Fender 62 Telecaster w/Bigsby
Made In: Japan
Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard
Electronics: Fender Custom Shop Texas Special single coils
Controls: Volume, tone & 3-way switch
I picked this up in a trade for a Gibson Flying V, my first Telecaster. The original owner had upgraded the pickups to Custom Shop Texas Specials and, to be fair, it sounded superb. The Bigsby vibrato had a nice vibe to it but the overall bridge design was horrible. If you played too hard or used light strings, they’d pop out of the saddles. The strings made contact with the intonation screws if you set the action even slightly low. The saddles themselves sat on a baseplate which itself sat on two points, freely rocking back and forth with no fixed central point. I believe this bridge is also used on Mustang guitars, with equally poor results.
There are a range of after-market which address the tuning problems but, after having a look, decided to stabilise the baseplate so it remained static and drop it so it lay flat on the body too. This allowed me to raise the saddles enough so the strings cleared the intonation screws and baseplate. The end result meant the strings travelled straight from the Bigsby to the saddles without making any additional contact, meaning the strings wouldn’t pop out. It all made a significant improvement to the tuning stability and made the Bigsby actually usable.
Despite all of this, the tiresome process of changing strings with that tailpiece grew old pretty quickly and I eventually eased it on out the door.