View Full Version : Replace tremolo springs?

07-16-2009, 11:51 AM

I have a question about how often one needs to replace the tremolo spring in the back cavity of the tremolo. I have a Fender CIJ 50s Strat with vintage style bridge/tremolo.

The reason I ask is because my guitar constantly gets out of tune when I use the tremolo arm. I've replaced the tuning machines, the nut is new and filed according to my string gauge, I have a non-floating bridge with new saddles (Callaham Vintage Fender bridge). All six plate screws are fastened all the way down and the claw is tightened so that the bridge is more or less flat on the body. I have done all I can to make sure that everything flows as effortlessly as possible but I have a feeling that the springs either gets more elastic or that the two screws holding the claw might be eating their way out of the wood (although it doesn't seem like they do).

Please, any suggestions is much welcomed!


07-16-2009, 02:37 PM
I think you will find that floating trem will out perform a non floating trem if you use the bar.

I used top always go out of tune when using teh bar until I made it float.

The trick is to make it float to where the high E will go up to the pitch "F", the B string go up to C#(a whole step) and the G to go up to the pitch B flat(a minor third).

If you do that and the nut is correctly cut the guitar will play in tune with a callaham bridge because those have a good knife edge.

07-16-2009, 04:02 PM
I thought that a floating trem would be even harder to keep tuned... or so that's what I've always read. Aren't vintage style trems supposed to be non-floating?

Anyway... Do one have to replace the trem springs regularly... like, say, amp tubes?

07-16-2009, 09:41 PM
The bridge was designed to float. The springs don't wear out.

S Mac

07-16-2009, 10:11 PM
Generally letting the back end of the plate up just a tad- that is floating- seems to work better for most folks. Ixnay on tightly screwing down the 6 screws at the front. Quite frankly most of the adjustments you describe seem like they will cause tuning problems. There is a method for properly adjusting the 6 screws- check the Fender setup guides on their site- I can't quite describe it but essentially you set the two outer screws so they are just above pushing down the front of the trem and raise the 4 inner some more. The idea is less friction and no pressure on the bridge so it can come back to a neutral and normal resting spot. Lubricating the nut and the pivot points at the bridge are common tricks, as well as any part the strings touch. Sometimes you may have to help the bridge come back with a little pull on the arm. Dump the inner string tree on the headstock and folks who are really persnickity learn to adjust the number of wraps on the tuners so you can a) dump that tree on the G & D strings and b) so that all the strings have pretty siimilar angles from the nut to the tuners/string tree. Of course you are stretching your strings and if you hear any chirps/pings when tuning you know the strings are hanging up at the nut.

Some folks will tell you metal fatigue can affect the springs over long periods of time-but in the situation you describe they have nothing to do with your tuning stability. My guess is that they probably are best set so there is some stretch in the springs at rest rather that only when you use the bar and the number of springs as well as how you have the claw adjusted relates to the gauge and particular strings you use. Of course the catch with a float however slight is that if you bust a string you are out of tune and tuning in general is complicated by the bridge moving, but that's inherent in the design.

07-17-2009, 10:32 AM
Ok, thanks for the help!

07-17-2009, 01:29 PM
I've replaced the tuning machinesWith locking tuners? It's possible, but with normal tuners you're releasing tension on the wraps so the string rarely settles the same way.

07-17-2009, 02:44 PM
No. I've just replaced the old Gotho tuners with new ones. The old were beginning to loosen...

07-30-2009, 04:32 AM
I don;'t believe the bridge should be absolutely flat to the body unless you wanted to make it a hard tail .

I would try to loosen the 2 claw screws a very little at a time,making sure you it stay in tune and you don't get any buzzing up the neck check it as you go.

Also I would try big bends nut sauce it does help.

GM Reszel
07-30-2009, 06:05 AM
A big misunderstanding is that tuners are the culprit of trem tuning woes.

