Fix Your Noisy Tremolo Springs Now: Step By Step Guide


Are you experiencing the noise coming from the tremolo springs of your guitar? If that’s the case, you’ve just came to the right place. In this article you’ll see what are the most effective treatments for this issue.

Take a look at the table of contents and find what you’re looking for. Let’s go!

What Are Tremolo Springs?

When it comes to a profession, there are certain terms that are used. Tremolo Springs is one such term that guitarists use that seems really far-fetched for a common man who is not a guitar professional. In simple terms, a “tremolo” system is the vibrato system of a guitar.

The vibrato or the tremolo system comprises tremolo springs, whose primary objective is to counterbalance the strain from the pull of the guitar strings.

These tremolo springs balance the tailpiece or the bridge of the entire system so that the guitar can be played without any hindrance. The springs also provide tension to the tailpiece or the bridge so that it easily returns to the resting position that’s balanced, after the tremolo system is used to change the pitch of the strings.

The act of changing the pitch is also referred to as creating vibrato or a pitch-bend effect or a portamento.

Where Are The Tremolo Springs Located?

In the case of the surface-mount bridge system, such as the one you see in Bigsby, the spring is attached between the tailpiece and the vibrato bar.

For systems that are internally mounted, such as the one you see in a standard Stratocaster or a locking tremolo structure like Floyd Rose, the spring is inserted inside the guitar’s body cavity towards the back.

Check more about Floyd Rose on this site.

Anyway, this spring is then attached to a block that moves. This block is very important to the bridge of the guitar on one side and the claw, at the back of the guitar, on the other side.

Why Are Tremolo Springs Important?

The sound effects that are created by Tremolo Springs have become crucial for many music forms and styles. This system plays a pivotal part in creating a variety of sounds with just a change in the pitch, sounds that cannot be created without the device.

Have you ever heard the “dive-bombing” effect of the 1980s? Well, that wouldn’t have been possible without the tremolo springs!

What Is Tremolo Spring Noise?

Although tremolo springs are very beneficial to create special sound effects, there is a common problem that occurs with this sound system. Many people complain of a sound resonating from the springs whenever they try to play.

The strings tend to vibrate a lot and create loud creaking noises whenever the guitar is being played. The discordant tremolo springs really make the music unsoothing. Below is a video that showcases one such sound.

What Are The Causes of Tremolo Spring Noise?

The original tremolo system designed by Leo Fender faced a lot of criticism from guitarists. These guitarists claimed that the system makes the guitar impossible to be played as it would always remain out-of-tune and make certain unpleasant noises.

Well, there’s some truth to it as a guitar is equipped with the tremolo system.

But the tuning issues associated with the Fender tremolo system has nothing to do with the mechanism at all.

The main cause of tremolo spring noise lies in the tremolo arm. Due to the way it’s constructed, the string is either too stretched or too relaxed.

This makes the string slide right through the nut and other string ‘T’s through which it can pass. So if the string experiences any tension under such circumstances, it will just start acting weird.

You will not be able to get the right pitch once you release the arm, and also there would be unwanted vibrations and weird sounds.

But the primary reason that has been known to cause tremolo spring noise is the prongs hitting the metal plate. So the springs are attached to a metal plate that is screwed to the wooden body of the guitar.

Now when the guitarist plays the guitar, there are vibrations traveling up and down the guitar’s body. This causes the spring to touch the metal plate repeatedly, thus creating the weird noises.

Check more about whether the tremolo arm, or popularly called whammy bar, impose any harm for your guitar.

Ways To Fix Tremolo Spring Noise

Since the tremolo spring noise is a common problem among guitarists, many have come up with amazing solutions to curb the same. Below is an exhaustive list of the ways to cure the tremolo noise. Pick out the one that works perfectly for you.

Rubber Tubing

The first technique that we are going to demonstrate works for guitars with big and serious tremolo systems as well as for the small vintage-styled reserved tremolo mechanisms. All you need to do is insert a rubber tubing. Below are the things that you will require:

  1. 3/16″ rubber tubing – You can easily get it in Home Depot or any other department store
  2. A pair of scissors
  3. A steel ruler

Here’s what you will need to do:

  1. Cut out three (or the number of springs you have in your guitar) 23/8″ sized divisions of the rubber tubing.
  2. Insert each of the cut rubber tubings inside the springs one by one.
  3. Next, do the flick test. Flick each of the springs and see if there’s any sound resonating from them.
  4. If not, go ahead and play your heart out.

Here’s a YouTube video showcasing this particular technique:

Many people misunderstand this simple trick. This is specifically for those guitars in which spring noise is an issue. Many guitars won’t even need this fix.

Some people believe that cushioning the Tremolo springs kills the natural and subtle reverb that originates from the tremolo mechanism. Many guitarists love the warm hum that resonates from the springs.

The mission here is not to wipe that out. If you are okay with the hum and there’s no problem with the pitch changes, then you do not need to cushion your tremolo system.

You only need to do it if there’s a creaking sound from the springs or a constant hum that messes with the pitch. Only under such circumstances that steps must be taken to silence the tremor from the springs.

