Thinline Tele w/ rosewood top & Bigsby B16


Junior Member


Thinline body, rosewood top on swamp ash; finished with TruOil (at least 20 coats...); white-pearl pickguard.
Bigsby B16, Wilkinson roller bridge, Kluson locking tuners.
Fender CS Nocaster pickups; 5-way Superswitch; No-load tone pot.
Maple neck w/ pau ferro board, 1-3/4" wide; Graphtec nut, SS med. jumbo frets.
Luv dem Bixbys

Whats up with the bridge?  I know the bridge must be where its at, for intonation... makes me think.. ok the body is a bit short for the Bixby.  But then the pickup wouldn't in the right place.

Did the neck need to be shimmed further, because the bridge wouldn't lower enough?

Details man... DE-TAILS!~
OK, if you want all the dirty details....

That B16 is finicky when it comes to body dimensions - I had another nice Thinline body from another manufacturer, that I had originally planned to use - but it was like 5mm too long, so the route for the bridge pickup was too far to the front - here's a pic:


So, I saved this body for another project, and ordered one from Warmoth (after checking with the sales stuff that the body length would be right for the B16).
The B16 comes with the so-called "bowtie bridge" - a flimsy aluminium job that I did not want to use (mainly because it is compensated for a wound G-string, like they were used in the old days); that thing sits on a narrow aluminium base which fits inside the oval cut-out on the B16. You can see some examples here in the Tele-Bigsby-gallery:
- like this one:

As I said, I did not want to use that one, but some kind of TOM or roller bridge; so I ordered the body with a neck routed at an angle, and the holes for the TOM mounting studs.

OK, once it got here, I found out that the pickup route and the B16 were a perfect fit - but the holes for the TOM were really close to the back edge of that bridge cutout on the B16; once I had the mounting cups of the TOM in the body, the B16 wouldn't fit - it sat on top of the protruding rims of the mounting cups; so I had to get out my Dremel and route some recesses into the bottom of the B16 for the rims of the Tom cups (not visible from the front).

Then I started setting up the Tele - worked quite well with that angled pocket, until I tried playing it - hey, sounds like a sitar...  :icon_scratch:  Turned out that the break angle of the strings, with the bridge set at "average" TOM height, was much too low to provide sufficient pressure.
So I had to set the bridge quite a bit higher (I put some washers/shims on the mounting studs, otherwise the bridge felt kinda wobbly), and shim the neck (two credit-card thicknesses).
The problem was that the B16 (like the B3 for archtop guitars) does not have that extra string pressure bar (like the B5 and B7) - that's why the bridge has to be set higher, but that's also why the B16 (and B3) have a much softer, pleasing action than the stiff-feeling B5 (or B7) - and that's what I wanted.

Long story short (and I did not even get into how it took me 25 coats of TruOil, lots of 600 grit sanding paper, lots of trial & error, and a month of time, to get an acceptable finish) - now the guitar feels, plays & sounds great - a happy ending at last!