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Tex-Mex tele with Bigsby

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by huikki, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. huikki

    huikki NEW MEMBER!

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    I have 90's Fender Tex-Mex tele with B5 tele Bigsby kit installed. Theres lots of trouble with bridge saddles. Lots of buzzes and strings flips off saddles. I'm thinking of getting Mustang bridge or just mustang saddles.

    Does anybody know tex-mex tele neck radius? Mustang bridge doesnt have individual saddle height adjustment, so radius must be important to know.

    Other question, do Fender mustang bridge go nicely to original Bigsby kit bridge holes?

    This is installed:
    https://www.musicstore.com/en_OT/EUR/Bigsby-B5-Telecaster-Vibrato-Kit-Chrome/art-GIT0037541-000

    And I'm wondering if this fits nicely to replace this B5 bridge:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003AYINB6/?tag=tdpri-20
     
  2. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Holic

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    I put a 9.5 radius mustang bridge on a B5 kit I used to have, and it was the best bridge I used of the three I tried (the other two were the jazzmaster bridge that came with the kit and the $200 Mastery). The Stang bridge gave me improved sustain, better tuning stability, and the strings stayed in the saddle.

    However, I needed to replace the thimbles with different sized thimbles that had rubber.

    You can find free printable neck radius gauges online. Just make sure you print it out to scale.
     
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  3. vhilts1

    vhilts1 Tele-Meister

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    imo mustang bridges blow......i had several teles with bigsbys.....all of them were a pain on many levels.....teles dont have enough break angle for bigsbys to work well....it hurt when i unloaded those guitars but im glad i did......good luck
     
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  4. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Bigsby’s without a tension bar are best with less break angle (3 too 7 degrees or so), and on a B5/Tele, there’s plenty of break behind the bridge, but it should still be minimized. That’s the problem with F-logo Bigsby’s, they can’t be shifted back, so the tension bar is parked way too close to the bridge saddles, IMHO. Then see the Bigsby B16. The design is much more responsive and still tuning stable.
     
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  5. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Welcome!

    Yes, the Mustang bridge should drop right in. I also use a Mastery, but the 4.1 version, with a B5. It is extremely stable tuning-wise, but like CalebAaron666 said, it’s not always a go-to and expensive. Mustang bridges work, and in the past I’d say to get a Staytrem. I can’t get these in the States anymore unless paying Mastery prices. The three I had before were sold off for profit—I got itchy for gear cash :) In Finland maybe things are different?

    Other than that I’d get the 9.5 radius American Pro bridge with the nylon bushings to minimize the rocking action. I do believe your “Tex-Mex” Tele Special should have a 9.5” radius but others should chime in (or simply check with the printed gauge).
     
  6. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    The Mustang bridge has long served as an adequate replacement for the Jazzmaster/Jaguar style, BUT it has wider string spacing and can place the strings too close to the edges of the fretboard.

    The current version of the bridge for the Johnny Marr signature Jaguar looks just like a Mustang bridge, but it has narrower string spacing and more stable thimble mounts. It seems virtually identical to the StayTrem bridge, now unavailable new in the US market. StayTrem always said that their bridge wouldn't work on a Tele, though:

    "The Staytrem bridge will fit no problem but there are a couple of issues and we would not recommend fitting it.
    Firstly, because of the steep break angle of the strings, created by the Bigsby setup, the bridge tends to be pushed forwards and eventually it will not rock back and forth as it should with the action of the tremolo.
    The second problem, also caused by the steep break angle, is that the strings rest on the rear part of the bridge channel behind the saddles and this will cause premature string breakage.
    Both of these issues exist even with the standard bridge supplied with the guitar."

    StewMac also makes a Mustang-style bridge with individually height-adjustable saddles if radius is an issue. Not sure what the string spacing is on that.
     
  7. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    The traditional threaded-saddle bridge can definitely be made to work, but it's tricky. You need to raise each saddle high enough to clear the bolt head and the edge of the bridge on one side, but keep it low enough that the other end of the bolt doesn't hit the strings either, all while maintaining even string spacing and the right radius, and raising or lowering the whole bridge to compensate.

    I have a lot of guitars with Bigsbys, including several Teles. One even has a B16. Of the three with B5s, one has a notched three-saddle Tele bridge, on has the JM style, and one has a Mastery. Each guitar has the bridge that's right for it. I have a Jazzmaster as well, which sports a StayTrem. So they're all good, but you can't be certain which will work best for you and that instrument until you try it.

    That can be expensive, frustrating, and time-consuming. I'd recommend trying to make the existing one work first; still frustrating and time-consuming, but at least it's free! Or at least cheap; you may need an index card or business card, a tube of ThreadLocker, some teflon tape, or some nail polish.

    There's a lot of discussion about it on other forums like SurfGuitar101 and offsetguitars.com.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
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  8. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'm sure ya know but for the OP, later AmPro bridges have the narrow 52mm string spacing. OP, the American Professional (9.5" radius) bridge is like the Johnny Marr (7.25" radius), which in turn is a Fender made Staytrem bridge, which is really just an improved Mustang bridge :)

    I hear you about the Staytrem, but the maker never really backed a non-rocking design, and reluctantly with heavy brow beating, would still sell a nylon bushing insert to immobilize it. I had that setup for my Bass VI--excellent bridges but they do not need to rock that much. I resolved that it's a philosophical dilemma, since my problem with Staytrem is they ratchet to one side and never return to 'top dead center', where I set the intonation. I use the inserts now every time, enough flex for movement, yet stays relatively centered in the thimble.
     
