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Highwood Contoured Saddles

Blackmoreguitar

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,981
Disclosure: Marcel @ Highwood (highwood-guitarparts.com), asked me if I would do a review of his bridge saddles. I am happy to do so as I really like his product.


I was curious to try the Highwood saddles after learning about them on TGP. Firstly to eliminate the feel of the saddle screws, secondly they are notched so keep the string in the centre of the saddle, and thirdly because they look cool and I enjoy tinkering with my guitars and putting together partscasters and the like.


I ordered these for my Custom Shop Strat. The Highwood web site has clear instructions how to determine the correct width of saddle. It was during the measuring process that I realised why my bridge looked strange; the saddles fitted to my Custom Shop guitar were the wrong, (too narrow), width.


The saddles turned up a few days later, nicely packaged, and Highwood sends emails notifying the status of your order along the way.


Fitting and intonation was quick and easy; I changed out one saddle at a time so I always had a reference as to the correct position of each saddle, and intonating the guitar later, was quick and easy.


Once restrung it was immediately obvious that these were very comfortable to use, and also that string muting with the side of the right hand was easier.


So after some string stretching, time to plug in and have a play. And they sound better as well. The guitar sounded ‘bigger’ with a lot of clarity. At first I kind of thought it was probably just the new strings, but the first impression persisted. It was a week or so before I used the guitar with the band, and sure enough it was still sounding better to me than it had, and the strings had had plenty of time to settle in by this time.


So, my conclusion is that these are definitely a worthwhile addition. I am currently putting together another partscaster using a Sonic Blue American Special body and a Warmoth scalloped neck with Pau Ferro fret board, and I have ordered another set of Highwood saddles for this guitar.

A couple of pics: First the saddles on my white Custom Shop Strat;

View media item 75019
And the recipient of the second set which are in the post;

View media item 75020
 

candid_x

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,678
The "bigger sound" is what Dana Olsen called "more fundamental" sound, a bit less airy, which I agree with. Yet not like block saddles, which I don't care for on Strats. I've been considering adding them to my Clapton Strat, though there are no protruding height adjustment set screws. The Vintage Noiseless pickups may sound better with a bit more body. I've already made it less period correct by changing to 3-ply covers anyway. Great saddles!
 

Fons

Member
Messages
523
Very interested in these. They seem like a true improvement, not just "something different".
They are. And these have really long slots where the strings come through coming out of the sustain block, so there is zero chance for the strings to get stuck on the edge of the slots eliminating strings going out of tune at these points. These slots are the longest I have seen; even longer than the Callaham or Wilkinson Vintage Saddles. Very well thought out Saddles.
 

korus

Member
Messages
1,183
Disclosure: Marcel @ Highwood (highwood-guitarparts.com), asked me if I would do a review of his bridge saddles. I am happy to do so as I really like his product.


I was curious to try the Highwood saddles after learning about them on TGP. Firstly to eliminate the feel of the saddle screws, secondly they are notched so keep the string in the centre of the saddle, and thirdly because they look cool and I enjoy tinkering with my guitars and putting together partscasters and the like.


I ordered these for my Custom Shop Strat. The Highwood web site has clear instructions how to determine the correct width of saddle. It was during the measuring process that I realised why my bridge looked strange; the saddles fitted to my Custom Shop guitar were the wrong, (too narrow), width.


The saddles turned up a few days later, nicely packaged, and Highwood sends emails notifying the status of your order along the way.


Fitting and intonation was quick and easy; I changed out one saddle at a time so I always had a reference as to the correct position of each saddle, and intonating the guitar later, was quick and easy.


Once restrung it was immediately obvious that these were very comfortable to use, and also that string muting with the side of the right hand was easier.


So after some string stretching, time to plug in and have a play. And they sound better as well. The guitar sounded ‘bigger’ with a lot of clarity. At first I kind of thought it was probably just the new strings, but the first impression persisted. It was a week or so before I used the guitar with the band, and sure enough it was still sounding better to me than it had, and the strings had had plenty of time to settle in by this time.


So, my conclusion is that these are definitely a worthwhile addition. I am currently putting together another partscaster using a Sonic Blue American Special body and a Warmoth scalloped neck with Pau Ferro fret board, and I have ordered another set of Highwood saddles for this guitar.

A couple of pics: First the saddles on my white Custom Shop Strat;

View media item 75019
And the recipient of the second set which are in the post;

View media item 75020
Thanks for the review/sharing. I have only two simple questions :

- have you replaced intonation screws and springs also?

- can you use any magnet even fridge one and check if intonation screws and saddle height screws are magnetic? (carbon steel, not stainless steel)

Thanks for your time.
 
