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Callaham
Tremolo Blocks

2006 Enhanced
Callaham Tremolo Blocks
Callaham Tremolo Blocks Enhanced
 
 
Block Chart

Block and Arm Design

The original design of the sychronized tremolo although revolutional at the time has several flaws. These flaws have never been addressed by Fender and they even carry these flaws into the American Standard Tremolos and their Mexican models. The problem is the .205 DIA x 3/16 long counterbore in the top of the block.

 

The photo to your right shows a sectional view of a current Fender vintage block to illustrate the counterbore.

This counterbore is also in American Standard blocks. The counterbore creates a tremendous stress riser on the first thread of the trem arm, the weakest section of the arm, because the arm is completely unsupported at the top of the block. The forces developed when using the trem are applied directly to the threaded section of the arm. It doesn't matter if the arm is made from high strength materials, it will eventually fail right at the first thread. The counterbore also reduces the leverage over trem springs. Fender arms also have significant play in the threads making the bridge very slow to respond and making subtle vibrato effects difficult. The Fender solution is a heavy spring in the bottom of the block. This spring causes the threads to gall and suddenly the arm is locked in the block and the only way to remove it is to break it off. Most people loss this spring without even knowing it, which is good. But trying to replace it is a mistake.

Sectional view Fender Vintage Block
Sectional view
Fender Vintage block
 
 

To correct these flaws we are now making all our blocks with a zero clearance fit Delrin bushing that will support the arm all the way to the top of the block.

 
Cutaway view Callaham Block with no arm Cutaway view Callaham Block with Callaham "64" virtual pop-in arm Cutaway view Callaham Block with traditional threaded arm
Cutaway view
Callaham Block with
No Arm
Cutaway view
Callaham Block with
Callaham "64" Virtual
Pop-in Arm
Cutaway view
Callaham Block with
Traditional Arm
 
 

This small change will make the arm near unbreakable. I say near because someone will do their best to break it just so they can complain. But for those of you who play 13's and 5 springs screwed all the way down will have your work cut out for you.

The arm we will use in our bridge assembly and the one I suggest you use with our enhanced blocks is the Callaham "64" Virtual Pop-in" stainless steel arm. We call it a virtual pop-in because the threads on the end only serve to keep the arm in the block when in use. A true 3/16 pop-in arm could be used but you could pull it out if you are using the arm aggressively. But any traditional 10-32 threaded 3/16 arm can still be used and you gain the advantage of supporting the arm on its major diameter and taking the stress off of the thread.

The other advantage to this change is the arm will have zero play and will have more leverage over the springs. This will make the tremolo extremely touch sensitive, controllable and smoother.

We have been producing the best sounding bridge available for years. This change makes our bridge even farther ahead of any vintage bridge and rivals the sensitivity of modern two pivot bridges. I should have made this change years ago but was too hung up in the "vintage thing". We can still produce an exact vintage repro block for those who need them but only on a custom order basis. All Vintage Repro blocks, American Standard blocks, Mexican Standard blocks, and American Deluxe blocks will be equiped with the zero clearance bushing.

 

We have been making trem blocks for more than 20 years. It started so that people with valuable guitars could replace their damaged blocks with an exact replacement. Steel is the only material that should be used for the block. But not just any steel. The steel can not contain any lead. Lead dampens the frequency response and reduces both sustain and clarity. We are the only company machining all our blocks from a cold rolled non-leaded U.S.A. steel.

Callaham Tremolo Block near mirror finish on mating surface
Callaham Tremolo Block
near mirror finish on mating surface

We always have gone to great lengths in our machining to produce a near mirror finish on the mating surface with the top plate to obtain the best fit possible. A very important detail missed on all factory blocks.

The only reason we have sold so many blocks is because the block is so superior to blocks that come standard on a factory guitar. Several years ago, I made the mistake of telling a fellow builder who used to work for the Fender Custom Shop what material we use for the block. He instantly told Fender and they immediately "claimed" they use the same material. This is just false. Claims now of even using original tooling to make blocks are ludicrous and deceptive.

If you have an import guitar, your block is more than likely zinc (pot metal). Zinc kills both sustain and clarity and your sound. If you have a U.S. made guitar, you may have a steel block but it is either a hot rolled leaded steel, or in the case of the American Standard bridges, a soft cast steel block.

We guarantee you will hear the improvement after installing our block in both sustain and clarity.

Tremolo Block Chart

Please look at our chart below to determine which model fits your bridge.

If you are unsure, please
measure your string spacing center to center from E to E and also
measure your two outside pivot mounting screws center to center
and e-mail us and we will help you.

 
 
If You Have . . . Order
 
Fender made from 1954 - 1969
  2 7/32 string spacing
Vintage Repro Block enhanced
Note: You will received the enhanced version unless you custom order an exact replacement.
 
 
American Reissue Strat or
Highway 1 Strat (up to & including year 2005) or
Custom Shop Relic or
WD exact vintage or
Stewart MacDonald vintage or
Jimmie Vaughan Strat or
Eric Johnson Strat
  2 7/32 string spacing
Vintage Repro Block enhanced
Replaces hot rolled leaded steel block.
 
 
Made in Japan Reissue Strat Vintage Repro Block enhanced
Note: Japanese reissues have varying tolerances through the years. 95% of the blocks bolt right in, but some may need the 3 mounting screws holes enlarged because of heavy plating on the top plate. Also check for 2 7/32 string spacing.
Replaces Zinc block.
 
