True Vintage Tremolo Springs


Nov 13, 2009
Keizer Oregon
I recently watched a YouTube video (YouTube handle is Millstap) comparing four of his Strats with different types tremolo springs. The guitars are setup with a floating bridge/tremolo with five springs. The purpose of the video was to show how the difference in tremolo springs effect tone. Let me say that I was skeptical of the possible results because guitar tone, to me, is a combination of physical elements such as wood type, finishes, hardware and electronics, let alone the amp you use, how the guitar is set up, along with your playing style. So, I took the bait and thought, is there any validity to his test results.

I have a '91 MIJ Fender Strat that is a vintage reissue of a '54 Strat. Great guitar OBTW. Here are some specifics about the guitar that I think is relevant. It has a Callaham cold rolled steel tremolo block and bridge, similar to two of the guitars Millstap uses in the video. I have also replaced the stock tremolo springs with three Pure Vintage springs, all set straight (none angled). I used three of the five springs because it was easier to do bends.

Again, I was skeptical, but thought, lets install the other two Pure Vintage tremolo springs, do a setup based on five springs, and see what transpires sonically. To my surprise it did improve the overall tone. What I heard was more sustain and presence with the overall tone. Like I said, I was skeptical before making the change. I am curious to know if anyone else has had similar results regardless of make/model of tremolo springs--5 versus 3 springs.

Now that all of that has been laid out lets get into the main point of this post. Does it make a sonic difference using three as opposed to five tremolo strings?

5 Tremolo Spring Comparison Video


Senior Stratmaster
Jan 23, 2022
Austin, TX
I dunno. I have tremolo springs that are nearly 50 years old and I have ones that I bought within the past year. I have a bunch of springs in my toolbox. I really can't tell the difference. That said, I use Callaham blocks and they are great.

*edit.... Oh I see that your main point was 5 versus 3. I always use 3. Just easier tremolo action that way.


Senior Stratmaster
Apr 20, 2019
Scotland (North of The Wall)
Callaham's are the business, especially for me where the string ball ends sit, i.e not half way up the block. I feel this makes a difference. Not sure about the springs as I've always installed 5 vintage tension springs in my Strats, never 3. Not saying I'm a cynic, just skeptical. All guitars are different, a sum of their parts. 🙂👍

Nick L Plate

Sep 15, 2020
Santa Barbara
Since the trem block is in direct contact with the strings, it would have some effect on string vibration -- damping, transmitting, whatever -- though to what extent, I could not say. The more consistent material, improved design, and higher-standard machining of the Callaham block make it a top candidate for reliable tone-enhancer. Springs are not really in the path of string vibration in any really directly-coupled way, so while I can see how different springs might perform better or worse as springs, as tone filters or enhancers, I think it's unlikely. As for a guy demonstrating 5 guitars, well, that's maybe 1,995 guitars short of establishing anything at all.


Most Honored Senior Member
Oct 27, 2006
Upper Peninsula-Michigan
I don't see how there can be any difference sonically or sustain-wise or any of that. The claw still has the same (only) two screws connecting it into the body, so they can only handle so much transfer.

In other words, if one were to go to more than three springs, one screw should be added per spring.


Senior Stratmaster
Sep 11, 2012
^ if 2 screws are enough to hold the tension of the strings without snapping, by simple definition this means they are able to transfer as much 'whatever' as is necessary.
Springs only ever hold the very same tension the strings anyway....2 or 5 it makes zero differenceto the counter energy they are producing overall.
I'm not sure what sort of muddled point you are trying to make.


Senior Stratmaster
Jan 29, 2022
Birmingham UK
4 different guitars and he attributes the differences in tone to the springs??!? The list of things of which I have heard now includes everything.
^ 100% agree with this... same applies to ash vs alder, maple vs rosewood, nitro vs poly, Utd vs City...

FWIW, the 'vintage' springs are a different wire gauge to 'modern' springs, hence why I have to use 5 springs with 10s on an Ultra, but 3 will do on my vintage reissues. Old springs are just old springs, and more than likely, knackered.