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Help! Problem w/ lifting saddle on a B5/ashtray bridge tele

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by gryffsmyth, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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    So I built a partscaster tele recently - mjt body, warmoth neck - and set it up with a B5 bigsby and standard ashtray bridge, filing down the back to pass the strings. The bigsby is centered on the neck, but the spacing is wider at the saddles than where the strings mount the bigsby. So there's a bit of an outward angle created between bigbsy and saddle which is greater at the high and low E strings.

    What happens is that when the saddles (threaded steel) are set right for the necks radius, the high e string, when bending more than a semi tone, actually pulls the saddle up off the plate, choking the note. Took me while to figure out what was causing this.

    The only way I can prevent this so far is to set the e/b saddle perfectly level, thus screwing up the radius.

    Is there a solution here to have correct radius at the bridge while keeping the saddle from rocking towards the b string side when bending?
     
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  2. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I'll be keeping an eye on your thread because I've got a B5 coming in the mail this coming week.

    No experience with Bigsbys other than playing them, so I probably won't be much help ;).

    I'll be using a modified ashtray bridge myself, but I plan on using a set of the steel compensated saddles that Philly Luthier sells; I think Nashville Plating and Stamping makes them.

    At this point, I don't know if they'll work any better than the threaded saddles though.

    I've also got a stainless roller assembly on the way with ball bearings instead of the bushings that come on the B5.

    It's very similar to the Callaham one except it doesn't have the string grooves machined into it. It's also made in the U.S. and about half the price of the Callaham :).

    I've got a metal lathe and it won't be any problem to machine the string grooves into mine when it shows up.

    I plan to machine the grooves in the roller so they match up to the string spacing at the bridge.

    I wonder if something similar would help to solve your problem?

    ,
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    My limited experience with Bigsby's has been putting them on ToM bridges with roller saddles - they work fine. I think trying to put on on a Fender style bridge would be asking for problems.
     
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  4. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    I've been thinking about this :eek:. . . . . . . . :)

    You've said the Bigsby is centered up properly.

    How about the fore and aft setup; is the break angle of the strings right?

    By break angle, I'm referring to the angle that the strings form from the bottom of the roller bar (or tension bar or whatever it's called) to the tops of the saddles.

    I can see where too much or too little break angle would cause problems; not sure if it might contribute to your problem, but it's something you might consider.

    Another thing might be groove depth of the saddle.


    Where are the resident Bigsby expurts? :)


    Can you post up a pic of the guitar in question that shows the Bigsby and the bridge?


    .
     
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  5. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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    Somebody on another thread talked about using a nut on the intonation adjustment screw between the saddle and the back of the bridge plate. Tightening the nut to the plate once the intonation is set kept the saddles from sliding back and forth in his case. That should stop the "pulling" up of the saddle that's happening in my case too, no? Worth a shot.
     
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  6. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    The immediate fix is don't bend it more than a semi-tone. Bigsbys aren't very good for that anyhow, so you won't be missing much.

    If you are dropping the note so low that the string actually gets so loose that it allows the B string to tilt the saddle up, you're obviously trying to work outside of the working range of the vibrato, with your current setup. So you need to change your setup. The first thing to screw around with is at least a 1 degree neck angle. You want to get your saddles higher with a Bigsby. Have you ever seen the actual Bigsby brand neck shim for Telecasters? It is quite extreme, like a Gibson. It has to be at least 2 degrees, maybe 2.5. Most people don't like it because it makes their Tele feel like a Gibson, but it really gets the Bigsby working like it should.

    eidlkaumvxgklbowvkfj.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
  7. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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    Don't bend more than a semi tone?? I can't live in that world ;)
    But yea, I'm thinking you're right that it's too weak a break angle.
    Will give shimming the neck a try. Here's some photos.
    Globbed a bit of titebond under the saddle like a caveman... that worked for a few minutes lol
    IMG-1117.jpg IMG-1116.jpg IMG-1115.jpg IMG-1114.jpg
     
