Never a huge believer in bridge-changes-tone believer until today

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by KCWM, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. KCWM

    KCWM Member

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    Now, when I say HUGE believer, what I mean is I've always thought it was a slight change in tone. I acknowledge the fact that bridges made of better stuff make a difference, but I never really thought it was a big difference.

    I recently installed the following Stew-Mac tele bridge
    [​IMG]
    I replaced the standard bridge that comes on a mexican Fender Tele, similar to this one:

    [​IMG]


    Before the bridge change, I really hated the way the tele pickups sounded. Brittle, thin, weak...however you want to say it. I'm still not overly impressed with the stock pickups in the tele, but it definitely sounds better. I am spoiled by having Rio Grande pickups in my other tele, so it's hard to love the stock pickups when A/B'd with good aftermarket ones. I adjusted the height and intonation (as good as one can with a TU-2) and now, when I use my bad monkey or DS-1, the distortion is much smoother...more even.

    If a cheap replacement bridge like the Stew Mac can make a difference, I do believe that I will have to look into a Callaham or other replacement steel block for my strat, at the very least. So, I now bow down to those who made claim that bridge replacements really effect the tone.

    After trying both planet waves and monster cables of differing lengths, I'm not sold that the extreme cost of cables is justified...but one step at a time, right?
     
  2. jamison162

    jamison162 Supporting Member

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    Is your strat ash or alder? Is the stock trem block zinc or steel? Do you want a brighter, tighter sound out of your strat? There's pros and cons to everything. A heavy steel trem block isn't always gonna be "better". Depends on what you want out of it.

    Hard to beat the Fulltone Gold cables. Great singnal strength, clarity and balance.
     
  3. nrvana8775

    nrvana8775 Member

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    I knew what the replacement was going to be before I came in here. I had the same experience, huge difference in sustain.
     
  4. KCWM

    KCWM Member

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    My strat is Alder. The current block in it is the cheaper zinc. It's a variation of the 2001 American Series strat, which I'm pretty sure had the cheaper block. It's equipped with two Seymour Duncan humbuckers, but the sustain I get leaves a lot to be desired.

    To be honest, I'm not 100% sure of what I want out of my strat. I've tried so many different strats and pickups (mostly centering around ash or alder). I do like the way that my current strat feels and the way the neck plays. It's the sound that I want to tweak. I figure starting with a solid foundation of hardware is the first step. From there, you can tweak the sound with different pickups.
     
  5. MojoHand

    MojoHand Supporting Member

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    I’ve heard the difference too. It’s real. In your case, it’s a particularly big departure going from the modern style MIM bridge using “metals of dubious origin” to a vintage style bridge using stamped steel and and brass saddles. These are apples and oranges and if you didn't hear a difference, I’d be surprised.

    Just my $.02 here, but I don’t particularly like the Callaham Tele bridge. It’s a quality piece, for sure, but I don’t think it sounds as “vintage” as the Glendale Guitars bridge. The differences here are really, really subtle, though. YMMV.
     
  6. starfish

    starfish Member

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    A HUGE +1. Ten years ago I had a hack luthier aggressively suggest I replace the original bridge on my early 70's ES-335 with a Gibson repro ABR-1. Even a tone deaf guit-tard could tell the new bridge sounded like crap. I stuck the original back on about a month later and just lived with the minor issue of an ever-so-slightly flattened radius to the bridge.

    Nevermind this hack luthier *was* considered the best in my region. Thankfully he retired and got LOST (inside joke). This guy was seriously an idiot. His setup work always came with issues - One time it was lost screws on a vintage guitar, until I bitched two inches from his face and then the missing parts were miraculously found again. He literally screwed up three guitars, so I never went back. I was not alone in my disgust. Many guys in my area agreed that GC could set up guitars better than this idiot who couldn't get it RIGHT (another inside joke). I hope he reads this board and understands what a dildo service he ran.

    Anyway because of this experience I learned how to do set up work myself and saved the really expert stuff for a real, skilled luthier. In December I decided it was time for a full workover on my ES-335. Two weeks ago I got it back from a skilled luthier who did a fantastic job - full refret, board leveling, and setup including restoring the original bridge. It only needed some TLC to get the radius just right. The original bridge sounds perfect and sustains great.

    FYI, I have also heard the same complaints about Rickenbacker bridges. The old (aluminum?) bridges sound better than the repro ones they use now.
     
  7. KCWM

    KCWM Member

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    I meant that I was considering the callaham block for my strat. I can't believe I didn't even think of the difference between the two different types of bridges. I know that I've found my preference. If my other tele didn't already have a Fishman VT Powerbridge w/ powerchip, I'd probably consider changing that one out as well.

    I am curious to try out a better bridge than the Stew-Mac version. They sell a Wilkinson tele bridge.
     
  8. MojoHand

    MojoHand Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I understood that. I was just going off on a tangent...

    I like the Callaham trem blocks a lot. I immediately put one in any Strat I buy.

    Just my opinion again, but I think that once you've gone to a vintage style stamped steel bridge, the differences between various manufacturers will be subtle. You might want to investigate saddles at this point. Glendale Guitars has some great ones in brass, aluminum, steel, even titanium. Lots of tonal choices and I think you'll hear the difference. Check 'em out:

    http://www.glendaleguitars.com/saddles.htm
     
  9. playon

    playon Supporting Member

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    Brass saddles, that was one of the reasons the pre '55 teles were so coveted in the first place... that & the flat pole pickups. Guys who have Teles with the 6-way bridges don't know what they're missing.

    But I recommend the new slanted saddles that are properly intonated. Callaham sells really good ones.
     
  10. KCWM

    KCWM Member

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    I'll definitely check into that. I like the look of the barrel saddles more than the 6 saddle bridges. There's just something about it that screams tele in my head.
     
  11. playon

    playon Supporting Member

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    They'll scream Tele in your amp too!

    Plus the Callaham ones have smaller screws so there is more room for the strings to sit properly, it makes a difference.
     
  12. HBob

    HBob Member

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    I have Rio Grandes in both my teles. Muy Grandes in one and Vintage Tall Boys in the other. I really like them. What do you have?
     
  13. KCWM

    KCWM Member

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    halfbreed in the neck and muy grande in the bridge.

    The neck pickup has a nice, fat sound to it and gets more gain than most of the strats w/ single coils I've played. I didn't install them myself in the guitar...they were in it when I bought it. I've now had a stock USA tele went back when it couldn't beat the Rio Grandes, and then we picked up a stock MIM to upgrade. The Rio Grandes beat out both the MIM and the USA tele pickups...handedly.
     
  14. DanD

    DanD Member

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    Better believe it does.
    I use only brass saddle on my tele. I tried the 6 saddle type and it lost a whole lot of tone.
    I changed my strat saddles to graphtec and it improved the sound and sustain.

    Good luck,
    DanD
     

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