I have a G&L S-500 MIA guitar and was reading about locking the trem down. What are the benefits to doing this? Also can this be done with springs rather than using wooden blocks. Any input would be great.
Benefits: tuning stability, elimination of trem gargle, string-to-string pitch independence during bends, easier string changing and setup.
Alleged benefit: more sustain
The tuning stability benefit depends on the guitar and setup. My first production year (early '80s) S-500 is rock solid for tuning stability, even through bends and trem use. But it may just be a shining example. I won't block the trem on this guitar because it works so well.
Blocking is the normal way of doing this, but you may also replace one of your springs with an aftermarket product called "Trem Lock" or similar -- that's easier to undo. Another option that yields many of the benefits but only allows the trem to do a down bend, is partial blocking. For this, a single block is inserted to inhibit only upward bending, and the springs are "overtightened" to keep the bridge plate or interia block pressed firmly against the added block under normal string tension.
-=tension & release=-