Current guitars using Kahler as OEM bridge

McNamara

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I'm researching who currently makes new production guitars with a Kahler vibrato. So far I've only found Dean (numerous models), ESP (a handful), and BC Rich (just a few). G&L doesn't even make their Cantrell sig anymore, which would be my first choice if buying used.

There are a couple of existing models I'd consider for my next guitar (I don't have a 'shred' guitar at the moment), but that really limits my options vs Floyd-equipped guitars. It's kind of like the situation with Shimano vs Campagnolo in road bike groupsets: both make a good product and have their pros and cons, but since Shimano nearly dominates the OEM market, it's really damn hard to find a production bike with Campy components. Almost have to build it yourself.

If I were to have a guitar modded with a Kahler bridge, would the best option be to get a hardtail and then rout it for the bridge and locking nut? I imagine that's a better starting place than modding a guitar that came with a Floyd since you already have that big spring cavity in the back.

Anyone know of other builders who offer Kahlers on their guitars? Thanks!
 

SkyMonkey

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I love a Kahler. Though I do tend to leave mine locked.
The Kahler 'behind the nut' lock is the weak link. If you install a Kahler yourself, get a Floyd nut installed if you can.
I installed mine on the blank body of a Charvel Model 4 copy I made.
The Model 4 came with a Kahler. So I copied it! So comfortable.
I think they still come with a routing template.

20200427_100456-1600.jpg

The only brand I have seen using them as OEM is ESP for signature models (e.g. Jeff Hanneman).
 

McNamara

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Nice guitar!
I did a little more research today and found that most production guitars are using the ‘hybrid’ model, except for the super pricey ones which use the ‘professional’. Personally, I’d rather spring for the higher end bridge, so I’ll likely ending up building one myself like you did. The only thing I might have a professional do is route the bridge, as I have little experience and don’t own a good router.
 

Leonard Neemoil

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Nice guitar!
I did a little more research today and found that most production guitars are using the ‘hybrid’ model, except for the super pricey ones which use the ‘professional’. Personally, I’d rather spring for the higher end bridge, so I’ll likely ending up building one myself like you did. The only thing I might have a professional do is route the bridge, as I have little experience and don’t own a good router.

Drill a bunch of holes close together and take the rest out with a nice sharp chisel.
 

DaDoc

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While I can't give you any info on current Kahlers, I can relate my personal experiences with them.

Back in the 80's I modded a '75 Strat with a Kahler:facepalm: and of course, the music store that did for me cut a big chunk of wood out of the body..It was a good locking trem, I used that guitar in the first bar band I played in.

So forward to the 90's, when I decided first to sell the Strat and consigned it to a local music store, and when after a year or so had passed and nobody showed any interest in buying it, I decided instead to keep it and try to restore it to original condition as best I could. So I found a piece of ash as close to the wood grain as I could find (it was a natural finish) and glued it in place. Of course It still had the lines where the two pieces joined, so I covered that up with a decal..After a few other changes, like installing a vintage reissue trem and some '57/'62 Custom shop pickups, I wound up with a nice Strat! Still have it.

If you're looking for a guitar body for a Kahler-equipped build, I would see if I could find one that has already been routed for that trem, if you wind up routing a body yourself, I would seek out something that you won't later regret routing..There's plenty of really nice aftermarket bodies out there nowadays that won't break the bank.

As far as locking nuts go, I actually liked the Kahler nut, as it didn't require drilling holes all the way through the neck. On another Strat-butchering project in which I had a Floyd installed, (Hey, it was the 80's, the dumb 'ol days!) I opted to use a Kahler nut rather than the Floyd nut that came with it. I'm glad I did that, as when I restored that one, both it and the aforementioned '75 had only four tiny screw holes in the headstock.

But again, on a project guitar one can find a neck that is already set up for a Floyd nut if they choose to go that route.

My overall experience with locking trems is that, at least as far as Fenders go the stock trems work just as well staying in tune when set up correctly as the locking ones do. Although admittedly, one can't do the kind of dive-bombing type stuff that they can with a locking trem, but I'm not really into that these days..I still have both locking trems, the Kahler and the Floyd, I need to either do some builds myself, or sell them!
 
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McNamara

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Drill a bunch of holes close together and take the rest out with a nice sharp chisel.

🤣

While I can't give you any info on current Kahlers, I can relate my personal experiences with them.

