Stanley Millers review: Highwood – Better Than The Originals
Please check out his video with review on youtube:
Legendary Builder John Page (former Master Builder at Fender Custom Shop): “Great idea! Sure saves having to grind the screws to make it comfortable to play. Congrats”.
“As a fan of all things vintage I don’t generally go for aftermarket upgrades because they often draw attention visually. These Highwood saddles will look right at home on your old Fender while at the same time improving the function, tone, and playability of your guitar.”
— Erick Coleman, guitar repairman and StewMac tech advisor
Legendary Nite Bob (Bob Czaykowski) – USA, Guitar Tech for Steely Dan’s Walter Becker (among many other Big Names): “Great Saddles…Great Tone”.
Dana Olsen, CA – USA: “I think they’re an excellent design solution to the old exposed screws”. See Dana’s review here below.
DGTCrazy (aka Herb Genelly), Moderator at thegearpage.net – USA: “no more Saddle screws grinding into the palm of my picking hand!!! I can physically feel a difference when I strum my ’65 AVRI Strat. I swear that it now Sustains even better”.
Mark Overfield – UK: “I can see these becoming the industry standard Strat Saddles in the future, so Congratulations”.
Review from thegearpage.net member Amund “Blix” Aaeng
Got these in July (2017), put them on and kept on playing. I was asked to review them back then, but I forgot all about it until today. I guess most have seen them already but here are a few pictures of them mounted on a Wudtone Holy Grail trem. Mine are the reliced version. I have to say these have been flawless, love the grooves that keeps the strings in place and the lack of protruding screws is just awesome.
As for tone, I have to say I didn’t notice much of a difference from the stock Wudtone Saddles really, which also are great quality in trad vintage bent format. My Strat still sounds like a Strat ! Plenty chime and “zing” in the top end, which is a must to me. I recorded a quick, almost in tune noodle with a EJ-ish clean tone, starts on bridge/middle, neck pickup when I go single-note. Pickups are Suhr V70’s in all positions (Note: please use the thegearpage link above to listen to the SoundCloud demo). I also did a short Vai-inspired video thing with some gain, bridge pickup only: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdI6dVtCcNE I can’t recommend these enough really, killer upgrade for any Strat bridge.
Testimonial from thegearpage.net member Dana Olsen
Highwood Guitar Parts offered up some of their Contoured Vintage Saddles for beta testing / review. I received these Highwood Contoured Vintage saddles a few weeks ago, just before NAMM. TGP’s Seljetnoma favorably reviewed these same saddles a month ago. Thanks Seljetnoma – excellent photos (link to his review: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/sho…light=highwood)
Here’s what you get: 6 of these beauties – they all look just like this one. Impressive finish / polish on them – look like jewelry, lovely machining. I have to say they made the stock saddles on the Gotoh 510 series on my Lentz SSL look … well, look not as good as the Highwood side by side.
Can you see that the saddles are bent opposite direction of stock saddles and that the height adjustment screws are threaded into the bottom of the saddle while the hole on top of the saddle turns into an access point to reach the adjustment screw with an allen wrench?
Installation was a breeze, as was setup – no problems, the machining on all the intonation adjustment screws and height adjustment screws feels solid and they are clearly precision made. On my SSL the slots in the saddles, which by the way are polished and smooth as can be seen in the pic above, align the outside E strings in from the edge of the neck and the other strings align dead center over the neck. String spacing was fine for me – I wouldn’t like it if the E’s were any closer to the edges of the neck than they are, but the strings sit perfectly well, exactly where they sat with the stock saddles.
Also, the slots in the saddles are so smooth, there’s virtually no chance of breaking a string at the saddle due to a burr.
So, how do they SOUND? They sound great, and more, they FEEL great. At first strum unplugged I was hearing so much fundamental pitch that I thought maybe there wasn’t as much “air” around the notes as I was used to hearing. WRONG! As soon as I plugged into the amp, BFVR w/ 2x Celestion Gold 10’s, there was plenty of air, but more fundamental pitch than on the stock saddles. The attack feels faster, but I don’t think it is – there’s just more fundamental pitch than the stock saddles. That may take a little getting used to at first, but it sounded normal and Vintage to me within minutes – just sounded like a great Strat.
I’ve since played a couple of sets at gigs with them, to insure that they sounded “right” to me in a band setting, and they do. They sound good through stomp boxes too – no weirdo high overtones or anything, no ‘ping’ on the attack.
