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another Bigsby Callaham install

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Porkman D, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    Hello to forum:

    My first tremolo. Thought I'd post my findings that might inform other installers. I am not sure about this- and am no expert. I'm posting my initial findings and opinions not as absolute statement of fact- just my (possibly wrong) findings.

    I bought the B5 Bigsby kit without the bridge plate and saddle (didn't see the entire kit on Bibsby site). Bought the Callaham heavier bridgeplate with Enhanced Compensation Saddles for Bigsby. The bridgeplate is cut away at back so strings can clear. I got the Callaham grooved front roller for Bigsby and the Callaham string shaft for Bigsby that has thru-holes for strings.

    String spacing. Tele has string spacing of 54mm at holes in body and bridgeplate. Also, when installed, the Callaham Bigsby bridges for Tele have a spacing of 54mm (the ends of the brass saddles butt up against each other). The Callham front roller and string shaft have a string spacing of 52mm- so the strings aren't quite straight as they expand out to 54mm at saddles (I may grind off 0.5mm fron the ends of the saddles). The Callaham front roller has end play of 0.030". T here are no bearings in the Callaham front roller and I put molybdenum engine assembly paste where roller rides on the roller shaft. The Bigsby string shaft that comes with the B5 kit has small roll pins and has a string spacing of 47.2mm (!?)- so I certainly wasn't goint to use that string shaft for this build.

    The #6 screws that came with the BIgsby kit for mounting tremolo on body I thought were too short, so I used #6 X 1 1/4" screws and drilled pilot holes at 3/32"- might even drill a hair smaller next time.

    Positioning. You can see in the attached photo that I used the string method to get lateral alignment. But would the tremolo shafts be perpendicular to the strings? Drew a centerline on the body- another line parrallel to centerline at edge of body. Then used a triangle to draw a line at 90 degrees. Bought a 3/16" steel shaft at Home Despot and cut to 14"- put the shaft in the roller shaft bore of the trem and secured it with the set screw. After placing the trem about 3/16" from rear edge of body and getting lateral alignment, I drilled the hole for the tremolo closest to the bridgeplate (upper right in photo) and installed mounting screw snug. Then rotated the trem so the 3/16" rod was aligned to the line I had drawn. Then marked and drilled the other three holes.

    What type of a tremolo is the Calaham Bigsby set up? I couldn't figure that out till after I installed it. I originally thought I was probably supposed to have the strings slide over the saddles. But the Callmham Bigsby saddles have pointed ridges, radiused for the different string sizes. I used my close up glasses and watched the saddles and strings while moving the whammy bar. The Bigsby/Callham doesn't have a wide range of movement (enough for me though)- the majority of movement I saw was the rocking of the saddles with the strings staying in place on the saddles. The saddles can rock because the intonation screws can move up and down a little in the bridge plate- and the screws have some play in the brass saddles. After doing initial intonation adjust, when you operate the trem, the strings move a little on the saddles and when trem goes to neutral, the heads of the intonation screws are about 0.010" away fron the bridge and the strings are now at a somewhat permanent position of the saddles. I had to operate and play the Tele a bit before this stabilized- seems to be holding pretty well. So to me, this appears to be a "floating" type trem.

    The stock Callaham intonation screws were not long enough for some reason. I bought #6 X 1 1/4" stainless Allen socket cap screws- and this is good because I can adjust intonation with a Bondhus 7/64" ball hex driver.

    Although I want to stay with this set up because I like the look of the Callaham bridge and brass saddles, is there a better set up? What about installing the rest of the Bigsby kit (bridgeplate, steel thimbles, and floating saddle/bridge assembly)? This is a Jazzmaster style with strings stationary on a rocking bridge. You have to drill out holes to put thimbles for the rocking/floating saddle assembly. Does Mastery make bridge for this setup?

    This is a new eBay MIM body from Stratosphere and a 2008 Fender Vintage Reissue Tele MIA neck from eBay with D'Adario Jazz Lite flatwound 11-50 strings. Lindy Fralin Blues Special pups.

    Any advice appreciated......

    Bigsby install 1.jpg Bigsby install 2.jpg Bigsby install 3.jpg
     
  2. colnago

    colnago TDPRI Member

    Age:
    44
    83
    Aug 22, 2017
    The Great White North
    I like the fly.
     
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  3. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    I didn't see him. I'm pretty sure he's admiring the guitar.
     
    colnago likes this.
  4. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Fly photobomb.

    Nicely done! Looks like a great install. I'd never install that floating bridge type, these just work just as well if not better. As for your Mastery questions, they make both the JM/Jag style, Tele ashtray, and half-cut bridges for Bigsby B5s. You'd want a Mastery 4.1 for your guitar as is.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
    Teleguy61, colnago and Old Tele man like this.
  5. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Bravo!
    I guess the fly needed an E.;)
     
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  6. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    I see the Mastery 4.1. At this point, I'm staying with the Callham saddles. Interesting that they say that with the 4.1 design, the strings slide on them.
     
