How Far to Go With Modded Strat?

SchizoidDan

Member
Messages
90
So I have an American Series Strat from 2001 that I made many modifications to. I had the sunburst poly finish completely removed down to the bare wood and resprayed with a very thin surf green nitro. I also had the back of the maple neck sanded down to the bare wood and given the Ernie Ball treatment which feels amazing and I prefer to nitro on the neck. Additionally, I switched to a master tone and volume and also added a switch to provide a 7-way pickup configuration. The guitar plays and feels amazing to me and I have compared it to a few friends strats (mjt, nash, custom shop, etc.) and it's easily right up there with them.

So anyway... I don't like the offset bridge saddles that come in this era Strat so I plan to buy an American standard bridge plate from 2008 or newer when they became centered. I would then like to replace the crappy block saddles and tremolo block with Callaham parts. Before I do this though, I have two questions: I know the string spacing is supposed to be the same, but is there any chance that putting the centered bridge saddles and plate on my Strat would somehow give me issues with say the high e slipping off the fretboard or something? Also, is the increased strong tension from the shallow drilled Callaham blocks going to make my strings feel like a heavier gauge and make bends and playing in general more difficult?
 

mschafft

Member
Messages
2,068
I like the American Series block saddles. They are nice and comfortable for palm muting and in my experience tend to produce good sustain and a tight bass response. Ease of bend is very subtle so there is no way of really knowing but to try for yourself. If you stick to the original string spacing, your high e won't be slipping off the edge. You've done well with permanent mods. This one is non-permanent so kind of a no brainer if you have the ca$h, that is unless you go with a 6 screws tremolo unit for that vintage look and feel.
The resale value of Callaham parts isn't bad if you find a buyer.
You're turning this modern strat into a 50s type strat. I'm partial to surf green myself... But some modern appointments perform well. Do you dislike the stock saddles because of how they look? I say if you're pleased with the tone and playability consider leaving them on. Just my two cents.
Congrats on the previous mods, these were risky I guess and turned out well.
 
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candid_x

Member
Messages
9,667
The shallow Callaham string block's effect on string tension is marginal, imo, unless comparing to the cheap half size blocks in some mim guitars. Whether you like the cold rolled steel's effect on the sound is a more important consideration. The same for their saddles. I generally like their block but not their saddles. The smoothness of the trem, for me, is worth the price of admission, and the shorter trem arm finally makes me comfortable playing a floating bridge.

I'd either use Raw Vintage saddles, or stock bent steel, but I use and prefer original Highwood saddles, which should be re-released soon. I understand the current copies are chromed and not the same. I have some string breakage problems with stock saddles due to the sharp bend over the bridge before reaching the saddles. Highwood didn't come in the American Standard spacing before but announced they would at some point. In any case you'll need to stick to the same spacing if you want the bottom string holes to line up.

Good luck with the mod.
 
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SchizoidDan

Member
Messages
90
i don't necessarily have a problem with the block saddles per se. It's more-so that I read a lot of guys who know "tone" say they aren't as good as the vintage style steel ones (they also say the 2 point trem isn't as good because there are less points of contact). Same goes for the Callaham block... many people liken it to "taking a blanket off of their tone." I keep my bridge flush to the body and don't use a whammy bar ever so I have no need for how well the Callaham tremolo works. I am looking more for added sustain, and you're right, I am kind of trying to recreate a 50's style strat but with some modern modifications. The increased string tension is the real deal-breaker for me. Even if it's only slight, I don't know if I could justify spending the money on a Callaham block if it doesn't increase ease of play in addition to tone. Are there any substitutes to the Callaham that are as good without added string tension?
 

