is a callaham tremolo block really worth it!?!?!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Fuzzdawg, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

    Messages:
    448
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2006
    well? i have a friend that INSISTS (INSISTS!!!!) that a callaham tremolo block is worth the $80 you pay for it. is he out of his mind?
     
  2. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pleasanton, CA
    In my humble opinion, he is not out of his mind. I never gave too much thought to the differences between the Callaham inertia block and the standard one that Fender uses, until I got my EJ Strat. That Strat has a block very similar to the one Callaham makes, in that both are unpainted, and have shallow counterbores for the strings. (The counterbores are only deep enough to accommodate the string ball ends. I have no idea whether the material used to make the two different inertia blocks is the same.)

    The unplugged, acoustic tone of the EJ Strat was really something -- much bolder and more resonant than I'd heard, before. It was certainly more bold and resonant than my other Strat, a Custom Shop 65 NOS. I wanted to see if I could get the 65 NOS to have that quality, so I bought a Callaham bridge. It really did make a difference, one that I could hear, even unplugged.
     
  3. Fuzzdawg

    Fuzzdawg Member

    Messages:
    448
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2006
    yeah, but $80?!?!?!?!?
     
  4. monstermike

    monstermike Member

    Messages:
    1,290
    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    The block's actually $55 or so...
     
  5. Trandy

    Trandy Supporting Member

    Messages:
    6,181
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Location:
    Here and there....
    Piece of cake....I installed a titanium trem block (www.k-t-s.com) in one of my Strats...that cost me $210.00....and yes, it was worth it.

    IMHO of course.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    IMO it's well worth it as an upgrade on a guitar with a cheap alloy block. I have on several occasions swapped steel bridges into guitars with alloy blocks and it makes a HUGE difference to the tone.

    I'm less convinced it would make a useful difference on a guitar which already has a proper steel block of the same basic design, eg a US Fender RI. If the lack of paint (especially on the top where it contacts the bridgeplate) makes a difference - which is what I'm guessing Jim heard - you can easily scrape it off the one which has it. At the end of the day one piece of machined steel of the same dimensions is going to sound very much like another IMO... although I certainly don't disbelieve Jim. If you're talking about replacing it with Titanium, that's very different - it's a much harder, lighter metal, which will definitely give a different tone.

    Just my opinion, and I have not swapped a Callaham or other aftermarket block into a guitar which already has a steel one. I do think the paint may be important though, since it is a soft material which is definitely in the path of the vibration transfer.
     
  7. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pleasanton, CA
    John -- what about the depth of the string counterbore? The Callaham and the EJ inertia blocks each as a shallow counterbore, only deep enough to accommodate the string ball end. The old block on my 65 NOS had a rather deep counterbore. Do you think this might make a difference? I really don't know. All I do know is that there is a noticable difference between the new bridge and the old one. (I actually replaced the entire bridge assembly with a Callaham assembly. This assembly came with Callaham's new, harder saddles.)
     
    supergenius365 likes this.
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    I wonder if the saddles were more important? The saddle material definitely does change the tone. I certainly don't dispute at all that you heard a difference, or that it was significant. I also wouldn't rule out the depth of the counterbores having an effect, although unless it reduced the mass of the block significantly I'm not sure why it should (which doesn't mean it can't be so, though).

    I just have a bit of a hard time believing that replacing one machined steel block with another of the same material and dimensions should make any difference, if all the other factors are kept the same. Steel (this sort of grade, not meaning tool steel or stainless etc) is a fairly uniform material.

    I'll keep an open mind though... if someone replaces just the block - having made sure the old one has no paint on the top surface either - and hears a noticeable tone change, I'll be happy to try to think of why! I'm not about to spend $55 myself to find out :).
     
  9. Jim Collins

    Jim Collins Member

    Messages:
    1,940
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    Pleasanton, CA
    I'm not a metalurgist, nor do I play one on TV. Callaham claims that his inertia blocks are made of different material than Fender's current blocks, even those used by the Custom Shop.

