1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

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

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

  1. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,155
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    Well, then. That makes more sense. I thought you meant "bend" with the Bigsby. No, with most guitar music of the past 60–70 years, you can't really survive without being able to bend a full step, at least on the B string.

    Your saddles look incredibly low – even if there was no Bigsby. I would have a hard time playing any Tele with the saddles set that low. The strings would seem too "sunken in" to the bridge tray, and too close to the guitar body. Your saddle height adjustment screws should be nearly, or completely, within the saddles for a good Tele setup, IMO.

    Most Fenders came out of the factory with neck shims. Without them, the saddles can ride a bit low IME/IMO.
     
    gryffsmyth and crazydave911 like this.
  2. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Holic

    Age:
    39
    Posts:
    687
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2018
    Location:
    Portland, Maine
    If you want to shim the neck to raise the bridge you can use a slice from a business card or a file folder. I did that with a B5 tele I used to have. It worked great.

    Those big fat aluminum shims are used for a B16. That’s a totally different setup than a B5.
    I have both. The B16 is incredible for Bigsby feel and tuning stability. It’s also much easier to install than a B5.
    However, a B5 keeps a tele feeling and sounding more like a traditional tele.
     
  3. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    3,009
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2019
    Location:
    Adirondack Coast, NY
    I switched my ashtrays over to Jag/Jazz bridges for my Bigsbys. I was able to get a good break angle without a neck shim. Keep in mind if you shim the neck, your pups will need to be raised. The Jag/Jazz bridges rock in the thimble a tad, so the string doesn't need to slide over the saddles, which can cause friction and tuning instability.
     
    old wrench and crazydave911 like this.
  4. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    76
    Posts:
    5,939
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    I didn't measure it on the guitar in my previous picture but a typical ToM runs somewhere in the 160 to 170 degree range of total break angle. the down force on the bridge varies as the sine of the angle (times two because each side of the bridge contributes

    [​IMG]

    A big problem with shimming your bridge to get more break angle is that your action will go up (duh) and you'll then have to tilt your neck. Best solution (but impractical) is to lower the roller bar on the trem.
     
    crazydave911 likes this.
  5. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,171
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Location:
    corner of walk and don't walk
    Buck Owens Tele looks like it has the Bigsby mounted a little different from most.

    On Buck's Tele the Bigsby's mounting point is crowded closer to the bridge compared to most of the other B5's I've seen. Most of them have the Bigsby mounted as far towards the bottom end of the body as possible.

    Pushing the Bigsby towards the bridge results in a steeper break angle.




    [​IMG] by what looks to
     
    SparkleFart, Boreas and crazydave911 like this.
  6. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    11,434
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
  7. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,171
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Location:
    corner of walk and don't walk


    I like the formula @Freeman Keller :).

    The old sketch from the Bigsby B5 shows a pretty steep break angle that measures about 17 degrees.



    I'll be dealing with this same issue this coming weekend, so I'm paying attention.


    Lowering the roller bar could be accomplished in a couple of different ways, besides changing it's physical location in vibrato.

    A start in the right direction would be to remove the felt pads on the bottom of the unit. In my research I came across one guy who machined (sounded more like he ground some off and filed it flat) some of the thickness off the bottom of the vibrato assembly. Another more drastic option would be to break out the router and recess the assembly into the body.


    A shim and a good setup sure sounds a lot easier :).

    .
     
    crazydave911 likes this.
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    76
    Posts:
    5,939
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    Thats the equation for calculating downforce on an archtop top but the saddles don't care what kind of guitar they are on. Here is the derivation and a wizard that will do the work for you

    https://www.liutaiomottola.com/formulae/downforce.htm

    Remember that when you look at a Bigsby on a Gibson style guitar that the bridge stands a good 1/8 of an inch higher off the top and the archted lower bout drops away so you have significantly more break angle. You also have saddles that want to stay in place. I guess that if I wanted a trem on a flat topped guitar I would use something like a Kahler.
     
    old wrench and crazydave911 like this.
  9. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    20
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Oddly, I had a bit of maple veneer lying around for entirely unrelated reasons. Made a shim real quick a la crimson guitars and it works like a charm. Problem solved! Thanks everyone!
     
  10. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    11,434
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    My term for my Guild clone is Teisco like, does very little but the bolt on neck I designed for 2 degrees per this very formula
     
  11. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,155
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    Just to be clear, by posting the picture of the Bigsby shim, I wasn't suggesting that the same angle works when using a standard Tele bridge and a B5. The B16 uses a rocking archtop-style bridge, and makes the Tele feel a lot like an archtop. The B5 often uses a Tele bridge, and needs less angle...though it does still need more than what your guitar has right now.

    As for the Stew-Mac shims, they're totally lame. I don't get why people constantly suggest them. They're like the McDonald's Cheeseburger of neck shims. IME, like most of what Stew-Mac pushes, they're overpriced, poorly built, and unnecessary. They're over eight bucks a piece, plus exorbitant shipping ($9.99 minimum, last I checked). Every single one I have tried has had circular saw marks on it, and sloppy/fuzzy, light, and shallow printing, not at all like their photos on the Website, which depict a hard, smooth shim with neat, dark, and deep laser burned print. They don't at all feel like solid, well crafted items. They're really embarrassingly cheap (again, like much that Stew-Mac offers for sale).

