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The Bigsby Telecaster Project

The second Telecaster neck from Ebay arrived. Sold as mid seventies and untouched..... It is straight, but the frets are big - too big for me. It has been coated with a fresh layer of yellowed nitro on top of the fretboard - and it has not been done professionaly. There are some blobs of dried nitro on the fretboard. So next job to do is a re-fret and sanding the added nitro from the fretboard. Fretting is part the guitar builder course I'm following so this makes a good project. Also see detailed info on fretting on www.projectguitar.com Explanation on topic: Fretting Simplified. Projectguitar.com is a great source for guitar building. The Fender logo does not show a patent number, strange - it should have - and the neck does not have a date stamp... string tree should be a butterfly. Looks old though... anyone an idea give me a mail. Could be an early replacement? What was I thinkin' - pics on ebay where not that clear, a bit fuzzy - and the seller was not straight with his story -
Okay - let's go from here.

When adding a Bigsby to your Tele together with a TOM (Tune-O-Matic) bridge you have to shim the neck. See illustration below.
In this illustration you see the effect of adding a Bigsby, or to be precise - the effect of a higher bridge that comes with the Bigsby. This Bridge (Bowtie for B16 or Jaguar/Jazzmaster/Mustang/or other TOM bridge for B5) is higher than the standard Telebridge. It raises string action. So the neck angle has to be changed to get the right string action.

In the illustration:
1: Standard Tele setup.
2: Adding a B16 and bowtie bridge raises the string action.
3: Adding a neck shim in the pocket and tilting the neck back lowers the string action.

You can find more info on neck shimming in the pdf-file downloadable from the gallery page.

tele neck shim

Also the F-style tuners give some trouble. Different bushings are used and 6 screws are missing. One tuner is damaged. Got 6 'new' second hand F-tuners by asking around , they came of a late 70's Fender believe a it was Lead I.

In the meantime I got also a 73 neckplate to go on it, not a shinny one but one that has been used - got the original neck screws for free - sometimes I do get lucky. So all parts are there - now the neck sanding and refret job.

I got in trouble with the neck and took it to a luthier who lives just around the corner. Problem was the discoloration of the applied yellow nitro on the fretboard. On the other hand the frets are not that bad after all but are not straight. There was ones a refret but they didn't finish the job so the frets (just) have to be made in line and sanded. For the discoloration the luthier had a sollution which is beond my experience. He told he me could make the fretboard color more inline the body. And I agreed. So he took it in and started working on it.
Result is amazing, he did not refinish the headstock, just the fretboard. And finished the fretjob. You can see results below.
Finaly the 73 Tele is back togother again after so many years laying forgotten in the Arizon Desert.

Probably not a Fender Collectors first choise ... It has a great relic look - you can see it all marks of play, no hide or refinish of dents and scratches. The mahogany body gives a great sustain sound. Expectations met! It does not have the 'big dive' bigsby I had with the Gretsch Tennesean but just a little trem space. But it is enough to get extra tone, give cords more sustain and sound fade. It plays great, neck and frets are great. I've got a (big) little Fender Tweed Blues Junior to amplify it. A perfect match. I'm happy.

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