Tremolo bridge set up on a PRS SE Dave Navarro
A little time back, I bought what has turned out to be my favourite guitar in my now shrinking arsenal of electric guitars. On a budget, I still can not afford to buy all of my dream guitars, guitar prices being about double here in Norway, sometimes less, sometimes more. So I found a great looking used mint version of the shockingly pretty PRS SE Dave Navarro in sharp white, on Musician's friend. Still, with absurdly high shipping and about 30 % added in local taxes, it was a good purchase. I immediately fell in love with the guitar. The smoothness of the board, the sounds, the looks... everything. It has become my go-to guitar both for practice and gigging.
But it has a bit of a problem, that I realised after a while. It comes out of tune all the time, every time, every minute, with or without using the tremolo. It came with a set-up from MF, so I figured it was allright. I haven't had a pro take look at it, not that I don't respect their work immensely, but I would like to learn proper guitar set-up myself, that is, for me, part of the thing with guitars. And I'm handy and interested, so that's ok.
I had originally wanted so set the action a bit lower, it's a bit high. But then I wondered if maybe the set-up on the tremolo bridge was a source of the tuning problems. It says on the PRS support pages that the height of the tremolo bridge off the body should be 1/16". On my guitar it is now about 12/64", i.e. way too high. Should I unloosen the claws and set it closer to the guitar, will this help with the tuning problems? Any suggestions, input and experience greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Guttorm Andreasen, Oslo, Norway
I e-mailed Dave Navarro's guitar tech (Dan Cleary) and this is what he said: Tell him that the SE models are harder to keep in tune because they are the lower end models. They are great guitars, but a proper set-up and possibly changing the bridge could help significantly.
The Cleary Space Station
May need the nut looking at as that is a common culprit in tuning issues.
The bridge is definately off at 12/64 and if the 6 screws aren't level that's going to cause issues.
When you say the bridge is at 3/16ths do you mean the back of the bridge is tilted up so that it's not parallel? You'll just need to tighten the two claw screws in the back to get it back level. Once you have it level check to see if the 6 screws are all level with each other.
I'd rather someone else helped you with the six screws as I don't have much experience with them and you can potentially ruin the knife edge of the bridge if you're not careful.
However, if you're certain the bridge is fine once the two claw screws are adjusted then i'd be looking at having the nut replaced.
I own an SE Navarro in jet white & I've never had tuning problems in fact it's the most stable SE I own. Not to be patronising but are you stretching strings properly? My guitar tech showed me that I wasn't doing it properly so as soon as I got the SE Navarro I stretched the strings a lot & after a day or so it was perfect & not had any problems yet. Saying that I will still be investing in Phase II locking tuners as I use the trem bar a lot & it will obviously improve tuning. The other nice thing is that aesthetically it will look closer to the US Navarro with locking tuners!
so maybe try stretching & investing in locking tuners as I don't think there is anything wrong with the bridge or nut in SEs although many people seem to think that's the answer. According to my tech SE guitars are fine.
Hope that helps!