Weird Kahler / Strat / Conversion Neck Question - Luthier/builder opinions appreciated.

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Okieactor, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. Okieactor

    Okieactor Tele-Holic

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    Ok, where to start?

    SIMPLEST BEGINNING: I want to put a kahler on one of my guitars.

    I have an SG, a PRS 245, A conversion neck tele (Warmoth 24.75), and a 99/00 mim strat, as options. I'm rejecting the 245 because I think based on initial measurements that the neck angle and wrap around fixed bridge would cause problems or excessive mods. Rejecting the SG, because while they make a kahler for it, it's also the most expensive guitar I have, and is completely stock, currently.

    That leaves the tele and the strat. My long-term goal with the strat is to most likely put a conversion neck, for the 24.75 scale (old finger injury makes shorter scales feel better to me).

    So I'm looking at 2 options:

    OPTION 1: Install the Kahler on the tele, which already has the 24.75 scale. No existing route, so this is probably the simplest.

    OPTION 2: Install the Kahler on the strat, trying to find a position that will work for both the 25.5 scale neck on it now, but also on a conversion neck, if I go there in the future. To give reference, I had to put slightly longer saddle screws on the tele, for the same conversion, it was literally one string that was one or two threads too short for proper intonation.

    So for those experienced installing Kahlers (and conversion necks, possibly), assuming I try for OPTION 2--putting the Kahler on the Strat...

    QUESTIONS:

    First question: Could I mark my point of contact with the saddles on the strat, using the stock neck, then bolt on the tele neck, and do the same thing, and compare measurements to see what to do with the Kahler? Or does the kahler allow enough movement that it doesn't matter?

    2nd question: Any routing problems putting a 2300 Kahler into the 6-screw strat route? And would the conversion neck adjustment in positioning (if there is one) going to cause further problems at all?

    3rd question: Does it make more sense to install the Kahler on the tele or the strat? I tend to go to the tele for the reasons you go to a tele, and so in a way it makes more sense to me to do the Kahler in the strat, which is designed with a trem, just because a tele is not what I normally go to when I'm thinking about a song that requires a trem.
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    It would make more sense to get a third body and rout it for the Kahler. That way nothing gets devalued. The one and only Kahler I put on was for a Jackson Soloist copy in the mid to late 1980s. The rout was simple enough and the measurements are probably in the internet somewhere. I bet some small builder can provide you with one with all the routs except for the bridge.

    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=192618137503


    Then for the bigger bucks

    https://www.allparts.com/products/sbao-npo-unfinished-replacement-body-for-strat


    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=392161169849

    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=283325514343

    And being a full service poster here are the instructions:


    https://www.kahlerusa.com/public/pdf/6200RIMA.PDF
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    I have installed Kahler bridge on three guitars, all of the Warmoth Jagstang bodies. Jagstangs are short scale (24 inch) and these bodies and necks were setup for whatever the stock Fender bridge would look like (they are different than other Fender bridges). Anyway, there are three parts to your question.

    First, there are very good instructions on Kahler's page for making your routing template and locating the route on the body. I made a simple template out of 1/2 plywood and screwed it to the body using the the bridge mounting holes. There is one questionable measurement on the Kahler drawing - they show a line that is the scale length but they locate it at the center of the travel of the intonation adjustment. I question that, basically you are throwing away half of your intonation adjustment because you will never have "negative compensation".

    In fact when I installed the first one of these I called Kahler and had a long and delightful discussion with Mr. Kahler himself. I asked why they located the bridge that way and he said that would cover all the possibilities - yes, but you never encounter a need to move the bridge ahead of the scale, true but you can if you want.

    Short story, I located all three guitars with the farthest forward adjustment of the saddles at the scale and they all intonated perfectly (and I'll come back to this because this player uses some rather odd strings and tunings).

    Anyway, lay out the scale length, centerline and edges of the fretboard as usual

    IMG_5067.JPG

    and screw the template to the top (might be pictures of different guitars)

    IMG_3786.JPG


    Second part of the geometry is that Kahler specifies that the height of the string plane at the front of the bridge be exactly 1/2 inch. As I recall they call that a "critical dimension". This is a combination of the neck pocket depth, any angle (zero is an angle) and the amount of overstand - it will vary for different guitars. But you need to do whatever you need to do to make that geometry 1/2 inch which may help you choose a guitar to put this on.

    With the Warmoth body and neck it was necessary to at a 0.5 degree shim to the pocket to get the neck angle correct - you should take that into consideration as you lay this out.

    IMG_5065.JPG

    Route the cavity, drill holes for a string ground to the bridge, all the normal stuff

    IMG_3787.JPG

    IMG_5068.JPG IMG_5069.JPG

    Mount the bridge and enjoy the setup procedure, this is one of the best designed bridges I have ever encountered.

