“Noisy Tremolo Springs” guitar video officially popular!

YouTube has just written to inform me that a video of mine has become sufficiently popular to qualify for “revenue sharing”, that thing where they place ads by your video and send you money. I don’t expect to make a single dollar for my rather niche clip on guitar maintenance, but I will admit to something like pride that the little guy grew enough to trip the minor importance alarm at San Bruno, CA. And I will blink away the tears over my only genuinely popular video also being my only guitar video that doesn’t focus on me playing. Cough.

Honestly I think the video, titled Cure for Noisy Tremolo Springs, has done well because it solves a problem lots of guitar players evidently have but rarely discuss, and so YouTube’s optimistic little email prompted me to think that I should post it here, in case you too are plagued by loud, creaking, twangy, overly-reverberant or discordant tremolo springs.

The technique shown works for big serious floating bridge whammys as well as small, reserved, vintage Strat-style trems. This idea of installing rubber tubing is my favorite of the remedies I’ve learned, because the others have downsides: electrical tape (which some wrap around all three springs in one go) gets sticky, dirty and gummy over time; and foam (which some people stick behind the springs) will catch between the coils of the springs when you use the tremolo, creating return-to-pitch problems.

Sometimes the idea here is misunderstood. This is for guitars where spring noise is a problem. Most don’t need it. I appreciate the subtle, natural reverb provided by tremolo springs, a warm, barely-there tuneful hum swimming delicately about your chords and notes, and it is not my mission to kill it. Some tremolos, though, have problems with creak-creak-creaking, or occasionally unsolicited metallic piiiings, or a kind of reverb which is overbearing and out of tune, muddying note separation and generally casting a not-quite-right air over your playing. These benefit from being silenced, and that’s what my little video addresses.

The magic number of views appears to be 50,000 — a number I’d just exceeded before being contacted by YouTube’s revenue droids. What those clever machines perhaps ignore is that it took over two years to get there! Oh well. I’ll not quit my day job just yet, playing scratch cards in the park.

5 Replies to ““Noisy Tremolo Springs” guitar video officially popular!”

  1. Why would you want to do that? That is part of the Strat sound. I personally like the sound of the springs. It adds some natural reverb to the guitar and over all sound. Now maybe while recording
    you may have some tight sounds where you do not want to hear. Then just stick some removable
    foam under the springs. Steve Morse use to do that after his head stock under the strings….Works just as well under the cavity springs. J

  2. John, I am with you on the natural subtle reverb of the trem springs. As stated in the article above, the idea here is often misunderstood; “this is for guitars where spring noise is a problem. Most don’t need it.”

    Until you play one of these problem Strats with the wonky out-of-tune sounding clang coming from the springs, clashing with your notes, I appreciate that it might seem unnecessary.

  3. Would this cure a strange reverb problem that arises when any e is played?

    1. It might, George, it might. An easy way to check is to stuff a rag in there temporarily, and see if the problem goes away. If so, yup, this’ll likely fix it. But there are so many things that can cause unwanted noise on a guitar. If this doesn’t work, the next thing I’d look at, since you’re describing it as strange reverb, is the strings ringing out sympathetically between nut and tuners. Damp them with anything — your finger, a hair tie — and see if the problem vanishes.

  4. Why is this needed? Because some people have guitars that sound like crap thanks to the springs resonating. I own a Ernie Ball Music Man and the springs sound like, TUUUUUNNNNGGGGG when you hit a chord and then stop it. It is the most annoying sound to have on a guitar imo. Fixed bridge guitars don’t have that issue. So why not dampen the springs to have the best of both worlds? Thanks for posting this. It saved my ass and a trip to a guitar tech.

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