Callaham Vintage Guitars & Parts
 
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Callaham Steel Hardware for Gibson-Style Guitars
 
Quick Links: Callaham ABR-1 Callaham Stopbar Tailpiece
 
 
 

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge

 

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-0-matic bridge for Gibson guitars
Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars

 
 
 

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars with Vintage studs
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Callaham ABR-1 Bridge
with Vintage Studs
and Thumbwheels
$143.00

This assembly used #6-32 stainless studs that screw directly into the wood top. Covers vintage Gibson's, Historic's models and others. Look at your studs.

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars with Nashville conversion studs
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Callaham ABR-1 Bridge
with Nashville Conversion Studs
and Thumbwheels
$148.00

This assembly is for Gibson's that use the 2 piece insert / thumbwheel combination for mounting. Late 70's Gibson's and early 80's Gibsons had ABR's with Nashville stud mounting. All "Nashville" bridges use this mounting. Our 1 piece studs replaces the factory 2 piece stud assembly.

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars with Metric studs
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Callaham ABR-1 Bridge
with Metric Studs
and Thumbwheels
$145.00

These studs are for mounting Asian copies of vintage Gibson's that use a 4 mm stud screwed directly into the wood top. Stud spacing must be 2.915 in. (74.0 mm) to work with our bridge. Studs and thumbwheels are M4 x .7.

 
 


Options:
$20.00   Upcharge fee for Slotted saddles
$20.00   Upcharge fee for Distressing

E-mail   for Special Conversion Studs quote.

 

Replacement parts:
$18.00   Stainless steel Nashville Conversion Studs & Thumbwheels (set of 2)
                   For Callaham ABR-1
                    (Nashville Conversion Studs can only be used with our ABR-1 Bridge.)
$12.00   Stainless steel Vintage Studs & Vintage Thin Styled Thumbwheels (set of 2)
$10.00   Stainless steel Vintage Thin Styled Thumbwheels (set of 2)
$30.00   CNC Machined Nickel Plated Brass Saddles (set of 6)
$22.00   Super Precision Stainless Steel Intonation Screws For Callaham ABR-1 (6)
 
 

A Little History
This bridge is a direct replacement on Gibson guitars with an ABR-1 bridge or with our special conversion post on guitars equipped with the Nashville bridge. The body of this bridge is CNC machined from a billet of Cold Rolled alloy steel under rigid quality control standards at every level of production. This is the only alloy Steel bridge available. Gibson and the other aftermarket bridges are cast from a zinc alloy, brass or aluminum which causes heavy dampening to the critical overtones that support the fundamental.

Gibson has manufactured some of the most beautiful guitars in history but their tone, especially of the models made in the last 40 years, drives me crazy. The bass response is too muddy and on the majority of instruments is fuzzy like a mini fuzz face is on. The high end is harsh and brittle so moving from wound strings to plain strings is very unbalanced. The sustain is really quite poor. This problem is masked by the use of strong P-90 or humbucking pickups. If Fender style single coils were used, the lack of sustain would become very apparent.

"Tone" is all about overtones or the harmonic series that follows and rides with the fundamental. The choice of bridge material is critical for the simple reason that every note played is influenced by the bridge. In the early days of solid body electric guitars especially at Gibson the only part that really mattered to designs were the pickups. The ABR-1 bridge introduced in 1954 was cast from zinc because it was cheap to produce and nobody thought it made one bit of difference.

Aftermarket bridges have copied the use of zinc without any thought of how can this be improved. In the 70's when CBS took over Fender they threw out Leo's steel strat bridge and changed to the one piece cast zinc (Mazac) bridge to cut cost. The result was the worst sounding strats produced by Fender. Zinc simple should not be used as a bridge material. Brass has been used because it has "more mass", aluminum because it has "less mass". "Mass" is not the property of the bridge material that matters. But it is easy to measure for those who do not understand vibrations.

No material maintains the energy delivered to the string while maintaining a full musical frequency response better than steel. Our ABR-1 is the most significant improvement you can make to a Gibson styled instrument. Just like with our Strat and Tele parts, I am not interested in repeating mistakes of the past, only real audible improvement for all players at any level.

Construction and Specifications
Again the bridge body is made from cold rolled medium carbon steel. Rigid quality controls are checked thoughout the bodies production. The body is nickel plated to mil spec standards to maintain all critical dimensions. The intonation screws, mounting studs, and thumbwheels are stainless steel. It is the quality control in production and plating that allows the intonation screws to be a press fit into the body. The saddles are machined from the same brass bar stock we make our Tele saddles before being nickel plated. They are direct replacement on our ABR-1 and Gibson ABR-1 bridges.

 
 
 

67 ES335 which had a hideous Schaller bridge installed at some point in its life.
67 ES335 which had a hideous Schaller bridge installed at some point in its life.

We made a special stud set to install a Callaham ABR-1
We made a special stud set to install a Callaham ABR-1

Installed Callaham ABR-1 bridge
Installed
Callaham ABR-1 bridge

 
 

What you will hear with the change to steel is a low end that is tight but full. The fuzz should be gone, if it is not, you need to look at your pickups. The tone will be balanced correctly when moving from wound to plain strings. The plain strings will be full without the harsh high end spike. Sustain is improved substantially making vibrato childs play. Many of you have also been victim to the collapsing of the stock bridge from string pressure. You will not collapse our steel bridge. The rigidity of the steel will allow the use of heavy string gauges and again maintaining the strings energy far better than zinc, aluminum, or brass.