 
Crafted in Japan Reissue Strat or
WD economy vintage
Vintage Repro Block enhanced & Top Plate required
Note: You must get a top plate for these guitars.
Replaces Zinc block.
 
 
Left-handed Vintage or
Stevie Ray Vaughan Strat (SRV)
   2 7/32 string spacing
Left-Handed Vintage Repro Block enhanced
Replaces hot rolled leaded steel block.
 
 
Made in Mexico Classic (50's,60's,70's) or
Made in Mexico Road Worn Strat or
Mexican Gold Plated Deluxe
   6-pivot bridge
   2 7/32 string spacing
Vintage Repro Block enhanced
Note: Threaded for 10-32 American arms
Replaces zinc block.
 
 
 
Made in Mexico Standard Series Strat
   Comes stock with metric arm
   6-pivot bridge
   2 1/16 string spacing.
Mexican Standard Block enhanced
Note: Threaded for 10-32 American arms
You can not use your existing metric arm.
Replaces Zinc block
See Mexican Standard Upgrades page.
 
 
Made in Mexico Classic Player Strat   
   Comes stock with metric arm
   2-pivot bridge
   2 1/16 string spacing.
Mexican Standard Block enhanced
Note: Threaded for 10-32 American arms
You can not use your existing metric arm.
Replaces Zinc block
See Mexican Standard Upgrades page.
 
 
Highway 1 Strat (2006 and later) or
American Special
   6-pivot bridge
   2 1/16 string spacing.
   2 7/32 mounting spacing
Mexican Standard Block enhanced
Note: Threaded for 10-32 American arms
Replaces Zinc block
See Mexican Standard Upgrades page.
For complete bridge see V/N Bridge Assembly.
 
 
American Standard Strat or
American Series Strat or
Strat Plus
   Comes stock w/ 10-32 threaded arm
   2-pivot bridge
   2 1/16 string spacing.
American Standard Block enhanced
Replaces cast powdered steel block.
See American Standard Upgrades page.
 
 
American Deluxe Series Strat or
Strat Ultra
   Comes stock w/ proprietary pop-in arm
   2-pivot bridge
   2 1/16 string spacing.
American Deluxe Block enhanced
Note: Threaded for 10-32 American arms.
You can not use your existing American Deluxe pop-in arm.
Replaces cast powdered steel block.
See American Deluxe Upgrades page.  
 
 
 
For small guitar manufactures we offer custom blocks for your bridges that may be different from our standard line. There is a minimum order of 50 for small runs on custom blocks. Contact us for pricing.
 
 
 
How do I install the Tremolo Block?
1.) Disassemble the bridge making a note of where the saddles are located so that reintonation will be easy.
2.) Start all 3 mounting screws and install trem arm* into block.
3.) Tighten 3 mounting screws firmly.
4.) Reinstall saddles and bridge and reintonate instrument. Make sure to carefully reintonate your instrument.

* Please note:
On all our Blocks the threads for the trem arm are 10-32 English.
We suggest purchasing our "64" Virtual Pop-in Arm with our enhanced blocks.
* On our Vintage Repro Block enhanced the threads for the trem arm are 10-32 English.
If you have a non-domestic instrument, you may have metric threads.
In this case, you need to get an English threaded arm.
* On our American Standard Block enhanced the threads for the trem arm are 10-32 English.
You can use your existing arm.
* On our Mexican Standard Block enhanced the threads for the trem arm are 10-32 English.
You can not use your existing metric arm. You will need to get an English threaded arm.
* On our American Deluxe Block enhanced the threads for the trem arm are 10-32 English.
You can not use your existing pop-in arm. You will need to get an English threaded arm.

 
 
 

Vintage Bridge Compared to Fender American Standard Bridge. . .

 
 
Vintage Strat Bridge
Vintage Strat
6-Pivot Bridge

2 7/32 center to center b/w E strings.
2 7/32 center to center between outside
pivot mounting screws.
  Fender's American Standard 2-Pivot Bridge
Fender American Standard
2-Pivot Bridge

Cast saddles
2 1/16 string spacing
 
 
 
Side view of a Callaham Block retrofitted on a Fender American Standard bridge Side view of a Callaham Block retrofitted on a Fender American Standard bridge
  Side view of a stock Fender Block
w/ rear bevel on a Fender American Standard bridge Side view of a stock Fender Cast Block w/ rear bevel on a Fender American Standard bridge.
 
Note: We do NOT make an American Standard Bridge.
 
 
 

We were interviewed in the December 2000 issue of The ToneQuest Report.
Here is David Wilson's preface to the interview.

"Thanks to one of your fellow TQR readers for pointing us to Bill Callaham. In January of this year, we published an article on the Japanese Vintage Reissue Stratocasters in which we related our failed attempt to install a replacement tremolo block. A few months later we received a note from a reader who advised us to contact Bill. We did, he promptly sent us a block that fit our Strat, and the results were astounding. We thought this guitar sounded pretty good before the new block was added, but the difference between the original and Bill's obsessively faithful replica of the real thing has to be experienced first-hand. If you play a Stratocaster, any Stratocaster... we urge you to install one of Bill Callaham's tremolo blocks now. There's your ToneQuest tone-tip of the year, but there is a lot more going on at Callaham's shop in northern Virginia, as you'll discover in the following interview with the man himself. Enjoy!"

 
 
 
Block Prices
 


 
 
Prices and Content subject to change without notice.
 
 
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This page last modified June 16, 2013
 

 
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