Hello JAMM Friends and Fans,
I’ve experienced a mechanical failure of my tremolo system and it’s brought to the forefront an age old argument among Musicians: Latest Tech vs. Vintage. Seems to me that there’s an ebb and flow to the gear industry as a whole and that trends can be as influential in what Artist/Musicians use, as can application and practicality etc. Personally I like to think that I’m somewhere in the middle, trying to strike a balance between the latest technology and some of the vintage, or old school, gear that I’ve come to love, understand and rely on. Musical instruments, equipment and gear in general continue to advance at an amazing rate, making staying up on the latest innovations a small exercise in itself. One only has to go to The NAMM Show to get dazzled by all of the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets and oh yeah gear!
Ok, ok, back to my original point and what triggered this little rant: the failure of a $5.00 USD, size of a paper clip and should have cost $0.05, piece of equipment called a ‘spring clip.’ Now this spring clip allows one to ‘pop’ the tremolo arm in and out of the tail piece, on my American Deluxe HSS Stratocaster without having to screw and unscrew the arm as in traditional tremolo systems. It’s a great innovation as far as practicality and not having the risk of cross-threading ones arm. It goes in and out in a split second and with the couple of set-screws one can adjust the amount of play that’s in the arm. Kind of the same thing like how far down one tightens the tremolo arm on a traditional system. One other huge benefit is that it won’t unscrew itself during the course of ones show, nope, it just goes round and round and round! That’s the good news…
On the flip side, this little clip broke on me during a show and I only realized it when my tremolo arm suddenly fell out. After I figured out what had happened, I set about getting another clip and after reading a couple of blogs, thought that I should be able to change it out myself. So I called Fender only to find out that they don’t sell parts, duh, only dealers etc and they recommended a couple of places that about as far away as the Factory in Corona, CA is from me: 20 miles. So I looked up someone local (Gear Hounds Murrieta, CA) and gave them a shout out to find out that the part is available and it’s two months backordered. Ah, it ended up taking three months to get the clips, I’d ordered two…smart me ay.
Well that was the easy part, actually, taking apart and removing the tremolo wasn’t hard at all and I figured to be done with this repair in just a few minutes, yes score one for DIYS guy right? Freaking Wrong, after a couple of minutes of unsuccessfully trying to ‘pop’ the spring clip into place, I got a small penlight to take a look into the slot
at the base of the tailpiece where the clip should fit. To my horror I can see about 1/16 of the end of the spring clip coming out of the hole in the back of the slot where it sits. I immediately realized that I’ve got a huge problem, the slot is only the width of a hacksaw blade and I don’t know of any tool that one could use to get in there and pull it out.
Since I don’t have a micrometer I went and got the smallest drill bit that I have, it’s 1/16 in. and was almost twice the size of the spring clip. So I’m ordering some wire gauge drill bits and am planning on either a) drilling out the remains of the original spring clip, which I’ve filed down flush with the surface or if
that’s not successful b) drill another hole on the other side of the slot and see if I can install the clip in reverse and still get it to function properly. Stay tuned for part two of this post and I’ll let you know how things turn out,