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Callaham vs Wudtone

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by jakeybob, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. jakeybob

    jakeybob New Member!

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    Hi all,

    I'm about to set about building up my first strat from various bits and bobs. I have an old Highway One body and am currently researching everything else.

    I was thinking of buying a Callaham bridge/trem/block/claw etc ( Callaham Vintage Guitars and Parts (Vintage S Bridge Assembly) ) as they seem to be held in high regard.

    However while surfing about earlier I happened across this bridge by Wudtone: Wudtone Custom Guitars, Finishes, Parts » Wudtone CP (constant pivot) Tremolo Bridge .

    The Callaham setup can be had for ~£125 and the Wudtone equivalent for ~£100 so the pricing isn't too different and I'm happy to pay the extra £25 if the Callaham is better.

    Does anyone have any experience of these two bridges? There are lots of (positive) opinions on the Callaham, but not too many I can find on the Wudtone except for the stuff on their website.


    At the moment I'm leaning towards the Wudtone because it has a shim plate between the bridge and the body (having the trem pivot against the wood seems inherently wrong, although I realise every strat ever made does this!) and because anyone who specifies the grade of spring steel in their product specs generally gets my vote ;)

    Any thoughts appreciated!
     
  2. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

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    I plan to try one at some point. I have several Callahams and Fender 57/62 units to use first. But once those are gone I will be testing one.

    I don't buy the part about the metal itself. I would expect Callaham and Fender go through the hardening process after the plate is bent.

    I do think the pivot point design is an improvement. If you use a lot of tremolo in your playing I would expect improvements in sustain and stability. Whether it makes a difference in real life requires testing. If the trem is used infrequently or blocked I would not expect it to change. I have corresponded with Andy to ask some questions. He seems like a good guy that believes in his product.
     
  3. jakeybob

    jakeybob New Member!

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    Yeah I just emailed him a question and he got back to me immediately, which is always a good sign.

    My comment about the steel was more to do with the fact that they're obviously proud of their design choices and aren't shy about stating them. I didn't quite get the part about C75 steel not being bendable: in a previous job/life I had manufactured some steel cantilever blades that were bent round to a 10cm radius. This was in maraging steel though, which I now recall gets much of its strength through the (post-machining) ageing process. Am now wondering how much a maraging steel bridge would cost ;)
     
  4. sumran

    sumran Fan of Leo

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    It may be harder but I doubt that makes much difference. Metal (like saddles or plates) would not be hardened until after they were bent. They don't make saddles, which would be the part most affected by the hardness.

    The pivot design they are using requires a thicker plate so it makes more sense to machine it.
     
  5. troal_cs

    troal_cs New Member!

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    Further on from my Constant Pivot tremolo bridge. As you might tell from the pics I recessed the steel shim into the body so I could get more of the bridge plate in contact with the body. I have been gigging with this guitar for the past few weeks, 3 gigs a week after doing the recess job and I must say…. the before recess & after recess of the shim made the most noticeable difference to my over all sustain and tonal resonance. To compare, some time ago I built my first set neck Les Paul style guitar and when cranked it has all the sweet spots for infinite sustain as you might expect from a quality built guitar. The LP was finished with Wudtone Mahogany for the back & neck and Saffron for the flamed maple top I put on it. The body & neck are mahogany wood and it screams….. Back to my strat style Cherry Flamenco… I originally had a nice tremolo bridge with a solid steel block on it but through some conversations with Andy, went for his CP bridge. The build quality is 2nd to none and the solid, high mass machined block is absolute perfection. This guitar now has sooo many sweet spots that my poor LP gets left at home (I am a strat man first & foremost anyway) and the sonic tones are soo buttery and sweet that when cranked still have clear articulation of each note even though your ears are bleeding. I must say that without a doubt this is the best tremolo bridge out there by far. The big names have a lesson or two to learn about quality over heritage. If you are thinking of doing that special build for yourself or for your own brand name building, look no further that this as an essential part of the hardware to make your guitars stand out above & beyond the rest. Also, if you are handy with a dremel or chisels, I recommend trying the recessing of the steel shim, you will be amazed at the difference. I know that there was a greatly improved tonal & sustain difference once I fitted this CP bridge, but for me, a seeker of the holy grail of tone, the recessing of the shim took me even higher and deeper into my world of tone. Cheers to Andy & Wudtone for making such a great tremolo bridge along with all your great wood finishes. This guitar is finished with Wudtone 'Cherry Flamenco' on a one piece swamp ash body.
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  6. OLDGREYGIT

    OLDGREYGIT Senior Stratmaster

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    I have used the Callaham, and it's a great bit of workmanship.
    However, it does not adress the fundamental problems inherent in Leo's mousetrap design.
    I have a Bladerunner on a HWY1, and it does an excellent job. I have fitted a Celtrocka vintage style steel trem block to it, and that is the icing on the cake.
    However, the Wudtone CP I have on my Bitza Strat beats the other two by miles, in terms of tone, return to pitch and stability.
    Can't fault the Wudtone CP in any way at all, a real keeper.
    Their neckplates are also nice, talk about rock solid!
     