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  8. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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    Btw, I wasn't talking about bending the note with the bigsby. I mean good old fashion bends with the fingers - that's when the saddle lifts. I'm pretty conservative with the bigsby - light vibrato on chords, no big pitch bends.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2020
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here is a Bigsby on a guitar with a roller ToM. It has significantly more break angle than yours and the rollers let the strings slide back and forth minimum friction

    IMG_3417.JPG

    When I look at yours it looks like as the string moves back under tension it will tend to compress the intonation spring AND rock the saddles back and up. It just looks like a bad idea.

    One more thing, a buddy recently bought a little flat topped guitar with a Bigsby and brought it to me to remove the trem. It hand a ToM style bridge but with knife edges and he simply could not keep in in tune.
     
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  10. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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    Seems there's an irreconcilable split between those for whom rollers are a must with bigsby's and the rest. I fall mostly on the other side of the fence, but in reality it probably comes down mostly to the guitar, the setup and how the player uses the trem. I've played more than a few bigsby equipped guitars with regular TOM saddles that had no serious tuning issues.

    In my case, I'm now convinced it's the break angle. I'll post again when I get a shim in there. Any recommendations for the angle I might need?
     
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  11. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    If I could only bend up a semi-tone, it wouldn't even be worth playing :) !!!


    From the pics you posted, I believe I can see why there is a problem.

    Very little break angle!

    Not enough downward force to keep the High E in those little threaded grooves, so the string skids across the saddle.

    .
     
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  12. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe a few ideas here -

    PROJECT TELECASTER - BIGSBY GALLERY (xs4all.nl)

    There is some guidance on shimming contained in the link ^^^ plus a lot of other Telecaster/Bigsby information.

    The saddles need to come up or the Bigsby needs to go down :).

    ,
     
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  13. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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    I can see the string is definitely not moving in the saddle. What's happening is one side of the saddle lifts up, towards the b string, when I bend up the high e. I can actually see it lift the tiniest bit. If I ring the note and hold the saddle down when I bend it doesn't choke out. Hoping more downward pressure from a better break angle will keep the thing down.
     
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  14. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

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  15. Alcohen

    Alcohen Tele-Meister

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    No expert, but from limited experience, a little shim goes a long way. Start small, and see how that goes. My guess is that if bending the string is raising the saddle, you've got some nice, light action on that thing - so you don't want to mess too much with that. You can buy a set of shims from StewMac, or use whatever suits you. I made a shim out of maple veneer with a gradual angle sanded into it for a B5. Or you could shell out for a Mastery bridge and see if that makes you happy without the shimming.
     
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  16. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I would get a pre-made 1 degree maple neck shim from Stew-Mac. You may also need a 0.5 degree shim on top of that. Then raise the saddles until you get an acceptable break angle.

    The other option would be to re-mount the Bigsby closer to the bridge to increase the break angle - then you wouldn't have to fiddle with the neck.
     
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  17. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It has minimal down pressure because there is virtually no break angle. Get some pressure on the saddles and that will likely go away.
     
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  18. PeterUK

    PeterUK Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I agree with @Freeman Keller. Your break angle is way too shallow.

    I have two B5 Teles and a B16 Esquire. Both B5s have much steeper break angles across the saddles (both Mastery Bridges) but same principle.

    The B16 is shallower but the strings run through a Tru-arc grooved bridge and is my favourite guitar right now.

    Hope this helps. :)
     

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  19. PeterUK

    PeterUK Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    This is good advice. I used a Stewmac 1-degree and 0.5-degree on the B16 Esquire but neither of the B5 Teles have shims.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/bigsby-b16-again-set-up-advice.1019319/page-2#post-9824361
     

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  20. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    Here is a pic with an ash tray bridge showing an appropriate break angle; you could probably get away with a little less, but it's something to shoot for -


    [​IMG]
     
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