Kahler Bridge

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Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:19 pm

I think we had a thread talking about this bridge a while back, but I cannot find it now.
I believe it was Freeman Keller that spoke highly of it.
Has anyone else used one of these, and if so, what is your opinion.

https://www.kahlerusa.com/guitar-tremolo-and-bridge/2300-6string-steel-steel
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:13 pm

I installed one a couple of years back and thought very highly of it. It is adjustable every way you can imagine, including string spacing. A couple of cool features include the ability to "block" it with one set screw and the fact that once you set the tension the action doesn't change even if you change string gauges. Installation was straightforward (I have pictures) but I disagreed with one of the measurements on their download drawing, so I just called them and had a nice long chat with Mr Kahler. They recommended locating the center of the saddle intonation adjustment at the scale length - I argued that since you never had "negative" compensation you ware wasting a lot of intonation travel, Mr. Kahler said they were just covering the bases. I shifted the bridge back a bit but otherwise followed their directions.

Ironically that guitar was stolen and the owner has contacted me about doing another just like it. I'll get a chance to use my templates again
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:40 pm

Freeman, does this bridge have to be used with a locking nut, or can it be used with a regular nut?
In your opinion, and I only ask because of certain other people online who said that there was a concern, did there seem to be a loss of sustain because of the roller saddles?
It is A LOT of money, and I want to make sure before I spend that much.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby David King » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:15 am

Gordon, I'd call the company and ask them about OEM pricing. They may refer you to their Canada rep if they have one or they may set you up on the spot. Worth a try usually.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Freeman Keller » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:20 pm

Gordon Bellerose wrote:Freeman, does this bridge have to be used with a locking nut, or can it be used with a regular nut?
In your opinion, and I only ask because of certain other people online who said that there was a concern, did there seem to be a loss of sustain because of the roller saddles?
It is A LOT of money, and I want to make sure before I spend that much.


The one I installed did have a locking nut. I do not totally understand why some trems seem to "require" one and some do not, but this one came with one and I put it on.

Following up on David's comment, I would definitely call them. I am hesitant to say this in public I did explain that I built and worked on electric guitars and the gentleman that I spoke with at least implied that there was a luthier's discount. I also know that there are some knock offs - he specifically asked me where mine had come from (my customer had sourced it, but we determined it was probably a genuine Kahler).

Let me just summarize my feeling buy saying that I've always felt that standard tremolos (Fender style) were a bit of a back yard hack. Floyds are figity, Bigsby's are chunky but seem to work well (particularly with a roller bridge). But I'm an engineer and when I saw the Kahler I thought "this has been engineered".
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:23 pm

Thanks for the replies fellas.
I will try and contact Kahler.
Freeman, that is what I thought also. I will let you know how I fare with Kahler.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
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Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:00 pm

Below is the email I received in reply to my request for luthier pricing, if anyone else may be interested.


"Hi Gordon,

Yes, we do offer luthier pricing for most of our models. Specialty, extended range, and multi-scale may differ, but our basic structure is:

20% off MSRP for 1-2 units
25% off MSRP for 3-5 units
30% off MSRP for 6 or more

Thank you for your interest in Kahler!

Bob
Kahler International, Inc."
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
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Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby David King » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:33 am

I would have expected a mark or b mark but 20% is better than nothing especially if you don't have to jump through hoops to get it.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Freeman Keller » Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:28 pm

That was what I remembered him telling me but I really didn't want to put it on an open forum like this.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Mark Wybierala » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:24 pm

A locking nut removes the problem of tuning stability caused by the strings not freely flowing through the nut slots which can be a huge issue with any trem. A locking nut can only be used with a bridge that has fine tuner adjustments and I believe that all Kahler trems do. You can "sometimes" get away with not using a locking nut with a Fender style headstock/tuner configuration where the posts of the tuners are all in line with the nut slots. It is much more difficult to achieve this with a 3X3 tuner configuration. I would advise using a locking nut with any trem equipped with fine tuners and I believe that Kahler mentions this in their instructions.

