How Many Springs Do You Use On A Floating Trem?

TSJMajesty

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I learned a long time ago when I got my first PRS with a floating trem, that when you go for a unison or chordal bend, where you bend only one string, because of simple physics as you bend the string, the others go flat. So for a unison bend, I need to slightly bend the other string a bit as well, but that's harder to do when the stationary string is fretted with my pinky. I've learned to adjust my technique to compensate to some degree, but since I don't use the trem a lot, (i.e., I don't play like Vai), I opted to add a 4th trem spring when I first got my Majesty, to help counteract the effect.

So I'm restringing my guitar, and I'm switching back to a regular set of 10's, instead of a set with a 52 low E, so I'm going to need to adjust my setup. I thought about also going back to 3 trem springs, since I'd kinda like to see how it feels. I never used the guitar with that setup, opting instead to add a spring as soon as I got it.

I'm curious what everyone else does wrt # of springs, and whether you've noticed that bending issue.
 
Assuming you set up to the same position each time; fewer stretched springs will give the loosest action on the trem but least resistance to reacting during bends . The most resistance to bends is when the bridge plate is parallel to the string plane. And stiffest trem action of the most springs that you can fit with still some tension and stretch at rest. Often the same guitar can be set up to float with four springs or two stretched in a vee.
 
It depends on what I’m doing. If I really plan to be using the trem a lot I like the feel of 3 best. But I typically stick with 5 because most of the time stability and less response to unison bends is much more important to me
 
I use 10s as well, and especially on 7 string, instead of using 4 regular springs, I do this: One of the red, high-tension springs in the middle spring, and two of these black Fender noiseless ones on the sides.

Greatly reduces spring noise, higher tension than regular springs with that great red middle one, and I still get a pretty good flutter since I'm not using 4 springs. Oh, make sure that at least one of these coated springs has the coating removed at the ring so the bridge is grounded.
 
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4 in all my floating trems (pretty much use 10’s on all of them). I use 4 in most floating trems, my Gilmour Strat has 3 in it because 4 was a little stiff and with the shorter trem arm you don’t get as much leverage. Ideally, I want the trem to have the same amount of tension as the strings do but the biggest factor is ensuring it returns to pitch without issue after use. I
 
Always 3. But do not neglect the color choice. The viridescent harmonics and the chartreuse grain on the sustain that you get with green is unparalleled

At the RG550LTD (09's)
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And the S540FM (09's)
IMG_0293.JPG
 
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I appreciate the replies. I decided to go back to 3 springs, and the only adjustment I had to do was tighten the plate the springs attach to maybe 1 full turn, to get the trem parallel to the top, but that also had to do with changing the low E from a 52 to a 46. So a little less tension from the strings, as well as a little less from the springs.

I think I like it better. The bar seems to offer a bit more control, so I may even use it a bit more.

I did check to see how flat the next string drops when I do a full tone (i.e., D to E) bend, and the other string drops by about 20 cents, which is a lot. But I've been compensating for that for so long it's no big deal.
 
It depends on what I’m doing. If I really plan to be using the trem a lot I like the feel of 3 best. But I typically stick with 5 because most of the time stability and less response to unison bends is much more important to me
Interesting that you take that approach. I suppose I'm still learning which of the negative effects (too stiff a trem vs. unwanted behavior of strings during bends) I can tolerate the most, because I want to use a consistent setup, and just let my fingers develop the memory needed.
 
Interesting that you take that approach. I suppose I'm still learning which of the negative effects (too stiff a trem vs. unwanted behavior of strings during bends) I can tolerate the most, because I want to use a consistent setup, and just let my fingers develop the memory needed.

I don’t switch back and forth too often, I probably play 5 springs 95% of the time or more, but if I do know I’m going to be using the trem a lot I do prefer to jump down to 3 occasionally
 
I don’t switch back and forth too often, I probably play 5 springs 95% of the time or more, but if I do know I’m going to be using the trem a lot I do prefer to jump down to 3 occasionally
In going from 5 to 3, do you have to adjust more than just the spring tension, to balance everything out? I.e., action or relief?
 
I'm using 3 springs with 10-46 strings on mine, standard tuning. I've tried 4 springs but usually it doesn't stay quite as well in tune after using the trem as the strings remain too closed up or something.
 
I've tried 4 springs but usually it doesn't stay quite as well in tune after using the trem as the strings remain too closed up or something.

