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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I picked up a Mexican Strat a few days ago for a good price here in Ottawa ($425) one piece maple neck like I was after. At first I had a bit of buyers remorse, thought the smaller frets were feeling awful while playing. Turns out it was just set up like shit (you know, low action, can't hit an Amaj chord at 2nd fret with a windmill strum, all the strings slam against 15th fret type of setup). Anyways, setups are personal preference in the end, but I like a bit of a fight, and to hear the guitar ring out properly without an amplifier.

Since I raised the strings and put a pickguard with better electronics and pickups (GFS, can't remember if the 1963 Overwound or Texas wound), it plays awesome and I am enjoying the tinier frets compared to the medium jumbos or whatever on my American Special.

I had a steel block lying around that I planned on replacing the thin Mexican one. Turns out it is meant to fit the USA spacing, not the 2 1/16" of the Mexican strats. Once I free up some gear I plan to purchase a Callaham for my other strat, but don't really want to spend the $240CDN to put on a guitar I only paid $425 for.

I tried searching for opinions on bridge upgrades before posting, but I didn't find much. There are some on ebay that say "Mexican Big Block" but they don't show a picture from the underside of the bridge, so a bit of a leap of faith to order one and then find out it's the same thin crap bridge I already have. Link: 007-1014-049 Fender "Big Block" Mexican Chrome Tremolo Bridge Strat/Stratocaster | eBay

I have heard mixed things about Wilkinson bridges. As I understand it, if it's Gotoh Wilkinson they are fantastic quality, but Wilkinson has licensed his designs to less than stellar manufacturers so it's hit or miss with anything else.So far the best place I can find seems to be the GFS bridge, but I was hoping you guys had some opinions or sources of bridges that are an upgrade from the standard MIM bridge.
"Made in Mexico" Import Strat UPGRADE trem- Solid STEEL block

I will post a few pics of how the guitar looked when I brought it home, and how it looks now. I have a superstrat wiring kit, you know you take out the 5-way switch and use 3 toggle switches, you can get 12 or 13 sounds from it. Never really tried that wiring before and have had the stuff in a box for years. I may try that out but will order another set of pickups so I can keep the pickguard I have now with the 5-way switch.

Will upload some pictures shortly
 

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I have a MIM Stratocaster HSS and after playing it for about 8 months, have decided that replacing much on this guitar is an exercise in meaningless searches for incremental improvements. These MIMs are just great guitars from the get-go. Pretty confident the pot metal bridges are going to outlast us and sound just fine. I play the MIM much more than my MIA.
 

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Guitar fetish makes a bridge for a decent price,

Vintage style bent steel saddles with stainless adjusting screws, hardened steel baseplate, 6 hardened steel screws, Thin, vintage-style Hardened steel tremolo arm, four springs and a trem claw- The WHOLE kit. But even better a FULL SIZED, SOLID STEEL trem block less than 40 USD

"Made in Mexico" Import Strat UPGRADE trem- Solid STEEL block
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)

Had the strings off to let the neck adjust before truss-rod changes


When I was haggling with the guy, he mentioned he just had spent $175 on a setup for this guitar. I won't name the "luthier" who set this up, but holy shit, check the windings on the D string lol. Was he going for the staggered tuner idea? I have no idea. The guitar needs a second string tree (G string rings behind nut) but wow. The guy could have almost paid for a Callaham bridge instead.... bridge wasn't even set up to float properly. All I could think in my head was "I am going to unfuck this guitar as soon as I get it home"


This is what it looks like now, GFS pickups and a different pickguard/knobs.



This pickguard I've had lying around forever, never tried out the 3 toggle switch wiring that replaces the 5-way on a strat before. That was one of the reasons I picked this up, to keep my other Strat playable all the time but I can tinker with this one with various wiring schemes, or alternate tunings. Will most likely order a second set of pickups to drop into this guard



Holy shit I didn't realize the size of the photos until I posted the thread. Damn (Edit: pics resized to thumbnails)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Yeah I don't know why I kept calling them GFS, that's wrong. I meant guitarfetish the entire time. I own nothing from GFS if that's even a brand lol. Knight_yyz do you have experience with their bridge? Or are you just posting the link?

1SweetRide,
we can agree to disagree, but the quality and size of the metal in the Strat makes a huge difference in sound (my opinion). My American strat isn't even a Callaham bridge and it rings out like an acoustic almost. People say that "once it's plugged in you can't hear it anyway" but that's seems to be the opinion of deaf old guys. If the note rings pure and true before you amplify it, it's just going to get better. Same opinion I have of the low action setups. People want things easy but don't want to work for a great sounding note. I set up the guitar so it sounds good, then learn to play it. I don't set up a guitar to cater to poor technique lol

I mean the string ball-ends sit in this, big difference
 

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Yeah I don't know why I kept calling them GFS, that's wrong. I meant guitarfetish the entire time. I own nothing from GFS if that's even a brand lol. Knight_yyz do you have experience with their bridge? Or are you just posting the link?

