I finally had the chance to gather my thoughts about the new Stone Tone block you sent me for my G&L. I've got a few rehearsals and real gigs behind me to get a feel for the guitar with this important change in place. I'm impressed and clearly other players who heard the guitar heard this as well.
For reference: I have owned my G&L Musical Instruments Legacy Strat style for about 15 years. I know it downright intimately as a result. It's been through a new paint job (or two), and two pickup swaps: The stock pickups were pretty low output and lifeless. The early G&L pickups were known to be like this. The later ones I understand are better. Despite that, the tone, balance and playability made the guitar a keeper and pickups are easy enough to change. First I installed Di Marzio Virtual noiseless pickups, which I used for about ten years. They were very good: quiet and healthy output but didn't "quack" like a Strat should and were quite a bit warmer than a true Strat tone really should be. Eventually I discovered my current Zexcoil Guitar Pickups. These are silent, can be tapped and remain silent, and sound excellent. I have to say, I was more than skeptical when you approached me with this idea for a stone block.
Like anything so radical and "different" I was leery of switching something as important as my trem block, but I've always been curious about it since a number of companies have clearly made some high profile businesses making blocks of various metals. When I received your block, the first thing that surprised me was how light the bridge assembly became ! The differences between the old steel (?) stock block and the stone block was pretty shocking ! I installed it and strung up the guitar with my go-to string the standard D'Addario Nickel 10-46 set.
The first thing that struck me was the much louder unplugged acoustic tone. It was clearly louder but also more focused and clear. [Like many, I believe the acoustic properties of an electric guitar clearly reflect how good that guitar will potentially be when amplified electrically.] The Stone Tone block did not disappoint. The better qualities that made this my "#1" S-style were still there: Plenty of long sustain, easy controlled feedback and note-ring plus the distinctive sound a good Strat should have, but there was certainly much more: The guitar was (for lack of a better description) more "hi-fi". It seemed to respond quicker to a pick attack. I think there might be maybe a shade less low end warmth than the old block, but the trade-off to an overall greater detail to my sound and a more clear harmonic structure and clarity are well worth that subtle shift.
There also seems to also be a clearly wider dynamic range when you pick lightly or more aggressively. Like a high quality amp, it certainly makes a player more aware of trying to be a better and more accurate player. Some guys need "forgiving" equipment to cover their sins. I prefer to try to improve my playing when my gear puts me under a microscope.
SO in conclusion: The quality of this block is not only excellent sonically but in terms of how well it's executed: As the son and grandson of German machinists I can appreciate quality machine work. The block displayed high quality accurate machining throughout, a super flat surface to contact the bridge plate, and the sides were polished professionally and smoothly. All the bridge hardware fit properly without issue.
I used copper braid, which I put under the collet that the tremolo arm goes into for attaching my ground to the wiring, since the block is non-conductive and you cannot use the trem claw to connect your ground any longer. This is a minor modification any good guitar tech should be able to do when installing the block. The block also doesn't have those recessed holes where a string end usually goes. Initially I thought this was odd, but actually realized it's more convenient when a string breaks than trying to fish out a stuck string ball !
Overall, I really am pleased with the block and recommend it as an excellent enhancement to anyone wanting to take their guitar up a notch in tone !! Kudo's Robert, well done.
"I wish it was easy to put the old block back and show the differences. All I know is "screw vintage" this block has made this the finest sounding Strat I own and that many ever heard". - Andy Fuchs