Posted by: kubiakl | January 30, 2012

Callaham Vintage Saddles

In my quest for that ultimate tone (my friend and I have dubbed it the God note) I ordered what many claim is the ultimate saddle for a Fender Stratocaster – the Callaham Vintage bent steel saddles.

They sounded good when I installed them, but the action wasn’t where I wanted.  I ran into problems trying to raise them up high enough.  The screws kept slipping and I realized that Fender had a good idea with the cast block American Standard saddles – since the screw is held in a hole, they won’t slip until they are maxed out (which mine were).  So, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth – not to mention stripping a screw – I threw the stock saddles back on and went searching for a solution.

To be fair, the problem is me.  I just really want those saddles to be up higher than normal.  Callaham ships the saddle set with four 1/4″ screws and eight 5/16″ screws, which will work for those who like a low action and don’t want the screws jutting out of the saddles to dig into the meat of the palm.

For those who, like me, want crazy high saddles we’re left with having to find special tall screws.  After some research I found a couple of options.  WD Music Products has a set of eight 7/16″ screws, which would possibly work… but to be safe I went a different route.

Bolt Depot has just about every kind of screw you can imagine.  After some frustrated searching (I had no clue what these types of screws are called), I finally came across the (hopefully) correct screws.  4-40 thread (standard for US customary saddles), Allen Cup point, stainless steel.  These use the same size Allen wrench as the standard screws but are available in various lengths from 1/8″ up to 3/4″.  The really great thing is that screws can be ordered individually – I didn’t have to buy in bulk, so I can try different lengths.

Twenty each of sizes 5/16″ (possibly for the outer E saddles), 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, and 3/4″ are on their way.  Three day shipping ended up costing more than the screws combined but I wanted to have them in my hands before the weekend.  Surely one of those sizes will work for my needs, plus I’ll have some extras handy if I should strip a few in my adjustments.

In other news, the Rene Martinez Strat pickups from Mojotone.com are really, really nice.  I’m loving them.  I’ll try to give a more in depth review (I even borrowed a friend’s Flip camera to try and do it right), but for now I’ll just say that if you’re searching for a great set of pickups you should look into them.

Just one step closer to that ultimate note.

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