Kahler makes a quality product. It looks good and the materials seem to be good along with the finish. They also allow for custom string spacing. I've seen these work properly. I also have however had tuning stability issues that without question were directly attributable to the trem itself not returning to position and have encountered a dead end when attempting to resolve the problem through customer service with a rep insisting that the design of the trem made it impossible for the trem to be at fault. I fully understand that the rep must encounter customers of every level of competence and/or maybe the rep is not trained as well as they could be. I personally don't appreciate them and would only use one if the design was aesthetically enhanced by the hardware as they are fairly attractive looking and do not require a trem spring access on the back of the body.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Sun Jan 13, 2019 12:31 am

Mark,

What is it about the design that bothers you?
As I said, it looks really well designed and engineered, but never having had one in my hands makes it a bit if a gamble.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 1178
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Mark Wybierala » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:45 pm

what I don't like about Kahler... I'm not a fan of trems to begin with as they create additional opportunities for problems. I believe that trem equipped guitars should not ever be sold to people under 21 without the consent of a qualified teacher and that the players should attend a mandatory course of instruction on the proper maintenance and adjustment of a trem equipped guitar.

Okay, back to the real world. I just don't see any advantage in the complexity of the Kahler over the simplicity of a Floyd design or the evolution of that design as done by Ibanez. If you only need a slight amount of pitch variation, an original Stratocaster style trem can work really well. Even modern made in Mexico Strats with their use of cheaper alloys can be set up to work quite well and be tuning stable if you follow the intent of the text in Erlewine's book, How To Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. The original Fender design is simple but it does require a little bit of knowledge to set up properly -- just a little. With a screwdriver, you can easily turn a strat trem into a hardtail. If you require the ability to dive-bomb a trem to a pitch change of floppy strings, there's no substitute for a Floyd based design but then a whole bunch of issues are just waiting for an opportunity to ruin your day. Unless you buy a torque screwdriver you run the risk of stripping threads of the saddles when you secure the strings. You can also fracture the saddles by tightening them too tight. (Kahlers are better here because they utilize the ball end). Often, fine tuners fall out and get lost and it can be difficult to find replacements. Less than knowing players don't employ the locking nut and/or loose the parts. I'd say about 1/3rd of locking trem equipped guitars that I work on are in need of either parts or extensive time consuming maintenance from neglect. On about half of those, I have a concern that I will not be able to acquire the parts or deal successfully with corrosion. A serious dislike of Kahler originates from the made in Japan equipped Fenders and the thousands of really great guitars that are now essentially junk because the fine tuner holes are stripped due to the cheap metal used in manufacturing -- IMO, better Fenders than the ones built in the USA at the time. A well made guitar deserves hardware that will last forever. If you build a great guitar today, will you be able to easily get replacement parts for it in 20, 30 years or will you need to search for hard to get original parts on Ebay and pay ridiculous money for a rare screw? If you're not technically minded, will you have a skilled tech familiar to the quirks of a Kahler to set up your guitar? Or, if you build guitars, selling them to clients, will your clients be able to maintain the guitar to the potential of playability considering the same issues.

I want every guitar I build to be enjoyed and appreciated for as long as possible -- Simple intuitive materials and hardware with generally universally common and available replacement parts. Kahler parts are unique and I don't like the idea that there is only one source for these parts from a single manufacturer. If you design and build a guitar around a Kahler trem, it becomes a monumental and generally an impractical task to ever employ an alternative. This is not an issue if you build a guitar for yourself and are good at taking care of it responsibly. Like I said in the previous post, the quality of Kahler seems to be very good. I'll go further to say that I think the quality of modern Kahler hardware is superior to most. I'd be more of a fan if they published some specifications about using superior alloys -- I don't know if they do and I'm gun-shy from the poor quality alloys employed in the 70s and 80s.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby David King » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:49 pm

The skyway trem was the best but only if you can track down the fellow who makes them and persuade him to make another.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:25 pm

Mark,

I agree in principle with your statement about "trem equipped guitars." I myself do not use one, and most likely won't.
As a tech, I dislike working on them too.
Having said that, a lot of players do use them, and to great effect.
I also agree that simple is good. Again having said that, a lot of players who use tremolos want a Bigsby type with a locking nut.

If I am going to build a trem equipped guitar, I simply want to use the best product I can find. That is why I am asking a lot of questions.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
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Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby gene downs » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:42 pm

Nobody uses them these days. Take that as a warning.

I had one. I installed it in one guitar and then the same unit in another guitar. Same thing happened with both: No sustain and bad tone. It's a high quality product, but my experience with them was not a good one.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Freeman Keller » Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:11 pm

gene downs wrote:Nobody uses them these days. Take that as a warning.

I had one. I installed it in one guitar and then the same unit in another guitar. Same thing happened with both: No sustain and bad tone. It's a high quality product, but my experience with them was not a good one.


Interesting that my friend and client, the guy who had me install one a couple of years ago (post #2) just asked me to route and install two more for him.

