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Setup with a Bigsby B16... help!

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by dallasblues, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    I knew the Tele Bigsby B16 could be a beast to tackle but had no idea it could be this frustrating. For the most part, installation went rather well. I just followed a YouTube video showing the steps to putting it on. Mine isn’t a perfect fit by any means but it’s close. The real headache has come down to setup. Putting in the neck shim for proper neck angle was simple enough. However, in order to play anything above the 12th fret, the bridge has to be raised as high as possible. Otherwise they’re just dead notes making a “plink plink” sound when played. Heck, the bridge is damn near falling off the bridge posts. It’s THAT high! Even then, notes on those upper frets still buzz like hell. I’ve tried giving the neck some relief to no avail. I really don’t think the frets up there are unnaturally higher than anywhere else on the neck but clearly the strings are making contact there. I have no idea what to do short of taking it in for a professional setup. That’d be the easy thing to do but I really wanted to finish this guitar entirely on my own.

    Can anyone offer any tips or advice?
     
  2. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    What kinda shim are you using? What's the break angle like? A side photo would be very helpful.
     
  3. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Some pics, and a more thorough explanation of what you did. How big a shim?
     
  4. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville Tele-Afflicted

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    Sounds like you didn’t need the shim.
     
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  5. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    I’ll try to get a side photo to show the neck angle tomorrow.

    The shim must somehow be the issue. It’s an aluminum shim made specifically to go with the B16. I really feel like the angle is too steep. I can try mounting the neck without it or making another shim with a shallower angle. Any thoughts on how to do that?
     
  6. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    The aluminum shim is a monster and is probably too much angle and height for your Tele. A picture on the side-top, and the neck pocket is needed to be sure (please).

    A couple of those 1 degree StewMac wooden shims stacked up may be a solution, but know that it comes at the cost of a lesser break angle behind the bridge and/or strings interfering with the pickup riser casting.

    [Edit] Another possible solution is gettting a bridge base with higher posts or a bridge like a Tru-Arc that has more height.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
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  7. macatt

    macatt Tele-Holic

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    Yes; simple.
    Smaller shim.

    S Mac
     
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  8. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    Are you working on a partscaster, or stock Fender Tele?
     
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  9. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    Pretty much a stock. It started out as a MIM Fender "Squier Series" Telecaster. I hadn't seen one that had "Squier Series" written beneath the Fender logo. Nonetheless, it was kind of a hunk of junk. It had a top-loading bridge and cheap hardware. I've since refinished it to nitrocellulose lacquer and upgraded hardware, pickups, electronics, etc. The neck and body are the same though. However, I noticed that the dimensions were a bit off when I mounted the Bigsby. Despite finding the center of the body and center of the B16, it's a little off from the neck pocket and pickup routes. Not much, but a little. The floating bridge still has enough room to center with the neck. It's the neck angle that's really not right though. The aluminum shim is just too steep to get the strings to clear the upper frets. I've got some new shims ordered from Stewmac and are on the way. Hopefully changing the angle will help.
     
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  10. Edgar Allan Presley

    Edgar Allan Presley Friend of Leo's

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    To preserve the break angle at the bridge, I'd probably go with a taller bridge instead of a smaller shim. Can your pickups get high enough?
     
  11. Ira7

    Ira7 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm too cheap to buy real shims.
     
  12. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    I don't know if they will or not. I know my bridge was already maxed out. Any higher and it'd fall off the posts. And this is the aluminum Sorkin bridge typically used with a B16! That goes for the shim too. Go figure.
     
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  13. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    Do you guys cut string slots into your aluminum bridges?

    I went with a shallower shim and it gives me the clearance needed on the upper frets. However, I can't keep the string spacing in place.
     
  14. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Short answer: yes, slot the bridge.

    But this is also why I was saying to get a taller bridge, and more specifically a Tru-Arc for Bigsby base. The Tru-arc will have deep string grooves, and you may be able to keep the better break angle behind the bridge with the aluminum shim. Also, you said you have a Sorkin base, which I thought was the ‘bow-tie’ bridge, but that won’t fit on a B16 with out work. Any of these look familiar to you?

    Anyways, hope you get it sorted out. Sounds like your neck pocket is a little shallow, but as mentioned a new shim will help all that. The aluminum shim itself can be sanded to lessen the height and angle with some flat-plane sanding.

    1D26F8C3-B6B2-4ADE-85D4-2E81BAE79B95.jpeg
     
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  15. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    That Tru-arc looks nice! I think I might give them a call.

    Maybe you could help me with this. My current aluminum bridge rocks back and forth on the bridge posts. I'm assuming that's normal. However, when the strings are tuned to pitch it stays rocked forward towards the neck and never shifts back. Is it supposed to be like that? And would a Tru-arc do the same thing?
     
  16. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    It’s nice but pricey due to the precision machining—mine is has the Serpentune (compensated) and Bigsby bridge spacing options in aluminum with a 7.25 radius. A few other metal/glass options.

    That’s the rocking action Bigsby built into his bridges, rarely works. Most guys sand the bases flat to get rid of it. Tru-arc is essentially a Gretsch rocking bar bridge, and has a better machine rocking feature. You can ask for a non-rocking, flat bottomed Tru-Arc though. I’ll post a picture later that shows why this isn’t necessary though.

    Also, the bow tie bridge has shorter bridge posts than the proper B16 bridge. Do you happen to know your bridge post height?
     
  17. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

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    Just as everyone above said, sounds like shim is too big.
    I have two Teles with B5 Bigsbys, different of course, but I use shims of light wood (balsa) around 1/32" thick, and that's plenty.
    I can strongly recommend Mastery bridge products, good stuff. Not cheap, but good.
    https://masterybridge.com/
     
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  18. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    The B5s are significantly different in design, no shim is needed in many cases. A Mastery on a B16 would be cool, but significantly more work to install.
     
  19. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for that, I thought it might be so.
    I figured the B5s are easier, B16s are quite a piece of hardware.
     
  20. dallasblues

    dallasblues Tele-Meister

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    I might try working with this bridge I already have to keep it from rocking. I understand the idea of it. I just can't see how it's working on my guitar. It shifts forward and never returns to center. Of course, it's raised to the point of being over the top of its posts. So that creates even more play in the wiggle. I have two bases for this type of bridge, one that fits in the opening of the B16 and one that's too big. The posts appear to be about the same size on both.
     
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