1SweetRide,
we can agree to disagree, but the quality and size of the metal in the Strat makes a huge difference in sound (my opinion). My American strat isn't even a Callaham bridge and it rings out like an acoustic almost. People say that "once it's plugged in you can't hear it anyway" but that's seems to be the opinion of deaf old guys. If the note rings pure and true before you amplify it, it's just going to get better. Same opinion I have of the low action setups. People want things easy but don't want to work for a great sounding note. I set up the guitar so it sounds good, then learn to play it. I don't set up a guitar to cater to poor technique lol

I mean the string ball-ends sit in this, big difference
That's a huge difference. My MIM bridge looks like the one on the left.
 

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No experience. I had to do a lot of research to upgrade my Japanese strat. I went with the callaham version that fit my guitar. I've been browsing Bridges for about 2 weeks looking for a black hard tail for a build I'm working on. So I found a hipshot 6 string hardtail for 35 USD and free shipping! Best price close to that was about 100 CDN shipped and taxes in. {55 usd plus 20 shipping) . So, I've seen a ton of deals out there. It's amazing how many tremolo style bridges pop up when you search hard tail. Lol
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Thanks for the input dudes. This was mostly an adventure in figuring out if I could score a cheap MIM mostly for the wood, and tweak it to suit my liking, basically get it close enough to my Am Special, but for maybe half the price. The Am was something like $1400 when I bought it. So really, if I spent the $240 for a Callaham that fit, it'd still be half price and an awesome guitar. I'm not really factoring in the pickups for this one, since they were lying around unused, but it'd definitely add another $100CDN if I had to order a new set.

1SweetRide, do you know the year of your MIM Strat? Apparently the one I bought is a 2001. I've seen things like "'06-present" so they may have beefed up the bridges or did something differently at that time. I am also not sure if the guy who sold the guitar just threw in some trash bridge. He had the back plate on when I was inspecting it and that's the first thing I do to a strat, take the plastic off the back, but it was hard to see the bridge with it on and I wasn't going to fuss over it too much. The guy said the guitar "rings" and he wasn't wrong in that regard, the body and neck are great pieces of wood.

Knight_yyz, I can only imagine trying to find a hard tail lol. Are you happy with the Callaham? I haven't ever tried one in person but, I feel pretty confident that they are one of the best bridges out there, the guy owns the machine shop and has metallurgy experience. I know Scott Henderson is super fussy with his strat set-ups and he uses the Callaham block and tremolo plate, but I think he uses different saddles. I can't remember the specifics. He's like a crazy old strat wizard in my eyes haha.

I have a hard tail strat bridge, that I ordered when I ordered the other guitarfetish stuff. The reason I am hesitant to check out their nickel bridge is the gold plating was awfully done and it looks like absolute shit now. It's all tarnished, and also, the whammy bar bent from minor usage, just what you'd do to set up the bridge, not even playing or abusing it.

So it seems like I have three price points so far: $50-60 for the Guitarfetish bridge, $110(ish) for the Gotoh Wilkinson, and then when I had the USA bridge quoted from Callaham it was $240 shipping included, not sure if there will be import duties, and I haven't checked if the Mexican version is any cheaper (doubt it).

I will post pics of the tarnished hard tail in a bit. Apologies for the huge pics not sure how to just post a thumbnail haha
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Let me test a thumbnail,

Here is a photo of the tarnished Guitarfetish bridge. Honestly though it works fine and has a solid steel block, that was the one on the left in the previous picture, block on right came from the MIM I just picked up. If the gold plating wasn't an issue the bridge would be fine (although USA measurements). The block that's in the strat currently, the thread hole goes straight through the block, you can't even use the tension spring lol. I use the bar often so it's a deal breaker for me. One interesting thing I just noticed about the bridge from Guitarfetish. It has the bevels like Callaham suggests (to alleviate some binding on the 6 screws), however they're on the wrong side! haha


 

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I have 1 guitar with the callaham tremolo and I'm building a Tele with 2 p90s so I am using the hard tail strat style with compensated brass. I really like the callaham on the strat. Keeps tune forever, better sustain than the original zinc block. And it looks stock.
 

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Look for callaham on eBay. Better shipping options and I did not pay tax on either of them. Callaham uses UPS /FedEx I think. Pretty sure these sellers get a deal if they order 10 or 20 at a time
 

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There is one on ebay for 169 cdn plus shipping.

Also, if you are interested in Gotoh, send an email to [email protected] I haven't been able to find a lower price on anything made by them, on ebay or any online store. You have to wait a little longer as they send individual PO's to Japan and about 3-4 weeks later your stuff arrives.
 
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