Bigsby Tele Build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by BrewerDoer, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. BrewerDoer

    BrewerDoer TDPRI Member

    Aug 25, 2019
    Charlottesville VA
    Hi all,

    I'm currently planning my second partscaster build (so addictive); this time being a Tele-style with dual p90 and a B5 Bigsby. My question is who here has insight as to the pro's and con's of doing a Tune-o-Matic style bridge and shimming the neck vs doing something like a Callaham bigsby bridge (and not shimming the neck). If I go the tune-o-matic route, i'll probably spring for a Mastery bridge. I guess shimming the neck just gives me some pause. What is the likelihood I would have to shim the neck either way?

    Thoughts? Thanks in advance!
  2. King Creole

    King Creole Friend of Leo's

    Jan 24, 2011
    I had a filed down ashtray bridge on my telecaster with a bigsby and without shimming the neck, and it was ok. Then I switched to a Mastery bridge and shimmed the neck a little and the combo of new bridge and neck angle brought the liveliness back. Don't fear the shim.
    Arch Stanton and BrewerDoer like this.
  3. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2006
    I recently Esquire'd an '80's Squier Tele that some later owner put a Bigsby on with the Jazzmaster-style bridge. It seemed mostly fine without a shim, but I decided to put on a .50-degree StewMac one I had lying around in order to increase the pressure on the bridge a bit. It works great. Playing it feels a little more "spongy" or "rubbery" than my traditional string-through Tele, but not in a bad way. It just feels like a different instrument.

    Guitarists and those who love them have been shimming necks for as long as there have been easily-removable guitar necks, with everything from bits of wood to cardboard to credit cards. Just start small, because a small shim can make a big difference over the length a string traverses (just look at the measurements StewMac offers: .25, .5 and 1 degree).
    crazydave911 and BrewerDoer like this.
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

    Aug 22, 2018
    I've only done one guitar with a bigsby, it was an ES-335 clone with a roller ToM bridge. It returns to tune perfectly. If I wanted a quality vibrato on a slab bodied guitar I would seriously look at Kahler bridge. It works with standard geometry (string plane 0.50 off the top), is infinitely adjustable in every direction, has roller saddles so it returns to tune. I have a friend who has asked me to install three on Jagstang bodies and necks - they did require shimming because they were routed for the original Jaguar style bridge.


    If you do a ToM on a slab body you will definitely need to angle the neck or add a lot more overstand (or recess the bushings). And don't forget that most ToM's are fixed at 12 inch radius - that kind of dictates your f/b radius.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
    Zepfan likes this.
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