Best Bigsby for Telecaster – B5 vs B16

The 2 main Bigsby models one needs to consider for a telecastor is with the B5 or B16. Their main difference are as follows:

The Bigsby B5 is more versatile as they are compatible with most of the telecastor models. The B16, in contrast, only works with on telecastor from the 1950s. The B5 is also cheaper than B16, but has a stiffer lever action.

Having state their differences, both Bigsby models are capable of stay in tune and perform well. For beginners or someone new to Bigsby, I definitely the Bigsby B5 due to its versatility.

If you are intending to buy the B5, you might also consider getting additional accessories. One I recommend is the mastery bridge. It can be reduced the buzz that might happen if you stick with the ones in the full kit.


Bigsby B5 vs B16 Comparison

  • Level Action: B5 is more stiff than the B16. The B5 needs you to use the handle for any level adjustment. The B16, on the other hand, only requires your little finger to press down the strings and change the pitch level.
  • Impact on telecastor tone: The B5 has no significant impact on the tone of your telecastor, especially if you used the notched ashtray bridge. The B16, on the other hand, makes the tone of the telecastor less punchy and make it sound a a bit more Gretsch-y.
  • Tuning stability: The B16 is very stable when it comes to tuning. B5 also offers stable tuning, although not to the same extend as B16.
  • Installation Flexibility: The Bigsby B16 is a one piece term and bridge assembly while the B5 gives you the option of using the full kit or using parts of different kits. The latter gives you the flexibility of swapping out parts that might not suited your taste. For example, you can change the bridge from a Fender model to the Mastery Bridge, which many says is less buzzy.
  • Ease of installation: B5 is easy to mount and needs no shimming. In contrast, B16 needs a LOT of shimming.
  • Design: B16 looks more cooler than the B5. This is probably due to the better finishing that the B16 has. FYI, is made in America only while the B5 can be made in different countries including Asia.
  • Prices: As the B5 can be made in Asia, prices are naturally cheaper than the B16, which is only made in America.

How to Fix Bigsby Tremolo Arm

When your bigsby arm is loose and needs some adjustment, here are the steps to do it. The objective is to tighten the nut that is found at the interior of the bigsby arm.

  1. Loosen the strings that are holding the arm to the guitar
  2. Take note that the string tension is the thing holding down the spring of the arm. When you are loosening the strings, you need to be prepared to hold the spring once it loses the spring tension. If not, it might moved and damaged your finish well
  3. Flip the arm upside down to get to the nut
  4. Tight the nut to the right tension.
  5. Place the arm back into position, along with the spring, and tighten the string tension as per normal

An alternative solution, without removing strings is as follows:

  1. Find something that can reach the nut as it is
  2. Hit or jam the nut such that it will turn in the right direction
  3. Repeat this process until the nut is tight enough
  4. Do note this process can take a bit of time and trial and error. It will also leaves scratches in the interior of the bigsby arm.

Bigsby Spring Falling Out

Another common problem that is being asked is the falling out of the bigsby spring.

If you read the previous section, you will know the only thing holding the spring is the string tension. There is nothing else that will attach the spring to the guitar. First timers might get the wrong impression that they need to attach the string to something but no. Only the string tensions matter.

The reason your spring has become loose is probably due to the strings losing their tension or one of them has broke. The only course of action is to restring the guitar so that there is enough tension to hold the spring in its place.

If you are restring it yourself, here are some tips

  • Do it one string at a time. Loosening all strings will let the spring move more during the stringing
  • Remember to wound the string around the pivot bar before going underneath. A rookie is to go underneath before moving the string around the bar
  • To keep the spring in place, you can use a little piece of foam sponge under the pivot bar when you are winding the string over it.


If you are thinking about mounting a Bigsby for your telecastor, the default will always be between B5 (and its variations) and B16 (and its variations).

In summary, I will recommend the B5 for a newbie because it is easier to install and can accommodate all telecastor models. B16 has a softer lever action but require more technical installation.

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