IMG_5074.JPG


He seems pretty happy to pay as much for his bridge as some MIC guitars cost and to pay me to route and install. I didn't go back thru all the discussion about not liking trems - I personally don't like trems - but if I had my choice of installing a Floyd or a Kahler from scratch there is no question of which one I would choose. And if you don't want the trem just turn one little set screw.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:15 pm

Freeman,

Thanks for your input into this thread.
Would you be able to take some detailed pictures and send them to me in a PM?

I've never seen one up close, so I'm still guessing about the mechanism, and quality.
It is a lot of money to spend on a bridge, and as I said initially I do want to be a sure as I can be.
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby David King » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:29 pm

Please post the photos here as we could all benefit from them.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Freeman Keller » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:30 pm

Guitars have all gone away so I can't take any more pictures but I can share the ones that I have. This will be a combination of the best of each guitar so don't get nervous if the colors keep changing.

First thing, like any guitar, the geometry is critical. All three of these were Warmoth bodies and necks in the classic Jaguar-Mustang configuration. Kahler has very good instruction on their website for location and making a routing template - one thing they are adamant about is that fret plane be 0.500 +/- 0.020 off the body in front of the bridge. Apparently Jag-Stang bridges are 5/8 thick (according to Hiscock) which means I had to shim each of the Warmoth bodies to get the proper neck angle. 0.5 degree shims put me in the ball park.

IMG_5065.JPG


Like any other bridge, you lay out the centerline based on the sides of the neck and mark the scale length

IMG_5066.JPG


IMG_5067.JPG


Kahler gives all the measurements to make the template. As I recall I used 1/4 inch for corner radius, drilled them with a 1/2 inch bit and just connected the radii. Very straight forward.

The one thing that is not straight forward is that Kahler has what they call "critical contact point" where you locate the scale length. It happens to be the mid point of the saddle intonation travel. I questioned this, particularly since they call it "critical", so after meditating for a few moments, I called Kahler. I'm quite sure I was talking to Gary Kahler, I told him as an engineer how impressed I was with his bridge but wondered why he located it where he did. He kind of shrugged it off and said that was to cover all of the bases - I said I couldn't see any reason anyone would want "negative" compensation (towards the nut), he said there was lots of travel so it really didn't matter.

Long story short, I moved the critical dimension 1/16 away from the nut and marked that on my template.

I don't trust double sticky tape to hold a template in place so I counter sunk two of the flathead mounting screws into the template and screwed it down. Clamped the whole assembly to the work bench and made some sawdust.

IMG_5068.JPG


Drill a hole into the electronics cavity for the string ground and, bingo!

IMG_5069.JPG


Kahler doesn't give you a screw for the ground, I just fanned some stranded wire out under the bridge when I screwed it down.

Kahler has three videos on line, the first two cover setting up the bridge (the third is for stud mounted bridges). As I've said before, I think the mechanism is elegant but you need to follow the steps. There are basically three parts - the string retainers and fine tuners, the saddles which adjust up and down, in and out and side to side, and the whole tremolo thing (which is why we are here in the first place). The string balls drop into little retainers (am I the only one that thinks cutting them of is, well, kind of stupid?), and you center the fine tuners. Adjust the action height (one 440 screw per saddle, adjust the intonation ( a separate screw, move them back and forth) and set the spacing (the same screw that locks the saddles in place when you are done). The a separate set of adjustments for the tremolo - one screw locks/unlocks it (how many trems have a block of wood in them) and one set screw balances the string tension vs the amount of climb or dive on the bar. If you change gauges or tunings its relatively easy to rebalance the travel. The bar screws in and out (there is even a hole for left handed).

It uses a pretty normal locking nut - all three that I've done had Warmoth necks with the locking nuts installed. Kahler sells their own, installation would be the same as any other (route the end of the fretboard, drill a couple of holes thru the neck (missing the truss rod) and bolt the thing on. I don't like locking nuts, I think they are a hassle, but it works and, more importantly , the fine tuners work.
Last edited by Freeman Keller on Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kahler Bridge

Postby Freeman Keller » Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:32 pm

Forum will only let me post five pictures at a time, but here is one more - you can see the three sections. From left are the roller saddles (yeah baby!), the cam section which is the guts of the trem, and the string retainers and fine tuners. I didn't take a picture of the underside but the two springs are anchored to the frame and to the tremolo cam (what, no wood screws?) If you click on the picture it should pop up bigger and show a little more detail

IMG_5093.JPG


Hope this helps. The website has about everything else you could want and I (and Gary Kahler) are happy to answer any other questions.
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