How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

how-to's, info, thoughts, and musings direct from the Fly-est Parker
Post Reply
User avatar
Ken Parker
Fly Inventor
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:11 pm
Contact:

How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by Ken Parker »

The Problem:
"I recently wanted to adjust the rotation friction of the vibrato arm and discovered that the set screw in the bridge that controls it is frozen solid."
We did use a steel setscrew which could be corroded, and you suggest.

This shouldn’t be too difficult to address.

Here’s try #1)…...

Get some penetrating oil (Kroil is the best kind, but in the hardware store they’ll only have “Liquid Wrench”0, and see about getting a tiny bit into the trouble spot with a Qtip or eyedropper so you don’t make a mess of it.

Let it work for awhile, maybe stand the guitar on its' head, and repeat a couple times before you try to loosen the setscrew.

While you’re at it, also leak a little bit into the recess in the bridge at the top, around the stainless steel bushing that the bar pushes into.

Try # 2)…..

If you have some mechanical ability and comfort with tools, try the following, and if you don’t, please don’t!

If the latter, perhaps there’s a family member or friend so gifted?

Anyway, what I would do is to find a small nailset or even a nail that fits into the setscrew’s hollow head. The size of the wrench that adjusts this screw is 3/32”, so it would need to be smaller in diameter than that.

Actually, the perfect tool would be a short piece of 3/32” hex key stock. In order to get such a thing, you would cut off one of the usual “L” shaped hex keys with a grinder so you would have a 2 or 3” piece of straight hex key.

Next, you would use the whammy bar to bend the vibrato way “down”, so you can get access to the setscrew without endangering the face of the guitar. (2 person job)

Finally, with the hex key all the way in to the setscrew head recess, and held firmly, nice and straight, you would give the key ONE medium bap with a steel hammer, after which the screw should move normally.

In the event that this works, you would then remove the screw, oil it, or rub it on a candle, and put it back in, where it will likely work fine for evermore!

If this doesn’t work, or if you have damaged the socket head of the setscrew, then other, more complex activities will be required.
"It's not me that designed the Fly guitar, it was all of you guys." - Ken Parker
User avatar
Ken Parker
Fly Inventor
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:11 pm
Contact:

Re: How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by Ken Parker »

This is the setscrew:
F4288A43-104A-403F-BF64-9E945DC02276.jpeg
ED7EDE23-EB5D-4942-956B-385474ED0744.jpeg
10-32 X .250”, with a.050” long hard plastic tip
"It's not me that designed the Fly guitar, it was all of you guys." - Ken Parker
User avatar
Fly Rod
Full Member
Posts: 153
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2021 8:44 am
Location: The Wood Shed

Re: How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by Fly Rod »

Thanks Ken for the great guitars & this Fix.

On my Refined Fly that screw was rusted solid.

As you said I put some penetrant on the head of the set screw & stood the guitar on it's headstock over night in the corner
Used a syringe as not to make a mess
I have many hex head wrenches but they are all quality & in sets BUT I did have one of those sets that are like a pocket knife
Took the 3/32" allen wrench from that set & gave it a smack with my little brass elf hammer & then took the good 3/32" wrench & it came right loose.. Cleaned it & the threaded hole up with solvent & Q-Tips + turned a .177 bore brush in that tiny hole & it's good to go..
BTW I did this when the strings where at slack & wedged a angled pink rubber eraser under the tremolo while working on it..
Also my set screw didn't have the plastic tip & doesn't appear to have ever had one by the way the plastic insert was marked
Might try Ace Hardware for a replacement like the one you showed above..
It's a 2007 BP Deluxe
Thanks Ken
Gary
FLY ROD Formerly FLY Wheel
User avatar
Laughinglarry
Forum Veteran
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:09 pm

Re: How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by Laughinglarry »

Ken, I have a different problem; the set screw can come completely out, no issue with tension on it at all, but the trem arm socket is VERY stiff, even with the screw not making contact. What kind of lubricant is best to use here? (Or is there something else I need to look at?)
Owner since '98, ADDICT since '08
That would be a SWARM...
User avatar
vjmanzo
Site Admin
Posts: 1407
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:35 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by vjmanzo »

Hey @Laughinglarry—I know you targeted this question at Ken, but I’ll chime in ‘cause I had a similar issue once: perhaps you could use a drop of oil at the bottom part of the vibrato arm bushing?
A47EADDF-8B40-42F0-BEFE-1EFEF2B159D7.jpeg
Also, it’s not impossible to unscrew the bottom part from the back, although there’s not a lot of room. If it can be unscrewed, maybe you can pop the top part out from the bottom?
User avatar
Laughinglarry
Forum Veteran
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:09 pm

Re: How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by Laughinglarry »

Thanks VJ! Your answer nearly paralyzed me; I'm overly analytical, and a "drop of oil" could mean SO many things. I have a bunch of specialized lubricants (from Liquid Wrench and PTFE to Lithium Grease and graphite powder), and after NOT doing ANYTHING for several days finally settled on good ol' 3-in-1 oil (it was a toss up between that, sewing machine oil and gun oil). It definitely helped, the arm moves about comparably to my other Flys, so I'm happy. Of course, I'm wondering if any of the other lubricants would have been better, but that's SOP for me... ;)
Owner since '98, ADDICT since '08
That would be a SWARM...
User avatar
vjmanzo
Site Admin
Posts: 1407
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:35 pm
Location: New York, NY
Contact:

Re: How To Fix a Stuck Vibrato Arm Set Screw

Post by vjmanzo »

Laughinglarry wrote: Tue Feb 22, 2022 4:09 pm …a "drop of oil" could mean SO many things.
My inner Italiano paesano says “put a little olive oil on it!” 😝

If @Ken Parker doesn’t reply, I’ll try to ping him about what oil he specifically recommends. 👍🏻
Post Reply