    When I got my first batch, I was flabbergasted by how chintzy they were. I contacted them asking for better built batch of shims, they said they're all like that; just keep them for free. Problem is, they're so bad that I'd be embarrassed to put them in someone else's guitar. So I keep them around just for the purpose of determining what angle of shim I need to cut...then I make a nice one myself.

    And on top of all that, there is no actual physical reason that a full-pocket shim is needed. They just make people feel better. The guitars that are lauded as the best sounding Fenders of all time used pieces of abrasive paper (sandpaper or emery paper) or fiberboard for their factory shims. Sure, I understand the desire for a nicely made angled shim, from a pride in craftsmanship perspective. But if that's where your mind goes on this matter, then what kind of sense does it make to use cheap-o Stew-Mac junk? Just craft your own full-pocket shims to a high standard of workmanship, instead of paying Stew-Mac ridiculous money for their junky product. Any table saw that offers an adjustable blade can do it. You'll be out under five minutes of your time, and some scrap hardwood, and will have 10X the quality.
     
    crazydave911 likes this.
  12. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    3,009
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2019
    Location:
    Adirondack Coast, NY

    People keep suggesting them because they work - and work well. I have never had one fail, split, not fit, or take more than 1 second to fashion! Not everyone has scrap wood laying around that can be fashioned into a shim. Not everyone has the tools or skills or time to properly fashion a tapered shim. That is why business cards and matchbooks are often used. I don't much care what the print looks like - frankly I would prefer there was none because the laser or whatever they use can create a low spot by removing material. S/M also sells much less expensive un-tapered shim blanks that you are free to work yourself. Many of us don't work out of a shop but on a kitchen table. I can buy a lot of S/M shims for what it would cost me to set up a shop with table saws, band saws, planers, sanders, etc.. So I will continue to suggest them. If people want to use something else, fine.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2020
  13. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    20
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Heard that. Not gonna lie I literally ordered two SM shims cause I thought for sure you’d need a belt sander to fashion one. Stumbled across a vid of a guy who did it with double sided tape and a leveling beam and I happened to have some veneer. They’re way overpriced and SM gets away with murder that way - but let’s be real there’s a reason they can charge what they do. Sometimes it’s easier to take a hit than to think about how to mcguiver **** in a tiny apartment after you get off work. Sent an email to cancel my order but chances are I’m gonna eat that $25 for fancy drink coasters. Such is life.
     
    crazydave911 likes this.
  14. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    11,434
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2010
    Location:
    East Tennessee
    :lol::lol::lol:
     
  15. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    3,009
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2019
    Location:
    Adirondack Coast, NY
    I would just hold onto them - this isn't likely the last neck shim you will ever need! But they will take them back. If you order many luthier supplies, it is a good idea to buy their MAX plan that gives free shipping. That way if you need a part or something you can just order it without regard to shipping. But of course, if you can source supplies locally, that is best. There is no such supplier near me - part of the problem of living in the sticks.

    Another thing I like about the S/M shims is that you can experiment with different neck angle set-ups in just minutes rather than fashioning a new shim to try a different set-up.
     
    crazydave911 and gryffsmyth like this.
  16. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    20
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Yea, I had their
    Had the max plan last year and didn't renew - seemed a little too much. At most I'm only placing a few orders a year at this point. Doesn't quite pay off. Also, I've found that for most things there's a cheaper alternative that does the job just as well for my needs.
     
    crazydave911 and Boreas like this.
  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    76
    Posts:
    5,939
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Location:
    Washington
    The StewMac shims are remarkably close to the neck shims that Taylor puts into every one of their NT necks. Two per neck actually and that is how Taylor sets the neck angle. They work, are an elegant solution to a vexing problem with acoustic guitars. This guitar has a #6 in the heel and #10 in the extension - its action was perfect

    1017191537.jpg

    I use the StewMac shims because I know what the neck angle is (I measure it) and I know what it needs to be (I calculate it). Sure I could stick a match book cover or a pick (medium, thin?) in the pocket and get close, but if I know I need a half a degree I like to put in a half a degree.

    IMG_3795_zpsujomcjvm.JPG
     
    crazydave911, Boreas and gryffsmyth like this.
  18. gryffsmyth

    gryffsmyth TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    Posts:
    20
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2017
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Updated photos here for those interested. Still far from a dramatic break angle, but the saddles are raised quite a bit compared to before and I'm having no saddle lift anymore with my desired action (hella low) and bridge radius. Great success.

    IMG-1122.jpg IMG-1121.jpg
    IMG-1123.jpg
     
    crazydave911, PeterUK, Boreas and 2 others like this.
  19. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    3,009
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2019
    Location:
    Adirondack Coast, NY
    That will be plenty! What did you do - add a neck shim? How much was needed?

    Make sure that roller spins very freely! And throw a little lube on the saddles and nut and wang away!!
     
    crazydave911 and gryffsmyth like this.
  20. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    3,009
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2019
    Location:
    Adirondack Coast, NY
    Are those mahogany?
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.