  7. joealso

    joealso Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    439
    Dec 25, 2012
    East Haddam, CT
    Nice! I think Teles with a Bigsby look badass.
     
  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    More like "string less likely to get hung up" or "won't saw into the brass compensation ridge". I've played mine enough to know it keeps tuning very stable. Mind you the whole saddle moves with use, just like every other bridge out there, cheap or booteek, roller or locked down with special studs or both. I also have word that some dudes ran 12 flats on a Mastery and it could not take the pressure--it warped/cut through the hard chrome. Just one second hand anecdote though.
     
  9. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    The guitar your'e referring to when you say "mine": Tele with Mastery cut away bridge and 4.1 saddles? Is that your preferred Tele tremolo build? By "12 flats" you mean string set that starts at 0.012"?

    I gather you're Dave Alvin. Honored to get advice from you.... I have a lot of vinyl from many of your groups. Flesh Eaters!

    Don't kow if you know it, but "Background Briefing with Ian Masters" on Pacifica non-profit Radio I think has used one of your songs as a theme for many years. I used to shoot a lot photos with my 2 1/4" format camera at the Cucoos Nest in Costa Mesa. I guess you've got a lot of photos, but I got some OK ones of the Blasters in '79- I may email a nice scan.....

    Thanks, Kip........
     
  10. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Tele-Holic

    668
    May 20, 2018
    Arcata
    I went the Callaham B5 route as well. I didn't have the red string so I used the high & low E-strings to gauge my lateral placement (I admittedly have great visual geometry....don't play pool with me for $).

    20180901_121007.jpg
     
  11. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    \m/FLESH EATERS\m/

    Sorry though Kip, I’m not Dave, I’m just a random Blasters fan wandering in the desert :) Don’t think he’s on a forum but you could talk to Billy Zoom at Gretsch Discussion Pages.

    Yes, the Mastery 4.1 is the model made for Bigsby, with cut outs for the strings. I do prefer it for a B5 Bigsby Tele. I’m talking about heavy ‘12’ gauge flatwound strings (or maybe it was heavier), but who knows for sure. I’ve had zero problems with mine, but I use ‘10’ gauge roundwounds.

    805490C7-3042-4BCE-944F-68AF6E03FFE1.jpeg
     
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  12. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    Unique guitar- what is the neck pup?
     
  13. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    116
    Dec 2, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    The Flesh Eaters rule! My band covered The Wedding Dice for a handfulmof shows in 2016. Took a lot of practice to sing and play that one at the same time well enough for an audience.
    I’m enjoying all threads involving tele’s with b5’s.
    I just had the whole fender b5 kit installed. I love it. However, it needed a softer spring.
    I am not a fan of the jaguar bridge that came with the kit, so I broke the piggy bank and invested in a mastery m1 (advice from dave alvin ;)) It’s supposed to arrive thursday. I’m excited to install it and hopefully end my string hang-up issue.
    Fill report to come.
     
    BorderRadio likes this.
  14. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Aye, I missed this oops...
    It’s a MojoTone goldfoil. It’s a repro of the ‘offset’ coil Teisco from the 60s, the kind Ry Cooder made known.
     
  15. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    I'm still not clear on this design. You currently have the Bigsby B5 complete kit with thimbles installed? And the Mastery sits in the thimbles? Bridge assemble floats in the thimbles. Or saddles float on secured bridge?
     
  16. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    116
    Dec 2, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    I have the whole b5 tele kit installed. I can pull the bridge out and replace it with a mastery m1.

    Jaguar bridge:
    0C544888-F456-46CB-9DCB-F6F4C27AFF60.jpeg

    Mastery M1
    D4DC9835-21D3-4836-8920-E52B005C4078.jpeg
     
  17. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    Forgot to mention:

    After installing the Bigsby Callaham trem hardware, hum reduced by about 70%. I have not shielded any cavities with foil- but there is that black paint. Have not used either PUP cavity ground point yet because I didn't want to cut up the Fralin ground wires. Control pocket is only one connected to a ground wire. Also installed a Callaham Bakelite pick guard- it had some sort of circle about 9" diameter on the back- but did not appear to be foil- and is not grounded. I intend to ask them what it is.

    Although I'm happy to have this improvement, it's bugging me when things change and I don't know why- but not too much:)
     
  18. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

    Big shout-out for Mastery bridges.
    Great product.
     
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  19. Porkman D

    Porkman D TDPRI Member

    15
    Nov 21, 2018
    Costa Mesa, California
    Then it appears to me to be a better version (but same design I believe) of the stock Bigsby floating bridge assembly. Bridge rocks and strings do not slide on saddles I believe. I read that some one else did this and was happy.
     
  20. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    37
    116
    Dec 2, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    It barely rocks and the strings get hung up on the back of the bridge base when i use the trem. With the mastery, the strings move freely from bigsby to saddles, and should slide on saddles. Having used the b5 as is for the past couple weeks, i can say it’s been problematic. Also, the strings making constant contact with the bridge base is murder on sustain. It acts as a silencer on the strings. Quite stifling.
     
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