Tuners do not slip children. They have a high gear ratio. If the tuning post wouldn't break off a person could hang from it and they wouldn't slip. Provided the tuning gears are sound and the player tunes up into the note tuners don't slip. Locking tuners are a big seller and are just convenient (apparently) so you don't have so many wraps.

As far as windings not settling the same, no - they don't move. I've taken the bar and dropped it and watched the windings and there's no movement on the winds whatsoever.

The biggest culprit is slack storage (friction) and improper setups.

Where that is regarded the bridge stays in tune best when floating. If there is any slack storage at the nut (primary problem) or at the saddles one is able to warble the strings into tune that way. If you can only drop the bar they will always come back sharp even with the most slippery nut sauce (because of string over nut angle and string trees if you have them). However I used to play with succes flat setting the bridge when I would 'whammy it into tune'. I think that's how flat set players did it like SRV or Eddie (before floyds and he used very loose nut slots).
Flat set bridge: I would drop the bar and let the strings sharp into tune on my tuner. The drawback is they would sharp into tune supported by the slack storage, so as soon as you bent a note they went flat. So I would do a quick little bar drop and all the strings would equalize back into tune which wasn't a bad way to go (but it got kind of annoying coming out of every solo with the bar jerk thing).
With a properly lubed nut (3 in 1 is much cheaper than the sales pitched lubes btw) the sharpness and instability in this setup was minimized but for many years I've earned my keep with a floating bridge and stock Klusons.

This seemingly departs from the spring queston but hopefully addresses your tuning woes. Float that bridge and use it - Leo knew what he was doing when he devised it.

Bill M
07-30-2009, 08:57 PM
muff77, you mention that your bridge sits on the body MORE or LESS. Your problem could be trem block clearance. With your springs tightened down where you normally set them, look in the back at your block and see if it is touching the wood anywhere, if it is then that is your problem.

Boris Bubbanov
08-11-2009, 12:33 PM
No, the springs will not wear out in our lifetimes - unless someone has tampered with them, they are fine.

I would re-evaluate, perhaps with the help of a really good tech:

1) The way you are stringing up those Gotoh split shafts; and

2) The actually manner in which the nut is cut.

Finally, establish whether you have loosening fasteners at the neck join. I feel like you're having more tuning issues than I can attribute to that stock CIJ bridge no matter how it is set up. Unless the mount screws are working loose in the wood, of course.

08-12-2009, 08:12 PM
I always seem to be the guy to ask the obvious question: are you stretching your strings till they won't stretch any more when you install them? You'd be surprised at how many players don't know about this simple step.


08-12-2009, 09:02 PM
Other possibilities:

Bad strings (coming unwound at the ball end)
Strings not strung properly and slipping on the tuners

08-13-2009, 01:42 AM
Thanks for your help guys! I think the problem might be that I haven't found the right sweetspot for the bridge - float/no-float - and that the nut might need some lub or the slots needs to be filed/adjusted.


08-17-2009, 05:19 PM
This has been beat to death, but here goes my experience. Non locking trems need to float somewhat, so that you can correct the slack storage behind the nut after use.

I assuming that your guitar is out of tune after use with certain string being sharp. If they are flat, the problem is the re-settling of the ball end in the block. If they are (more likely) sharp, the problem is slack storage behind the nut. All the lube in the world will not cure this, because the real source is the string wraps being released slightly when you depress the bar and not settling in the same spot when the bar is released.

The benefit of the float is that you can very often press on the bridge with the back of your hand and that slight amount of back pressure will reseat the strings in tune. Now when I saw press, I mean more like bouncing you hand off the tailpiece. It should be quick enough that you can do it while playing and it should be virtually unnoticeable.

The locking tuners eliminate this because there are no wraps to unwind. They store far less or no slack. But if you chose to go with standard tuners, the above method helps alot.

08-18-2009, 10:47 PM
I don't think you answered my question, are you stretching the strings out good when installing? This is often a problem. My apologies if you already know this.