New Bigsby Install Problems!

BorderRadio

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So I went through the pain of replacing the nut (it was time anyway) and realized it's not the nut. Upon much closer inspection, the strings are definitely hanging on the saddles (again, Mastery 4.1). I guess I didn't really see it before but it's very clear now.

I have a good break angle (not too much, not too little), the nut it cut well, and this darn thing just won't stay in tune. I'm so disappointed, I thought Mastery was the "stuff". Do I have to go to a roller bridge?
There really isn’t enough space to have ‘too little’ break angle with a B5 on a Tele, not enough real estate. Pics will help.

Mastery chrome saddles are made for low break angles. At higher angles, they rock/move like any other saddle/bridge combination. The 4.1 saddles move with the string on my B5 Tele, and at first it was like “what’s the point?”, but I stayed with it, and it’s still tuning stable, with full arm movement. This was directly compared to brass and steel barrel, and threaded steel options from Glendale, Gotoh, etc.

Upon first install of the Mastery, I ran out of saddle adjustment range. The guys at Mastery said exactly as above: the saddles work best with low break angles. They recommended I reverse shim the neck so I can lower the saddles, which I did with a piece of card stock. FWIW, I also have a callaham grooved roller. Not saying you need a Callaham or more stuff, but it’s all been working for me with no tuning issues.

What led you to think the nut was completely eliminated as an issue?
 

Sea Devil

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I think BorderCity is spot on. Mastery bridges are superb and function flawlessly when they're not pushed beyond their intended parameters.
 

HBamps

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see attached break angle
 

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Freeman Keller

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I laid a protractor on that photo and measured the break angle at roughly 8 degrees. If the guitar has a set of 10's on it that would yield a down force on the saddles of 14 pounds, or just over two pounds per string. That is pretty darn low. Compare the break angle on the 335 clone with a roller ToM and the hold down bar on the Bigsby.
 

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HBamps

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I laid a protractor on that photo and measured the break angle at roughly 8 degrees. If the guitar has a set of 10's on it that would yield a down force on the saddles of 14 pounds, or just over two pounds per string. That is pretty darn low. Compare the break angle on the 335 clone with a roller ToM and the hold down bar on the Bigsby.
That's super nerdy and awesome!
 

BorderRadio

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I laid a protractor on that photo and measured the break angle at roughly 8 degrees. If the guitar has a set of 10's on it that would yield a down force on the saddles of 14 pounds, or just over two pounds per string. That is pretty darn low. Compare the break angle on the 335 clone with a roller ToM and the hold down bar on the Bigsby.
With no roller, a break of 3 to 6 degrees would be ideal, more or less (I don't really remember the numbers, it's heuristics). There is reason why Bigsby/Gretsch die hards want a solid bar bridge. 10s are not typical, but with 8 degrees and a tension roller, this amount is best for a Tele B5. There is a sweet spot, and maxing out the down force is actually not how to get a Bigsby in the 'reliable' pocket.
 

Boreas

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Roller bridges, rocker bridges, and solid bridges are all different animals with different requirements. Of the three, a solid bridge like this Mastery will likely have the most friction. The only real way to reduce friction here is to reduce the down-force/break angle. Even with half the break angle shown, it will likely have enough sliding friction to keep it from returning to pitch. Unfortunately, assuming there is minimal friction and no binding within the unit's rotational points, break angle is about all you have to work with. I also find once the wound strings develop a flat spot where they slide on the saddle, they slide a little easier, and the overall friction in the system drops.

As an experiment, you could try bottoming the saddles and trying a temporary neck shim to see if your spring is strong enough to return it to tune with that bridge setup.

BUT before you do that, can you provide pix of the entire Bigsby from the top and side? Is there some clearance between the roller and the frame? Pivot and the frame? I have seen bearings pushed in too far and that can generate friction - especially when under uneven string tension. There should be a little side-to-side slop in both the hold-down bar and the pivot bar. If not, they can bind.
 

Sea Devil

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That's a super-low angle. I'm used to seeing almost twice that on multiple guitars with many different bridges, and I can't imagine that causing binding.
 

Hallski

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Try this! I did it on a Gretsch I had with similar tuning instability, and due to that stock break angle the Bigsby creates, it wasn't working well. It worked much better when I went OVER the roller bar, but the problem was there wasnt enough down tension on the break to keep the strings in place. This allows you have a higher roller bar but still a better break angle. Works great!

 

Boreas

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Try this! I did it on a Gretsch I had with similar tuning instability, and due to that stock break angle the Bigsby creates, it wasn't working well. It worked much better when I went OVER the roller bar, but the problem was there wasnt enough down tension on the break to keep the strings in place. This allows you have a higher roller bar but still a better break angle. Works great!

Oddly, I needed to use a BriggsFix on the same bridge in the picture (Chigsby). My standard 'removing the roller and using just the axle' wasn't sufficient. Why Bigsby or even Briggs don't offer height adjustability of the tension bar in their designs bugs me. Ignore the fact I somehow placed the bridge posts too far forward...

20211214_125748.jpg
 
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Hallski

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Oddly, I needed to use a BriggsFix on the same bridge in the picture (Chigsby). My standard 'removing the roller and using just the axle' wasn't sufficient. Why Bigsby or even Briggs don't offer height adjustability of the tension bar in their designs bugs me.

View attachment 1063725
I agree, especially considering that there was an aftermarket part made to fix this very issue, you'd think either Bigsby would at least give the option to adjust the height of the bar
 

Boreas

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I agree, especially considering that there was an aftermarket part made to fix this very issue, you'd think either Bigsby would at least give the option to adjust the height of the bar
But even Briggs does not offer adjustability. This could be accomplished by different length "hangers" that could lower or raise the bar. A high and low hanger could be shipped with the unit to be able to fine-tune the final height of the roller - say +/- 2-3mm. Mine could stand to be a tad lower.
 




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