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Callahan bridges on Les Paul

DT7

Member
Messages
2,794
It depends on what kind of bridge you have on there already. But in general, I'd say yes. Cold-rolled steel, as opposed to whatever mixture of metals they use in the stock bridge. Expect more clarity and detail to your tone...though as with all such things, YMMV.
 

mrfett

Member
Messages
1,481
Compared to what? If you have a cheap guitar with bad hardware, a well cut Callahan will probably sound better. If you have a recent Gibson with a no wire ABR1 with properly cut saddles, it might sound "different" but not necessarily "better". His marketing hype is a bit over the top IMO. I had a wired ABR bridge that rattled and replaced it with a Callaham instead of a TonePros because I was curious. It was the wrong finish though (nickel while my guitar had chrome hardware) and eventually I picked up a TonePros. No discernible difference, not even unplugged. His whole schtick about pot metal and all that, it might be true at some level, but you're getting very deep into cork sniffing territory there.

So it depends on what kind of a buyer you are. If you want to be able to brag about how much you spent on your guitar go for it. If you are more of a player looking for a good bridge, there's no need to spend that much unless you have the cash to burn (there's nothing wrong with that). I'd caution that there is a downside to his bridges though: if you need more intonation room on your G string for example, you're SOL if you didn't order it with the saddles reversed because those saddles aren't coming out. Maybe your luthier could do it but I wasn't able to.

We all buy guitars and mod them for different reasons. For some people, it's to make that killer NGD thread listing all the work they've had done to their brand new perfectly awesome guitar (often (not always!) because they aren't good enough to post a video of them playing the new guitar). For others, it's to have a guitar to play :) Hope that helps, just my opinion of course! :p
 

Mark Kane

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,825
On a good guitar I'd be surprised if you wouldn't hear a difference. You may or may not prefer it to what you had but I'd be surprised if you didn't hear it.
I've got them on a few guitars right now and those guitar sound better with them. I've tried them on many others though and I didn't care for the way they sounded on them. It's not just about brightness, clarity, what have you, it's an overall tone thing, more the whole range.
 

jimpridx

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,533
Compared to what? If you have a cheap guitar with bad hardware, a well cut Callahan will probably sound better. If you have a recent Gibson with a no wire ABR1 with properly cut saddles, it might sound "different" but not necessarily "better". His marketing hype is a bit over the top IMO. I had a wired ABR bridge that rattled and replaced it with a Callaham instead of a TonePros because I was curious. It was the wrong finish though (nickel while my guitar had chrome hardware) and eventually I picked up a TonePros. No discernible difference, not even unplugged. His whole schtick about pot metal and all that, it might be true at some level, but you're getting very deep into cork sniffing territory there.

So it depends on what kind of a buyer you are. If you want to be able to brag about how much you spent on your guitar go for it. If you are more of a player looking for a good bridge, there's no need to spend that much unless you have the cash to burn (there's nothing wrong with that). I'd caution that there is a downside to his bridges though: if you need more intonation room on your G string for example, you're SOL if you didn't order it with the saddles reversed because those saddles aren't coming out. Maybe your luthier could do it but I wasn't able to.

We all buy guitars and mod them for different reasons. For some people, it's to make that killer NGD thread listing all the work they've had done to their brand new perfectly awesome guitar (often (not always!) because they aren't good enough to post a video of them playing the new guitar). For others, it's to have a guitar to play :) Hope that helps, just my opinion of course! :p
A lot of good point have been said here, and I agree with the marketing hype. However, if you have a Les Paul that sounds a little on the dark side of things, I definitely believe that the Callaham ABR is a good choice if you want to bring out a tad more brightness and clarity. However, on a bright-sounding instrument, the Callaham can potentially become a bit overbearing, IMO. I couldn't care less about bragging rights on any upgrade as long as it does what it's supposed to do, and the Callaham is a pricey unit.
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,328
I like mine. I think they do make a difference, and it will be an easily noticable difference if you're going from something like a recent Nashville bridge. If you're replacing another ABR it won't be night and day, but you can tell a difference.
 

Mc Tanza

Member
Messages
236
It definitely makes a difference compared to the standard zinc units. Increased clarity, tighter lows, crisper attack and more importantly, increased harmonic content, which makes for a more complex sound with more bloom to the notes played if you let them sustain. It's not necessarily the best unit for every guitar, you may prefer the sound of a good zinc or brass unit, but in my case, I have Callaham ABR's in two guitars (one came with an ABR and the other with a Nashville type) and am happy with the change.
 

Ape Factory

Member
Messages
2,504
So I went through this with my Corsa LCPG. It comes with Faeber hardware including a lightweight aluminum tailpiece.

I ended up swapping out the brass saddles for titanium first, then I experimented with tailpieces. I already have a full Callaham bridge/saddle setup on my ES333 so swapping parts in to experiment was a no brainer.

I also ordered an RS Guitarworks billet aluminum tailpiece and I had a stock zinc unit off my ES lying around.

Going from the Faeber to the Callaham, DEFINITE improvement in sustain, not brighter but notes were a bit fuller. Very minor difference in that dept. I was pretty much set on keeping it on there. But what I did notice is more sympathetic vibration and it was harder to play clean. Maybe it's my experience level there but with aluminum, it wasn't an issue. So I swapped in the RS unit and seem to have the best of both worlds with it.