They look great, they feel great, and YES – they TOTALLY solve the problem of exposed height adjustment screws shredding your palm! We all know that stock units have 3 different length adjustment screws and that the palm shredding problem can be mitigated/ made manageable with careful selection for length, but the Highwood saddles just solve the issue better.
Case in point: I have a CIJ Fender Strat with height adjustment screws chosen selectively to make it feel as good as it can viv-a-vis palm shredding, and it’s not bad at all: However, the Highwood saddles are better.
Did I mention they sound great? They sound great, fantastic actually. Palm muting is slightly different – took me almost a full minute to adjust my right palm technique (GRIN).
To sum up:
PROS: Look great, sound great, and feel great. The machining is precision, the plating is beautiful, fit and finish are excellent.
CONS: None, none at all.
Thanks, Dana O.
Testimonial from thegearpage.net member seljetnoma
I installed a fresh set of Highwood vintage style saddles on my strat with a Gotoh 510T tremolo. Until this week I had the Gotoh block saddles on the trem, but I decided I wanted something more vintage sounding and looking on my strat.
The unplugged sound was very promising, but when I put the saddles for a real live test it’s qualities became obvious!! While I was under the impression that a vintage style saddle couldn’t be improved any further, I was surprised to find that this saddle is a major improvement over the vintage design, they sound very articulate with all the vintage sound qualities but with added sustain. Notes ring and there is a nice balanced warm sound, without any of the thin sounds other saddle brands gave me in the past. I had vintage style Gotoh saddles on this trem some time ago, but went back to block saddles because the Gotoh’s seemed to thin the sound a bit. Not so with Highwood saddles, they are great with vintage appearance and modern features, they are the final answer to my search for new saddles.
Thumbs up for Highwood, they are great to deal with and I highly recommend them for all in search for a major tone upgrade, and their playing comfort is a nice added bonus, they feel smooooth!!
Testimonial from Harry Maes
This is my review for the HG Contoured Vintage Guitar Saddles from Highwood Guitar Parts which I recently installed on my Yamaha Pacifica 510v, I’m endorsed by Yamaha. This guitar is modified by myself and I’ve changed the tremolo to a Wilkinson WVP6SB and the pickups to DiMarzio Transition in the bridge, Area 67 in the middle and an Injector in the neck. This guitar also has an active ATC-2 preamp from Gitaarservice (http://www.gitaarservice.nl) installed.
The Wilkinson WVP6SB tremolo came with block (modern) saddles installed. I replaced these with vintage bent steel saddles from Wilkinson (10,8 mm /0.425″) which had a great sound but also a number of disadvantages being: the screws sticking out of the saddles and strings breaking much more often when using the tremolo with down and up movement compared to the block saddles. During that time I created audio samples with 3 different saddle types: vintage bent steel, block and Graphtech saddles. The block saddles sounded pingy and brighter/less balanced than the vintage bent steel saddles, the graphite saddles added more mids and lots of highs, muffled the sound a bit. For a Strat type guitar my conclusion was that I really preferred the vintage bent steel saddles. Because of the disadvantages I settled with the block saddles.
HG Contoured Vintage Guitar Saddles
What do you get?
You get 6 beautiful looking contoured vintage bent steel saddles that are fitting perfectly! These are great aftermarket vintage bent steel saddles that keep the vintage look. The saddles come with 2 different lengths of height adjustment screws and these go through the saddles top and bottom. The screws make that these saddles feel great without harming the palm of your hand. The indent is really smooth and resolves the issues of breaking strings. The string holes of the Wilkinson tremolo aren’t all in one line but luckily it wasn’t necessary to shorten the intonation screws. Also included is an hex wrench to adjust the height of the saddles. All in all this was a swift replacement process without any issues.
Material and sound
These innovative HG saddles are made from perfect quality steel, consistently hardened to Rockwell 70 B which is not as hard as some other brands which results in a warmer, less pingy sound. They are nickel coated directly onto the steel body which really gives you pure vintage tone! Looking at the HG Contoured Vintage Guitar saddles in detail you’lll notice these have more mass especially in the area where the height adjustment screws are located. This gives you a better sustain, more touch sensitivity, greater note separation and definition and a really vintage sounding harmonic response. Sizes: 10,8 mm, 11,2 mm , 10,5 mm is in the works.
Great vintage pure tone and sustain, touch sensitive and great note separation and definition;
Killer looking and feeling saddles with smooth height adjustments screws and indents.
I highly recommend these HG contoured vintage guitar saddles!