Since the mid 70's Gibson started equipping the majority of their models with the Nashville bridge. This bridge which was marketed as an improvement is in fact a step backwards. The honeycombed zinc casting is weak and the extra width of the bridge causes problems with obtaining the correct back angle to the tailpiece. Our Nashville conversion kit allows the seamless replacement of a Nashville bridge to our ABR-1 bridge. With this change you not only gain the undeniable tonal improvements but the vintage look without any modification to the instrument.

On the subject of looks, today's ABR-1 bridges have none of the handworking and tapering of the ends of the bridges from the mid/late 50's. We specifically machined the ends to a taper and through the course of hand polishing recreate the look of the late 50's bridge bodies. The stainless steel thumbwheels are thinner like the 50's model compared to today's production.

 
 

Callaham Thumbwheel on Left. Modern Gibson Thumbwheel on Right
Callaham Thumbwheel on Left
Modern Gibson Thumbwheel on Right

Our Thumbwheel are based on
Vintage Thumbwheel which are thinner.

Non-Distressed vs Distressed Callaham ABR-1 bridge
Non-Distressed vs Distressed
Callaham ABR-1 bridge

 
 

Gibson Guitars are not cheap. $2,000 gets you the budget models and when you look at the price of Historics they are out of reach for the average hardworking professional or amateur musician. Yet all these guitars have a bridge that maybe costs $8.00 to produce. The Historics especially try to dazzle you with looks and marketing. We had over 20 Historics in when we were doing the prototypes, all of which sound night and day better when we changed the bridges. It had been several years since I played a real "burst", when we brought in two and changed the bridges it left us speechless. Looks and price does not influence me, only sound. But if you really want to improve the sound of your Gibson I strongly suggest our bridge. You must get past looks and price and listen to the overtones around the fundamental. For those with a Nashville bridge, be ready for a tremendous improvement. If you own a real PAF equipped instrument, you need to hear what it really can produce.

 
 

Distressed Callaham ABR-1 on a Murphy Historic
Distressed Callaham ABR-1 on a Murphy Historic

 
 

When ordering a bridge you must specify whether you need Vintage studs or Nashville Conversion studs. The Nashville studs can be used to replace many other bridges besides Gibson. The stud is designed to fit a .278 dia body hole that is at least 1/2" deep. We can make up studs to fit just about anything but the center distance between post can not exceed 2.930.

Installation...

We do not provide formal instructions on the installation. We assume you know what you are doing.

The saddles should be notched by a pro. Most guitars do not have the optimum string spacing and pole alignment with the notch in the center of the saddle. Therefore it is best to notch the saddles for each individual guitar. But if your instrument can be set-up with center notching, we can do it for a $20.00 upcharge. When installing Nashville Conversion studs, the 6-32 threaded section must be protected. Pressing or tapping directly on that section can bend it. If you bend the stud, that is an indication you should not be working on your guitar.

 
 
 

A Callaham Nashville Conversion on a L.P. Standard Faded
A Callaham Nashville Conversion
on a L.P. Standard Faded

Note the 1 piece stainless steel stud.

Completed Conversion
Completed Conversion

 
 

 
 

Callaham
Cold Rolled Steel CNC Machined Gibson Stopbar Tailpiece

 
 

Callaham Cold Rolled Steel CNC Machined Gibson Stopbar Tailpiece
Callaham Cold Rolled Steel CNC Machined Gibson Stopbar Tailpiece

 
 

$107.50   Callaham Stopbar Tailpiece
$   20.00  Upcharge fee for Distressing

IMPORTANT: Studs are not included with this tailpiece. Use your existing studs.

 
 

Machined from the same alloy as our ABR-1 bridge, use of our steel tailpiece will improve note definition and widen frequency response in Gibson style guitars. The tone change is comparable to changing a dead set of strings to a new set of strings. Coupled with our steel ABR-1 bridge, the instrument starts to take on piano like qualities. Notes are crisp yet smooth, and with the proper technique one can create a wide variety of tones simply by altering their touch. With a more responsive instrument, you may find yourself using less extreme settings on your amplifier. You should be able to flatten out the response so that switching from bridge to neck is more balanced.

I am always amused by the claims that an aluminum tailpiece adds sustain. Aluminum will NEVER come close to the sustain produced by our steel tailpiece.

As with all of our products, we do not believe in repeating the mistakes of the past. The original 50's tailpieces were made from aluminum because it was easy and cheap. Producing a tailpiece from steel and machining it is three times as difficult, but it is the best material if you are concerned with your sound. The myth that weight or mass is an imporant property of guitar hardware has no basis in science and is completely false. Thus, the same principles that apply to our strat tremelo block also apply to this tailpiece.

Our tailpiece is compatible with stock Gibson studs and most aftermarket studs. With the steel tailpiece the effects of the studs is minimal. We do suggest the studs are tightened down firmly.

We were concerned with maintaining the vintage look, and with the help of customers with original 50's tailpieces we have succeeded. After machining, the tailpieces are sanded and polished by hand to recreate the same look and feel of an original. We do not purposely try to recreate the flaws that so many of the originals exhibit. Having said that, we do not try to make them look exactly identical from part to part. They each have their own unique identity due to the handwork performed during the final stages of production. They are only available in nickel plating, which is done with care yielding a graceful finish, unlike the plating on many other aftermarket tailpieces.

 
 


 
 
Prices and Content subject to change without notice.
 
 
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Callaham Guitars™ is not affiliated with Fender Musical Instruments Corp.
Callaham Guitars™ is not affiliated with Gibson Musical Instruments.
This page last modified March 11, 2014
 

 
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