I have the Callaham back on the ES (I tried the stock zinc piece again) because it seems to work very well in that application with his brig but I plan on swapping in an aluminum piece this weekend just to try. But as others have said, the clarity is there and it does increase sustain. Definitely not as "plinky" as the zinc. Had a friend play my ES, with the Zinc tailpiece and he actually commented on it so I know it wasn't a placebo.

Overall, I felt my Corsa was a bit on the big/dark side and felt the Callaham was an improvement in the right direction. Ultimately, I ended up swapping to yet a third set of pickups which, combined with everything else, just nailed it for me. So depending on what you're not getting from your own guitar, either of those units (RS or Callaham) may work well. I still want to try the Faeber titanium tailpiece :)

Edit: Just so you know the Corsa is a LP-style guitar, made by one American luthier from scratch. www.corsaguitars.com
 

andyk

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,957
I like my Callaham on my R8 because of the quality. Adjusting the intonation is a breeze, compared to my other Gibson ABR's (with their warped screws, saddles popping out, etc)! It's more clear and resonant, IMHO.

My only dislikes are the small allen grub screws that I don't use, but the holes make it look non vintage.
 
Messages
860
The way I look at it is all the classic Holy Grail guitars from the 50's and 60's didn't have solid steel Callaham stuff and most people think they sounded ok. I'm not saying that it won't change your tone any, but improve it? As with a lot of the after-market tone enhancing products there is a lot of snake oil and hype going on.

I wonder why Callaham doesn't supply before and after clips? Same guitar, same amp, same settings. . just swap different bridges and tailpieces out. With the claims he makes about the effects of his hardware it should be fairly easy to hear by the average guitar player. AFAIK, no such clip exists on YouTube anywhere either.
 

rockinlespaul

Member
Messages
3,854
I think it's going a bit too far imho...

I wouldn't use one unless I was trying to brighten up a dark sounding guitar.
 

Ape Factory

Member
Messages
2,504
The Callaham doesn't make a guitar that much brighter, if at all. Sort of an urban legend.

The classic guitars from the 50's used aluminum tailpieces, not zinc steel.

I see nothing wrong with trying to improve. Not everyone's looking to recreate a vintage guitar. Things have actually gotten better IMO. With the Callaham, as a player, you can hear the increase in sustain. It isn't subtle but unless you're a player, as an observer, you probably wouldn't notice.

With that said, over on the My Les Paul forum, they did a back to back comparison with sound clips. But listening to anything this subtle over the internet is just pointless. Maybe the reason why there are no Youtube videos. I went back and forth and through about 10 sets of strings, playing through various amps just to make a good comparison.
 

Dr Doom

Member
Messages
1,128
I like the callaham bridge. He also sells or used to sell cryogenically frozen wire, so take his hype w/a grain of salt. I do like that bridge though.
 

markanini

Member
Messages
114
I've been GAS-ing the full Callaham tuneomatic and stoptail but I couldn't justify the price. Ended up with a NOS brass ABM stoptail and a steel-saddle tuneomatic from Rockinger and I'm happy with it did tonally. Tried the Gotoh aluminum stopbar too but I didn't like the tone.
 

mabnotes

Supporting Member
Messages
622
I put the Callaham bridge and screws on my 77 LPC, replacing the original zinc Nashville bridge. Huge difference and I saw it as an improvement. I actually swapped it and then went straight to a gig and it kind of was messing with my head and ears all night. I was re-eq'ing my amp and altering my picking and stuff. After the ear adjustment period I think all the hype he puts up is actually pretty true. Much more clarity, less mud - maybe heard as brighter at first - but actually more full, richer overtones.... Yes.
 

feet

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,601
it added a depth and chatoyance to the cleans that weren't there before. most notable in the lows. i generally find "piano-like" to be a worthless descriptor, but that isn't too far from the truth. more complexity. totally worth it for me, but that's what i like from a guitar.

only did the bridge. will do the screws at some point, i have them lying around.
 

mrfett

Member
Messages
1,481
I want to say one more thing on this: I'd feel different if his hype was less and his prices were lower. I think he's one of these guys preying on our tendency toward unhealthy consumerism (the idea that you can buy great tone). If you have the cash to spend, great, enjoy. If you're putting it on a credit card, you're wasting your money. Get something cheaper but functional that will still sound good and go practice more.

Gimmicks are just that. Page, Clapton, Slash, Gilmour, Young all made pretty decent sounding records without a stainless steel bridge (Slash still uses nashville bridges!). You can get a LOT of the same benefits from using longer stainless steel POSTS to hold your existing ABR1 (the MapleFlame mod).

What works for a retired baby boomer looking for a way to rekindle their glory days shouldn't be thought of as healthy by a young player who hasn't payed off their student loans yet. Jus sayin'.
 

mabnotes

Supporting Member
Messages
622
...I think he's one of these guys preying on our tendency toward unhealthy consumerism (the idea that you can buy great tone)... What works for a retired baby boomer looking for a way to rekindle their glory days shouldn't be thought of as healthy by a young player who hasn't payed off their student loans yet. Jus sayin'.
I don't think he's doing that at all. I always saw it as his take on hardware and he obviously believes in it. It's an option that's available if you think it's worth trying for your music. At least it was in my case, and I am faaaar from a retired baby boomer...
 






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