More often than not, these problems stem from the termination points of the strings’ speaking length: the bridge saddles and nut. If either or both are in poor condition, or if a nut’s slots are prone to binding because of an extreme outward break angle the strings follow from the backs of the slots to the tuners, then the strings won’t return to quite the same seating after heavy bending or vibrato use. Such conditions are also likely to increase the frequency of string breaks, while steel saddles, even when in good condition, are sometimes prone to string breakage thanks to the wearing effects of long-term steel-on-steel action.
Graph Tech saddles and nuts have long been a popular cure for these ills, but the company has now put a both-ends solution into one box and called it the Supercharger Kit (as tested, retail $99/street $89). Available in saddles-and-nut versions for Strat- and Tele-style guitars (retail $49-$59), the Supercharger Kit for guitars with Tune-o-Matic bridges, as reviewed here, also includes a complete lightweight alloy ResoMax bridge (loaded with String Saver saddles), matching bridge posts and inserts, white TUSQ XL nut, a sheet each of 240 grit and 600 grit adhesive-backed sandpaper, and complete installation instructions (it’s available for guitars with either 4mm or 6mm bridge posts). Graph Tech’s answer to both tuning and string breakage issues comes in the form of saddles made from a proprietary composite compound impregnated with Teflon, and nuts made of a synthetic “ivory like” material that’s also laced with the slippery stuff. When strings vibrate and slide through the saddle and nut slots, Teflon is released to facilitate the journey. Of course, any change in these crucial components will alter your tone one way or the other, but Graph Tech claims improved sustain over both steel and brass saddles, along with a smoother, more linear tone, and the results have won a following that numbers many name players, including Dick Dale, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Randy Bachman.
I installed the Supercharger Kit’s bridge and nut on the Gibson SG of a colleague who had complained of chronic tuning and string-break problems, and noticed a slight warming and smoothing of the tone, and certainly no decrease in sustain. What’s more, a couple weeks and several gigs later, the guitar’s owner was experiencing better return-to-pitch stability and had suffered no string breaks in a time frame that would usually have lost him a B string or two. The downside to these potential cures is that you can’t predict whether you’ll like the slight alteration in tone before going to the trouble of replacing your saddles and removing the old nut and gluing in the new one (semi-invasive surgery that should be done by a professional), but the Supercharger Kit is certainly a nifty all-in-one solution for an age-old hassle. —Dave Hunter
A great all-in-one upgrade to cure many tuning and string-breaking problems.
Difficult to predict tonal alteration on your guitar until you have made the installation.
(800) 388-7011; graphtech.com