    There actually is one more reason that a Callaham block might be worth the bucks, if you happen to use the trem. I've owned several Strats, in my life, but I've never cared to use the trem on any of them. I neglected Strat trems not because I don't like trems. In fact, I loved PRS trems, which are, more or less, a refinement on the Strat design. The reason I never used Strat trems is because the trem arms were so sloppy. It didn't matter whether or not I used the spring, the arm alway had way too much play in it. PRS trems, by contrast, were very solid.

    The Callaham block features a delrin insert in the trem hole. This grabs the arm, snuggly, removing all the play. The arm stays were you put it, with no need for that little spring. This makes the Strat trem so much more usable. (It still isn't as good as a PRS trem, but it is a lot better.)
     
    Khromo likes this.
  10. raz

    raz Member

    Messages:
    744
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Location:
    South and East of Seattle
    Unless it's for a G&L, then it's $95.

    Is it worth it? Perhaps, if you're not obsessive about historical accuracy being part of "the sound." Callaham claims to "improve" on the original designs and says he's not interested in making historical replica pieces. Whether they're an improvement is going to be in the ear of the beholder, ultimately. Some will say yes, others will disagree vehemently.

    I have a Callaham bridge on my Mexi-Tele, and I like it fine. It makes for a very good sound, but not the traditional Tele thing, in my opinion. Still, all-in-all, my experience with Callaham is positive so far.

    That said, I personally feel like some of the claims on his website are at best questionable and at worst, possibly misleading. I'm referring specifically to the whole Cryogenic treatment thing, not the trem-block issue, but I think it underscores the whole caveat emptor rule.

    Callaham parts are worth the premium if you think they are worth the premium...but only to you.
     
  11. BPlexico

    BPlexico Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    537
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    Central Texas
    I installed a titanium trem block from DeTemple for my Strat - it did nothing to negatively impact the tone and on a positive front it took four oz. off the guitar...

    -- Barr
     
  12. illinimax

    illinimax Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,582
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2002
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    The block from Pigtail is $55. Great parts.
     
  13. aeolian

    aeolian Member

    Messages:
    6,083
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA.
    I put one on a Mexican strat and it made a huge difference. Can't recommend this enough. Especially for the lower end guitars with the cheap blocks.
     
  14. atomicmassunit

    atomicmassunit Member

    Messages:
    1,701
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2005
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Big increase in volume from a MIM strat. I like it a lot, it made more of a positive impact to my ear than changing pickups. Upgrading the block is now my #1 strat upgrade.
     
  15. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,343
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Location:
    On top a mountain of Chocolate Chips
    It's worth the money and with all things considered really isn't too much to improve the tone as much as it does. People spend way more money on stuff which gives far less bang for the buck. Overall, I really like all the Callaham stuff. right now I have the bridge assembly on my strat and the tele bridge plate. Both items increase the volume, sustain and complexity to the guitar tone and help to define the low end.
     
  16. hrowe

    hrowe Member

    Messages:
    187
    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    I replaced the block on a US '62 reissue and didn't notice a difference...
     
  17. ducmike

    ducmike Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,681
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2004
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Will the Callaham bridge fit the Anderson trem? I love the tone of my Andy, I just prefer the Callaham screw in arms I have used for awhile on my strats.
     
  18. vorvick

    vorvick Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    Oregon
    I put the callaham block and bridge plate into my strat reissue. It made a very noticeable difference - both acoustically and electrically (my amp overdrives a bit earlier now.)

    For $55 + whatever I paid for the bridge plate... it was great! It's the first thing I'd recommnend to anyone that has the right strat (that the mod would fit.)
     
  19. alderbody

    alderbody Member

    Messages:
    682
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Location:
    overseas

    i don't think so....

    I have the full assembly in one Strat and just the block with a Fender bridge in another and they both sound great.

    I noticed the (HUGE) difference because i initially had the plain fender bridge, then i put the Callaham block on it, and then i replaced it with the full assembly, while i installed the Fender+Callaham bridge to the other Strat.

    Really worth every $

    :AOK
     
  20. speek

    speek Member

    Messages:
    35
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2007
    Location:
    magnolia, ma
    Brass seems to be a good alternative trem block for blues. It takes the edge off. The titianium block sounds cold and tinny to me, and it's really expensive. Any one else tried a brass one?
     

Share This Page