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Guide to

Vintage 6-screw Tremolo

Here i will cover vintage style tremolo Bridges. There are a hand full out there to select from.
Strictly 6-Screw with Bent saddles on this guide. You can always replace the saddles with any other styles like block saddles if you wish. Found one you want me to add here? Let me know.

Fender Original Tremolo

Fender Logo

The Original Fender 6-screw is virtually unchanged and stuck in time since Leo invented it. Fender even use some of the tooling machines to make the saddles from the Fullerton factory. When the American Standard hit the market in 1987, it was a turning point for Fender with the 2-point tremolo, that they redesigned and made the tremolo more fluid and stable with the knives edge pivot system.
Today, the 6-screw has been deemed to be an obsolete unit by Fender themselves, and even the Mexico Strats where 6-screw was a standard up to 2016, has gone over to the 2-point. 

But the 6-Screw are still installed on Custom Shops, Signature models and Vintage reissues like AVRI models and Vintera. So it will still be available from Fender for a long time still.

Callaham Guitars

Callaham Logo

A major step up in qualtiy is Bill Callaham´s units. He is probably the most well known 3rd party vintage tremolo manufacturers around.

You instantly feel the quality and difference when you hold a Callaham unit. Its solid, well built and machined.

Callaham machines out the majority of their products in Stainless steel. The action is more smoother and more precise on his tremolo unit. Mount holes aligned more perfectly for correct pivot, and improved mounting of the tremolo arm featuring a Delrin bushing pressed into the Tremolo block to hold the arm more snug without slop. Yet, it still has the same classic look and you can´t really tell on distance what it is other than the CG stamps on his Saddles.

You can select between three lengths on the arm on order including the Gilmour-length
A popular choice for many who want to upgrade.
Priced at $150 and up. Features all sizes.
Callaham also makes replacements for Tele, Gibson and upgrades for Bigsby. They do not make 2-point tremolo´s. Sold in UK trough CharlesGuitar or in Japan trough SoundHouse

Wudtone Custom Guitar

Wudtone Logo

Wudtone is based in England. Compared to Callaham, they have taken the Tremolo to further steps but without the Stainless route.

Wudtone offers a pivot base plate that the tremolo pivots on. Milled string holes and notched screw holes for the 6 screw that gives the screw heads more clearance In other words, excellent machined for a more gently handling of action to clear all obstacles the comes in its way.

They are fairly expensive bridges as well at $250. They offer two models. The standard CP Vintage and the "Holy Grail" with added mass. Comes standard with Highwood saddles. Sold in U.S. trough BYO Guitar

Kluson Tremolo

Kluson Logo

The Kluson brand started making tremolos after the WD Music acquisition to expand the selection to more than just tuners. I would say, Kluson are on par with the USA made Fender units, but in machining, are very much the same. No bushing to eliminate slop of the arm or anything. Also has the same "mis-aligned" mounting holes. They do not feature the details of Callaham or Wudtone and they come fairly simple. What they can offer though, is a tremolo block in Aluminum for weight reduction (sold separately). I own one and the weight reduction is noticeable. Also, Tremolo plates are usually Chrome plated from most makers, but Kluson offer an all-Nickel unit as well. They also sells black and gold. They come at a reasonable price around $100.

Noteworthy to mention that their tremolo blocks fits Fender bridges as well if you wish to get a replacement block from Kluson.

Gotoh Japan

Gotoh Logo

Not surprising that Gotoh always makes the list. The japanese manufacturer makes almost every part of the Stratocaster. This bridge (GE101TS) has excellent machining and polished finish. Comes in dark chrome and gold as well. You can also find these in relic.
The mount holes are on par like Callaham and Wudtone for excellent pivot. The downside is that its only available with vintage string spacing. For narrow string spacing you have to select the 510T-SF2 for the vintage look. (upside is a modern bushing-mount for the arm) 

But these unit i can highly recommend. Excellent quality bridge for the money.
And the price? You can find these for as low as $65-70 which is a steal. 

Wilkinson 'Year One'

Wilkinson Logo

Wilkinson is known to most. They offer an wide range of bridges for any guitar. Their most traditional designed bridge in their catalog is this model simply named "Year One" (WVS54). Trevor Wilkinson actually designed this with Leo Fender's support and input while he still was alive. It is dubbed as a "simple recreation of the original design". On this unit, the mount holes are machined perfectly at the knives edge to pivot more correctly just like Callaham and Wudtone does. But that is basically it. It features a standard threaded arm without Delrin bushing as Wilkinson is known for with other designs. Very simple but fairly pricey at $190. I would rather get a Callaham or save up for Wudtone instead.

