Bill Callaham really knows tone. Having grown up with all sorts of great instruments with which to develop his ear (Lloyd Loar mandolins and ’50s Gibsons and Fenders), he has built his business on helping others reproduce quality vintage tone. With a strong background in machining, a great ear, meticulous attention to detail and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Virginia Tech, Bill and his company, Callaham Guitars, have introduced an unrivaled level of quality to the vintage guitar repro market.
I recently purchased two of his bridges, one a Vintage S Model Strat bridge for my Eric Johnson Stratocaster and the other an ABR-1 bridge with vintage studs, which is a direct replacement for the ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge on my ’07 VOS Gibson R9 Les Paul. At the time of this writing I have only installed the Vintage S Model on my Eric Johnson Strat, but have not yet installed the ABR-1. I have also previously purchased and installed a couple of Callaham Limited Production Narrow Strat bridges in two of my other guitars, so this is not my first experience with Bill’s product.
The first thing you notice when you take one of Bill’s bridges out of the box is how much it weighs and the quality of the craftsmanship. These are made from specific steel alloys that Callaham Guitars has found to produce the widest range of frequency response, increase the guitar’s sustain and improve note separation when playing chords. I can attest to the fact that these Strat bridges have greatly improved the tone on all the guitars I have installed them on. Immediately after installation I can hear that the guitar is much louder when strummed acoustically, the tone is crisper and more focused and sustain is greatly improved. Plus, the superior machining and quality steel alloy makes for a much smoother mechanical action when using the tremolo and tuning stability is never an issue with one of Bill’s bridges.
I can’t wait to get the ABR-1 on my R9 Les Paul and I will post a follow up once it is done. If the Callaham Strat bridges are any indication, then this will be a major upgrade in tone for my Les Paul. If you are looking for that single mod that takes your guitar from ordinary to extraordinary, I would suggest trying a Callaham bridge first before spending money on anything else.
This post originally appeared on Ryan’s Guitars blog. It is re-posted here with full permission of the original author.