But jokes aside…

Congratulations, you just got a shiny new guitar equipped with a Floyd Rose bridge. Everything looks perfect on it. Looking at the bridge, you realize someone has cut the ball ends off the strings. What is going on here?!?

That’s precisely what I did when I got my first guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge. It was the best guitar I had at the time, and I played it every day. However, I was at a loss when it came time to change the strings. I had no idea how it worked. This was before “Google” was a verb. I had dial-up internet (yeah, I’m old), and I had difficulty finding any help from the internet. 

I decided to dive head-first and learn myself. I grabbed my tools and slowly began to figure out how it worked. It took me hours to change that first set of strings, but by the time I had finished, I had learned some valuable lessons (never remove all the strings simultaneously, for example). 

Since I now have several guitars with Floyd Rose-style bridges, I still find myself changing the strings on them regularly. This article is something that I wish I had access to back when I did that first string change. 

Let’s review what you must do to restring your guitar with Floyd Rose bridge. 


Restring Floyd Rose Using These 10 simple Steps

Quick overview of Floyd Rose string change:

  1. Prepare and gather the needed equipment
  2. Divebomb! (block the tremolo)
  3. Remove the locking nut and old strings
  4. Clean the fretboard
  5. Clip the ball ends on the new strings
  6. Install the new strings
  7. Wind and tune
  8. Repeat 
  9. Stretch strings
  10. Lock nut and fine-tune

1. Prepare and Gather The Equipment Needed

First, you will need a clear space and the following equipment:

Equipment checklist for how to restring floyd rose
Equipment check-list for your Floyd Rose string change
  • New strings
  • Hex keys (Allen wrenches) – usually 3 mm or 2.5 mm (or better yet a Guitar/Bass Multi-Tool)
  • Tremolo arm (if not already attached)
  • Wire cutters
  • String winder
  • Microfiber cloth
  • AAA battery (optional)
  • Fretboard conditioner or lemon oil (optional)
  • Graphite nut lubricant (optional)

You can also purchase a very useful Musician’s Tool Kit which should have everything you need

*Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

2. Divebomb! (block the tremolo) – Cards

Once you have your materials, you’ll want to insert the tremolo arm (whammy bar) into the bridge if you haven’t done so already. We’re going to be using it a lot. If you don’t have the tremolo arm, you can block the tremolo upright by removing the backplate from your guitar and sliding the edge of it under your bridge.

Whether you want to use a tremolo setup block is totally up to you. A tremolo setup block is a device (AAA batteries, the backplate of the guitar, a piece of wood, etc.) that keeps the tremolo bridge locked in one place. It doesn’t allow the bridge to move, and therefore it can sometimes make things easier when changing the strings. 

And then the card tricks….(check the caption of the image and please let us know in the comments if you know any Floyd Rose restring magic tricks…)

deck of playing cards is an excellent tremolo setup block
A deck of cards makes an excellent adjustable tremolo setup block….and you can play solitaire during the drum solo too

Some folks will also use an AAA battery placed under the bridge. Be careful not to damage your finish if you use this method. 

Either way, you’ll need some way to move the bridge upward. We will change one string at a time, so using the tremolo arm is the best method. Ensure you have a clear workbench and lay the guitar on its back.

Pro tip: You’ll want to set all the fine tuners to where they are right in the middle. In other words, ensure they have equal travel when loosened or tightened. You’ll thank me later!

3. Remove the Locking Nut and Old Strings

Loosen the locks on the nut using the 3 mm hex key and remove them. These lock the strings to keep them from going out of tune. Set them to the side in a safe place.

removing locking nut with hex key (allen key)
Removing or fixing back the locking nut (all depends on how you look at this image, I guess)

Using the string winder, unwind the Low E string from its tuner. Once unwound, you can clip the string around the bridge to free it from the retention bar.

unwinding guitar strings
Loosen the strings enough to unwind them from the tuning posts, careful of the sharp ends on cut strings

Using your 3 mm hex key, loosen the screw on the bridge corresponding to the string you wish to remove – in this case, the low E string. This will loosen the string in the saddle so you can fully remove it from the guitar. You may need to push down on the tremolo arm to access the screws.

loosening the saddle blocks on a floyd rose whilst restringing a guitar
Loosening the saddle blocks. A guitar tool like this is a perfect investment to save time looking around in the dark on stage.

Pro Tip: Changing one string at a time is crucial! It will save you from having to rebalance the bridge later!

After removing the string, you can use the cloth and fretboard conditioner to clean around the frets. You can also wipe off the guitar body and around the pickups.

cleaning the fretboard when the strings are off
Always a good time for a thorough clean

5. Clip the Ball Ends on the New Strings

Remove the new low E string from its packaging. Using your wire cutters, clip off the ball on the end of the string. This is a necessary step! 

clipping off the ball ends to fit in your floyd rose floating bridge
Clip just above the twists to ensure a good secure setting

6. Install New Strings

Insert the end of the string that once had the ball on it into the saddle. A tiny metal block is inside the saddle – make sure the string sits between the small metal block and the saddle. 