    IMG_5071.JPG

    Some additional thoughts. My friend with the Jagstangs tunes them down a couple of steps and runs some pretty heavy strings (he is a big Kurt Cobain fan). Intonating was simple and the way the tremolo spring and cam works adjusting for different tension is easy. I like the one set screw trem lock feature and as you probably know, the saddles on a Kahler are individually adjustable for height, string spacing (!), intonation, as well has having fine tuners that actually work. You will need a locking nut (altho I always question this because I don't use locking nuts on Bigsbys and they stay in tune).

    My last comment is on your conversion neck. As long as you locate the either the center of the travel (Kahler method) or front of the travel (FK method) at the uncompensated scale length of the neck you are going to use, then the bridge will compensate correctly.

    Here are two of the three guitars, Kahlers in place

    IMG_5092.JPG
     
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  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Additional thought about your conversion neck and the strat. Properly done, a conversion neck simply starts the measurements at the bridge and works back towards the nut. Each fret and the nut is shifted relative to the fixed bridge. That means that the body to neck joint moves (usually its at 16, it may move into or away from the body depending on the new scale). If you were to mount the Kahler on the strat with a normal 25.5 neck and then put a correctly made conversion on it it should work perfectly. But remember too, that the conversion neck should have the same angle, overstand, and radius (however radius is easily adjusted with the Kahler).

    I'll just add my two cents on your choice of guitars. I'd put it on the tele or the strat mainly because I wouldn't care to see the SG or the PRS modified.
     
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  5. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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  6. Okieactor

    Okieactor Tele-Holic

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    All REALLY good responses. Wow. Ok, A few things:

    1. (To GuitarBuilder) An unpainted Warmoth strat body with no route goes for around $175, plus shipping. So to me, it's worth the risk to try it on either existing fender project I have. Worst case, $200 plus paint supplies to start over. And I live in Austin, so there's a chance I could find a cheaper replacement if I really had to. They're both mexican bodies, not rare, no sentimental value.

    2. (To Freeman) Regarding the comments on never a need to go shorter than the nominal scale... Just in theory though, if I don't want to limit the body to always being a 24.75 scale? Is there enough throw in the saddle adjustments to accommodate both? When I converted the tele, I had to lengthen the saddles a bit to get intonation perfect. One string required about 2 extra threads to make it happen, so I went to the hardware store. I know that in theory it's a direct conversion (shouldn't be movement of the bridge location), but I think it's common to have to lengthen the intonation adjustment screws (saddles moving towards nut), at least on the warmoth ones to make the intonation right. That leads me to wonder about temporarily putting the tele neck on the strat (will it fit, or will the heel shape be a problem?), so that way, I could mark critical contact points in masking tape on the body for both 25.5 and 24.75 (Warmoth conversion neck) scales, to see if there's a measurable difference. Hope this makes sense. Since the Kahler route is pretty specific, I don't want to miss by 1/8" inch and never be able to get it intonated correctly, or have to relocate it and redrill, that sounds like a nightmare.

    3. Freeman, what you write about height makes perfect sense. It's a flat or flushmount system, so neck angle is going to play havoc with that if it doesn't line up. I wonder if, on that measurement (1/2"), if it is in the middle of the saddles' adjustable height range or not. But I will check this carefully if I commit to the project. This is another reason to avoide the PRS as an option.

    4. On locking nut: I plan on trying it with just locking tuners, but may also spend $40 on the Kahler string locks that go on the headstock and use the existing nut. Just makes more sense to me.
     
  7. Okieactor

    Okieactor Tele-Holic

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    Ah, one other thing? Will the existing 6-screw route on the strat be a problem with the unit sitting flat (if I choose to do the strat, not the tele)? I feel like it should be okay, but in case anyone knows from experience...?
     
  8. Okieactor

    Okieactor Tele-Holic

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    BTW, the pics are very helpful.
     
  9. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I put a Kahler Flyer tremolo on a Strat style guitar back in the 80's, easy peasy.
     
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  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    As far as the scale length and compensation question - the way for you to be sure is to calculate some worst case scenarios and allow for them. This

    https://www.liutaiomottola.com/formulae/compensation.htm

    will tell you how much compensation you need for any string at any scale at any tuning. Plug your numbers in and see what you get. Locate the bridge accordingly.

    I will add that I have never seen or heard of a need for negative compensation unless something is dramatically screwed up. The Kahler bridge certainly had adequate travel for the string gauges (pretty heavy) and tunings that we were using on this short scale.

    The locking nut thing is another reason why I would put this on your tele or strat - routing a nice PRS to fit a locking nut would be a crime.

    Last comment - the half inch measurement correlates to the middle saddles being at their lowest setting and a Fender neck with probably 9 or 10 inch radius (I didn't measure). My rule of thumb for any bridge is that the fret plane should just hit the top of the saddles at their absolutely lowest setting - that should give reasonable playing action and be within the range of adjustment.
     
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  11. Okieactor

    Okieactor Tele-Holic

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    To clarify, it is a 245 SE, But, yeah...just not a good idea, I think.
     
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