  7. jakeybob

    jakeybob New Member!

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    In the end I went for the Wudtone bridge plate + trem setup, and am very happy with it! It's my first strat so I don't have anything to compare it to but it seems to hold tune well and it's very solid.

    The Wudtone neck plate looks rock solid too but I didn't fancy doing any drilling. My next idea for a project is to build a Jazzmaster from unfinished wood body+neck, and when I get round to that I'll be giving the Wudtone neck plate a whirl. I ended up buying four neckplates – a random no-name, a Fender "official" that I suspect is a copy, a Callaham, and a vintage 1979 Fender plate that I picked up cheap. The Callaham was obviously the best out of those so I went with that and would definitely recommend it as a drop-in (i.e. no drilling) replacement.
     
  8. NEStrataholic

    NEStrataholic Senior Stratmaster

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    I've often wondered if the constant pivot type bridges raise/depress action during trem use more than a synchronized bridge. The constant pivot design rotates the bridge around an axis running horizontally through the screws. The synchronized trem system drops down the screws as you push on the whammy bar while it begins to rotate. The net effect is the saddles rise less with the Synchronized trem system.

    Do people notice the difference in chording and using a constant pivot bridge/trem (a la in "Lenny")? I would think that raising of the saddles would affect pitch, but then, the use of the trem in the first place affects pitch.

    Does it matter?
     
  9. jsolo61654

    jsolo61654 New Member!

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    I've built quite a few Strats. Always used the Callaham bridge... it's awesome.
    I just tried the Wudtone version.... nothing but problems.
    Firstly; if you don't recess the plate that the front end of the bridge rests on, you might never get the string height that you desire. I set my string height at .050 at the 12th fret... even with the height adjustment screws fully backed out, you cannot get this low. So be prepared to take a chunk of wood out of the body where the plate sits if you like low action.

    Secondly; the actual string bridges appear to be too wide for the base assembly!!! The slots in the individual string bridges do not line up centered on the holes beneath them. As a result, the strings do not properly center on the individual bridges.
    My personal opinion is that this is a good concept... but needs an awful lot of "tweaking" and quality control before becoming a mainstream option.
     
  10. Honch

    Honch New Member!

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    Wouldn't it be better to take off the neck and make some shims inside the neck pocket to raise the entire neck from the body surface? It depends on what kind of Strat you have of course, but most have these 4 screws neck plates, and that would be a no brainer. You may lose some "direct coupling" from the neck to body, but I can't think it would make that much of a difference. Of course if you have to tilt it in some way it can become a liability, but I would at least try this one first, since it is reversible, and wouldn't affect the guitar in any way, should you have to go back to its former state.

    Actually I've tried this on a couple of strats where it was possible. It worked a charm. Not Wudtone though, but other manufacturers bridges and systems. Wudtone isn't the only ones that raises the whole assembly quite a bit from the body.

    I am interested in changing out my Callaham system for a Wudtone. Or something similar. I like the Stainless Steel sturdiness, and that the arm and block doesn't ever "threads out" and leaves a gap in the arm while whammying. But, now ten years on, I still have huge troubles in getting the Callaham stay in tune, even if it's decked to the body, as it is suggested on their own site. No pull ups with Callahams, which defies its use, in a sort of vintage way. The reason I went for Stainless Steel designs all the way through, is because of a lately developed nickel allergy. I have to use SS strings, SS frets and the rest of the hardware. I also don't like that the Callaham blocks has the shallow counterbore where the ball end of the strings resides on the borde. When using Super Bullets strings they protrude out, even so much it's out from the hole of the plastic cover plate. I want the blocks to be designed with as much deep tunnel as possible, and that any ball end, resides well into the block, almost at the top. I've come to the conclusion that it helps tuning stability the most, when it comes to traditional floating systems based on Fenders old design.
     
  11. Honch

    Honch New Member!

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    Actually I asked Wudtone about this earlier in this year, to which they replied:

    "The shim that goes underneath the plate is only 0.5mm so, as long as you have that gap between the saddles and the plate currently you can have the same action. An option is to recess the shim. Some of our customers do this not specifically lower the action, but to get the shim on the body and not some thick cushioning poly finish"


    Their ergo stainless steel saddles has a lower default action height to and is recommended for use. While not "Kosher vintage" or following anything original to a tee, these performs slightly better than others and originals regarding both keeping in tune, and more leeway room for different heights, both high action and lower action.

    [​IMG]
     
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