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We recently had an almost new Fender Player Stratocaster in Polar White come into our Used section of the business. I had been after something as a good solid guitar platform to try some experiments on - (Different action heights, different tremolo set up, pickup change etc.) so this seemed to fit the bill nicely.
The first thing I noted, was that although the rear of the baseplate of the tremolo was raised around 3/32 off of the body, the saddles were sitting quite high still with the grub screws on the 'D' and 'G' saddles especially reaching their limit. (See picture)
I also spotted that the grub screws were beginning to spread apart on these two saddles in particular. (See Picture)
So, with this in mind I felt the only way to address this issue was to replace the current bridge saddles with those made by Highwood, thus allowing for much more string height adjustment (the grub screw on Highwood saddles is attached to the bottom part rather than threaded through from the top) without the concern of running out of thread. These saddles also have the benefit of being notched to keep the string in the centre of the saddle rather than possibly slipping from side-to-side. With this and no more hand injuries from protruding grub screws, what's not to like! (See picture)
Point of note, when purchasing these saddles make sure you have measured either the width of one of the original saddles on your guitar or the span between the centre of the low 'E' to the high 'E' at the bridge point. I went for measuring one of the saddles to make sure I had the correct size set in hand. (See picture - original saddle alongside replacement Highwood).
As with all tech work, preparation is key and in this case I would recommend placing a soft cloth under the rear of the bridge plate to protect the body finish as there isn't a lot of room for manoeuvre of the screw driver. Also when there is no string tension being applied the cloth acts as a cushion to protect the top of the body from the underside of the bridge plate. (See picture)
From here on out installation is fairly straight forward in swapping the original saddles in turn for the Highwood alternative. One thing I would say, is make sure that as you turn the screw driver it turns smoothly and you don't feel and obstruction as you turn. If you do, then stop, unscrew the screw and start again. This will avoid any potential cross threading of the screw/saddle. (Tip: I found the key here is to angle the saddle slightly as you turn the screw driver, and as always don't rush or force anything!) (See picture)
Once all six are in place, I fitted fresh strings and proceeded with setting the guitar up. Overall I'm very impressed with the performance of these saddles both in build and practicality. They solve a lot of issues Stratocaster players have encountered over the years. I thoroughly recommend them.
Until the next time, all the best.