Friction Point 2: the String tree
Vintage-style Stats will have just one string tree for the B and E strings, but modern examples generally have a second for the D and G strings. Through careful string winding (see Strings & Tuners) you can get away without using string trees at all.
If you do prefer to use them, then do ensure that the factory spacers are installed under the trees themselves. If the trees are screwed flush with the face of the headstock, the string angle will be too great and the sting will rub excessively against the tree.
Reach for that chrome polish again and buff up the underside of the string tree to make it as smooth as possible. Some players choose to strip the insulating plastic off the wire, thread the string through the centre and then place the plastic under the trees to make things run smoother. Alternatively, another dab of lube can’t do any harm.
Strings and Tuners
New strings always require a settling down period before they’ll stay in tune. You can hasten this process dramatically by giving new strings a thorough stretch. Don’t go too crazy, because you’ll snap them. Just stretch a little at a time, with your fingers under the strings, pulling away from the fretboard. Work along the length of each string, check the tuning and repeat until the string has stopped stretching.
Tuners have often been unjustly blamed for unstable trems. If you have diecast tuners, tighten up the screws holding the buttons on to stiffen them up. Vintage-style tuners tend to be pretty stiff, so they should be fine.
The break angle over the nut is important. The well-known US luthier Dan Erlewine recommends an angle of between 5 and 12 degrees. If the angle is too steep, the strings may catch in their slots; if it’s too shallow you may experience buzzing sounds from behind the nut, and open strings won’t ring cleanly.
You can set the break angle by wrapping the string around the tuner post. If you take it all the way down you can increase the angle, which may allow you to dispense with the string trees. You can also wrap strings upwards to shallow the angle (see pic below).
3. Critical But Stable - Tremolo Workshop