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Old April 3rd, 2010, 09:37 AM   #1 (permalink)
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trem block

whats the deal, does a fatter steel trem block really make that big of a difference?

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Old April 3rd, 2010, 09:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You count the angels on the left side of the pin, I'll count them on the right.

It's been my experience that you need to do the mod to get a sense for what it does. I ended up decking my bridge. To my mind that made a huge difference, whereas the block did not. Others will say that I'm a fool--rightfully.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 10:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I think the biggest difference is in our minds. I personally like the idea of having a big block made of real metal. As for differences in sound, it depends on who you ask. I've heard folks that say they hear it and some that siad there wasn't much difference sonically. Like Uberstink said you have try it out for yourself.

I woulde get one from Guitar Fetish and get one theres cuz its cheap and they have good stuff too.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 10:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I've a Callaham block in my #1 and it made a nuanced but noticeable difference (noticeable to other people in the band, too). I can't say that it made all the difference, howoever, as I made other mods (Callaham stamped steel saddles, Fralin bassplate, etc.) at the same time. I would come closer to attributing the difference to the sum of all the changes rather than just the block.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 11:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It just never ceases to amaze me how much time, money and effort people put into a Stratocaster trying to make it sound less like a Stratocaster.

Tell you what, yeah, maybe in alone, in a quiet studio I could discern a tiny difference, but onstage at 90dB, I seriously doubt ANYONE can tell. When the amp is dialed in and you find that sweet spot onstage, trem blocks should be the furthest thing from your mind.

I think it's one of those things hobbyists and wannabees fuss over, but in the real world of being onstage and performing - it means nothing. I mean, Jimi, Eric, Stevie, Buddy, Nile, and al the other Stratomasters used the STOCK peices.

Heck, Jimi used a Telecaster on a few of his songs too.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 11:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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^^^ +100 on that sir.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 11:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hmm, most of my favourite guitarists modded the hell out of their guitars, changing pickups, bridges, adding active tone controls etc, including Eric... They could play, but these mods either helped their mojo or their tone or both. Or maybe they just found it fun. Whatever - it was part of the magic ingredient that made them, their live performances and studio recordings great.

Also, many modern Fenders and Squires do not have the same block or other specs that Jimi et al used back in the day. What was off the shelf to them is not the same as what is off the shelf nowadays (I'm not saying modern guitars are worse, just pointing out they are not the same).

I have a Tele that since new brought a smile to my face everytime I played it. My strat sounded great, but something in the sound always bugged me and brought me down when I played it. I did various mods to try and fix it, eventually I changed the bridge, and now the sound brings a smile to my face every time I pick it up and twang it. Just for that, this mod was worth so much more than I paid, irrespective of what anyone hears or whether audiences can tell.
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Old April 3rd, 2010, 11:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I might agree with you offshore. I have a crappy zinc bridge in one of my strats and a newer vintage bridge with steel (I think) block in the other strat. The zinc bridge strat doesn't have as much sustain (unplugged). I think it's the block but it could be any number of other things??? But plugged in, I can only hear the differences in pickups. I suppose others could but I can't imagine anyone can hear the difference when your playing with a band.

However, how do you know Jimi, Eric, Stevie, Buddy, Nile don't fuss over these things. Look at Clapton's Blackie. He even blocked the trem off with wood to get more sustain (at least I think that's the reason), he mixed and matched the best parts of 3 or 4 strats. And then David's black strat. It's seen 3 or 4 necks, a Floyd type of bridge, back to vintage, custom electronics, mixed and matched pickups... and there's Edie's Frankenstrat... They have modified their strats like crazy over the years with both Fender and non Fender parts. I think it's reasonable to think that they might have experimented with different bridges and blocks.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 02:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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well, thanks all, I was going to buy one, but I just bought a new project body that came with...wait for it...a GFS bridge with a big nasty steel trem block. Gonna drop her in and see how she rolls
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Old April 4th, 2010, 06:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
It just never ceases to amaze me how much time, money and effort people put into a Stratocaster trying to make it sound less like a Stratocaster.
I changed to Callaham in order to let it sound like a Stratocaster like the one Leo invented, but then for some reasons was ruined by CBS. A vintage trem block changes a lot, at least to a MIM with the cheap pot metal block in. And yes on stages it sounds like it was suppose to do, ringing bell like tones, the lower strings really piano like. Off course it depends on the kind of music played, i think if someone would play heavy metal, then it really does not matter what the block is made of.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 06:38 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outlier73 View Post
I might agree with you offshore. I have a crappy zinc bridge in one of my strats and a newer vintage bridge with steel (I think) block in the other strat. The zinc bridge strat doesn't have as much sustain (unplugged). I think it's the block but it could be any number of other things??? But plugged in, I can only hear the differences in pickups. I suppose others could but I can't imagine anyone can hear the difference when your playing with a band.

