Trem springs: number and slant

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by fumbler, Feb 3, 2009.


  1. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    I still prefer using 5 springs, as it seems the bridge returns to neutral more reliably. But, that might just be my imagination, with good setup providing the reliable centering.

    I've never had any perception that changing the number or installation angle of some springs makes a difference. There's a given amount of pull the strings have on the bridge that has to be balanced with the springs, so regardless of the number/arrangement of springs, you need to get that amount of pull.
     
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  2. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i'm still trying to get my head around it but it's a hooke's law thing.

    at a total given pull, if you have two springs and you move the bridge a half-inch, you just have two springs increasing their tension a bit. if you have four springs hanging out at the same total tension and you move the bridge that same half-inch then you have four springs all increasing their tension by that same bit. the total tension increases way more.

    more springs=a harder to move bridge, even when you start out with the bridge floating at the exact same point.

    also, there's a bad thing that happens when you have too many springs that are too strong, where the springs actually close up all the way! you get a bridge sitting on closed-up springs (so it's not even really floating anymore) and when you pull up on the bar the springs slide right off the hooks and flop down into the cavity.
     
  3. Guitarworks

    Guitarworks Member

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    3 springs is fine for most players, in my experience. I prefer to arrange them in the 'triangle' formation when setting up for them, but you can go 1-space-1-space-1 also. It will just feel less stiff. 4 is ok too, in the 2-space-2 arrangement if you want a little more resistance. The only guys who insist on a full compliment of 5 springs are the same guys who classify themselves as "athletic" or "muscular", make sure they wear a tank top and flex everywhere they go, insist on .013s, and don't want the vibrato unit to move a micron, but behave like a hardtail, at which point I say "OK, we can do that. But have you considered switching to a Telecaster instead?...'Cause that's pretty much what you're asking for."
     
  4. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    Yup.
    https://www.britannica.com/science/Hookes-law
    When it comes to the LAWS of physics no opinions, user experience/interpretation or mojo, mean anything.
    It truly is what it is. If it does not look that way to 'you', you are wrong.
     
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  5. icr

    icr Member

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    The springs counteract the tension of the strings.
     
  6. bugzapper

    bugzapper Member

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    My Strat had 9s with three springs in a V-shape.

    I recently changed to 10s with three springs evenly spaced.

    It's like a different, much better sounding Strat.
     
  7. BluntForceTrauma

    BluntForceTrauma Member

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    I found on my Ghettocaster when I changed from /I\ to III my guitar would actually stay in tune after working the bar.
     
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  8. Janus Alfador

    Janus Alfador Member

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    For me, 5 springs, and the screws slammed as far back as possible. I don't use tremolo, and want all the stability and sustain I can get. And 3 springs gives notably less stable tuning than 5, IME.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    likely because of the 10s, not the spring arrangement
     
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  10. bugzapper

    bugzapper Member

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    You may well be right. Changing two variables at once isn't good scientific method.

    The reason for changing anything was that the guitar had some weird rumbles or sympathetic vibrations. My best guess was that problem originated under pickguard or with the springs. At any rate, the overall situation with the guitar seems improved. Will have to give it a little more time before I'm convinced the problem is solved.
     
  11. trap

    trap Supporting Member

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    Mine are three parallel springs. Works great! Stays in tune. Less tension on the trem than the /|\.
     
  12. Lobotomie

    Lobotomie Member

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    Ok.

    The "angled spring" thing.
    Does it REALLY exert more tension on the bridge?

    I see this everywhere, but is it really fact?

    Yes, the force from the spring is greater, no doubt. But that force is at an angle.
    The component of the force that is parallel and opposite to the force being applied by the strings is exactly the same, whether the spring is straight or angled.

    Please, no testimony from whatever you're "feeling" when playing, let's see facts.
    This is pretty easy to prove by anyone who's ever taken a physics course.
    I did the calculations myself and I end up with the same thing.

    Am I missing something obvious? I might be.
     
  13. trap

    trap Supporting Member

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    Maybe it’s because you’re pulling an already taut spring. Maybe the spring tension is counterbalancing the strings but to stretch the slanted spring requires more force because it’s already stretched a little. I don’t have formulas. Sorry.
     
  14. massacre

    massacre Silver Supporting Member

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    The angled spring thing seems to be a new phenomena for me. I never heard of anyone doing this back when I played Strats exclusively. I wouldn't angle the springs in one of my guitars but more power to anyone who wants to
     
  15. Pythonman

    Pythonman Member

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    Can you get a Strat trem to float with five springs and skinny Hendrix gauges tuned to E flat? IDK how he did it lol! I’ve been sticking mostly with the three springs teepee style as I have had a couple Custom Shop Fenders come that way and I’m able to get it to work good with that setup and 10-46 strings tuned up or down a half step. One thing I always do is clean out the nut slots and polish/deburr them with 600 grit followed by 1500 grit wet or dry sandpaper and add a dab of nut sauce. Works like a charm every time.
     
  16. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i tested this yesterday.

    threw one string on a guitar i was working on, threw one spring in the back (straight), and tuned the string up to an exact note as checked with a strobe tuner. then i moved the spring hook over one notch, checked the tuning, and it was a good bit sharp.

    so yes, the increased length of stretch increases the tension more than the fact of the pull being at an angle decreases it.
     
  17. Mrmarshallhead

    Mrmarshallhead Member

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    The interesting follow up would be to retune the string and judge whether the bar was stiffer or easier to depress/pull up than it was with the straight spring.

    That is hard to measure, only way I could think of would be to use a luggage scale attached to the bar and pull on the scale until the pitch moved a certain amount, then see if the scale reading differed.
     
  18. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    yeah.

    the math would say that since the angled spring doesn't increase in length as much as the straight spring given the same distance of arm travel the angled spring would make for a softer arm feel.

    my guess is real-world it's probably not perceivable.
     
  19. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

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    you might find me somewhere.
    i use 2 springs, slanted: like the teepee, without the center-pole.
    i’ve experimented quite a bit, had settled on this arrangement in the ‘70’s.

    for some time, though, all my vibrato bridges have become 2-posters.
    the block cavity back-routed for a bit more extreme pull-up: for reference, my 2nd string pulls-up to approximately 350cts.

    i prefer for the 2-springs to “ring” at very close to the same pitch; when their tension is right for me, they ring very close to an ‘A’.

    i play .011’s, D-Standard tuning, occasionally C#-Standard tuning. works for me, but NB that i don’t recommend this to others unless there’s good cause.

    the low tuning & all the experimentation was in service to string-to-bridge feel & tensions such that they’d help me achieve very specific bending of pitches using the bar, including (but not limited to) both “parallel” & “un-parallel” dbl-stop (and some triple-stop) bends.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 9:33 AM
  20. pold

    pold Member

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    if you use 3, the outer ones should be straight, so they work as much as the central one, that's the only reason why I leve them parallel.
     

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