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Stiff Upper Trem!! How to soften up your tremolo

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

A short guide to those who is looking for softening up your tremolo on your six-screw tremolo.

Tremolo use

Do you feel that the tremolo is to hard, and that you need to muscle it to make it wang? Do you want to do those Jeff Beck flutters with ease? Well i can help you a little on the way. I been experimenting a great deal with springs and configurations to get to my soft spot (so-to speak). The reason why i cover 6-screw because they are much more prone to go muscle heavy. 6 Screw is old invention and there is plenty of mass-touching-mass. The inception of 2-point really took the load off as they only balance on a knives-edge. This really ease up the action and require little work to adjust the springs. But by all means. This guide can be used just as much on 2-point tremolo as well. I HAVE encountered 2-points that are hard to handle as well.

So..to start off... There is a misconception that people often thinks less springs soften up the tremolo.. I have 4 words for those that believes so... NO IT DOES NOT. Thing is, if you go from three springs to two springs for instance, you need to tighten the claw. And what you will end up with is two springs with the same tension as 3 springs. The difference now is that those two springs are more stretched out to reach the same tension as the 3 springs. Your 6 strings on the other side need the exact same tension to counter with to stay in tune, and also keep the bridge at the same level / angle as before.


The amount of Tremolo springs
One, two or three, Tension is always the same. Same stiffness..

So try this: Instead of removing springs.. ADD SPRINGS.

In fact, if you want a nice soft feel, start with adding ALL five springs like Leo intended it to be loaded with. One spring, two springs or three.. When you work with those. The difference is very minmal.. The tension is the same regardless. When you come to four springs or Five.. This is where the TENSION of the springs come to play. And now is the time to factor in Heavy, Medium or Vintage(soft) tension spring to fine tune. Once you have five springs on, all those springs are "de-stretched" almost down to non-tension position. When they are in that position, torque and stretch has a larger variance, so softer springs will now feel MUCH more different than harder tension springs. So now is the time to experiment with those.

If you want the absolute softest springs on the market, i recommend you try Raw Vintage Springs. These are the softest i have found , though they are 3 times the price. I use .009 so the tension on my springs are down to very low and i simply jiust loaded all my Strats with RWS. But its basically experimentation from now on. Different strokes for different folks. If its too soft, you can also try to remove a spring and go to Four springs before you start to throw away money on different tension springs This will again increase tension, but you will stay within the borders of adjustability. Tighten the claw to get back to position and try.

Much depends on your string gauge. The higher gauge, the more counterweight the springs need to work agains. That means stretching them out.. And you really do not want to stretch them too much out. If springs stretch too much. Increase the stiffness on the springs.. Try these for starting point reference:

String Gauge

# Of Springs

​Spring Tension

008-009

4 - 5 Springs

Low Tension Springs

​010-011

5 Springs

Low/Medium Tension Springs

012-013

5 Springs

Medium/Heavy Tension Springs

But if you use 3 springs or less, no matter what type of spring tension they are, you are stuck with ONE hardness on your tremolo.

Tremolo with all five springs
The Leo Way.. 5 Springs. The ultimate starting point for tension.

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