What the Hell is That Squeaking?

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

Tremolo Springs

So I’ve been sitting here for a few days working on a recording. I’ve been fiddling around with my Floyd Rose, abusing it at every chance I’ve had, while making fun faces filled with emotive passion as I miss frets and play out of tune. However there is one thing that seems to unrelentingly tarnish the experience… or at least get anyone I may be on a Skype call with to say “what the hell is that squeaking sound?”

Yeah, Floyd and Edge tremolo users know what I’m talking about, and not just because they’ve read the title. The springs inside the body are obnoxiously squeaky and will come through sometimes louder than what you’re even playing making some of the more whammy bar emphasized melodies completely lost to the shrill screeching of unwanted sounds.

I decided to take a breather from recording to scour my house in search of something that could be used to muffle the springs. This is simply a documenting of my experiences and it’s limited by what I have laying around, so I’m MacGyvering what I can with what I have.

The Tools

Suggested utensils to silence the springs.

Utensils to silence tremolo springs in a guitar

The most obvious things to use are soft, fluffy things. For this I have an old rag that’s seen better days and another rag made of different materials that I received in a pack of guitar polish. I have a roll of toilet paper that I’m going to manually extract some supplies from, some paper I’d gotten from a grocery store, and I have a few pieces of foam that came with my air conditioning unit.

Now this part is included because it’s a variable for some people. I don’t keep the back plate on my guitar, so keeping the materials contained inside could be problematic. For those that do keep the back on you’re incredibly limited on space. For those that don’t like myself tape has become a necessity. For that purpose I have two types of masking tape, some packing tape, and some regular 3M Scotch tape.

The Affected Sound

The Rags – The rags do really well at muffling the more obnoxiously intrusive sounds, but there is still a bit of squeakiness. Depending on how modestly you use the whammy bar you can avoid unwanted sounds entirely or in some more extreme cases barely hear them at all. The con to rags is they take up a lot of space. You can’t really shove them under the springs as that will stretch them out and add unwanted tension to the strings and could throw your tuning off a bit, so you pretty much have to lay them on top and either tape the back plate down to keep pressure, or just pitch the plate out and tape the rags directly in.

Toilet Paper – Not just good for maintaining your personal hygiene, toilet paper actually worked a lot better than I thought it would. It’s a bit easier to work with and because it compresses a lot better than the rags it was easier to get the back plate on. The only real con I could think of is that the toilet paper doesn’t have the same durability as other alternatives. I managed to slip some under the springs and around the springs and as they stretched back and forth I could see some faint signs of wear and tear. Were you to take this approach I imagine one would have to change his or her paper out periodically.

Paper Ads – Another surprise success. As I crumpled the paper up and wedged it into the springs I thought “this crinkly mess is going to suck”, but it’s actually not too bad. A bit more challenging too cram in there, but nothing too problematic. It also seemed to hold up a bit better than the toilet paper.

Foam Strips – The foam strips were perfect. They just happened to be cut to a nice length and muffled the sound as well as the rest of the alternatives. I’ve noticed that there wasn’t a huge difference in the sound from one to another. The consensus is find something softish to cram in there and find a way to keep it in there. The foam strips just presented themselves as the most convenient to work with.

Summary

There you go, guys. Those are my discoveries. It doesn’t really matter too much the specific material used so much as it does just securing it in there one way or another. I was going to run through the types of tapes I used as well, but in the end the masking tape surfaced as the best. It held on really well and peeled off easily. The need to replace it frequently is minute compared to how tedious removing packing tape can be, so just stick with the one. With that happy wanking everybody.

Got another problem with unwelcomed fret buzz? This suggested reading can help.

Kyle Smitchens (448 Articles)

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.