Rock Rabbit Guitar

RockRabbit Logo

Not technically a 6-screw but RR is advertising it as a "Improved Vintage Trem" so i will slip it trough the needle. If weight relief is on your table, then consider this one. The block, plate, saddles and Claw are machined out of titanium, which brings the unit to just 12oz (or 340gram). 

The block has offset G&E string like Wilkinsons to compensate for Intonation being more in a correct breakage point.

The saddles are as close looking to bent steel as can be since Titanium can not be bent, they look more "Die-Cast" like, and like Wudtone, the plate has notched screwhead denture so it pivots more naturally without conflicting with the screw heads too much.
They decided to ditch the 2 middle screws as they thought that "they were not needed". That is fair enough
An exciting piece of unit to try. 
The price is steep at $350. But consider that this is the ultimate next-level unit with a classic vintage look. (with some compromises)

Saddly they do not offer international shipping anymore. U.S only.

Various Eastern Budget Tremolo

There are a few select budget bridges out on Ebay, Aliexpress and those types of places. These are cheap bridges, all Asian made. Click on the photo slide to reveal a few. Quality-wise, dont expect the best. Sloppy tolerance threading and such occurs.
Kaish ($24)

Musiclilly ($25)
Guitarfetish ($40) (USA)

Guyker ($20)

Wilkinson  WVC-SB ($40)

Fleor ST (Japan 10.8 spacing)
There are many more unnamed tremolo´s on Ebay and other asian markets. But these are the dominating economy brands. Usually fitted on cheap guitars, Squiers or kit builds. 

Leo Fenders Patent Drawing for Tremolo

Tech-Talk: Choosing the right Bridge

Short HISTORY and the DESIGN of Tremolo:
While Bigsby was designing his own in 1953, Fender simplified the concept of the tremolo unit at the same time. In 1954, Stratocaster debuted with a very simple, rudimentary and clean design.
The Stratocaster Tremolo is a very easy mechanic, yet genius at the time. 
However, it had its limits on use, as it was designed to only flutter slightly (Divebombs did not exist then) and to this day, i has been a design that has been unchanged by Fender them selves. Fender has improved it, but basically only a different pivot style: The 2-point tremolo, which still uses the same mechanics.
Since its inception, Floyd Rose saw the day of light in the late 70´s and turned the system into a flexible beast. But yet, still adapting the spring-counterweight system of Leo's original patent. Many others have followed with their own take on it to improve its tuning stability, which is the main drawback of the standard vintage unit..
More historic information on Fuzzfaced

String Spacing Info

Tremolo spacing measurement can be very confusing at first. But it is actually quite easy once you get your head around it. In Fenders own eco system, there are three common spacings for the mounting holes and saddle width: Vintage, Mexico and Japan. If you fiddle with asian knockoff guitars, i really cant help you. The specs on tremolo´s on those can be all over the place.

Distance shown here is measured from center of the outermost intonation mount/ screw holes (See drawing Below)
MEASUREMENT IS AS FOLLOWS:

 

We roughly name them 52, 54 and 56mm  to distinguish them more easy. Japan Strats can occasionally use USA specs but mostly use their own 2-1/8 spacing. Please measure your MIJ before going on ordering new bridge for it.

On the American continent, bridges comes in 3 variations.:

Vintage Bridges are mostly featured on reissue models and Custom shops by Fender today.
On factory standard models, they usually fit Vintage/ Narrow bridges if they go for a 6-screw, which has become the standard.
Mexican "narrow/narrow" came on most MIMs but have not been used since 2017. You find them mostly on Squiers these days.

You can easily rough-measure with a regular ruler to determine what bridge you have. You either land on 52mm & 56mm on US Guitars or 54mm on Japan.

Remember, as long as your guitar body is drilled for Vintage 56mm (2 7-32) mount spacing, you can fit either a Vintage Bridge or a Vintage/Narrow Bridge.

If you already have a vintage bridge and are annoyed by strings slipping off the frets on both E-strings, you may consider installing a Vintage/Narrow bridge.
You can also visit my Tech spec sheet where many Fender models are listed with spacing specs.
Toneshapers has an excellent description and illustration of the US bridges.

Beware of Squier guitars. Their bodies are slimmer and thus require: a) Narrow/Narrow bridge and b) Shorter blocks. GuitarFetish in US has great replacement bridges for Squiers with altered specs.

Tremolo Measuremets
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