One of the evils of guitar tremolos is the reliance on springs to return the tremolo to its neutral position. These springs essentially operate like a combo amp reverb tank built inside your guitar — they ring when physically excited. Skeptical? Strum some full chords followed by a quick palm mute and you’ll hear those springs ringing. The ringing can add a boingy or hazy quality to your tone, masking the qualities you want to hear. As you increase gain from clean to distortion, the ringing in amplified through your pickups and can become quite noticeable and annoying.
Enter FU-TONE and their Noiseless Tension Springs. Unlike regular tension springs, FU-Tone springs are coated with a polymer and have a foam core designed to eliminate spring noise. The springs come in four flavors (Super Soft, Traditional/Standard, Heavy, and Super Heavy) depending on how much tension is desired. The springs are said to fit Kahler, Floyd Rose, and Fender Stratocaster tremolos. Based on my experience, you can add the Kiesel-designed Hipshot headless tremolo to the list.
I opted for a set of the Traditional/Standard springs for my Kiesel Zeus. Installation was a breeze. Just unscrew the back plate on your guitar to access the tremolo cavity. Pull up slightly on the tremolo bar to eliminate some tension on the old springs and pop out each one in turn, replacing it with a new Noiseless Tension Spring as you go. Simple. Once I re-tuned my guitar, I did have to back off the claw screws about an eighth of a turn to get the tremolo to float in its original position.
Even played acoustically, the difference between the stock springs and the Noiseless Tension Springs was immediately noticeable. There was no ringing noise after palm muted chords, and I noted a general tightening up of my tone. Surprisingly, you can even FEEL the difference as the guitar now physically stops vibrating when chords are muted. The new springs made my guitar feel very responsive to my playing — let chords ring out or choke them short. Plugging in and adding distortion highlighted the difference between the springs. The tight, punchy presentation of my tone was terrific. Even with high-gain, I heard no annoying overhanging ring from the springs. Clean tones benefited as well with a noticeable increase in clarity and definition. Far from sounding sterile, the difference is entirely musical. Awesome!
At $19.95 for a set of three, the Noiseless Tension Springs are a no-brainer upgrade for (most) tremolo equipped guitars.