New Wilkinson Vintage trem-nice

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by mattmccloskey, Nov 19, 2005.


  1. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    Since this is a fairly new item I thought I would share some observations.

    I replaced a stock fender bridge with the new wilky vintage, partly just to try and also because it is an easy drop in, and like the pop-in arm feature.
    What a fantastic deal! You can get these new with a steel block for 40 bucks. My only concern was that it might be lower quality because the price is so low. Not an issue-this is a great bridge.

    The design is very good; it has a nice steel block that is full depth, full size. It is painted lightly black, no thick epoxy or anything. The plate is well-machined and polished, and it has the edge where it pivots angled across the screw holes like on the callaham, so it rocks smoothly and has good return. The saddles are nice, no burrs or plating problems, real smooth and look vintage. screws are correct length and operate perfectly for both action and intonation , and the holes all align perfectly on a 6 screw mount. Here is my favorite part-the arm is full vintage size and bend, and has the pop in design with set screw like the vsv.

    The only odd thing is the mounting screws are indeed large headed, and are a touch longer than fender sized screws. I luckily had a set of the callaham hardended mounting screws so I used those, which have a nicer (more beveled) head than even the fender ones. The springs that come with the wilky are sort of copper/brassy colored ones, which looks a little cheap, (don't know if it is good or bad)but I just left on the claw and springs from the fender bridge anyway.

    The sound is excellent, regular old fender bridge sound, no big change as far as I can tell without being able to A/B back and forth. If anything the wilky has a bit fatter low end. Very smooth highs, excellent with overdrive tones.

    The trem action is better, feels very smooth and even, and the arm feels great and stays where you put it. The best part is the tuning stability- I can use the bar like crazy and it really stays in tune (with nut lubed and strings stretched). I don't know if it is the plate edge, the staggered string holes, or the deep drill, but overall the tuning is better than the fender bridge.

    Lastly, the little closer string spacing keeps the E's on the fretboard, without drastically changing the feel from stock, and the bridge looks like a good old vintage trem. I really love it. I prefer it to the callaham bridge even if they were the same price, just swap the mounting screws for callaham or fender ones, and the springs, and you still come out way ahead cost-wise. This might be a drag for guys making expensive vintage type trems, because it really does what you want for less coin, and the quality is really excellent.
     
  2. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    Been quite curious about this bridge myself. Any issues with (high and low)E saddle fanout?
     
  3. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    so far so good on this one matte. I have played 2 gigs so far with it and have been playing it while teaching and around the house for a couple weeks, so we will see if it holds position.
    It is still the smooth plate without the slots as you can see from the pics, so it does have the potential I guess for that, but I think the main thing that holds them is the saddles screws staying level, and the intonation screws and spring tension holding tightly. It appears that the screws/threads for both are pretty secure and the little springs tight against the saddle, which I think will keep the saddle in line, but only time and wear will confirm this. So far it is functioning very smoothly and sounds good.
    I would like to hear the 2post vintage one as well sometime. I like my 1088 but a pop in arm is real cool.
     
  4. Moat

    Moat Member

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    Well good... this sounds promising. I've a 2-post version on order (4 weeks wait, 3 to go), that will go on an ash partsocaster I'm currently working on - can't wait!

    I'm suprised there's still so few of these in the pipeline, considering it's performance-feature/$$ ratio. It took some footwork to figure out how to even GET the 2-post version ordered here, stateside. My local dealer ended up calling it's Wilky supplier (WD Music), and they agreed to special order one from overseas (England, AFAIK). We'll see, if and when it arrives.

    I suppose you ordered yours from Guitarfetish? That was the only U.S. distributor of the 6-screw that I could find.

    In Googling around, I do remember someone mentioning it's sale stateside being held up by possible patent/trademark issues here.

    Here's some nice-looking Gotoh contenders, if only they were available stateside - Gotoh modernized vintage trems
     
  5. KLB

    KLB Member

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  6. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    yes Ken, that is the one. I got it from them, good price and quick ship.
    the screw spacing is indeed traditional but the string spacing is 2 1/8 as you said. It fits perfectly into 6 hole usa route, but gives you the spacing of the more modern bridges. I really cannot find a flaw with it- it continues to sound, feel, look great. It makes me wonder why so many other trems are so much more expensive, because the quality is just as good as anything else like the VSV, VS-100, etc, made by gotoh. The holes are deeper than fender, I don't know how far, but it looks like the steel block on my 1088 bridge that suhr puts on, as far as depth.
    I think wilkinson saves money by having them made overseas, and dealing in higher quantity I guess, because the materials, finish, and design seem excellent. I like it more than the callaham because of the spacing and pop in arm.
     
  7. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    I ordered one, for $38 it certainly is worth giving a try.
     
  8. KLB

    KLB Member

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    Thanks, Matt.

    I am ordering one today for a Morgaine Mintage '57.

    I ordered a D'Pergo bridge about a month ago, but the one they sent had the wrong spacing for the 6-screw pivot. It was built VERY well, and I may try one again if they can get the spacing correct.
     
  9. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    the d'pergo seems pretty cool and looks nice on the site, but I don't know that the price would really justify it. All I wanted was a vintage sounding and looking bridge with a pop in tensioned arm, slightly narrower string spacing, and hardened steel block and parts. The wilky does that exactly, so I don't really know how that can be improved on. I don't see any difference in quality between this and the callaham, I mean, we're not talking about a handmade wood product, it is steel and built with CNC machines. If the design is right, and the material good, it does the trick!
     
