#1
I want less tension on tremolo on my squier strat. I can see that the trem screws are pretty deep in in the body (about 3/8 inch left sticking out). Theres only 3 springs btw.

How exactly do i lessen the tension, its just loosening the screws inside the trem cavity right? And when i do that will i have to re float the bridge or intonate it again?
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#2
If you want the tremolo arm to require less force to engage then you remove a spring. And yes, then you'll have to setup the tremolo again, which most likely will require the screws to go farther into the body of the guitar. Those screws are there to level the tremolo parallel to the body.
Last edited by dthmtl3 at Jun 25, 2017,
#3
No, you can't reduce the tension merely by loosening the screws inside the trem cavity.

Remember that these trems are like a teeter-totter -- the sPrings balance the tension of the sTrings. In order to tune your guitar you need to have a certain amount of tension on each string, right? The springs have exactly the same *total* tension as the strings. If you loosen the screws inside the trem cavity, you'll be reducing the tension on the strings as well, which will make them very flat and out of tune.

So the best way to reduce the overall tension is to change to a lighter gauge of strings. To balance that lighter string gauge, you'll have to unscrew the springs.

Three springs is pretty normal for 9's and 10's on a strat.
#4
You certainly can reduce the tension by loosening the screws, in certain situations. The tension is only balanced if the trem is floating, which is not necessarily the case. If your bridge is already floating, the above is correct.

If the trem springs are quite tight, and they often are from the factory on strats to keep the trem flat against the body, you can loosen the springs a fair bit before the bridge starts to float (pull away from the body). So there is a decent chance that you can reduce how stiff the springs feel by adjusting the springs/claw. Look for a few guides on basic trem setup, and go from there. You can decide if you want to float the trem but if the bridge whacks against the body after you dive with the trem, you can probably ease up on the spring/claw. 
#5
It sounds like ive got two different answers here. One says that i cant change my tremolo tension by adjusting the screws and the other says i can. At least, thats how it sounds to me. Can someone clarify please?
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#6
Is the bridge decked to the body, in such a way that you cannot pull back on the arm?

If the answer to that is yes, then you can potentially reduce the tension of the springs in the back of the guitar without affecting the rest of the guitar's setup. Essentially you want to back the trem claw screws out to the point when the bridge is just about to move forward and then stop. If the bridge begins to move forward, then the lower spring tension begins not being enough to counteract the tension of the strings while still keeping the bridge decked to the body.

If the bridge isn't decked to the body, then the answer is that you need to use a lighter gauge of strings if you want the bridge to feel less stiff.
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#7
IF the springs are being used to pull the trem tight against the body, you can loosen the screws to the point where the trem floats (is perfectly balanced between string and spring tension), and that will reduce the tension required to push down on the trem bar. That's what Roc8995 is saying.

IF your trem is already floating (balanced between spring and string tension), then in order to reduce the spring tension, you'll have to change string gauge to a lighter gauge.

It's possible to add and subtract springs, change the springs to another set with a different spring rate, etc., but that's sort of an advanced class. For example, if you have a set of springs that barely balance the strings and provide very little tension beyond that, you'll find your bends becoming difficult because the rear of your trem will raise, flatting the other strings and increasing the distance required to bend a note to a specific tone. If you've got a set of springs that provide a LOT of tension when you push down on the bar, the benefit will be that the trem will move very little when you bend strings and your other strings will be less likely to go flat. That's a set of tradeoffs that you'll want to consider making once you've become much more familiar with using the trem and how the trem affects other parts of your playing.
#8
edit - the Fender trem was designed to float; all the below is for floating trem.

Trem talk is always confusing. One major source of confusion is when someone asks about "trem tension" which can mean the spring tension itself or the feel of the trem bar (how much position displacement results in how much pitch variation).

