Fender design team is garbage

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skern
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Fender design team is garbage

Post by skern » Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:49 am

After finally managing to track down an American Performer Mustang tremolo on eBay, I've come to the conclusion that the team in charge of new designs at Fender are absolute clowns.

The Mustang tremolo works on the same principle as a Strat, that is, a knife edge. The knife edge on previous Mustangs has ranged from passable (some vintage) to bad (some vintage & all the rest except Squier) to nonexistent (Squier). So on the Performer Mustang, they decide to upgrade the tremolo. Instead of having the knife edges in the tremolo plate holes, they use a separate plate with the edges machined in. By testing it with a file, I THINK that this separate plate is hardened steel as the file sort of slips off instead of cutting in. So far, so good.

The problem lies with the tremolo posts themselves. At least compared to my Squier, these are also upgraded in that they have nice grooves for the knife edge to sit in, just like Strat pivot screw. But, as you can see in the image I linked, Fender decided to put big rings on the posts to prevent them from falling through the hole when installing and setting up the tremolo. What they neglected to realize is that the rings are so big that they come in contact with the plate, preventing the grooves in the tremolo posts from riding on the knife edge. So they go through all this hard work to get a nice knife edge in a hardened steel plate, nice grooves in the posts, and at the end of the day, neither of these do anything, and instead what is actually pivoting is the ring on the top of the plate. What a joke.

I'm just gonna cut that ring off. If required, I'll use some sort of temporary object to prevent the post from falling through, though I'm not sure it'll even be necessary. Simple solution for someone like me who doesn't mind modding things to pieces. But it's pretty unacceptable that Fender can market this kind of stuff for $1k and for what? Different pickups, a 3-way toggle, the same ol' neck as always, and a tremolo that is somehow even worse than before?

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SAVEStheDAY
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Re: Fender design team is garbage

Post by SAVEStheDAY » Fri Oct 02, 2020 11:59 am

Well they can't change it too much or everyone will scream that it lost the vintage mojo.

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Horsefeather
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Re: Fender design team is garbage

Post by Horsefeather » Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:54 pm

What if you mounted the hardened plate on top of the main plate instead of under?

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HarlowTheFish
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Re: Fender design team is garbage

Post by HarlowTheFish » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:40 pm

Horsefeather wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:54 pm
What if you mounted the hardened plate on top of the main plate instead of under?
With the way you balance the springs and strings on a Mustang trem, that might cause issues with break angle, range, and stability. It'll also definitely cause issues with the spring pull as you're shortening the distance between where the springs mount to the baseplate (under the bridge) and where they connect to the posts (around an inch and change below it). Without something like this, they already like to fall off without string pressure on my Vintera. It's a very primitive design, which has both some good points like the very unique feel and some drawbacks like adjustability and (often) stability.

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Bradley-Jazz
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Re: Fender design team is garbage

Post by Bradley-Jazz » Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:05 am

Interesting- do you have a photo closeup of the posts in the hole whilst under string tension ?

Could they have, for some reason, have made It so that it is more of a down-only trem, with the posts leaning backwards in the neutral position? (I’m assuming that the rings hit the plate when the bar is pushed down - if that’s not the case, than it just sounds like an all round design balls up!!)
Stop me if you think you've heard this one before....

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skern
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Re: Fender design team is garbage

Post by skern » Sun Oct 04, 2020 11:56 pm

Horsefeather wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:54 pm
What if you mounted the hardened plate on top of the main plate instead of under?
The location of the hardened plate related to the main plate doesn't matter, but flipping it over makes a difference. I realized after I made the post that if the edge is facing up, the rings don't cause a problem, but then the problem is that the lower portion of the post hits the hardened plate when pulling up. I want to have the hardened plate 'upside down' to lower the edge and therefore the tailpiece, and so the ring was the problem and the lower portion was not. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
HarlowTheFish wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:40 pm
With the way you balance the springs and strings on a Mustang trem, that might cause issues with break angle, range, and stability. It'll also definitely cause issues with the spring pull as you're shortening the distance between where the springs mount to the baseplate (under the bridge) and where they connect to the posts (around an inch and change below it). Without something like this, they already like to fall off without string pressure on my Vintera. It's a very primitive design, which has both some good points like the very unique feel and some drawbacks like adjustability and (often) stability.
Yeah, and this is even worse on this Performer tremolo because, with the location of the hardened plate, the edges are even CLOSER to the spring hooks. I have the plate upside down which lowers the edge a bit, but it's trivial, and I did that to lower the overall tailpiece anyway. My solution, and what will hopefully be the final step of this never-ending project, is to install what amounts to mini tremolo claws in the cutouts. I've made some brackets which have a hole for a screw to pass through and a little bar for the spring to hook on to. I'll carve out some extra space in the cutouts (towards the neck) and drill a hole. This has the added benefit of allowing me to finally have control over the tension (which is why I initially made the brackets).
Bradley-Jazz wrote:
Sun Oct 04, 2020 3:05 am
Interesting- do you have a photo closeup of the posts in the hole whilst under string tension ?

Could they have, for some reason, have made It so that it is more of a down-only trem, with the posts leaning backwards in the neutral position? (I’m assuming that the rings hit the plate when the bar is pushed down - if that’s not the case, than it just sounds like an all round design balls up!!)
Even with the posts angled far backwards, the rings were simply too big and the groove could not reach the edge. As mentioned above, I had it upside down which made the rings the issue instead of the lower portion, and flipping it will allow you to at least place the groove on the edge, but with this orientation the lower portion hits the plate after pulling up a tiny bit, and there is nothing to shave down to make it better.

I've already shaved the rings down as far as possible. I can now place the the posts on the knife edge, but when pushing forward I still only have a bit of motion before the ring comes in contact with the hardened plate and starts to pivot. When pulling up, the post hits the back of the hole in the main plate. Another obstacle! But the solution was simple, I just cut the plate to extend these cutouts backward, almost all the way to the edge of the plate. Now I have lots of room in the pulling direction, so my plan is to set the tension so that, at equilibrium, the posts are angled a bit back. This also gets the tailpiece out of the way and lowers it marginally. The whammy bar will be angled up but I'll find a way to bend it. In the future I might try to cut the hardened plate to make room for pushing forward, but that will be a lot more annoying because it's hardened steel, and risky because I don't want to accidentally mess up the edge.

I'll try to take some pictures once I finish.

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