  10. KLB

    KLB Member

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    The D'Pergo has bevelled holes where the strings exit the bridge plate. This minimizes the chance of a string breaking at that point. Also, the saddle height screws are larger in diameter, with more contact on the bridge plate. You are right, though, this difference is probably not with the extra $120, assuming the other D'Pergo materials aren't superior in some way.

    Thanks for the info!
     
  11. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009 Silver Supporting Member

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    Hi Matt,

    Why do you like the narrow spacing? Is there an advantage or just preference? I'm I correct in calculating the new wilk string spacing as slightly wider than the 1088?

    Thanks!
     
  12. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    the spacing is about the same as the 1088 I believe, both are narrower than the vintage fender bridge by just a touch.
    I like it because it keeps the E strings from sliding off the frets so easily. On the vintage type string spacing the E strings are so close to the edge that many players slip the string off with wide vibrato, etc. It depends on the player but also the way the frets are dressed-too much bevel on the edge makes it worse. The 2 1/8 spacing just gives a little more breathing room which is nice. (instead of 2 7/32)
     
  13. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    That's one thing I think I wouldn't like. Because the wider, vintage spacing would most likely be better for fingerpicking. Also it gives you more room to turn around for alternate flat picking stuff.

    But a lot of it is just getting used to it, I'm sure. I've always played vintage style Fenders so I don't think I'd want the string all tight all of a sudden.

    Has anyone weighed these bridges? Someone did an incredibly anal experiment and took four or five Fender reissue trem bridges and weighed them and noted sound differences on the one test strat. They varied in weight, and the heaviest one sounded the best by far, according to them.
     
  14. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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  15. Bloozcat

    Bloozcat Member

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    Thanks for the review matt. I have been seriously considering this trem for a new Strat clone project I'm starting. I too like the 2 1/8" string spacing for the same reason...it keeps the E strings from slipping off the edge of the fretboard (especially the high E). Between your review and the one that John Suhr recently did, I thought I'd better grab one now. I ordered it from Guitarfetish this morning.

    Can't beat the combination of looks, features, quality, and price.
     
  16. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    yeah I was playing on it today and keep marveling at how nice it feels and sounds, and it looks nice too.
    As John Suhr said no "ping" at all, very smooth and fat, but not dark. The pitch return is very good as well.
    I put this on a 56 closet classic, and this particular fender is really exceptional, very light and resonant, with nice fret work, and the alignment,neck pocket, and feel is excellent. Being used to my suhr as my number 1, I wanted to do a few tweaks to get this closer in performance, so the wilky bridge and some fralin blues w/ base plate, with a careful setup have really made it a killer strat. Still doesn't have the buzz feiten or SSC system, but I got this fender barely used for a massive discount, so the upgrades still kept it under budget for a nice 2nd strat, and it still has the stock look and vibe.
    I would be interested to hear how a suhr sounds with one of these or the 2 point version. The 1088 sounds great to me but I really like these new wilkinsons.
     
  17. KLB

    KLB Member

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    I would like to try the two-post version of this trem on a Tyler Studio Elite.

    The pivot post spacing is about 2-11/32". One of the bridge plate pivot points is notched and the other (by the trem arm) is straight.
    This is a ~2002 era Wilkinson bridge with bent steel saddles, but no collar around the push-in trem arm. I don't think the block is made of steel.

    Does anyone know:

    1.) If the 2-post version of the Wilkinson Vintage Trem will fit?

    2.) Where to buy it?

    Thanks very much.
     
  18. Bloozcat

    Bloozcat Member

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    I was a little concerned at first that the depth of the string end holes in the inertia block might affect the tone of the trem. John Suhr pretty well answered my concerns when he said in his review that he could hear no difference between the Wilkinson and the Fender vintage trem with the steel block.

    I recall a memorable discussion (more like a full blown arguement) over at FDP between a rep. from Fender, Bill Callaham, and a host of others regarding not only the composition of the steel in the block, but also the depth of the string holes. John Suhr even got involved at one point. After wading through all of the various opinions on the matter, I'm inclined to believe that the hole depth is pretty much a non-factor in the final tone. I suppose that there are some with extremely well tuned ears that may be able to hear a difference, but to the average ear (like mine), there's no discernible difference.
     
  19. KLB

    KLB Member

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    What did the guys on FDP say about the effect on string tension?

    It seems from my non-scientific sample of a half-dozen guitars that the guitars with the string ball-ends recessed more deeply into the block have the least string tension.
     
  20. mattmccloskey

    mattmccloskey Supporting Member

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    Hey Ken,
    I notice a touch less tension with the wilky than with the stock fender or callaham. However, it is very minor, not even close to half a string gauge change. But I concur with your findings, it is just a bit more slinky with the deeper holes.

    As to the composition of blocks in general, I am pretty skeptical. Even though I think Callaham makes great products, I just don't think that the exact steel and hole depth make such a difference. I do notice a change from zinc or other cheap metal to real steel, and from those small blocks to a full size one. But apart from that, I think any full size steel block of similar weight will sound great, as long as the screws and everything are hardended so they won't wear out and bend.etc.
    I think the standard vintage fender bridge sounds good, I just don't like the tolerances, which can be sloppy, like the trem arm hole not lined up right with the plate, screws that can slip easy,stuff like that. The reason the callaham bridge is nice to me is it is just made well, everything fits right and feels sturdy. The wilkinson feels that way also, plus it has the design tweaks that make it more user friendly.
     

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