Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Bigsby break angle

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Vespa_One, Aug 28, 2017.

Tags:
  1. Vespa_One

    Vespa_One Tele-Meister

    296
    Feb 14, 2017
    United States
    I will start by saying I have no experience with bigsby's at all but I'm looking to put one on a new build.

    I am in the design process and am curious about where to locate the bigsby B5. The guitar is a flat top with a half tele bridge notched for strings. Seeing how the guitar is in the design phase of a new build there are no constraints on where the bigsby can go.

    What is the optimal break angle? How far back from the bridge should the B5 be? Can anyone offer measurements?


    I want to know if the bigsby will fit my current design or if I need more body below the bridge.

    On the drawing sketch I have now there is about 1.5" between the back of the bridge and where the strings connect on the bigsby. (2.5" saddle to bigsby).

    Thanks for any info
     
    AngelDeville likes this.

  2. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Since B5s have the tension bar, I'd keep it back from the saddles as opposed to close as possible. There seems to be an alternate train of thought that feels that close as possible to the saddle is best for 'tone', but I don't think this matters that much when the whole point is to have a stable vibrato system. That said, Bigsbys are pretty simple mechanisms: precise is not what they are are about. My reasoning on keeping the break angle shallow has to do with using a B5 with a Gretsch Pro Jet, the break angle was huge and made for a stiff feel and terrible return to pitch. I used a reverse neck shim to lesson the break angle on my B5 Tele, and combined with a M4.1 Mastery and a Reverend soft spring, I get a very sensitive and soft feel--it's almost like a Bigsby B6.
     

  3. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ

  4. Dacious

    Dacious Friend of Leo's

    Mar 16, 2003
    Godzone

  5. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    106
    Dec 27, 2007
    Albuquerque
    Put away the ruler and slap the sumbich on there as far back as it goes and doesn't hang off the end.

    Notch the ashtray, and play it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    jimash, BorderRadio, oldfish and 2 others like this.

  6. GigsbyBoyUK

    GigsbyBoyUK Friend of Leo's

    Apr 30, 2008
    Peterborough, UK
    Agree: as far back as possible not overhanging the body.
     
    AngelDeville and Vespa_One like this.

  7. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    42
    Feb 7, 2009
    Reading, Massachusetts
    If you're using a T-style body design, with conventional placement of the ashtray bridge, you'll discover there aren't too many places a Bigsby can go.

    Then, if you look at photos of B5-equipped Teles, you'll see they get placed wherever they fit, sometimes closer to the bridge, sometimes further, all presumably with good results.

    TL;DR: AngelDeville is right. Just screw it down.
     
    AngelDeville and Vespa_One like this.

  8. Obeast

    Obeast TDPRI Member

    Age:
    75
    21
    Nov 18, 2016
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Break angle is overrated. Notice new 5-series Gretsches have the Bigsby with the tension bar. Even with light gauge strings it defeats the whole design of the archtop so it plays and feels ‘modern’. Personally, Cher Atkins has better tone than the guy in the Tiger Army - could it be that low tension is a plus?
    I routed the strings over the tension bar for a much more playable axe. Sustain is not something a traditional player obsesses over, rather the sound and feel of strings responding to pick attack. For a darker, softer sound go for the lower break angle.
     
    Newbcaster and BorderRadio like this.

  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Good point. Thing is, not everybody wants an archtop response. The G5420 is pretty much a G6120 in all ways, but those new center block G5xxx are meant to appeal to the 'sustain' crowd. I sold off my G5122 to get the new two-pickup G5622, and yeah, I'm hesitating because of the tension bar Bigsby. But my journey with the B5 and Telecaster says 'don't worry'
     

  10. Obeast

    Obeast TDPRI Member

    Age:
    75
    21
    Nov 18, 2016
    Lagos, Nigeria
    I dont get what the sustain crowd wants with Gretsch guitars. Their right hands are just lazy.
    Did Cher ever gig with Chet?
     
    bottlenecker likes this.

  11. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Tele-Holic

    893
    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    "Sustain blocks" ruin good archtops and make them into inferior solid bodies. Sad to see gretsch doing this.
     

  12. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Chet players want a Tennessean or the big Orange 6120, MIJ versions still available. I didn’t like the Center Blocks when they first came out, too heavy, no Filter’trons all around, and said tension bar Bigsby. Well I have a couple of ‘tone post’ big box 5420s, and my thinner G5122 was redundant and never sounded ‘right’. So center block I go—its not supposed to be a good archtop, just a Gretsch. I think along lines like “different style Duo Jet”, ya know, the ones that are hollowed out with a mostly solid core. The CBs could also be thought of as extension of trestle bracing. Just other flavors of Gretsch, IMHO.
     

