Friday, July 4, 2008

How to intonate Ibanez Zero Resistance (ZR) tremolo

So you just got a new guitar, and someone might have told you that the first thing you wanna do is to tune it up. Sounds reasonable, right? No, it's wrong. Yep, that's not the first thing you wanna do, unless you're only playing open strings. You want to intonate it first!

Why, you may ask. Well if your guitar is not intonated correctly, all the fretted notes will be slightly (or severely) sharp or flat, even though your open notes might be perfectly in tune. To determine if you need this tutorial or not, try this on your guitar. Use a tuner and tune your G string (hee hee) to perfection. Then fret on the 12th fret, this should also be G. If your tuner tells you otherwise, then you need to intonate your guitar.

Ok here's the deal, I'm not new to intonating guitars, but I'm new to intonating a Floyd Rose equipped guitar (though technically, ZR is not related to FR) I tried to search for tutorials on the internet but I couldn't find any. The ZR is also different from my Edge tremolos so it took me some long ass time to figure out what the hell is going on with this supposedly best tremolo from Ibanez. I decided to throw up this article just in case someone needs it.

Enough blabbering, let's get to work! Now that you've decided that your git needs some intonation makeover, let's grab your Allen wrenches and your S470 or whatever (I have an S470DX and an S1620, sweet gits) First, let's work on the G string coz that's my favorite. Tune it to perfect G, then fret on the 12th, if the note is sharp, you need to lengthen your string aka pulling the bridge farther away from the neck, and vice versa.

How do you lengthen your string? First, loosen your locking nuts and unwind your tuning peg until the G string is totally loose.

Then, you'll want to unscrew a big screw on the side of your bridge, and screw into the back on the piece that is holding the G string.

Then, using a small sized allen wrench, loosen the screw on the bridge, right underneath your G string. This allen wrench should be included with your guitar. If not, go get a multi-sized pack at Radio Shack.

Now you can move the metal piece back and forth easily by pulling on your screw on the back. But since we supposed that your 12th fretted note was sharp and we need to lengthen the string, we will want to pull on the screw away from the pickup. This way, the distance between the bridge and the nuts is lengthen, thus making the string "longer".

How far you want to pull is totally practiced estimation. After pulling it far enough, let's tighten it up, tune the string again, try the note at 12th fret. If it's still sharp, you need to repeat the whole process again and pull the bridge even farther. Notice that at some point, it might seem like you're pulling it too far away and the screw is not gonna hold it. Don't worry, pull it even more and you'll see that there's a second hole to put your screw in, giving you even more room to adjust.

That's it for now. Hope your guitar is intonated. This is very important because playing a poorly intonated guitar will quickly destroy your sense of pitch and, consequently, your guitar playing.