Faber Bridge/Tail Upgrade... Easy-Peasy

Discussion in 'Gibson Les Pauls' started by SteveC, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    I installed a Faber aged gold locking ABR-1 bridge and Tone Lock tail piece on my 81 LPC tonight. They replaced the stock Nashville bridge and tailpiece that were on the guitar since the day that I bought it brand new, back in... well, 1981. I was going to wait until Sunday, as I'll be playing out tomorrow evening. So, it was a little scary. But, WTF - no guts, no glory! :wow: I figured if it wasn't right, I could easily go back.

    Needless to say - I won't be going back!

    So, here's a preface to the story...

    I ordered the parts from CV Guitars early this week. I worked with Larry Corsa to make sure that I had everything that I needed and Larry gave me some pointers & tips on performing the installation. He's a great guy and he's extremely knowledgeable and very helpful. They shipped out the next day and I had them the day following that. But, I live right down the PA Turnpike from Larry's shop.
    (shameless plug for CV Guitars, who I am in no way associated with)

    First, the quality of these parts is outstanding. They are well made and solid. The tail pice is easily 1/3 (or less) the weight of the factory one. The ABR-1 bridge is a great example of German mechanical engineering. These are superior quality parts.

    The aged gold finish that I chose is nicely done and it blends seamlessly with the real aging of my pup covers and other original hardware. It looks like it belongs there.

    The Installation

    In short, the installation of both the locking ABR-1 and Tone Lock the tail piece could not have been easier.

    The tail piece was a simple "unscrew the old, screw on the new" operation. I only needed one washer and the main reason for that was cosmetic, so that you don't see the grey insert bushing. I used the smallest of the 3 pair that come with the tail piece kit. The bridge is secured firmly to the body.

    Replacing the stock Nashville bridge with the locking ABR-1 was simple and easy, too. I did have to remove the original bushing inserts, to install the iNsert kit bushing/stud combination, that allows use of the ABR-1 bridge. That was accomplished by first removing the existing bridge and then the combination post/wheel. Then, I partially threaded the (supplied) removal screw into the bushing and pulled it out by hand.

    In theory, you should be able to just thread the screw in, and it will bottom out and push the bushing up and out of the hole. However, my holes were deeper than the screw was long. So, it never bottomed out. No problem, though. The factory bushing pulled out easily, by hand. I guess I could have gone to the garage and found a longer screw that would bottom out... but, that was not needed.

    After that, I used a hammer to gently tap the combination bushing/post into each of the holes. They fit snugly and yet, did not require extreme force to fit. But, they are in there quite solid and tight.

    I threaded the wheels onto the posts and dropped the ABR-1 on top.

    From start to finish, total time = 10 minutes.

    The most difficult and time consuming part of the process started here. I had to restring and intonate. It took me about 40 minutes to get it all set up: height adjustment, intonation and finally, locking down the ABR-1 to the posts. As you'd expect, the initial positions of the saddles were not perfect, intonation wise.

    In fact, I have to go back later and flip the saddles around on the G/D strings. I ran out of adjustment travel on those strings. But, they are "close enough" for now.

    I've attached a few pix at the bottom of this post, showing the completed job. It turned out great.

    The bottom line...

    The result was exactly what I had hoped for... more sustain and a deep, full tone, with a noticeable difference (for the better) in the mid-high end. I enjoyed the improvement from the moment that I plugged in and hit those first notes/chords.

    My guitar was always overly bright. I suspect that the brass saddles are largely responsible for taming that. I also believe that the tight coupling between the bridge + tail piece to the body is bringing out more of the "wood". I can feel the difference acoustically; it resonates nicely when played. It now sounds more clear, a tad warmer and much more "full".

    Closing thoughts...

    If you are thinking about making this upgrade, I can highly recommend the Faber parts. They do make a real difference, for the better. And, there is no risk. Worse case, you don't like it and you can go back or, do something else.

    I hope you enjoyed reading this and that you also like the pictures.


    EDIT: After this post, I went back and flipped the saddles and lost one of the clips that hold the saddle screws in... Fvck! I shot Larry an email asking if he'd send me a replacement. I'm sure that he will.
     

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  2. rideski

    rideski Senior Member

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    Love Faber parts. One of the best upgrades you can do.
     
  3. 1981 LPC

    1981 LPC Senior Member

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    +1 on Faber parts. I was very happy with the results after installing their locking tailpiece. The TP6 that was originally on my '81 was incredibly heavy and I imagine didn't help the sound of the guitar. If you hit it with a screwdriver is sounds like 'plonk'. The aluminium parts give off a very different sound... 'tinggggg'. To a lesser extent the same goes for a replacement tailpiece from Allparts, by the way.
     
  4. Shawn Lutz

    Shawn Lutz Senior Member

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    I used Faber on my Trad +, ABRL in nickle with raw brass saddles as well as ToneLock TP studs. I too noticed an improvement right off the bat unplugged.

    I picked up a 57 RI Black Beauty Custom last week that I plan on doing the same on as I hate the bridge and tail pieces come off when you change strings.
     
  5. rikko

    rikko Senior Member

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    I actually posted a thread on bridges recently. So what are your thoughts on ABR vs Nashville?
     