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  9. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    I didn't know about the AmPro bridge, thanks!

    I've had absolutely zero issues with the StayTrem on my Jazzmaster, a real 1959 I bought for a song many years ago because of an unspeakably awful home paint job and recently refinished.

    I also made my own bridge by drilling a Mustang bridge and installing three brass saddles. It worked well and sounded different from all the other options, but it also sounded and felt different on different guitars. It was retired when I got the StayTrem. I'm not the only one who's done it, btw. I've seen a crazy variation with two big brass saddles as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
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  10. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    There's one more option. I forget who makes them, but there are single-groove JM saddles made out of some kind of synthetic. They are drop-in replacements. I can't remember whether they're height-adjustable or fixed-radius.
     
  11. glenlivet

    glenlivet Tele-Afflicted

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    Mustang bridge for me....it's significantly better than the Jazz type. No more rattling, no more screw ends in the meaty part of my picking hand. I'd never go back.

    I *think* I saw some 9.5 radius mustang bridges on eyparts.....if you're into cheap....

    --- and this ^^^^^^^ I have no real issue with it...barely noticeable until you get up above the 14th-15th fret.
     
  12. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Afflicted

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    Graphtech? I used to have tusq saddles on my mustang. They are height adjustable.

    SL273899.JPG
     
  13. vhilts1

    vhilts1 Tele-Meister

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    If you GOTTA use a Bigsby on a tele IMO there is only one way that works fairly well.

    Shim the neck bridge and PUPs significantly higher. The guitar will have alot more air and sound more like an archtop.

    Which begs the question why not buy an archtop ??
    Which you will eventually
    Then you will realize you really are not an archtop kinda player
    Then you will go back to a plain ol Telecaster

    Later you will buy a Stratocaster for those very few songs that you think absolutely must have some trem swoop.

    Shortly after that you will see 2 or 3 guys play those songs without a trem and really nail them.

    Shortly after that you will see the guy who originally did it with a trem do it better without one.

    Im only kinda joking. Lol

    If you want a trem system on a Fender type guitar get a Strat or use the Jazzmaster trem with a Gibson style bridge

    Like I said earlier. Good luck. Lol
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  14. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Holic

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    Here’s my tele when it had the B5 and mustang bridge setup. The bridge came from an American Professional Jazzmaster that a friend had, but he replaced this bridge with a mastery.
    It needed different thimbles that had some kind of bushings inside that made the bridge rocking situation work like gang busters.
    4FB53C41-6AFE-491B-8939-0B7F3076181F.jpeg
    I also added a stainless steel callaham front roller with grooves which made this whole thing work work MUCH better.

    I have since replaced the whole thing with a B16.
    I planning on getting another Tele with this same B5 setup though.
     
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  15. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Funny, part of the reason I was willing to give up the Staytrems besides the money was the fact I made a Tele hybrid. The two big saddle version? If you mean the CS RSD bridge, that’s the ultimate offset bridge as far as I’m concerned, coming from the Gretsch world of Tru-Arcs/Comptons/DBridges.

    That’s mine up top, the bottom is the one I want. A new bridge is in the works too, over at OSG, the Toughset...I’m already bought in lol.

    As for the rocking action, it’s great for light use, no heavy diving or thrashing. So is the stock bridge for that matter.

    93DAEFDF-3D16-49AC-869B-D341602F33C7.jpeg 6A3B1B7E-0726-4649-8D8A-D36F3D9AA12E.jpeg
     
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  16. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    IMHO, nothing sounds like an archtop but an archop. It’s the attack and decay, all the energy being robbed from the string to drive the acoustic top. The Bigsby has little to do with that, in fact a lot of guys say the mass of the Bigs should add back some sustain.

    I have to say, shimming the neck is not required with a B5. If anything, I used a small cardboard shim on the neck side of the pocket to lower the saddles on my Mastery 4.1 setup. Less break angle is the only way to set up a Bigsby, never more, IME.

    By principle I have to also say NO to Strats of any kind and NO to TOMs with vibratos, ever :) :D
     
  17. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Holic

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    What is that one in the bottom pic called? Is that the CS RSD? I saw that on a new Jazz Master last year, and tried to research it.
    I would love one of those for my next B5 tele!
     
  18. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    It’s Fender Custom Shop creation, and only comes on CS guitars unfortunately. I’m on the hunt for one. A guy on OSG was selling his but was asking like 500 bucks. Yeah right, I can hire a machinist for less (maybe not). Then again, I haven’t checked the ad. I’ve offered a Mastery for it with some cash on top but no bite.

    FMIC, sell this bridge on the parts market.
     
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  19. CalebAaron666

    CalebAaron666 Tele-Holic

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    The one you made with tele saddles in the JM mount is dope.
    How about a few more pics from different angles? Maybe one from the side and one from behind?
    I totally wanna steal this idea.
     
  20. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Dude, that is one nasty but very cool looking guitar!
     
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