The Floyd Rose tremolo/vibrato unit is a guitarist's best friend ONLY when it is set-up properly. Only when it is set-up correctly, will the guitarist be able to abuse it and enjoy the experience. Below, I will try to explain a proper set-up, options where available, and ways to maintain the ("Original") Floyd unit so you won't have to run to your nearest "techie" when you want to try an alternative tuning or a different gauge of strings. The Floyd was designed to act as a "floating" unit, one which has upward and downward mobility, but many of today's and yesterday's players, like Eddie Van Halen, prefer it "bottomed-out" on the guitar's body for a more "tonal" quality from the added surface area contact. So, with this aside, let's begin.....
(Note - All of these photos below are from the '84-'90 Kramer-issued "Floyd Rose Operating and Set-up" manual.)
Putting the strings on:
The Floyd's saddles require that the "balls" of the strings be removed from the string. The best way to do this is with a good set of diagnal cutters (see Figure SG1).
Now, to put the string in the saddle, you have to loosen the "string-lock screws" to allow the "string lock inserts" to slide back within the saddle. The insert must be far enough to slide the string in front of the insert in the saddle (Fig SG2).
I usually try to get the string right in the middle of the saddle so it hits the string groove in the saddle "dead-on". To clamp the string in place, just tighten the "string lock screw". You only have to make this screw snug. Over-tightening it will result in the insert getting cracked and will make it very difficult to remove that string, clamp the string in the saddle the next time, or even to remove the cracked insert for a replacement. Now, to finish putting the string on, the string has to be placed over the nut (easier with the "nut clamping blocks" removed), under the "string retainer" and to its appropriate tuning key (Fig SG3 and SG4).
I always replace all of the strings at once, despite all the rumours that this is difficult to do. To tune the guitar, you will have to tune, and retune the strings several times. An average of 4-6 times is about normal. A pointer here is to have the fine tuners on the bridge at about half its travel, or a little under half its travel downward (clockwise), to allow for a longer fine-tuning range as the strings stretch. Once the guitar is in tune, put the "nut clamping blocks" back on the nut, and tighten them (Fig SG6).
You may notice after the "nut clamping blocks" are tightened, the guitar is no longer in tune, but a few strings are a hair off. If this is the case, retune the slight deviations from being in tune with the fine tuners on the Floyd's baseplate (Fig SG7).
If you run out of tuning range with a fine tuner, you will have to loosen the nut clamp for that string, place the fine tuner back in the middle of its range, do the "gross" tuning with the tuning key, retighten the nut clamp, and then do your fine tuning again at the bridge.
Are you not satisfied with the action of your Floyd Rose unit? Is the rear of the bridge baseplate pointing toward the sky or doing a nose-dive into the body (not parallel with the body)? Are you changing the gauge of the strings from what was previously on there or trying an alternative tuning? If you answered "YES" to any of these, you have to go to the Bridge and Action Adjustments section for further assistance.