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    I'm guessing that the differences between my old Nashville bridge and the Faber ABR-1 are:

    1. Metal composition of the bridge itself and also the saddles. The Nashville bridge is some kind of base metal, the Faber is steel. The brass saddles add something, too. I can tell the difference between my Tele with brass saddles and my Tele without brass saddles. I much prefer the tone of the one with brass saddles.

    2. The iNsert studs. They are steel, too and the connection to the guitar body is quite solid. They fit tighter in the holes and the post is integral to the assembly, not screwed in as in the Nashville configuration.

    3. The locking nature of the bridge to the studs vs. the floating Nashville bridge.

    In short: Better materials. Better design. Better connection to the body.

    The ABR-1 is less wide, too. This permits a steeper string angle over the back, so you can get the tail piece down to the deck. When you combine that with the Tone Lock tailpiece, like with the bridge, you get better coupling to the guitar body..

    An added plus for me is that I can change strings without the whole thing coming apart. I like to remove all the strings at once. That makes it easier for me to clean the neck/frets.

    I'm heading out in a few to the first live play with the new bridge/tail piece. We'll see how it does in the real world. I'm not worried :)
     
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    I remember... I like to tinker :naughty:
     
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  8. rikko

    rikko Senior Member

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    Thanks for the feedback! As you know, i've been debating on Faber, Gotoh, Tone Pros, or staying stock. All three of these aftermarket bridges lock, so that brings me back to Nashville vs ABR. The Nashville's strong point seems to be the range of intonation, and the ABR has the lower tailpiece strongpoint. Your new Faber looks great by the way!!!
     
  9. 1981 LPC

    1981 LPC Senior Member

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    If an ABR doesn't give you enough room to set intonation on an otherwise properly set up guitar (neck, nut, frets) you should take it to a luthier to check if the factory drilled the holes for the Nashville bushings in the correct location.

    By the way, they drilled the holes in my '81 30mm deep (that's well over an inch for you Imperial guys)! I'm thinking about plugging them and fabbing longer bridge posts.
     
  10. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    The Faber ABR I put on my TRAD+ really improved sustain and added a better ring to the tone. I put the abr version in that has the tapped thread into nashville sized holes
     
  11. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    As expected, everything went just great last night. No one noticed a thing - LOL, as if I expected anyone to notice. I did, however, notice that I have to go back & touch up the intonation a hint :)

    Thanks man!

    BTW, if you find that you're running out of saddle range (like I did) when performing intonation adjustments, you can always flip the saddle(s) around. It's quite common to do that.

    Even if they were drilled off-spec, what ware you gonna do? Fill them in and re-drill? Nah... Worse case, you put the old Nashville back on or, try another version of the ABR. That said, like I noted above, in 99.999% of the cases, you just flip one or more of the saddles around. That will give you the range you need.

    Must be quite common with the 81's. I didn't measure the depth of mine, but they were much deeper than the bushing required.

    I thought about going with the threaded inserts. I didn't do it, because I want to make sure that I always bring my guitar back to 100% factory stock. If I need/want to do that, all I will have to do is pull the iNserts and tap in the stock bushings.Just like with tuners, I won't drill new holes or, ream the existing ones.
     
  12. rikko

    rikko Senior Member

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    Yeah, i planned on doing the saddle flip, but from my online research, it seems that the spring wire will need to be replaced. I haven't actually taken off the bridge to see what the inner workings are yet, coz i'm lazy today....
     
  13. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    I might be missing something... But, there is no spring wire on the Faber bridge.

    If you're talking about the stock ABR, then yes. I think that has a wire. Another reason to go with the Faber, no wire (or the buzzing that can sometimes come from it).

    Not sure about any other aftermarket ABR's.
     
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  14. Lipinhu

    Lipinhu Senior Member

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    I could tell just by looking at the bridge pic. I really thought that when I first saw it.
    Adjust it and you're fine.
     
  15. rikko

    rikko Senior Member

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    I never needed to do the flip, so I haven't actually looked underneath this bridge yet. But in my online research, I found a site that claims each saddle has a retainer spring underneath that supposedly needs to be replaced as it gets damaged during removal:
    Tom's Guitar Service: Nashville Style Bridge Rebuild
    I have an Epi V that has the ABR style bridge, so I'm aware of the wire that you speak of. Sometime this week I'll tinker with the nashville and see what the deal is. Or maybe I'll splurge for a Faber instead!!!:lol:
     
  16. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    I did an intonation adjustment when I first put it on. But, the G/D were not perfect. I ran out of saddle travel.

    I actually flipped the saddles on the bottom 3 strings.I did that this afternoon. Intonation is perfect (relatively speaking) now. All the saddles are facing the same way.
     
  17. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    It's a disease, man! :shock:
     
  18. Omiewise65

    Omiewise65 Member

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    There's a great vid on this subject on YouTube .[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu0vmXVAJOo]Faber Bridge Saddle Removal - YouTube[/ame]

    Faber Bridge Saddle Removal
     
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  19. Omiewise65

    Omiewise65 Member

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    Another great and useful vid from Faber [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fZw1MAOd6M&feature=player_embedded]Installing the FaberĀ® iNsert[/ame]
     
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  20. SteveC

    SteveC Village Elder V.I.P. Member

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    Been seeing a few threads about replacing bridges/tailpieces... so, I thought a shameless bump might be in order :)
     

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