However, how do you know Jimi, Eric, Stevie, Buddy, Nile don't fuss over these things. Look at Clapton's Blackie. He even blocked the trem off with wood to get more sustain (at least I think that's the reason), he mixed and matched the best parts of 3 or 4 strats. And then David's black strat. It's seen 3 or 4 necks, a Floyd type of bridge, back to vintage, custom electronics, mixed and matched pickups... and there's Edie's Frankenstrat... They have modified their strats like crazy over the years with both Fender and non Fender parts. I think it's reasonable to think that they might have experimented with different bridges and blocks.
Sir can i just correct you on one fact, at the last count Gilmours black Strat had at least seven neck changes. Carry on.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 07:07 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offshore Angler View Post
It just never ceases to amaze me how much time, money and effort people put into a Stratocaster trying to make it sound less like a Stratocaster.

Tell you what, yeah, maybe in alone, in a quiet studio I could discern a tiny difference, but onstage at 90dB, I seriously doubt ANYONE can tell. When the amp is dialed in and you find that sweet spot onstage, trem blocks should be the furthest thing from your mind.

I think it's one of those things hobbyists and wannabees fuss over, but in the real world of being onstage and performing - it means nothing. I mean, Jimi, Eric, Stevie, Buddy, Nile, and al the other Stratomasters used the STOCK peices.

Heck, Jimi used a Telecaster on a few of his songs too.

What a buzz kill provocateur.

One of the beauties of a strat (and life) is to explore.
There is so many after market bolt on options, that you can easily muck with it until it's just right.

Granted, the single biggest improvement to the sound of your guitar is practice.

But to respond to the original poster, one of these days I'm going to get around to get a trem block from that dude on this site, CeltRocka. My MIM has one of those crap zinc dampening blocks... and that's just negative mojo.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 08:10 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I have modded my RW Strat six ways to Sunday and not only was it for tone and playability but I really feel like I know my guitar inside and out now. I think modding is valuable in that it allows us to learn a lot about a Strat and when we do have issues we aren't afraid to get in there and work on it. I have a full Callaham V/N trem and not only did I get the full benefit of the steel block (I wanted to the get the 50's RW as close to 50's specs as possible). The other great thing was that it narrowed my string spacing to get those E strings off the side.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 11:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
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If you would like to explore the tonal difference in a high mass trem block, why not try one of these at less than half the cost of a Callaham? Just an idea...

Upgrade Steel and Brass Tremolo Blocks
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Old April 4th, 2010, 11:44 AM   #15 (permalink)
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BTW, the trem blocks that came in the MIM strats, up until very recently, are essentially half-castings. I'm looking at my old one right now - obviously a part where Fender believed they could save some money on production costs. My tech, an old friend from high school, who is an extraordinary luthier (and I'm damn lucky to have him for a friend), just swapped out the stock MIM bridge for an NOS USA-made Wilkinson VS100 he had in his storeroom.

I can hear a definite difference in tone & sustain and for the first time ever, I can dive-bomb the trem and the guitar returns to perfect tuning every damn time!
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Old April 4th, 2010, 12:00 PM   #16 (permalink)
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the prob. is that the blocks in some strats are minimal at best.i have a tradition strat copy.yes its not a fender so sorry.i totaly dig everything about this guitar except the block.its about a 1/4 inch thick it barely looks strong enough to not break.with all this guitar offers at the price piont they had to cut some corners at least this is a easy fix.i know this will have to help the tone ill be adding 4 times the metal.when i do change the block ill let everybody know what/if i hear improvement.if changing this block doesnt change the tone i dont think changing any block is justified.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 11:32 PM   #17 (permalink)
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took the new GFS block and bridge for a spin, and lucky me, we got more sustain and a clearer low end.. However, that bit of extra weight did not go un-noticed
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Old April 8th, 2010, 01:35 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Hot rodding a Strat is just good clean fun. Some guys are into computers, some cars, some clothes, some watches, some exotic dancers etc. What else can a poor boy do with his money ?
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Old April 8th, 2010, 05:27 AM   #19 (permalink)
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The deal with swapping a trem block is to try to get it back to those classic sounds of Eric, Jimi, Buddy, etc. - over the years Fender cut costs by sacrificing elements of construction and it affected the sound.
Here's my take, and it comes from experience: if you already have as large block trem like what's on the American Vintage Reissue style, the difference will not be as dramatic - you might even be disappointed. I have bat ears (I'm blind as a bat too) and I could hear improvements acoustically and plugged in, but they were not "woah! that's different" improvements.
Now - if you've got a cheap potmetal die cast block - even a large one - the difference will be much more apparent. The old trem on my mid 80's Squier was the original, and although a large block you couldn't even get a magnet to even halfway grip it. When I dropped Fender vintage reissue trem in there was a HUGE difference in sound. Same when I put full sized Callaham or a Celtrocka block in my American standard trems, replacing the tapered blocks that were in there - not as dramatic as the switch on the Squier, but still very noticeable.
So - bottom line - if you've got a full size block of a decent metal then it's probably not worth changing it - if you've got a tapered and/or pot metal block then the improvement will be more apparent...
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Old April 8th, 2010, 09:31 AM   #20 (permalink)
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ToneRanger, Very well said. I might add that changing from one of the cheap thin blocks to a full sized steel block will yield a more full sound, ( rounder, fuller bass response especially). I record any changes I do to guitars so I can listen to an A/B comparison of the changes that I have made and quite frankly changing to a full sized steel block from the thin ones is quite a large improvement.
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