The Complete Telecaster

Bigsby's curse

As you might know, Paul Bigsby is known to the inventor of the first practical and 
usable solid electric guitar(Fig1). He also invented other things such as vibrato unit. 
(it seems he was a a very talented person)

According to Merle Travis, the owner of the guitar, Fender borrowed this guitar from him 
for two days and released Esquire after a few weeks later.
(Leo Fender denied this story)
Although Bigsby guitar was though-neck, they have many similar points like
solid body, in-line machine heads, through-the-body strings, etc.

Moreover to say, the headstock design was copied on strat, and, it was Bigsby 
who originally made popular the vibrato unit among musicians.

He was believing  Leo stole his ideas and became rich. He easily got angry in less than
two minutes when he heard the name "Fender". Naturally, he never talked with Leo 
while he had many good relations with other guitar companies.

Now, knowing these backgrounds, you must know you can't put Bigsby vibrato unit on 
your telecaster. Yes, you will be cursed if you do it! It might be okay with the "F" stamped 
unit like Fig2, but you should definitely avoid the "Bigsby" stamped unit like Fig3 as the 
spirit of Bigsby won't forgive you.

bigsbyok.GIF (16941 bytes)

bigsbyno.GIF (23931 bytes)



bigsbyguitar.GIF (33431 bytes)


Tuners (1999/10/07 updated)

In 1950s, Kluson had the biggest share on guitar parts market. Since almost all guitar makers were using Kluson's tuner in those days, they just varied peg's shape to get unique look.  The bad thing was, Kluson tuner had a backlash even when it was new. This is because Kluson used brass for the worm gear.(*3)

(FYI : in 1967, Fender switched to Schaller's tuner)

When Grover released Rotomatic, the first high quality tuner, many guitar makers went for it. Years later, the Rotomatic was copied and improved by Schaller, Gotoh, Sperzels, etc.  

The current Kluson type tuner (*1) uses steel worm gear (*2) and offers 14- or 15-to-1 gear ratio for precise tune. (old Kluson was 12-to-1)

(*1) You can't buy original Kluson tuner anymore. They were out of business in the '70s. 
The tradename Kluson is now owned by WD Music Products. As the original Kluson's 
legal right expired, they bought the name and began to produce the tuners with origninal 
tools and specifications. Only difference is that they are now making higher quality tuners.

(*2) Even if the worm looks gold, it is just a brass crown.

(1999/10/07 added)
(*3) Steve Lamb addressed the backlash issue more precisely.
I believe the backlash issue is related to the profile of the intersecting teeth of the gears, and also to slop in
the bushings or bearings, whereas the brass vs. steel issue is more related to wear. (Obviously any tuner, when
seriously worn, will have backlash).

In the beginning of 70's, Fender bought faulty NC-Router. This first generation NC router had some problems on its cutter and programs. This is the reason why most 70's telecaster had "wrong" body shape
at the left shoulder.
(personally, i don't care if it sounds good. but many vintage collectors consider this as ugly guitar)

beautytele.GIF (11716 bytes) uglytele.GIF (16005 bytes)
"Correct" shape "wrong" shape

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