On standard 10-46 gauge strings, 4 springs often seem to require too little tension for each individual spring so they somewhat stop working reliably. At least that's my observation on a whole lot of free floating trems (which I'm using on all my main guitars since decades). I think it could even be that the string is somewhat slipping out of the block by a hair when doin up trems, simply because the tension is getting very low.

Also, there's different spring tensions to chose from, might be worth experimenting.

Further, I ordered 6 "Harley Benton Parts Noiseless Trem Spring N" springs from Thomann, to finally get rid of any foam in the spring cavity (I just hate that noise when doing mutes on more distorted sounds), and apart from them in fact adressing the spring noise issue, those seem to be extremely well balanced, at least ever since I changed them on my Anderson (/w Wilkinson VS-100 replacing the original Gotoh) and my Schecter Nick Johnston (/w a Gotoh 510T replacing the factory trem), both feel absolutely great. Unfortunately, Thomann apparently completely stopped supplying these very springs, all you can now find is the hard tension version. Guess I will really have to keep an eye on mine.

Oh, and it might be worth experimenting to run the outer springs from the outer block holes to the second left/right claws for a change.

 
@TSJMajesty It depends on the springs. I recently switched to raw vintage springs on my strat and they are more loose to mirror the specs of vintage strats. That means it takes more springs and/or the claw in a lot further to get the same amount of float or decking tension. Anyway, my point is that blanket statements about the number of springs or how the claw is set aren’t likely to be very helpful/repeatable.

Some believe that more springs and more stretch on the springs provides the most “stratty” sounds. YMMV there, but the number of springs and how they are stretched does change the sound in some ways, who knows which you’ll prefer. If that subtle tonal change is the most important thing to you, then that will guide how you set the strings. If you’re more concerned about the mechanics of how it feels and how it behaves under bending, then let that be your guide.

I generally find that if I want a beautiful floating feel that bends against static notes are just better avoided. On the flip side, to get enough tension to hold up for those kinds of bends you need a ton of spring tension and a decked tremolo at which point the trem doesn’t feel that great and can’t really do subtle things anymore. In the middle, the trem is a bit compromised and you still can’t effectively do those bends.

The bending issues are completely unavoidable with open strings, you can mitigate it on fretted notes by essentially making it a quasi double stop bend with a lot of practice like you said. If I set a guitar up to float, I usually set it so that it gives me the best feel for the trem for how I plan to use the bar and the heck with the bending string stuff. YMMV.

D
 
Fwiw, once in a context, with a bit of taking care and not overdoing them, double bends aren't that much of an issue with free floating trems.
Here's some lame attempt at country soloing of yours truly (for a german FB group in which we're all noodling over one backing track per week), I think the double bends are quite ok. And on the upside, you can do some cool faux pedal steel things with the whammy bar.
 
Fwiw, once in a context, with a bit of taking care and not overdoing them, double bends aren't that much of an issue with free floating trems.
Here's some lame attempt at country soloing of yours truly (for a german FB group in which we're all noodling over one backing track per week), I think the double bends are quite ok. And on the upside, you can do some cool faux pedal steel things with the whammy bar.


I don’t hear anything lame there, man!!! Great f*cking playing!!!!
 
I looked at my guitar rack and had a memory flash in my head of my JEM having 5 springs in it. I just set this thing up (the nut shimming experiment that went wrong) about 2 months ago but guess I don’t even think about it anymore-

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I remember adding a 5th spring when I started tuning to Drop-C about 20 years ago, guess I never took it out when I went back up to standard on it. I really should just buy new springs for this. I never hear people talking about springs losing their elasticity, but you’d think it’d be a thing? It stays in tune fine and if I’m playing that guitar, I’m generally doing something featuring a drastic use of the bar and it got heavy use for 25 years straight but maybe that’s why 5 springs doesn’t feel any tighter than any of my other guitars.
 
Fwiw, once in a context, with a bit of taking care and not overdoing them, double bends aren't that much of an issue with free floating trems.
Here's some lame attempt at country soloing of yours truly (for a german FB group in which we're all noodling over one backing track per week), I think the double bends are quite ok. And on the upside, you can do some cool faux pedal steel things with the whammy bar.


Yeah if it’s in a context like this where the note static note goes by pretty quick it’s not that big of a deal. The thing that bugs me most is longer bends against and a sustained open string. That sounds bad, and there isn’t anything you can do but just not do that when playing a floating guitar (or if you were super committed I guess you could use the bar to raise the pitch of both to where it rings in tune, but I’m not that dedicated I’ll just use a guitar that doesn’t have a trem for that…).

D
 
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