Resurrecting a Floyd Rose
In the Fall of 2009, I spotted on eBay a great deal on a used chrome Floyd Rose. Based on the arm collar, it seemed to be a 1980s Floyd, but it certainly had some issues. It was missing the tremolo arm, four of the saddles, four of the string lock screws, one of the fine tuners, one of the saddle mounting screws and looked like it needed a serious cleaning. No problem - I've done this before many, many times. And this time, I thought I'd document the steps and decisions needed to turn an unusable piece of junk into a German-made, precision tremolo (nice, huh?).
First off, it has to be worth it. What I mean by that, is the "piece of junk" you buy has to be a good deal, because you have to spend some money to get it back into shape. The Floyd Rose I purchased here on eBay, was just $46.95 (plus shipping) - what a deal! It's important to note that a circa-1980s, chrome Floyd Rose in very good to near-mint condition sells between $175-$200 on eBay, depending on the condition and accessories. So it's not a good deal to pay what I did and then invest another $200 in parts! Luckily, I have a lot of Floyd parts laying around, so I usually can save $$ by piecing together some things that already own.
Here are some of the original pictures from eBay of the Floyd I bought:
Floyd Rose on eBay #1
Floyd Rose on eBay #2
Floyd Rose on eBay #3
Floyd Rose on eBay #4
The first thing I had to do when it came in the mail a week later was to assess exactly what parts could be cleaned and salvaged and what new parts had to be purchased. As described in the auction, it didn't appear to have any rust or pitting on the main baseplate. In my opinion, one of the most important parts to a Floyd trem - if not the most important part - are the String Lock Inserts, so these are going to be replaced no matter what (easy decision, as five of the six were missing, anyway...). These little blocks clamp down on the string and if they are grooved, they can lose their grip on the string or even crack.
Refer to the Floyd + Parts table below for all the parts I needed to purchase (and the $$ totals) to complete the project.
STEP 1 ~
Well, it needs a lot of work here. First off, I had to check and see what can be salvaged and cleaned. The stock 42mm Trem Block and the three Block Mounting Screws which hold it to the plate are fine, as well as the Fine Tuner Tension Plate and the Trem Block Shim. The Arm Collar Assembly is a bit scratched up, but I think it can be cleaned and re-used. I also think the two Saddle Assemblies that were included (D/G & A/B) can be cleaned and saved, so I'll have to check my "Floyd Parts Junk Drawer" to see if I have the remaining four chrome saddles already - that would save me a lot of money!
But I do need to buy some things. None of the screws are worth saving, so I went to StewMac.com and already ordered six new String Lock Inserts, String Lock Screws, Saddle Mounting Screws, and Fine Tuner Screws. Luckily, Mighty Mite still makes the screw-in Tremolo Arm, so I ordered new one of those in chrome off of eBay.
The next steps will be to see what I can do with the existing saddles and what I can do to find the four I still need, and also to take the whole thing apart and thoroughly clean it.
STEP 2 ~
The new parts arrived - 6 String Lock Inserts, 6 String Lock Screws, 6 Saddle Mounting Screws, 6 Fine Tuner Screws, and a new Tremolo Arm.
I need to figure out what I'm going to do for saddles and then I'll have to clean the old parts and then put everything back together. In the meantime, I removed the two saddles and all the screws and the baseplate looks good! I just have to separate it from the 42mm trem block and clean everything.
Lastly, I found a great deal on an EVH D-tuna, so I think I'm going to add that to this Floyd, too.
STEP 3 ~
I took block off the baseplate and cleaned everything up. Since there will be some new parts, I only had to scrub the main baseplate, the 42mm Trem Block, the three Block Mounting Screws, the Fine Tuner Tension Plate, and the Trem Block Shim.
And what do I use to clean them with? I use a really stiff vegetable scrubber that I picked up from Target years ago, a toothbrush, a cup of hot soapy water, and Windex. The soapy water and toothbrush get off most of the grime, and the Windex shines up the chrome and gets rid of the rust from the black screws. I still need to piece together the correct six saddles, and I'm waiting for the D-tuna.
STEP 4 ~
I couldn't match the existing two saddles with some of the chrome saddles I had around here, so I went out and purchased a new set of chrome saddles for $60. Remember, replacing saddles on a Floyd isn't as easy as it sounds, as one has to account for the fact the there are three different saddle height levels. The short ones for the two Es, the middle ones for the A and B, and the tall ones for the D and G. And unfortunately, I have found that there are subtle height differences in matching these saddles when piecing together parts from different years and different manufacturers (i.e., Schaller vs. Original vs. Mighty Mite, etc.). While this purchase increases my investment to $180, it makes for a nice clean Floyd and gives me some peace of mind that there will be no issues.
So I have all the parts now. The EVH D-tuna arrived, so now it's just a matter of putting everything together. Loads of fun!
STEP 5 ~
That's it! Everything has been put together. A nice, clean Floyd Rose with an EVH D-tuna and new chrome saddles, as well as new screws. It cost me about $180 ($55 for the baseplate & block, $125 for replacement parts) to put this thing together and if there was a Floyd on eBay that was this clean with a D-tuna, I'm pretty sure it would go for around $200. Not sure yet what I'm going to do with it - or what guitar this will go on, but I love these things.
UPDATE: February 2017
Another great way to clean up these parts and remove rust and grime is by soaking them in pure lemon and/or lime juice for several hours - the citric acid really seems to work well for that. Also, for the really hard jobs, I go with the #4 cleanup hitter: the purple bottle degreaser from the auto parts store! These cleaners have allowed me to save some money on ordering new screws and other miscellaneous parts, since I've saved 20-plus years of these things and now I can totally clean them up. A lot better than Windex, although that works well in getting a nice shine on chrome.
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