This is my 2005 Les Paul, bought new from the guys at West Chester Music. It is weight-relieved, but not chambered, and was always a good-sounding and playing guitar. BUT…I can’t resist seeing if I can make a good thing better. I rewired it with RS Guitarworks pots and a set of Electric City RD-59 pickups. That much of the upgrade made a huge difference , and was well worth the time and money.
The next steps were more about function than tone. I put on new tuners, bridge, and tailpiece, all Tone Pros parts. And for good measure, I made a nice bone nut, since I always do that. And the guitar was a keeper, and a real pleasure to play.
After a while though, I started wondering if I couldn’t get even a bit more out of it. Sometime back, I changed out the bridge inserts on a 2004 SG Special that had had similar upgrades, pickups and so forth. But it always had a nasty spike if I picked a certain way on high notes. Changing the pickups (Wagner American Steele) helped a lot, but changing out the sloppy, loose-fitting Gibson inserts for replacements from Faber improved the tone even more than I had hoped! So I started reading up on Gibson bridges, and good replacements for them.
My LP came with a Nashville bridge, which worked fine and intonated well. However, the guitar shared some of the spikiness that the SG had had. The internet forums are full of opinions about the Nashville’s inferior tone, and the obvious superiority of the old ABR-1 style Tune-O-Matic. I was a skeptic: I’ve owned and and played many guitars with those bridges, and trust me, they are not perfect. Rattling retainer springs, in particular, were not a lot of fun. But, maybe, a bridge swap was worth a try?
By chance, Faber was recently running a sale on its ABR-style bridge and insert kits, which made it possible to convert the Nashville bridge to the the older style (not usually possible because of the different mounting hardware). I got one, and, as you see in the photos, easily pulled the old inserts, tapped in the new ones, and mounted the new bridge. The saddles were even adjusted for great intonation. And…no more spike!
This bridge has a locking feature that makes the whole assembly very solid. All the parts are made of the correct, old-school metals, as well. The locks don’t look vintage, so if you’re set on 100% accurate vintage appearance, you won’t get it. You WILL get more stable performance, higher quality, and, at least in my case…better tone! This guitar is done, and really sounds great. The sound is smoother and a bit more even. Plenty of bite without harshness. Not a night-and-day difference, but I consider it worthwhile. Check out the Faber hardware if you’re interested in similar mods. I’m a fan!