Back in the 80's I modded a '75 Strat with a Kahler:facepalm: and of course, the music store that did for me cut a big chunk of wood out of the body..It was a good locking trem, I used that guitar in the first bar band I played in.

So forward to the 90's, when I decided first to sell the Strat and consigned it to a local music store, and when after a year or so had passed and nobody showed any interest in buying it, I decided instead to keep it and try to restore it to original condition as best I could. So I found a piece of ash as close to the wood grain as I could find (it was a natural finish) and glued it in place. Of course It still had the lines where the two pieces joined, so I covered that up with a decal..After a few other changes, like installing a vintage reissue trem and some '57/'62 Cutom shop pickups, I would up with a nice Strat! Still have it.

If you're looking for a guitar body for a Kahler-equipped build, I would see if I could find one that has already been routed for that trem, if you wind up routing a body yourself, I would seek out something that you won't later regret routing..There's plenty of really nice aftermarket bodies out there nowadays that won't break the bank.

As far as locking nuts go, I actually liked the Kahler nut, as it didn't require drilling holes all the way through the neck. On another Strat-butchering project in which I had a Floyd installed, (Hey, it was the 80's, the dumb 'ol days!) I opted to use a Kahler nut rather than the Floyd nut that came with it. I'm glad I did that, as when I restored that one, both it and the aforementioned '75 had only four tiny screw holes in the headstock.

But again, on a project guitar one can find a neck that is already set up for a Floyd nut if they choose to go that route.

My overall experience with locking trems is that, at least as far as Fenders go the stock trems work just as well staying in tune when set up correctly as the locking ones do. Although admittedly, one can't do the kind of dive-bombing type stuff that they can with a locking trem, but I'm not really into that these days..I still have both locking trems, the Kahler and the Floyd, I need to either do some builds myself, or sell them!

Glad to hear you had good experience with the Kahler nut. I might go with a Floyd nut since you can easily get necks already set up for them, but we'll see.

I'm quite happy with the two-post bridge on my surf green Strat, but it does go out of tune if I try to use it like a locking vibrato. Ditto with the vintage style Callahan on my black Strat. I'm really not sure how Ritchie Blackmore got away with some of his whammy usage on a vintage six-screw unit, but good for him and his guitar tech! I feel like I'll have all the tools I want in my arsenal once I find (or build, or modify) a nice superstrat with a Kahler.
 

DaDoc

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🤣



Glad to hear you had good experience with the Kahler nut. I might go with a Floyd nut since you can easily get necks already set up for them, but we'll see.

I'm quite happy with the two-post bridge on my surf green Strat, but it does go out of tune if I try to use it like a locking vibrato. Ditto with the vintage style Callahan on my black Strat. I'm really not sure how Ritchie Blackmore got away with some of his whammy usage on a vintage six-screw unit, but good for him and his guitar tech! I feel like I'll have all the tools I want in my arsenal once I find (or build, or modify) a nice superstrat with a Kahler.
Malmsteen does a pretty good job with using a stock trem and staying in tune as well..In fact, it was after reading an interview with him in which he touted the virtues of stock Fender tremolos that I decided to switch back to stock units.

Of course he also talked about using a floyd, only WITHOUT a locking nut..I don't know how he pulled that one off!

One thing that can happen with a stock tremolo vs. something like a Floyd, is that the trem arm can break off, leaving the threaded end stuck inside the tremolo..I learned this the hard way!

When I was using the Kahler and Floyd, I spent more time fiddling with the fine tuners on the bridge than I currently do with the ones on my headstock..Go figure.

None of my Strats have the two-post system, mine all have the old five-screw setup..And those screws also need to be tweaked in order to help with tuning issues..None of mine are decked, they all have the bridge slightly floated, and I only use three of the trem springs. They don't stay in perfect tune all the time, but I've never seen a guitar that does, locking tremolo or not.
 
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McNamara

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I've definitely had the opposite experience with locking vs. non-locking (and fixed) bridges. I've owned three Floyd guitars and never had tuning issues, unlike my Strats and my Les Paul. I spent a lot of time learning how to keep Strats in tune, and while they're great for most stuff, I play a lot of heavy metal. I miss being able to do the lead parts that require extreme trem* usage.

