Upgrading Highway One strat bridge

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by MGT, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. MGT

    MGT Member

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    I'd like to start upgrading my HW1 strat and thought I'd start with the bridge. I've heard that they're not the same size as the American Series (I have one so I suppose I could measure it). Any info on what brands/part numbers I could use? I have a Stew Mac catalog but didn't see anything there.

    Thanks!

    - Michael
     
  2. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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  3. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    The Highway One has a vintage-style bridge that mounts on six screws. The American Standard bridge since the late 80's is a two-point tremolo that floats on two threaded posts with threaded inserts in the top. Now, they have changed the saddles from the American Standard/American Series bridge (which had rectangular blocks of compressed or "scintered" steel powder) to the newest American Standard bridge (which has stamped, bent steel saddles like the vintage ones) but the fundamental difference is the six screw or two-post mounting.

    There have been some changes in the Highway One bridge with respect to string spacing at the saddles, and the '06 upgrade has a different alloy in the trem block that's supposed to have more steel in it.

    So, is your Highway One an '06 upgrade? My '07 Highway One says "PW 36" stamped on the bottom of the bridge plate and on the trem block. The MIM standards, by comparison, are very similar bridges but they say "PW 39" on them. I believe the Highway One's, before the '06 upgrade, had the same bridge as the MIM standards.

    What is it about the bridge you don't like? Do you like it floating for a gentle trem or are you a dive-bomber? The first thing you'll notice is a different feel and function, but real cork sniffers can swear they hear a different tone.

    I'd say the better money would be spent on having a well recommended tech do a pro setup and maybe a fret dress (level/crown/polish) to maximize the playability.

    Also, the best place to start if you're jonesing for parts-swapping (understandable) would be the tuning machines. OH, and the jack isn't a Switchcraft so you could change that out, and maybe use some shielded wire from the output jack to the volume control. That oughta satisfy the modder bug for a little while at least.
     
  4. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    Hey Bobby Thanks for the advice you gave me on learning to set up a Squier- I did have an oops when I lowered one of the two of the two threaded posts. I must of torqued it a little two much cause the hex heas crumbled.

    It is still fixing the bridge but one day I will need to remove and replace it.

    Any tips?
    tanx
    EnJoY The MuSiC
    GrooVey RecOrds
     
  5. MGT

    MGT Member

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    Thanks for the responses so far.

    Bob, it's a '07 model and I actually just screw the claw in so that the bridge isn't floating at all - just tight against the body (never use it and prefer the tuning stability whether real or imagined!). I've had a pro setup and am considering getting the Gotoh vintage tuners but mostly for the look, to be honest - I haven't had any tuning problems, really. As for why I suggested the bridge as a starting point for replacements, it's because I've read on TGP that the block/bridge can affect the tone a lot....but I wouldn't really know! I have the SSS model and will have a new pickguard delivered during the week that will allow me to install a Seymour Duncan '59 PAF in the bridge. I'm also going to add a tone control for the bridge...after playing a tele for years, I've gotten used to playing with the tone control constantly!

    Thanks for the suggestions.
     
  6. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    I just put an American size Callaham Vintage S Bridge kit on my highway one body. It fit perfectly.
     
  7. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    Gotoh vintage style machines would need conversion bushings. TonePros Kluson bolt-bushing Kluson Reproductions would be a direct drop-in (and they're shinier nickel than the Gotoh's).

    For a HSS setup I'd suggest a super-switch (four-pole, five-way) wiring like the way the LoneStar/Pearly Gates models were set up. Full humbucker in position one, but split-coil from the humbucker combined with your middle pickup in position two. One tone control for the single coils, the second knob for the 'bucker.

    Pickaguitar, what was the difference in tone with the pricey bridge?
     
  8. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    To add my two cents, the Callaham trem block added notable sustain to both of my strats and perhaps better note clarity (I can't really say it made the guitar brighter). I replaced the saddles mostly for looks so I can't attest to whether they are any better than what is currently on the Highway 1's.

    Also, if you're going to convert to an HSS setup with two tone controls, may I suggest you give the following diagram & chat thread a look:

    1 Volume / 2 Tone :
    http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa11/ajpeagle/Hss%20diagrams/hss-1.jpg

    Chat Thread :
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/archive/index.php/t-293930.html

    This diagram will let the humbucker see 500k volume and tone while the single coils see 250k...so everybody plays nice in the sandbox together. It does require a super/mega switch and a couple of extra caps & resistors, but the results are well worth the extra parts & soldering.
     
  9. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    That's basically what I did with my Hagstrom - without all those extra resistors. It's not an absolute rule to use 250K with single coils and 500K with 'buckers. It all depends on whether your humbucker sounds too dark with 250K pots and an .047 cap.

    For this wire-up you need the 4P5T super switch. The first tone control works for positions 5432 and the second tone knob only works in position 1 when you've got the humbucker on full. Position 2 does a coil shunt so you hear one coil from the bucker (usually the one further from the bridge, but it's more important that it acts RWRP combined with the middle pickup to stay hum-canceling) combined with the middle pickup.

    Now, if you want more sound options, put a push-pull one of the pots and use it to turn on one pickup regardless of the five-way switch position - that way you can get the neck and bridge pickup together or all three. Won't really sound like a tele, and won't sound like Dick Dale, either, but it's still fun.

    Oh and I've said it before but it's heresy to have humbuckers on a strat. Sinful pleasure, but wrong. Something about wanting something to feel guilty about...
     
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    The push pull pot is always fun. I have a blend pot on one of my SSS strats to accompish the same thing and the combinations are fun, even if I don't use them much at gigs.

    I do agree with the part about strats with humbuckers being heresy...which is why I have a partscaster strat with 2 of them.

    "My hypocrisy knows no bounds" ...Tombstone
     

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