Easy question: How to make a strat trem arm move easier? (springs)

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by JonW, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. JonW

    JonW Member

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    Please excuse the simple question. I googled this one and could not find too much info, although it’s got to be out there.

    I like the floppy trem on my Jazzmaster. You can wiggle the stick a lot, with little effort, and get subtle pitch changing effects. It’s really nice.

    So I got myself a new MIM standard Strat because, well, everyone should have a strat, I guess. The strat trem arm takes a lot of force to move, much more than the Jazzmaster. It moves fine but it’s harder to be subtle like on the Jazzmaster. The strat came with 3 springs in it. The middle string was straight. The left and right were angled. I read that the trem arm will move more easily with fewer springs. So I went from 3 to 2 springs. And I straightened out the 2 springs so that they are under less tension. Then I adjusted the claw (?) screws to keep the string height OK. The guitar plays fine but the trem arm seems to take about the same amount of force to move as before. Maybe a little lighter now but it’s not a big difference.

    Is this just how a strat trem is? Or can it be made to move more easily?

    No big deal if it stays like this. I’m really impressed by this lowly MIM strat. It just needed a little setup- open the nut slots to stop pinging and lubing all string contact point. Plus the pickups are fine, but don’t have much fun character. Otherwise it’s a really great guitar.

    Thanks!
     
  2. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    It's going to be hard to get any strat trem to move like a JM- they're just different animals.

    You could try a set of Raw Vintage springs, which are softer and do move easier than those that come stock in most guitars.
     
  3. JonW

    JonW Member

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    Oh OK. So this is just the way that they are, eh? I can live with it, no problem. If there was an easy way to make them easier to move, I'd do it. Like if it was a simple setup issue. But if it would take something unusual like special springs, forget it. Thanks for the help.
     
  4. shane88

    shane88 Member

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    isn't the arm longer on a jazz than a strat? prob to do with leverage of the arm
     
  5. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    You want softer springs and then move the claw to stretch them for tension balance.
    The trem will be less stable and still touchy as a small arm movement creates a large pitch change.
     
  6. JonW

    JonW Member

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    Oh right. The Strat term arm is, indeed, shorter than the Jazzmaster arm. Good point.

    Now that you guys tell me that the Strat trem is supposed to be this way, I'll try to get used to it. No need to do anything atypical. Heck, I got the Strat to have variety from the Jazzmaster.
     
  7. nrandall85

    nrandall85 Member

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    The raw vintage springs sound silly, but they do make a HUGE difference. Some strats come with springs that just refuse to break in or move regardless of how loose you unscrew the trem claw. With the raw vintage I can have the benefits of five springs and sponger trem feel.
     
  8. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Member

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    Not all strat trems are stiff. the one on my MIM works like butter. I have a two point Wilkenson on another strat, and even with two springs it's stiff. Two things determine how stiff/loose they are. The spring itself... some have different "stretch" properties than others, making it easier or harder to move from rest. The other is the physics of the trem itself. It's a lever with fulcrom, etc. The relationship (distances) between the pivot point, the saddles and the arm will impact how stiff or soft the action will be.
     
  9. Ymir

    Ymir Member

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    You have to think Dave Gilmour not My Bloody Valentine
     
  10. telewacker

    telewacker Supporting Member

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    Removing a spring and tightening the claw to match the tension you had with three springs does nothing as the force resisting the string tension is the same.

    You need to either loosen the tension by backing out the claw screws or remove a spring (but with a vintage six point trem three springs should be right with the claw in the right position). The bridge plate will come up from the body and the saddles will need to be readjusted to compensate. You want to find the point where the trem is more responsive but the plate isn't too high. Also you need to back out the mounting screws so that the screw heads just clear the mounting plate when the trem arm is depressed as far as it will go towards the body.
     
  11. JonW

    JonW Member

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    Interesting. Thanks. Maybe I'll give them a shot some day.

    Makes perfect sense.




    That’s exactly what I was thinking. I didn’t see how it would change things. But I read on the internets that it would make it feel lighter. And my Mommy told me that everything I read on the internets is true. ;)

    Yes, that sounds right. I don’t think I’m willing to do all of that because, other than the trem arm filling stiff, the rest of the guitar is set up perfectly. I really, really like how everything is right now. The action is perfect. I have it staying in tune with trem use. The only things that I would even consider changing are the pickups and this trem arm thing. Given that the Strat should give an overall different experience than the Jazzmaster, which is why I got it, I may leave well enough alone. Now that you guys told me Strat trems are usually stiff.


    Very well put, my friend! :)
     
  12. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    But it would.
    Check out how springs work.
     
  13. JonW

    JonW Member

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    As you mentioned above, if you use lighter springs. I think that telewacker meant when using the same springs that are already in the guitar, just fewer of them. But wait. Now I'm getting confused. Don't most springs increase the tension after they have been stretched out, relative to a less stretched position? So the more you pull on them, the harder it is to pull more. But if you go from 3 to 2 springs but then screw in the claw to compensate, you're not quite back to where you started. Because, at rest, the 2 springs are now stretched more than the 3 springs were. Which means it takes more force to move the trem with 2 springs than 3. OK, that can't be right. I don't know what I'm talking about. Never mind. Nothing to read here. Please move along, ladies and gentlemen. :huh :bonk
     

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