No, you don't have to strip the springs. Take the keys off, strip all the pads and corks, then strip the lacquer off all pieces. Then replace pads and corks and swedge the keys as you assemble the horn. You have to straighten the rods and keys and align the posts during re-assembly. It a lot of work for a student horn and it won't be worth more. I have left the springs in on every horn I have ever stripped. I use aircraft stripper myself.