Callaham upgrades for American Standard Strats: Like yours?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Griz, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. Griz

    Griz Member

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    I've already decided to go with the upgrades; the Callaham stuff is highly recommended. Just interested as to whether anyone else here has done the full upgrade (trem block and arm, saddles) to their American Standard Strat. How did it work out for you?

    :D
     
  2. shawnpalmer

    shawnpalmer Member

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  3. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a Callaham bridge on my strat but since I assembled it from day one with that bridge, I have nothing to compare it to. Build quality is very good. I think the whole cryo spiel is BS but it doesn't make the bridge suck so I just ignore it.
     
  4. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    I have two matching Am Se 60th Anniversary "Cubic Zirc" Strats with the rosewood board, sunburst 3 piece alder body.

    Guitar #A has the Callaham trem arm, block and saddles;

    Guitar #B has the stock block and sintered steel saddles.

    With stock necks, there was no comparison, tone, sustain, playability. Now guitar #B has a monster Fatback neck on it, and I'd prefer to say they are different, but once one of these guitars has both mods, look out!

    The only difference between the Am Se and Am Std sets is whether the precision bent steel saddles are offset or not.

    Looked like this after initial assembly, before set up:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    I've done the Callaham block and saddles to both of my US Strats and not only is there a noticeable difference in sustain, but there is also better note clarity, which some quickly label as brightness, but I don't feel that's the right way to describe it. I also like the look of the vintage saddles over the cast block saddles.
     
  6. SLBlues

    SLBlues Member

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    I put the Callaham block and saddles on my Am Std strat and noticed a significant difference in sustain and to a lesser degree tone. I would recommend doing it. It has a maple board with BF Lollars. One of the saddles had a tiny rough spot on it that needed to be polished a bit, but no biggie.
     
  7. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Thanks, everybody. Nice pic, Boris Bubbanov.

    Looking forward to hearing the '91 Strat come into its full voice. May try a set of Kinman Blues pups on it as well.
     
  8. Peeb

    Peeb Member

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    Wow- surprised to hear that sustain is changed on the MIA strats. I had heard that the blocks on the American Strats was pretty comparable to the Callaham mod.
     
  9. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Possibly the new Fender ones do sound similar to the Callaham. Fender's newest series of USA Standard Strats have the vintage style bent steel saddles, and may have a better trem block than the 90's Standards too. Those two elements are basically what the Callaham upgrade addresses.

    Looking forward to installing the upgrades on my '91 Strat. It's a sweet playing guitar, but not very lively sounding. I had a CS Classic Player a while back, and its tremolo bridge was essentially similar to what I'll have after the Callaham upgrade. That guitar sounded great; lots of snap and twang, nice open ringing sound unplugged.
     
  10. jayn

    jayn Member

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    Not exactly what you asked, but I have 2 CS 65 NOS Strats at home right now, mine and a friend's, within 100 on serial numbers. For all intents and purposes, they are very similar guitars. Mine has Callaham block, bridge, saddles etc., his has stock Fender bridgeplate and saddles and a DeTemple trem block. My guitar sustains longer/stronger.

    Also, the push in trem arm and the shorter arm are great ideas. I'm very happy with it.
     
  11. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Thanks for the data, jayn.

    I was surprised to hear that the Callaham block even improved the sound of an EJ Strat, which was at a local shop. Surprised because the EJ's special trem block is one of its cool features.

    USPS tracking says my kit is flying my way as I type this. Looking forward to it.
     
  12. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

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    The string holes are drilled much more shallow on the Callaham. It ends up pulling more of the string through the body of the guitar instead of having the string ball rest against the plate beneath the saddle. Very nice and noticeable difference.
     
  13. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Just a quick update.

    The upgrade kit arrived and is now installed. Really easy to do.

    The improvement in the '91 Strat's sound is dramatic. Unplugged, it now has that open, ringing sound most of us look for as the sign of a good Strat. And the sustain is remarkable, especially for a floating bridge.

    I've still got a few things left to do (new nut, frets leveled and crowned, and of course new pickups). But so far the improvement just from the Callaham upgrade is huge.

    Highly recommended. :AOK
     
  14. NoahL

    NoahL Member

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    i put a callaham block in a G&L S-500, their superstrat with slightly hotter, more hi-fi pickups. it did just what everyone else says, but i didn't prefer the new tone. it lost some of the woodiness or texture it had. the pickups were already very clear, nuanced pickups. so i think depending on your tonal tastes, they might not be for you -- though i think that's the minority of cases. i've heard people say a change in transformer "took the blanket off" an amp, and the callaham block can do this to a guitar. depends on whether you think your guitar needs that.
     
  15. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Yes, definitely a question of what the instrument actually needs. I can imagine how a very bright and spanky sounding Strat might sound too trebly with this upgrade, unless the pickups were very mellow.

    A question of balance.

    :D
     
  16. Hugo Da Rosa

    Hugo Da Rosa Silver Supporting Member

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    Not sure if this helps you, but I have a Deluxe Player's strat with the reissue bridges that the new American Standards use. Having played both the old thick steel bridges vs. the lighter material in the reissue bridges, I did notice a much brighter tone out of the reissues. There is a slight improvement in sustain but what I really like was the clarity in tone. Since the Callaham bridges are almost the same, I would imagine it having the same effect. You get a lot more snap out of these bridges.
     
  17. Dylan61

    Dylan61 Member

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    Does it makes the guitar stiffer to play, as the strings are longer with shallow holes.
     
  18. Griz

    Griz Member

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    Interesting question. If the bridge is set up to float then it will be whatever increase in string tension is due to the slightly longer tuner-to-block string length vs. how the spring tension is set. Without any give from the springs, it could be expected to feel slightly stiffer for bending notes. But there's a degree of give in most floating setups, even with 5 springs.
     
  19. Ang3lus

    Ang3lus Member

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    there is added brightness i find with callaham bridges, which is awesome, also it fixed most of my tuning problems, now the guitar won't go out of tune every 2 seconds, takes 5 mins now, even with locking tuners.

    fender went downhill kinda i reckon
     
  20. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    I concur. Of all the Callaham stuff I have bought, the only part that did not knock me out was the high grade steel block I put on my blueburst G + L Comanche Dual Fulcrum. I like it, but in comparing it to my honeyburst G + L Comanche DF (both ash body, bicut maple neck) I would prefer to say they are different as opposed to saying the blue one is better. Thanks to Gustav, both gits are together here in FL; as soon as the neighbors go out the door, I'll crank both up again and give 'em another trial this week.

    Bubbanov
     

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