I love Yngwie's playing, mostly, but I think he's such a Jimi and Ritchie fan that he's emotionally invested in the classic Strat look and feel. Nothing wrong with that.

*note: I hate calling them trems, but I catch myself doing it anyway sometimes. Leo Fender strikes again...
 

fitz

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I love a Kahler.
+1
Kahler Flyer.jpg
Kahler Flyer on my '83 Hondo II Pro DC.
Originally installed by someone with absolutely NO wood working skills.
I wound up cutting more wood out, gluing new wood back in, and re-routing to spec.
Luckily, all the Frankensteining is hidden underneath the Kahler.
 

SkyMonkey

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I did read an interview with Kerry King about Kaler trems once.
He said that he didn't necessarily think they were better than Floyds.
But one was on his 1st proper guitar, so he stuck with what he was used to.

:shrug:

But to me they are a palm muters dream.

:hbang:
 

PowerTube44

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I love a Kahler. Though I do tend to leave mine locked.
The Kahler 'behind the nut' lock is the weak link. If you install a Kahler yourself, get a Floyd nut installed if you can.
I installed mine on the blank body of a Charvel Model 4 copy I made.
The Model 4 came with a Kahler. So I copied it! So comfortable.
I think they still come with a routing template.

View attachment 120169

The only brand I have seen using them as OEM is ESP for signature models (e.g. Jeff Hanneman).

This. Having the locking nut behind the regular nut almost defeats the whole purpose. The nut grooves cause probably about 90% of tuning instability, especially on the wound strings.
 

Solid State

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Malmsteen does a pretty good job with using a stock trem and staying in tune as well..In fact, it was after reading an interview with him in which he touted the virtues of stock Fender tremolos that I decided to switch back to stock units.

Of course he also talked about using a floyd, only WITHOUT a locking nut..I don't know how he pulled that one off!

One thing that can happen with a stock tremolo vs. something like a Floyd, is that the trem arm can break off, leaving the threaded end stuck inside the tremolo..I learned this the hard way!

When I was using the Kahler and Floyd, I spent more time fiddling with the fine tuners on the bridge than I currently do with the ones on my headstock..Go figure.

None of my Strats have the two-post system, mine all have the old five-screw setup..And those screws also need to be tweaked in order to help with tuning issues..None of mine are decked, they all have the bridge slightly floated, and I only use three of the trem springs. They don't stay in perfect tune all the time, but I've never seen a guitar that does, locking tremolo or not.
Floyd makes a direct replacement for the Strat bridge. It's a really good bridge and it doesn't get enough love really.

tuwmlEi.png


My BC Rich Warlock NJ had the Kahler Flyer trem on it and like Kerry King was saying - I'm just used to it so I would gravitate towards a guitar that has that over a Floyd. I was going to buy the Stranger Things Warlock but they only put the Kahler on the US model, not the import.
 

PowerTube44

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Malmsteen does a pretty good job with using a stock trem and staying in tune as well..In fact, it was after reading an interview with him in which he touted the virtues of stock Fender tremolos that I decided to switch back to stock units.

Of course he also talked about using a floyd, only WITHOUT a locking nut..I don't know how he pulled that one off!
Back in the 80's, Ibanez made a Vinnie Moore signature model that was like that, a Floyd but no locking nut. You can also order them that way from Kiesel.

I don't see the point.
 

Redguitar

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View attachment 120179
Kahler Flyer on my '83 Hondo II Pro DC.
Originally installed by someone with absolutely NO wood working skills.
I wound up cutting more wood out, gluing new wood back in, and re-routing to spec.
Luckily, all the Frankensteining is hidden underneath the Kahler.
Drill a bunch of holes close together and take the rest out with a nice sharp chisel.
I got stupid in the 80s by making cavities on a beautiful axe. I was not super skilled in luthier-like attempts, but I cut & chiseled a cavity for a middle HB. And I cut the back to make room for the springs that I installed on a ultra cheap $2 strat style bridge. That bridge required more chiseling.

I only keep the guitar to remind myself of what not to do to a nice instrument. It could still be ok only for slide work. It's the one on the left of my sig pic. An Electra brand LP copy, MPC effects built in.

In the late 80s and early 90s, I bought a few Charvel guitars (models 5 & 6 also in the sig pic) that had Kahler systems. I almost never need to tune up between practices, because they just stay in tune so remarkable. I've been lucky in that way.
 


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