Guitar Building: Bigsby Tele With Humbuckers, Part 6

Wow, a long time since my last post! One of the most interesting parts of this project was to get the Bigsby perfectly placed. To help with this, the kit comes with a little ball of red string. The idea is to attach one end to the sixth string tuner, run it up the neck to the Bigsby, weave it through the roller that holds the ball ends of the strings, go back down the neck to the string one tuner, and apply a little tension.

You can easily see, once you get the string where you want it, whether or not the alignment is what it needs to be. Once that looked good, I marked the locations for the four screws that hold the tailpiece in place, drilled pilot holes, and installed it.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice my big “OH, HELL!” moment at this point. That’s to say that before now, I hadn’t noticed there’d be no room to adjust the intonation screws on the Rutters bridge. Imagine my delight. Luckily, after much experimenting, I realized I could simply turn the screws from the other end, as long as I slacked the string tension first. So, intonation was time-consuming but successful. Marc’s compensated saddle design works really well, and everything’s in tune now.

Once the guitar was strung, I lubed all the moving parts and the nut slots, stretched the crap out of the strings, and worked the bar to get everything broken in a bit. Tuning is pretty stable, and there’s enough tension from that big spring that I can play pedal steel licks and bends without the strings dropping in pitch. The range of pitch change is fairly limited but I knew that going in, and have gotten comfortable with it since. The guitar likes a standard “ten” set, and sounds really cool.

Next up: finishing touches!

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