Use your tremolo arm to pitch the bridge forward so you can access the set screw. Using your 3 mm hex key, tighten the screw to a snug fit. 

placing your clipped string back in your floyd rose
Putting the string into the saddle block

Pro Tip: Do not overtighten, as it may damage the saddle or the set screw. 

7. Wind and Tune

Run the other end of the string through the nut slot and under the retention bar. You can also take this time to apply a graphite nut lubricant if you want. Run it through the tuning peg and tune the string to pitch. 

Pro Tip: Don’t worry – it WILL go out of tune while replacing the other strings. 

8. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-7, changing each string one at a time. I like to work from the outside in (Low E, High E, A, B, D, G). This keeps even tension on both sides of the bridge.

Pro Tip: Always tune the new string to pitch before moving on to the following string. 

9. Stretch strings

Electric Guitar String Change - Stretch The Strings

Once all of your strings are changed, stretching them to help them stay in tune is essential. You can do this easily by working the tremolo arm up and down. 

You can also put your finger on a string and slide it up and down the neck while gently pulling up on the string around the pickups. This is a more effective method. Once you’re done stretching your strings, tune them all to pitch. 

10. Lock the nut and fine-tune.

Using your 3 mm hex key, tighten the locks back on the nut. Remember that the Low E and A strings may get pulled slightly out of tune when you tighten them down. It doesn’t take much force to lock it. 

If it bothers you, you can place the tip of a small flathead screwdriver between the lock and the nut frame while tightening it. You’ll then want to check your tuning. You can use your fine tuners to return your strings to their pitch. 

Here’s a video of the whole Floyd Rose String Change process:

Useful visual reference for restringing a Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo system

5 Pro Tips for Smooth Floyd Rose String Change

  • Do not change all strings at one time! This will save you a ton of time later!
  • Ensure that the fine tuners have equal travel up and down before starting. This will help you fine-tune it when finished by giving you an equal distance to raise or lower the pitch.
  • You don’t need to block the tremolo. If you do, be sure to remove it when doing any tuning.
  • If you’re changing string gauges, you may have to rebalance the bridge due to a change in tension. This is done by tightening or loosening the springs.
  • When finished, you want the top of the bridge to be parallel to the guitar body. This ensures the bridge is balanced.

Conclusion

Changing strings on a Floyd Rose is more involved, but it isn’t difficult if you do it right! Once you get the process down, performing a string change on a Floyd Rose becomes easier and easier. 

Playing with a Floyd Rose bridge can really change the way you play. You can punctuate leads with dive bombs and accentuate your tone with shrill pull-ups. It is a tool you can use to create completely different sounds, almost like a completely different instrument itself. If you don’t believe me, watch how Steve Vai makes it look easy! 

We hope this guide has removed some of the headaches from restring your Floyd Rose. As always, happy shredding from all of us here at guitaristnextdoor.com! 


FAQs

What Strings Are Best For Floyd Rose?

You can use any strings you wish on a Floyd Rose. I have used everything from .09-.42 (ultralight) to .12-.58 (heavy) on my guitars with no problem. The thing is, you have to balance string tension and spring tension. It takes patience and practice, but it can be done!

How Often Should You Change Strings to Guitar With Floyd Rose?

This depends on how often and intensely you play. You should change your strings more often if you play every day. If you don’t play that often, it is recommended that you change your strings every 2 months.

Are Guitars With Floyd Rose Hard to Restring?

They are more challenging to restring than guitars with string-thru or hardtail bridges. Floyd Rose bridges “float” on a pivot point and require spring tension to keep the strings in tune. While the process is more involved, it gets easier the more you do it.

What is Floyd Rose Speedloader?

The Floyd Rose Speedloader was designed to improve the original design by helping facilitate faster string changes. They used proprietary strings with special ends that snapped into the bridge. You could change all the guitar strings in under a minute.

It didn’t catch on because the strings were proprietary and hard to find. Besides – clipping the ball end of a string isn’t a big deal to most players.

Can You Restring Floyd Rose Without Cutting Strings?

Some players flip the ball and put the string on backward. However, this is not recommended because the top of the string is not reinforced like the ball end. This can lead to tuning problems and string breakage. 

What to Keep In Mind When Changing String Gauge to Floyd Rose Guitar?

You need to balance string tension with spring tension. You must increase your spring tension if you are going to a heavier gauge string. If you are going to a lighter gauge, loosen the springs. 

Should Beginners Avoid Guitars With Floyd Rose Bridges?

I recommend beginners start with something other than a Floyd Rose bridge simply because they can be very frustrating to deal with if something goes wrong. Beginners should first learn how to change strings on a hardtail bridge to prevent them from getting frustrated.

DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 25 years and teaching guitar since High-School. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist. A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia. Expertise: teaching guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amplifiers, guide pedals, flatpicking, bluegrass, metal, rock, and blues.
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