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Callaham Steel Hardware Details for Gibson-Style Guitars
Available for purchase here
Quick Links: Callaham ABR-1 Callaham Stopbar Tailpiece Callaham Locking Tailpiece Studs

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


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.


Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars with Vintage studs

Callaham ABR-1 Bridge
with Vintage Studs
and Thumbwheels

This assembly uses #6-32 stainless studs that screw directly into the wood top. Compatible with Vintage Gibsons, Historic models, and others. Measure your studs for correct threading.

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars with Nashville conversion studs

Callaham ABR-1 Bridge
with Nashville Conversion Studs
and Thumbwheels

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

Callaham CNC Machined Steel Billet ABR-1 tun-o-matic bridge for Gibson guitars with Metric studs

Callaham ABR-1 Bridge
with Metric Studs
and Thumbwheels

These studs are for mounting to Asian copies of vintage Gibsons 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 thread.


A Little History

Gibson has manufactured some of the most beautiful guitars in history, but their tone - especially of the models made in the last 40 years - leaves much to be desired. 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 - pickups were the main focus of the design. The ABR-1 bridge introduced in 1954 was cast from zinc for reduced production cost, and the material's ill effects on tone were not considered.

Aftermarket bridges have copied the use of zinc without any thought of how this could be improved. In the 70's when CBS took over Fender they threw out Leo's steel strat bridge design, and changed to the one piece cast zinc (Mazac) bridge to cut cost. This resulted in some of the worst sounding strats produced by Fender.

Zinc simply should not be used as a bridge material. Brass has been used because it has "more mass" and aluminum because it has "less mass" , but this is not the property of the bridge material that matters.

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, we are not interested in repeating mistakes of the past.

Construction and Specifications

The body of the Callaham ABR-1 bridge is made from cold-rolled medium carbon steel. Rigorous 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 this quality control in production and plating that allows the intonation screws to be press fit into the body. The saddles are machined from the same brass bar stock we make our Tele saddles from and are then nickel plated. They are a direct replacement on our ABR-1 and Gibson ABR-1 bridges.


Upon changing to steel you will hear 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 a breeze. 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 also 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 machine 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.


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
Callaham ABR-1 bridge


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 Historics are nearly out of reach for the average hardworking professional or amateur musician. Yet all of these guitars are equipped with a bridge that costs almost nothing to produce.

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", and when we brought in two and changed the bridges it left us speechless.

If you really want to improve the sound of your Gibson I strongly suggest our bridge. 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 can really 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, Metric 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.

Please refer to our helpful YouTube video for installation instructions regarding Nashville Conversion Studs.

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 an 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


IMPORTANT: Tailpiece does not come with studs. See available studs below.


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.

Some manufacturers claim 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.



Callaham Steel Height Adjustable Locking Tailpiece Studs


Callaham Steel Height Adjustable Locking Tailpiece Studs
Callaham Steel Height Adjustable Locking Tailpiece Studs


These studs and inserts are made from steel bar stock and they are the only stud available that allows for the tailpiece to be raised and still remain fully locked to the body. They are only available in 5/16"-24 thread which is standard on Gibson instruments.



Callaham Steel Height Adjustable Locking Tailpiece Studs

Callaham Steel Height Adjustable Locking Tailpiece Studs

Installation of Callaham Tailpiece Studs:

Studs are made to fit guitars with 5/16"-24 threaded inserts. If you have these inserts, do not remove them.

The inserts we provide are only for new construction or for those who know what they are doing.

Studs come with 3 graduated bushings to set the tailpiece to accommodate different back angle requirements you may encounter.
The tallest set of bushings is to simulate "top wrapping" of the tailpiece for the least amount of back angle.
The thinniest bushings replicate the height of a stock Gibson stud fully installed.
All 3 bushings have their advantages and only through experimentation will you find what you like best.
When tightening the studs DO NOT USE A SCREWDRIVER. Please use a coin or specialized driver.

Please watch our helpful YouTube video for instructions on installing Callaham Locking Tailpiece Studs.
  For Ordering Instructions and Shipping Rates, go to our Order Direct page.

Prices and Content subject to change without notice.
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This page last modified August 23, 2016

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