First, although the teeter-totter concept is basically correct, the shape of the bridge block has the springs acting further away from the pivot axis than the strings over the bridges. So the springs have a mechanical advantage and the balance is achieved with less tension for the springs and more for the strings (not equal tension). However, it is true that whatever those tensions are, they need to be maintained for the tuning - you can't just loosen the spring claw.

This leads to the second thing; the number of springs... because of the above (you can't fool the strings into maintaining tuning pitch while loosening the spring tension) the total tension of the springs is going to be some value, but you can get that value with 2, 3, 4, or 5 springs on the claw. The same string tuning pitch with less springs on the claw results in the trem bar motion being larger to get pitch change in the strings. Because of mechanical advantage, this large motion feels light and slinky and is what many people mean when they describe a "low tension" trem because it feels easy. However, for the same reason, it is more subject to the problem of transferring load among the strings during a finger bend or trem displacement (where bending one string makes the others change pitch).

For the same string pitch tuning, if you put on more springs, you get the opposite effects; it takes a firmer press on the trem bar to change pitch, but the pitch changes faster, and when you bend strings the effect on the pitch of other strings is minimal. This is what most are describing as a "tight trem" feel, which may be favored by some because string bends also change pitch with less lateral displacement across the fingerboard (and not liked by others who want a big bend displacement for it's slinkier feel).

So what one should really ask for should be about the feel of the strings:

- do you want your chords to be resistant to pitch variation, fast changes in pitch with small but firm trem and finger bend movements? More springs.

- do you want your lead line pitches (and chords) to be easy to vary in pitch, with slower changes in pitch from easier large trem and finger movements? Fewer springs.
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Last edited by PlusPaul at Jun 25, 2017,
#9
I was wanting to be able to do dive bombs and some other natural harmonic tricks with my bar easier but if it means that it would mess up my bends and stuff i would rather not change anything. And i also dont want to change string gauge either really.

So i think ill just leave it alone for now
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#10
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
If the bridge isn't decked to the body, then the answer is that you need to use a lighter gauge of strings if you want the bridge to feel less stiff.
Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure that taking out a spring and tightening the screws to bring the bridge back into position would make it easier to operate the bar, as the initial overall force exerted by the springs to counteract the pull of the strings would be the same, but assuming the springs are approximately hookean, stretching them further would take less force if there are fewer of them. That's also what I've experienced in practice, though it's been a while since I've had a Floyd

Similarly, I don't think this is correct:
Quote by PlusPaul
The same string tuning pitch with less springs on the claw results in the trem bar motion being larger to get pitch change in the strings.
The strings don't care about the springs. Assuming they're tuned to pitch and start in the same position, the same physical movement of the bridge, regardless of the amount of resistance to that movement, will result in the same change in tension and, by extension, pitch.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Jun 25, 2017,
#11
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure that taking out a spring and tightening the screws to bring the bridge back into position would make it easier to operate the bar, as the initial overall force exerted by the springs to counteract the pull of the strings would be the same, but assuming the springs are approximately hookean, stretching them further would take less force if there are fewer of them. That's also what I've experienced in practice, though it's been a while since I've had a Floyd

Meh, assuming they are hookean, there might be a grain of truth to that, but that's not really what I've experienced tbh. At least with the particular guitars that I own. Whether you use more springs, or fewer springs with the claw cranked in, it feels more or less the same to me. Maybe I've just used different springs to you.
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#12
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Meh. That's not really what I've experienced tbh. At least with the particular guitars that I own. Whether you use more springs, or fewer springs with the claw cranked in, it feels more or less the same to me. Maybe I've just used different springs to you.
Could be. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I think you're wrong

(Which, in less facetious terms, is to say that I don't think what you're saying is correct, all other things being equal, but I could be wrong/missing something)
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#13
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Could be. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I think you're wrong

(Which, in less facetious terms, is to say that I don't think what you're saying is correct, all other things being equal, but I could be wrong/missing something)

My experiences tell me that you probably are wrong/missing something.
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#14
If its not going to affect my intonation or action height or anything, i can adjust it some and let you guys know if it does work
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#15
Quote by K33nbl4d3
The strings don't care about the springs. Assuming they're tuned to pitch and start in the same position, the same physical movement of the bridge, regardless of the amount of resistance to that movement, will result in the same change in tension and, by extension, pitch.