Last edited:

Blackmoreguitar

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,981
Thanks for the review/sharing. I have only two simple questions :

- have you replaced intonation screws and springs also?

- can you use any magnet even fridge one and check if intonation screws and saddle height screws are magnetic? (carbon steel, not stainless steel)

Thanks for your time.
I used the saddle height screws and intonation screws / springs that came with the Highwood saddles. My second set of Highwood saddles just arrived so I checked one of these with a magnet. The springs are attracted to a magnet, as are the saddles. The intonation screws and height adjustment screws are 'barely' magnetic; they seemed to have a very slight attraction to the magnet, but nothing like some of the random other screws I tried. I guess that means they are some kind of stainless steel.

Magnets used; one fridge magnetic and an old fender single coil strat pickup; same result with both.

Hope that is useful to you.

I am curious as to why you want to know this though?
 

Lex Luthier

Member
Messages
1,765
I would guess they use SS screws so they don't rust. It's not a lot of fun trying to clean out rusty crud in the hex screws in old Fender saddles trying to get the allen wrench to go in again
 

Lex Luthier

Member
Messages
1,765
FWIW, I have used the Highwood saddles since 2015, and I love them. I am not an endorser, just enthusiastic about them.
 

trap

Member
Messages
4,586
The "bigger sound" is what Dana Olsen called "more fundamental" sound, a bit less airy, which I agree with. Yet not like block saddles, which I don't care for on Strats. I've been considering adding them to my Clapton Strat, though there are no protruding height adjustment set screws. The Vintage Noiseless pickups may sound better with a bit more body. I've already made it less period correct by changing to 3-ply covers anyway. Great saddles!
Yes. I'm on the fence about that "Fundamental " sound. I like the light airy sound of the RV saddles I've been using. To my ears it's a pretty big difference.
 

candid_x

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,678
Yes. I'm on the fence about that "Fundamental " sound. I like the light airy sound of the RV saddles I've been using. To my ears it's a pretty big difference.
So you have tried the Highwood then?

In my case, I swapped a set of Callaham saddles for the Highwood, which had an annoying high pitched ring to them. I'd already tried the Cals before and didn't like them, but this guitar also came with it. I was looking to swap back to stock Fenders but then learned about the Highwood and decided to give them a try. I've never regretted it. To my ears there's just the right amount of air and body, and that ringing sound is gone. Both the RV and the Callaham use harder than stock steel. It would be interesting to compare stock to Highwood. Because I've decided to sell my Clapton, I'm holding off on a saddle swap.
 

trap

Member
Messages
4,586
So you have tried the Highwood then?

In my case, I swapped a set of Callaham saddles for the Highwood, which had an annoying high pitched ring to them. I'd already tried the Cals before and didn't like them, but this guitar also came with it. I was looking to swap back to stock Fenders but then learned about the Highwood and decided to give them a try. I've never regretted it. To my ears there's just the right amount of air and body, and that ringing sound is gone. Both the RV and the Callaham use harder than stock steel. It would be interesting to compare stock to Highwood. Because I've decided to sell my Clapton, I'm holding off on a saddle swap.
Yes I've tried them. I'll give them another try though. They feel great, and I like the notch too.
 

trap

Member
Messages
4,586
Ok, I tried them again. Very nice but...... I went back to the RV saddles. I just miss that clear high end. The Highwoods are great but they do not sound the same as the vintage style bent steel saddles. No way.
 

Fons

Member
Messages
523
I tried the Callaham Saddles that had to much high, I tried 2 different sets of Raw Vintage Saddles and there was this one set that sounded just a tad warmer than the other. All on the same MIM Strat. Love the Highwood's: true Vintage Tone as I ever heard it from a '59 Strat. To my ears they have exactly the right amount of Clear, mid and Bass. And slightly more of it too.
 

trap

Member
Messages
4,586
I tried the Callaham Saddles that had to much high, I tried 2 different sets of Raw Vintage Saddles and there was this one set that sounded just a tad warmer than the other. All on the same MIM Strat. Love the Highwood's: true Vintage Tone as I ever heard it from a '59 Strat. To my ears they have exactly the right amount of Clear, mid and Bass. And slightly more of it too.
Every ear is different, but as Dana Olsen said, there is more of the fundamental note in there. I never heard a bent steel with that.
It's a nice sound but to my ears doesn't have that funk.
 

Fons

Member
Messages
523
Every ear is different, but as Dana Olsen said, there is more of the fundamental note in there. I never heard a bent steel with that.
It's a nice sound but to my ears doesn't have that funk.
True that on ears. Except that Dana's review says that these fundamentals are every bit a true Vintage Saddle, but more of it. And many top dogs in the business agree.
 




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