Bigbsy B5 VS B50 vs B16

Phil RC

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Hello!

I already pulled the trigger and bought myself a Bigsby B5 that's on the way for my 2017 American Professional Tele, but now I'm having some thoughts after seeing a picture of J.W Black tele made for Bill Frisell that has a Bigsby Licensed B5 style.

Is the import B50 version better than the American one in any way? Because I can't really believe that Bill and J.W Black would prefer to save 20 bucks by using the licensed version if not for some reason, but that reason eludes me.

Also I understand that the action of the B16 tremolo is softer. Are there any mods for the B5 to make it smoother? I picked the B5 because it seemed to me to be a safer bet, less capricious than the B16.

If anybody has any input I would very much appreciate the help!

Have a great day!

this is the listing for the Bill Frisell owned tele

 

radiocaster

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Is the import B50 version better than the American one in any way? Because I can't really believe that Bill and J.W Black would prefer to save 20 bucks by using the licensed version if not for some reason, but that reason eludes me.
The difference is not 20 bucks, the US version can cost twice as much or more. Depending where you're buying, I suppose.

A B5 can be perfect and flawless. It can also have various inconsistencies due to the manufacturing process. For example, one of the bars can be a bit longer.

Import versions are more consistent.

They are not made of the same kind of metal or with the same manufacturing process.

To make the B5 smoother, you'd have to remove the tension bar or string over the tension bar. On a tele, this would likely require the neck to be shimmed, as with a B16.
 

JohnnyThul

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The B-5 was hard to get for a time, so, I think maybe the just used, what was readily available.
As for softer action, I highly recommend the Reverend soft spring.
 

CalebAaron666

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I’ve had 3 Teles with B5s. Two of them with the jazzmaster style bridge and one with a notched ash tray. The one that worked best had a mustang style bridge with a 9.5” radius. I also had a callaham front roller. It worked as smooth as you could hope.
Here’s a pic:
EB704990-6489-4B50-9FAF-8871C04DC115.png


But then I tried a B16 (the vibrato Paul Bigsby designed specifically for a Tele) and now I’ll never go back to a B5 on a tele (unless it’s chopped).
The B16 requires a substantial break angle and a large shim in the neck pocket, but it’s worth it.
 

BorderRadio

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The B50 has nylon bushings in the front tension roller. The B5 has bronze bushings impregnated with oil, much better IMHO. What everyone else said ^^^.

Use a tall soft spring, and tighten down the handle nut for no slop whatsoever. Tri-flow lubricant on all moving parts.
 

knavel

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Here is the simply explanation: Any tension bar Bigsby has the same effect on the intended operation as does a condom; it still happens but it's not as nature meant it to be.

But with a B16 there is more set up work as the neck angle has to be changed with a shim. Someone whose name I forget sells that shim.

I would only add that I worked out how to put a B16 on a Rickenbacker without new holes and I don't like the B16 as much as the ultimate Bigsby, the B6.
 

Boreas

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FWIW, the last B5 I bought was less expensive (still more than a B50) and made in Korea was printed on the box. I don't know if this was a temporary supply issue or what. It was indeed made to B5 specs with the better bearings on the tension bar, but not much more expensive than a B50. So if you want an "American" B5, do your homework.


About the only way to make a B5 design "smoother" is to decrease the break angle at the bridge. You can do this by adding a Briggs-Fix, or you can remove the chrome tension roller and just use the axle. But if you don't ditch the nylon bushings on the B50, it always feels a little "gummy" and does not want to return to pitch. So when I ditch the roller bar, I also replace the nylon bushings with ball bearings, which is easier than you think.

Another part of decreasing the break angle is by using a lower-profile bridge like a Jag/Jazz bridge that rocks.

The other must-have swap for me is a Reverend "squishy" spring which makes the unit feel much better to me. Smoother and more nuanced.
 
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Phil RC

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Thank you all very much for the info! I will first try to tighten the handle, and I'll order a reverend spring. If I I will not be really happy with the setup I might try replacing the front roller too.
 




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