I'm thinking that assumes the string length subject to change in tension is only the nut to saddle scale length of the string (which would be true if the strings were locked at the nut and bridge). The string length subject to tension on a Strat with a floating trem includes the string lengths between the tuner posts and the nut, and between the bridge saddles and the strings' ball-ends in the bridge block. A visual estimate indicates that depending on which string, about 15-30% of the string length is outside the scale length.
We all know that trem motion moves the strings through the nut and to a lessor degree across the saddles. I'm thinking that there is a non-linearity in which very small motions of the trem bar keep the strings firm with friction to the nut and restricts the small tension changes to within the scale length, but with large trem movements the strings overcome the friction and slide in the nut - and transfer differential tensions on either side of the nut and saddles so as to distribute and equalize tension throughout the post to ball-end string length.
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#16
Quote by PlusPaul
I'm thinking that assumes the string length subject to change in tension is only the nut to saddle scale length of the string (which would be true if the strings were locked at the nut and bridge). The string length subject to tension on a Strat with a floating trem includes the string lengths between the tuner posts and the nut, and between the bridge saddles and the strings' ball-ends in the bridge block. A visual estimate indicates that depending on which string, about 15-30% of the string length is outside the scale length.
We all know that trem motion moves the strings through the nut and to a lessor degree across the saddles. I'm thinking that there is a non-linearity in which very small motions of the trem bar keep the strings firm with friction to the nut and restricts the small tension changes to within the scale length, but with large trem movements the strings overcome the friction and slide in the nut - and transfer differential tensions on either side of the nut and saddles so as to distribute and equalize tension throughout the post to ball-end string length.
I don't disagree with any of that, I just don't see any point in that at which the springs make any difference. All I mean is that the same string, covering the same distances between the same tuning post, string tree, nut, saddle and ball-end and tuned to the same pitch will experience the same tension and, hence, pitch change with the same trem arm movement, regardless of how many springs are holding the tension in balance when it's at the zero position.

That is, the relative amount of work being done (or not done) by the springs and your hand is irrelevant to the strings themselves, except that if they are tuned to pitch when the tremolo baseplate is parallel to the body, then they will be detuned by the same amount when the baseplate is rotated, say, 5 degrees away from parallel. However, if I'm right about the other half of my post*, the same movement with fewer springs should be easier to achieve.

*Again, I could certainly be wrong, but I really don't think I am. The only potential fault is can see is if the springs don't behave in an approximately hookean manner, which is possible but given that tremolo springs don't really extend by large amounts I should think they'd come close enough for the effect to be as I described. Also, while I'm hesitant to invoke this "evidence" because guitarists will form consensuses based on absolutely nothing if you give them half a chance, it does seem that a lot of other people have the same impression. I'd be interested to see whether other people on here who use trems more than me agree or disagree, of if people more familiar with physics could confirm or refute my understanding of the system.
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#17
Quote by K33nbl4d3
could confirm or refute my understanding of the system.

Yep. I agree with you.

The strings would be considered Hookian, but the trem springs with their very little movement would just follow Hookes law.

The string tension, depending on gauge and tuning, would effect amount of force necessary to pull up in pitch.

You could actually make a two stage drop system by putting in an extra slightly longer spring. Once the slack of the extra spring is taken up, extra down force would be required to overcome the extra spring now in play. Whether that spring is in or out, has no relation to the amount of rotation of the trem block needed for a given amount of string tension change. 

A Bigsby Trem makes it easier to visualize. It is just compressing the spring instead of extending. A big ass spring in that would need a lot more force to dive bomb than a lighter one. Regardless, the bar would still move the same amount.