Blix

Wannabe Shredder
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,087
Just get the offset Callaham ones IMO. I have an 1988 YJM which got the Am.Std bridge and I got the offset Callahams and called it a day. It sounds so good now I don't want to change anything, including the stock block. Whatever it's made of :)
 

SchizoidDan

Member
Messages
90
At this point, I just want to get things as close to perfect as can be. In a way, I'm kind of making my own CS strat to my specs for much cheaper if you think about it: 3-piece alder body with thin nitro finish, one piece maple neck with no nasty poly finish on it, 9.5 inch radius, 7-way pickup selector, master volume and tone knobs, bone nut, etc. Still with all American made fender parts. I feel like the only pieces of my guitar that are still not up to the grade are the bridge, block and saddles. I don't like the offset intonation screws anyway because over time they tend to drift so regardless I'm gonna put the 2008 American standard bridge plate in. It's really just a matter of deciding on a tremolo block and saddles that will add as much sustain as possible and make the tone even better. Part of me is even thinking of just going all out and buying one of those conversion kits to make my trem a 6-screw but keep the modern string spacing but I don't know where I would get that. This is a fun project for me and even after all is said and done, since I got the guitar for free I'm pretty much still spending less than you'd pay for a new American standard strat but IMHO a million times better.
 

SchizoidDan

Member
Messages
90
Update: I just found out that a company called Wudtone makes a 6 screw bridge plate that fits into the modern 2-point without having to fill the two holes. Does anyone have any actual evidence that, when decked, a 2-point trem isn't as "resonant" as a 6 screw vintage one? Wudtone claims this bridge plate to offer increased resonance and sustain, and I read a ton of threads on here over the years about how many (almost all the ones I read) players seem to agree that the 6 screws are superior, especially if you don't use the trem and have it flush with the body. I'm ordering the Callaham block and raw vintage saddles, but it's between ordering a new fender 2-point bridge plate with center intonation screws or giving the Wudtone a try. Anyone have any experience with it or would I not see any improvement? I'm kind of obsessed with getting this guitar perfect and since I'm not selling it I'm going a bit nuts with modifications because I enjoy it.
 

candid_x

Member
Messages
9,667
Imo, there's no sure thing, and "best" is very subjective. I've noticed no additional string tension with a Callaham block, and I've had them in both 2-point and 6 screw strats. Frankly, I think that's so overstated. My experience has been that a 2-point doesn't come to its potential when it's decked, whereas a 6 screw does (different plate shapes). But I wouldn't hesitate to buy another 2-point if I intended to float it, and more than likely, unless it already has a steel block, I'd put a Callaham in there. But that's just me. There's no Gospel of best. Some feel the Callaham is too bright, and in some guitars that may be, based on your taste. I have just one strat (USACG/Callaham) and I put a couple of fatter, looser Raw Vintage strings with the other 3 to mitigate brightness from the Cal block in a bright guitar. It's currently decked, but I go back and forth with it. I just pull the two fat springs and a turn of the claw screws and play. It's possible to over complicate these things, but if you like tinkering, a strat is made for it.
 

2HBStrat

Member
Messages
41,216
..... Does anyone have any actual evidence that, when decked, a 2-point trem isn't as "resonant" as a 6 screw vintage one? ......

FWIW I know that it was fairly common practice back in the day to loosen or even remove the four middle screws on vintage style Strat bridges to have less possible points of binding for those who used the Fender vibrato, which may have been why Fender went to the 2-point trem in the first place......
 

Marcel

Member
Messages
603
The shallow Callaham string block's effect on string tension is marginal, imo, unless comparing to the cheap half size blocks in some mim guitars. Whether you like the cold rolled steel's effect on the sound is a more important consideration. The same for their saddles. I generally like their block but not their saddles. The smoothness of the trem, for me, is worth the price of admission, and the shorter trem arm finally makes me comfortable playing a floating bridge.

I'd either use Raw Vintage saddles, or stock bent steel, but I use and prefer original Highwood saddles, which should be re-released soon. I understand the current copies are chromed and not the same. I have some string breakage problems with stock saddles due to the sharp bend over the bridge before reaching the saddles. Highwood didn't come in the American Standard spacing before but announced they would at some point. In any case you'll need to stick to the same spacing if you want the bottom string holes to line up.

Good luck with the mod.

The copies are Chinese (not Indonesian as we previous thought) as we discovered on a Amazon.com webshop. The re-release is still scheduled at the beginning of March 2017.
 




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