AV Jag Tremolo Arm Fix
Like many others, my 2002 Fender American Vintage '62 Jaguar has a loose tremolo arm that would just flop around, and sometimes even fall out if I leaned forward far enough. Here are a few ideas to fix that problem . . .
A common complaint about the American Vintage (AV) Jaguars and Jazzmasters is that the trem arms do not fit snugly into the collet that holds them in place. These trem arms do not screw in, but are held in place by a friction fit with the collet in the trem assembly. I've seen vintage Jags and Crafted in Japan (CIJ) Jags where loose trem arms are not a problem - it seems to be an issue with the AV reissues.
One easy solution is to wrap Teflon plumbers' tape (PTFE thread sealing tape, in some circles) around the trem arm and insert it into the collet assembly. As there is little wiggle room (no pun intended) between the trem arm and the walls of the collet assembly, a couple of wraps of plumbers' will snug things up nicely. Unfortunately, this is a temporary solution, as the tape gets ragged, unravels, and generally stops working after a while. The good news is that this stuff is very inexpensive - it's just a pain to keep doing it - over, and over, and over, and over, . . . . Also, you may even expand the collet teeth that provide the friction to keep the trem arm in place - so after a while, the plumbers' tape trick may not be effective at all!
I wanted to come up with a solution that would not be an on-going fix - but where to begin?
For starters, let's take a look under the hood:
While changing my strings one day, I decided to remove the tremolo assembly and see if I could tighten the collet that holds the trem arm in place. I have heard lots of horror stories about how fragile the collets are in the AV reissue Jags and Jazzmasters - many people have snapped off the teeth from the collets by trying to tighten them with pliers. I tried that, too - (very carefully) - but stopped when I heard that fragile *ping!* sound of fatiguing metal. Here's what that effort looked like:
I don't know how long this fix will last,
but it provides just enough pressure to firmly grip the trem arm in place!
Say goodbye to the floppy tremolo arm!
Update - Beveled Washer Fix Ver. 1.1:
Well, I guess my first fix wasn't too permanent . . . it lasted only about a week! When I took the tremolo assembly off to see what went wrong, it did not appear that the washer had slipped, or anything like that. I guess it just got stretched too much to apply the needed pressure.
One again I crafted another reamed beveled washer to grip the collet teeth. This time, however, I removed a little less material from the inside of the washer and placed it more towards the end of the collet teeth - just at the point where the additional pressure is *really* needed to hold the trem arm in place.