So after a long search for a nice Hollowbody I pulled the trigger and purchased a Guild X-175 from the Newark collection. And though I very much believe in this guitar and its gorgeous woody tone I found some room for improvement:
With Pyramid 11s Flatwounds the guitar sounded a bit unbalanced and I could not manage it to compensate this with PU-adjustments. The two high strings sounded harsh, the D-string is not represented well and the high registers above the 12th fret lack sustain. I registered some fretnoise, just on some spots, but I would not like to raise the action. The guitar intonated well even after the use of The Bigsby it went just a bit out of tune. These are just minor downsides and I could also keep it as it is, but why I should not try to improve the performance.
So after some research I wanted to try a bridge conversion. The Guild comes with a standard ABR-1:
I made very good experiences with bridge-conversions in the past, for an example with the BC Rich Stealth Chuck Schuldiner. I thought about a Faber again, a Tru-arc, a Callahan and others. Often I read, that Roller-bridges would suck tone-quality, though the idea of no-friction convinces me, because I use the Bigsby often. At last I read about the ABM 2400, a german manufactured roller-bridge and some people commented, that the ABM would be constructed that well and without any tolerances, that there would be no recognisable difference between the ABM and a standard ABR-1. It should even improve the tone quality because of the use of massive bell-brass.
I ordered the ABM and 12s Thomastik Infeld Flatwounds (Swing series). The conversion was flawless, the ABM just sits well on the stock studs. The ABM offers the opportunity to adjust the position on the bridge base (see picture below). After the conversion you can use the little screws to lock the bridge to avoid any unwanted rattle.
During the installation process I also recognised, that the bridge sticks to the top. I expected the bridge to fall off as soon as I had removed all strings, because I heard, that it’s not pinned, but nothing happened. To prevent a lot of work with bridge positioning I had marked the position of the bridge base before.
At last I restrung the Guild, first both E-strings to see, if the strings flow nicely across the fretboard and PUs. I had not to adjust anything. I went one with the remaining strings and had to adjust the height of the bridge slightly.
The tone of an instrument is influenced by many components, which also influence each other, so it’s hard to judge a single component like a bridge. Maybe if the bridge would sound bad it would sound brilliant with another bridge-base made of ebony. Who knows.
So how the Guild sounds and performs after these alterations?
The sound is definitely much more balanced now with a better projection of the lower strings while the upper two strings sound warmer and integrate better in the overall sound. The sound is a tad more modern with a boost on the bass, more hifi, if you know what I mean. The Bigsby-performance is better with less effect on the tuning. The intonation is as good as before. I can not hear any loss of attack or response as roller-bridges are known for. All fret noise is gone (can not say if it happened because of the higher string gauge, the new bridge, the action is as good as before). The higher areas sing more.
All in all a very pleasing result and I think I will keep this ABM- bridge.
At last a few pics to show the look of the new bridge:
The old bridge side by side with the new ABM 2400:
If you want to hear how the Guild sounds (before the bridge conversion) check it here (Guild is on the right side):