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Callaham
Tremolo Block Details

2006 Enhanced

Available for Purchase Here

Block & Bridge Compatibility
Callaham Tremolo Blocks
Callaham Enhanced Tremolo Block
 
 

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.

Sectional view Fender Vintage Block
Sectional view
Fender Vintage block
 
 

To correct these flaws all of our blocks are produced with a zero-clearance fit Delrin bushing that supports 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 significant improvement makes the arm nearly unbreakable. We say nearly, because the only true way to break an arm off in our blocks would be intentional misuse or abuse. For those of you that play 13's with 5 springs screwed all the way down; play with confidence that our block won't let you down.

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.

The arm we use in our bridge assembly and the one we 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 could be pulled out if played too aggressively.

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 threads.

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.

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 are equiped with the zero-clearance bushing.

 

Block Material

Steel is the only material that should be used for the block - but not just any steel - the steel used can not contain any lead. Lead dampens the frequency response and reduces both sustain and clarity.

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 an improvement in both sustain and clarity after installing our block.

Callaham Guitars is only company machining all of 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 have always 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 almost all factory blocks.


 
 
 
How do I install the Tremolo Block?

1.) Disassemble the bridge (make a note of saddle location for ease of reintonation).
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.
* If you have a non-domestic instrument, you may have metric threads.
- In this case, you need to get an English threaded arm.

Arm Threading

* On our American Standard Block the threads for the trem arm are 10-32 English.
- You can use your existing arm.

* On our Mexican Standard Block 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 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
 

 
 
 
 
  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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