String alignment over saddles - question...

Grendel2000

Strat-Talker
Aug 20, 2019
146
Maryland
I have a MIM Fender Strat with a Callaham bridge, block and saddles. This is my first electric guitar and my first and only Strat. I've now owned it for about 2.5 years.

I've noticed that the strings are rarely centered on the saddles. They tend to slant slightly in the direction of the bass side of the guitar, in the direction they naturally pivot to when I bend. Is this normal? Can/should anything be done to keep them centered? BTW - the Saddles themselves are aligned properly in relation to the bridge plate - no issue there.

I feel kinda OCD asking about it. I don't have any issues with the guitar when the strings are out of position/uncentered - it plays fine. It just occurred to me that my other guitars ( Tele and a 339 style semi hollow with ABR-1 style bridge) have notches in the saddles to precisely align the strings. My Strat saddles obviously don't...

Is this an issue or am I over thinking things?

Thanks!
 

Groundwire

Strat-O-Master
Apr 16, 2021
665
Oregon
It’s not really an issue unless the strings slip around and make your spacing between strings awkward, or the outer strings slips off the edge of the board.

The older Fender saddles were a softer steel, and the strings would sort of naturally make a groove in them over time. The Callaham saddles are hardened steel, and so they may not form those natural string guides. This might be a good thing, as those grooves can lead to burrs and string breakage.

If it bothers you, you can always try the Highwood saddles, which have a string guide down the middle of each saddle.
 

Guitarmageddon

Dr. Stratster
Apr 19, 2014
27,155
Canada
I have a MIM Fender Strat with a Callaham bridge, block and saddles. This is my first electric guitar and my first and only Strat. I've now owned it for about 2.5 years.

I've noticed that the strings are rarely centered on the saddles. They tend to slant slightly in the direction of the bass side of the guitar, in the direction they naturally pivot to when I bend. Is this normal? Can/should anything be done to keep them centered? BTW - the Saddles themselves are aligned properly in relation to the bridge plate - no issue there.

I feel kinda OCD asking about it. I don't have any issues with the guitar when the strings are out of position/uncentered - it plays fine. It just occurred to me that my other guitars ( Tele and a 339 style semi hollow with ABR-1 style bridge) have notches in the saddles to precisely align the strings. My Strat saddles obviously don't...

Is this an issue or am I over thinking things?

Thanks!

Just checking - is each saddle 'level' with the bridge plate and not slanted in any way?
 

Grendel2000

Strat-Talker
Aug 20, 2019
146
Maryland
It’s not really an issue unless the strings slip around and make your spacing between strings awkward, or the outer strings slips off the edge of the board.

The older Fender saddles were a softer steel, and the strings would sort of naturally make a groove in them over time. The Callaham saddles are hardened steel, and so they may not form those natural string guides. This might be a good thing, as those grooves can lead to burrs and string breakage.

If it bothers you, you can always try the Highwood saddles, which have a string guide down the middle of each saddle.
These seem like an awesome solution, thanks! Can anyone tell me which spacing is correct for the Callahan bridge replacement for a MIM Strat?
 

Grendel2000

Strat-Talker
Aug 20, 2019
146
Maryland
Just checking - is each saddle 'level' with the bridge plate and not slanted in any way?
Yes, the saddles are level (parallel with the face of the guitar).
..yes, pics would be a big help and take one or two from behind the bridge and low, looking forward up the neck as well as looking towards the front of the bridge.
Sorry - I'll try to get some. It's been a crazy week with My daughter getting home from college for only a few days before heading to work at Yellowstone for the summer.

Thanks!
 

PCollen

Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Feb 13, 2014
3,908
Florida
Yes, the saddles are level (parallel with the face of the guitar).

Sorry - I'll try to get some. It's been a crazy week with My daughter getting home from college for only a few days before heading to work at Yellowstone for the summer.

Thanks!
No rush, Dad. Wow ! A summer job at Yellowstone would be a dream job for a young person....enviable for sure.
 

Grendel2000

Strat-Talker
Aug 20, 2019
146
Maryland
No rush, Dad. Wow ! A summer job at Yellowstone would be a dream job for a young person....enviable for sure.
Yeah, she's REALLY excited. We are too but it breaks my heart a little that we only really get three days with her before she's gone for the whole summer. To top it off, this is the end of her freshman year so we're definitely still adjusting to her being gone in the first place.

Bittersweet...
 

Grendel2000

Strat-Talker
Aug 20, 2019
146
Maryland
Well...

I ordered some of the Highwoods and aside from one small issue I think they're pretty great so far!

Strangely, they almost seem like a better fit overall than the actual Callaham saddles that came in my set (Callahan whole bridge - plate, saddles, bar, & block). Fit & finish is very nice.

My issue is that several of the saddles (or intonation screws?) seemed to put up resistance to turning when the last bit of the tip of the screw was passing through the hole. Of the three like this, two ended up fine. One, however, had the tip of the screw break off in the hole, rendering that saddle useless.

It's unfortunate.

I've contacted Highwood about getting a replacement - hopefully no issues there. For now I put one of the Callaham saddles back on until the replacement arrives.

To be fair, I changed string gauges at the same time, so I can't provide a scientifically apples-to-apples comparison where only the saddles were changed, but the guitar sounds great and feels more snappy and responsive (probably from the change in string gauge).

So far so good - thanks everyone!
 

Grendel2000

Strat-Talker
Aug 20, 2019
146
Maryland
So - MASSIVE kudos to StewMac! I purchased my Highwoods from them and while I've heard not a PEEP from Highwood themselves after contacting them, StewMac responded within an hour of me emailing them and about an hour later I got notification that a replacement saddle was on the way!

It arrived today and I'm now 100% back up and running. The guitar sounds and feels great. The protruding screws never bugged me but I will say that these feel very nice. And for whatever reason they feel more solid, more poised maybe. Anyhow - I'm happy!

Thanks everyone for the recommendation!
 


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