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Tele Bigsby Users...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by 909one, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. 909one

    909one Member

    Aug 7, 2006
    I acted rashly and put a Bigsby on my Tele last weekend.
    It was in an absolutely perfect state before the install and now things are messed up, and I kind of regret it.
    I installed the B5 Bigsby, did not the do the Tele kit conversion though (with the Faceplate and Mustang bridge).

    I have a Joe Barden compensated Bridge, with brass saddles. I just strung the strings over the brass saddles to the Bigsby. I had to file away a little section on the back on the tele baseplate for each string to pass through without friction.

    When I first string it up, there was not enough string tension going over the the saddles to keep the strings from buzzing and moving around. I added a neck shim to the guitar to increase the neck angle, therefore rasing bridge saddles and increasing string angle to the Bigsby. This worked great, except now bigsby would not return to pitch after bending.
    I think brass seems to have more friction then something like chrome, and the strings are sticking on the bridge with increased string angle.

    Another thing that I discovered is that I don't like the action of the Bigsby as much as do on my Gretsch. Also, I think visually the Bigsby makes the guitar look too crowded. But I now have four holes on the top of my beautiful sunburst Tele Custom body. (Its an Allparts body)

    My question is, should I keep going with this and investigate the Tele bigsby coversion kit or just pull the Bigsby off and live with the holes in the guitar.

    Will a mustang style bridge help with the action of the Bigsby and tuning stability?

    If I go back to guitar sans Bigsby, anyone know of a good way to repair holes with Poly finish?
  2. Tinman

    Tinman Member

    Mar 22, 2005
    Rockford, Illinois
    Sometimes compensated saddles don't go well with a Bigsby, and the strings move around (usually downhill) causing tuning issues. You may want to cut some grooves in the saddles to keep the strings in place. That's a pretty easy job for a tech. As far as the feel of the bigsby, you could try removing the nylon ring to reduce the tension a bit. Some people here have used softer springs, but I don't know of a source for those.
  3. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    The Twilight Zone
    :tapedshut Read my other posts on bigsby trems.
  4. RomanS

    RomanS Member

    Aug 14, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    Can you post close-up pics of your setup?

    I have a Tele with a Bigsby B50, and a Wilkinson Tele bridge with compensated brass saddles, and it works perfectly, no tuning issues at all; I'm amazed that you needed a neck shim - that shouldn't be necessary when using the B5 with a regular ashtray bridge with notched back lip...

    The action of the arm with the B5 is indeed slightly stiffer with the B5 than with the Bigsby models that don't have the extra bar for increasing string pressure, Bigsbys without that bar (like the B16 for Tele, or most of the archtop models) feel looser.
    I also have a Tele with a B16, and while that has the nice loose action, it also has a different tone - not the typical Tele twang, more of a Gretsch-ysound, more airy, less punchy.
    I suspect with a differnt bridge type, like the Jazzmaster-type from the Bigsby-Tele-kit, your tone will change.
    With the B5 and an ashtray bridge, the Tele tone will stay almost exactly the same, except for a very slight increas in sustain - my Tele still has the string-thru ferrules, and there's no deiscernibel difference in tone between stringing it up with the ferrules or the Bigsby!
  5. jmoose

    jmoose Member

    Feb 15, 2008
    Earth, NYC metro
    Oh man, that sounds like a mess. Good pictures would help...

    Below is my special edition Am. Tele which I purchased used w/the Figsby installed. I'm not sure which model it is...

    The tuning is pretty well flawless with the jaguar style bridge. The only major problem I had was that the saddles would rattle around and slowly back down. A bit of locktite on the screws solved all that. I had to shim the neck a little but I'm not sure if it's because of the Figs or just the nature of the guitar. I shoved a pick in there... I recall it was a Dunlop but can't recall the thickness. Maybe .77 or so. Mostly because I really dislike the 'microtilt' neck adjust... it eats tone.


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