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A few days ago a friend of mine who owns one of my guitars called me up to ask me if he could buy a pickup from me and if I could install it into one of his old guitars. I normally don't work on guitars other than my own, but I agreed to do it anyway.

He shows up a few hours later with a Charvelle from the late 80's. It has Seymour Duncan pickups installed, which are better than the OEM pickup that he wants me to install in its place. He explains that ever since he had the SD installed, the guitar would always ring and feedback and the whole guitar was microphonic.

I pluged his guitar into my amp and cranked the volume up and right away I recognised the problem - his trem springs were microphonic. It is pretty easy to recognise as when you play you actually get a reverb effect comming out of the amp, and my amp doesn't have reverb. He didn't believe me and he still insisted that the pickups were microphonic.

I pulled the back cover off and plucked the sping with my finger while muting the strings and a clear sustained note came out of the amp. He asked me how to fix it.

His trem was a floyd and it was set up perfectly. It stayed in tune and it was sitting just right. The spings weren't dead as they were doing their job just fine so I wasn't going to get into adjusting them to try to get rid of the ringing. I grabbed three cotton balls from the drawer in my workbench, stretched them out and stuffed them in through the end of the springs with an allen key.

I put the back cover back on the guitar and plugged it in - no more reverb and staccato notes ended sharply instead of running on. I adjusted the pickup heights, confirmed that the trem still woked right and sent him on his way.

I had read somewhere that if you move the grounding point on the claw to the bridge mounting stud the problem would go away - I tried it on another guitar and it didn't make any difference. I believe that the pickups are actually amplifying the springs and the best way to get rid of it is by sheilding the guitar with copper foil.

Another quick fix is to raise the pickups, but I hate the sound of pickups that are too close to the strings and it is not as effective as muting the springs.

Does anyone else ever run accross 'spring ring', or is it just something that bugs me?
 

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I have, I think! - but it was a long time ago... it was in my buddy's Mustang. I never understood what was happening until your post... LOL! Thanks... that was very informative.

Naive, ignorant lads that we were, we shrugged and simply thought of it as yet another aspect of the 'stang's intrinsic tonal properties. We just tried to work with it. Sometimes you could harness it for some cool sonic effects, but it would have been nice to know how you could dampen it.
 
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The springs in my Schecter Strat used to feedback in a similar manner. I put a bit of styrofoam between them and the body of the guitar and it stopped the problem. Cotton balls in the springs is definitely a cleaner solution. I'm gonna have to upgrade to that!
 

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*cough* I have some really sweet N0S cotton balls from 1959 you might want to look at...they still have that vintage vibe if you are interested. Legend has it that they were used as earplugs by Joe Satriani...so they just might have that modern biting tone we all love.

If you are interested, I am selling them for 500$ per gram which works out to about 4200$ in total without tax.

Let me know if you decide, here is a pic:

 

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I've done the reverse, added springs to a Strat to generate some on board 'reverb'
 
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