  13. BadMojo

    BadMojo Tele-Meister Vendor Member

    156
    Sep 17, 2017
    Maryland
    I put a Bigsby B5 on this jaguar. I put it roughly where it would be on a Les Paul. The tension is pretty good, not too sloppy. I am running 10s on it now. If I were to put 9s on it I'm sure it would give me a little bit more play.

    I also modified it so I could run the strings straight through. This makes changing strings so much easier. There has been many times I would string a Bigsby and the ball would fall off the string on the B or e strings doing it the old way.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Vespa_One, Zepfan and BorderRadio like this.

  14. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Tele-Holic

    893
    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    I play thin kay archtops with bolt on necks. They're less of a "good archtop" than a traditional gretsch, but they really get a woody, resonant archtop sound that you wouldn't mistake for any semi-hollow or solid body. I've experimented with them for a long time, and I know why they sound how they do, and what will ruin their sound.
    The good models gretsch made recently don't really get the sound I want. But, they sounded good in their own way, and they were the last hollowbody guitars on the market that were designed right, other than guitars intended for modern jazz sounds. So it's sad to see them gone.

    I can't think of a center block as bracing because it's just not. That's not what it does. It stops resonance in the most crucial spot, under the bridge. It makes the rest of the guitar's top mostly useless, just for show.

    So why buy a new guitar if it's not what you want? Why not something like a black falcoln from about 10 years ago?
     

  15. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    My understanding is that string thru is the ‘old way’, and pins came later. Either way, it’s a great mod. I drilled out my bar, have’t got around to doing more. Speaking of mods, one can sand off the ‘nub’ that keeps the handle from turning 360 degrees, or just buy the Chet arm bracket, same deal. The chet arm bracket works for USA Bigsby only, just remove the portion that holds the steel arm:

    https://www.tubesandmore.com/products/bracket-bigsby-chet-atkins-2-pieces
     
    BadMojo likes this.

  16. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    I know what you're sayin’, and the ‘woody’ tone is something to prize. You’re right, new Gretsch, 5-ply maple dipped in poly Gretsch won’t get that sound without some ‘break in’. Maybe never. But they get the Gretsch sound, at least my version of it. Still don’t know what that really means, but I like it. I’m not sure they’re ‘gone’ though—MIJ stuff is probably better than anything quality-wise that was made in Brooklyn. There’s more flavors of Gretsch than there has ever been in the past, and even the low low end is still good quality/value.

    Yes, trestle bracing helps immobilize the top, and to a lesser extent the sound post. The binding, the pickup rings, the f-holes, all just part of the show. The Country Gent and later G6120s, even Chets prototype had fake F-holes to combat feedback. It’s use is to look the part, and I’m fine with that. So the G5622T is not really a hollow body, its a semi-hollowbody and it’s still pretty useful in as much as I can play the thing.
     
    Mr. Lumbergh likes this.

  17. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Tele-Holic

    893
    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    The fake f-holes didn't prevent the top vibration and acoustic sound from reaching the pickup, though, which is all I care about.
    I recently saw a catalog where all the top models were center blocked, and may have wrongly assumed that was their whole range. Are there still MIJ signature models or white or black falcolns?

    What I really like about gretsches, is that they were doing braced spruce tops. I think this is the best way to get a hollow body sound with a bigsby, because there's more acoustic volume to start, and the metal saddles will take some away. (The acoustic volume being needed only to influence the pickup.)
     

  18. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Tele-Holic

    893
    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    As for the cheap gretsches, those gibson sized humbuckers are embarrassing, but they're the same to me as all new cheap hollow bodies. I could make them work for me if I stripped them and changed pickups and the bridge. Ply tops need wood or bone saddles though, so tough to make work with a bigsby.
     

  19. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Apr 2, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    They have CBs on some models, yes, but it’s not a replacement feature—everyone Gretsch would hate that. Yes there are Black and White Falcons still available, a few new sig models too. Spruce tops could be had, I know of a few models, but I don’t think it was that common. Not sure I follow on the metal saddles thing—seems everyone with a Gretsch goes for the solid metal bar to increase volume and sustain. If bone and wood=more volume and sustain then I’m chasing rabbits down the wrong hole. The character of the tone, well that’s another story—relative to one’s taste.
     

  20. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Tele-Holic

    893
    Dec 6, 2015
    Wisconsin
    On traditional hollow body guitars (made when people knew how they should sound, pre-1965), there were two things that were done to reduce feedback on electric archtops. Either metal bridge/saddles, or a plywood top. Never both. My kays have ply tops. But Kay Barney Kessel models had carved and braced spruce tops with malita bridges. Gretches had solid tops and malitas on the fancier guitars, but also made the clipper with a ply top, and it had wood saddles. I've found this is important.

    As far as I knew, the recent signature models like the setzer guitars, and the falcolns, all had solid tops.
     

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.