Cloth

Another easy and effective way is to use cloth. All you need to do is utilize a small piece of cloth to get rid of the creaking sounds from your tremolo systems. Below are the things that you will require:

  1. A small piece of cloth
  2. A screwdriver

Here’s what you will need to do:

  1. With the help of your screwdriver, take out the cover of the tremolo system. Unscrew the six screws and carefully remove the back cover.
  2. Get the cloth and insert it beneath the springs.
  3. Utilize the screwdriver to properly secure the cloth in between the springs.
  4. Next, do the flick test. Flick each of the springs and see if there’s any sound resonating from them.
  5. If not, then put the cover back on and secure the screws.
  6. You are now ready to play.

Heat Shrink Tubing

Heat shrink tubing is also known as heat shrink. Such tubes are made of shrinkable plastic and are commonly used to insulate wires. Such insulations offer abrasion resistance and also protection from the environment to solid and stranded wire conductors, joints, connections, and terminals that are part of electrical work.

They are also used to repair insulation on wires and to couple them together. You can also create cable entry seals with them so as to offer environmental protection.

The heat shrink tubes are made from polyolefin, a material that easily shrinks radially rather than longitudinally when it gets heated. It shrinks to almost one-half or one-sixth of its entire diameter.

These tubes come in handy while fixing the unwanted tremors from the tremolo springs. Many guitarists resort to this simple fix. They use it for guitars as well as in cases for woodwinds key clicking. There are two options when it comes to using heat shrink tubes:

  1. There are thicker varieties of these tubes that are made for heavy electrical work. These can be procured from repair supply stores or maybe from the internet. Small pieces of the same can be inserted into the spring hooks to eliminate the noises.
  2. The other option is a different product that’s called plastic-dip. This product is mostly used as a rubber coating for the handles of repair tools or electrical tools. Once they are painted upon, they harden and turn into flexible plastic coatings.

Packing Foam

Most of us are familiar with packing foams. Whenever you order online, you get packages that are filled with packing foam that protects fragile items.

Routine tremolo players keep small pieces of foam with them that they jam in between the springs. This solves the problem for many. For some, it reduces the noise but doesn’t get rid of it completely. Below is a video that’s doing something similar.

Electric Tape

You can use electric tape. Tiny pieces of electric tape can be wrapped around the strings to stop them from hitting on the metal plate directly, thus eliminating unwanted noise and creaking sounds.

Below is a video that’s doing something similar.

What Is The Best Solution For Fixing Tremolo Spring Noise?

The best solution for the tremolo spring noise is to use Noiseless Springs. These new-age tremolo springs utilize a special polymer that helps to eliminate the unwanted noises that were arising from the earlier versions of the Tremolo system.

These new springs are manufactured in Germany and are capable of slicing any sounds that result from tension on the springs, sounds that have been emanating via the pickups resulting in a tremolo equipped guitar to emit unpleasant sounds.

These springs are made from the new polymer are coated with a substance that eliminates noise even for higher volumes. Hence, they come in handy when you are trying to record music in a studio.

If you are playing professionally, then you should always opt for the heavy gauge strings since you would simply use a few springs and not complicate the scenario.

The heavy gauge springs also come in handy if you are looking for resistance from your tailpiece or bridge.

What Is The Cheapest Way To Fix Noisy Tremolo Springs?

The cheapest way to fix noisy tremolo springs would involve using things that are readily available at homes and do not cost much. What is that one thing in your homes that is always available in abundance and costs very less?

The first thing that might come to our minds is toilet paper, right? It’s always available, it’s cheap, and it’s very good at getting rid of the noise from the tremolo springs.

All you will need is a piece of toilet paper and a screwdriver. Follow the steps below to get the job done:

  1. With the help of your screwdriver, take out the cover of the tremolo system. Unscrew the six screws and carefully remove the back cover.
  2. Get the piece of toilet paper and insert it beneath the springs.
  3. Utilize the screwdriver to properly tuck the toilet paper in between the springs.
  4. Next, do the flick test. Flick each of the springs and see if there’s any sound resonating from them.
  5. If not, then put the cover back on and secure the screws.
  6. You are now ready to play.

Which Are The Best Tremolo Springs?

How does one decide which are the best tremolo springs? To understand that, we will need to understand what tremolo springs are made of.

So springs are made of steel, and the quality and the endurability of the springs would definitely determine the quality of the tremolo springs as well.

The quality of the steel, on the other hand, will determine the quantity of tension that can be applied to the springs. Now, as we have already seen, if the tension enduring quality is not up to the mark in the spring, then the spring will produce a lot of noise.

The guitar will not be able to properly shift pitch under such circumstances. But, on the other hand, if the springs are made from good steel, then it can withstand amazing quantities of tension.

This means that there’s a long time between its occurrence and its reduction. This would lead to the elimination of such unwanted sounds in the tremolo system to some extent.

There are also springs in different sizes. This option helps guitarists with unique designs. Brands such as Ibanez & Jackson have longer size springs.

But if you are looking to return to pitch consistently, then you should check out the springs by Floyd Rose. They offer springs of the same length and tension.

Check them out on Amazon, here.

Final Words

I hope this article helped you in fixing the noise coming from your tremolo springs. If that’s the case, I’m more than happy about it. I hope you enjoyed reading this, as much as I’ve enjoyed writing this article.

Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles from this site about various guitar topics and issues!

Cheers, and rock on!

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