Offset Fenders: Curing Bridge Buzzes and Rattles

Offset Fenders: Curing Bridge Buzzes and Rattles

What we generally refer to as the ‘offset’ Fenders (Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Mustang, Jag-Stang) can sometimes be a quirky bunch and one of their more common annoyances is the bridge. 

Often, notes can suffer from a lack of focus and sustain. Strings can ‘jump’ from their slots if played even a little too hard, and the bridge itself can be buzzy and rattly. Sometimes you’ll even have saddle height screws vibrating loose and rattling, or even falling out. 

String break-angle at nut - A Primer

String break-angle at nut - A Primer

So, I want to talk about a few tips related to string ‘break angle’ — the angle the string takes over the nut or saddle. However, I reckon that it might be useful to explain what I mean and to give a little background on this area first. 

Let's start with the break angle at the nut — that's the angle at which the string leaves the nut and heads for the tuner.

Stringing a Bigsby

As a young man, I was largely immune to the charms of the Bigsby. All I saw was a cumbersome hunk of metal nailed to the front of an otherwise beautiful guitar. 

So much wasted time. Now, I love 'em. Perhaps this is a change that only maturity can bring. Like the pleasures of a lovely old whiskey, realising that facial and body-hair isn't all that great, or believing that all teenagers are up to no good. 

Either way, I now understand that Bigsbys look great and sound brilliant. 

They can be a pain to string up though. One little mini-trick, however, can make an annoying job just a bit less fiddly. 

What you'll want to do is to bend the string's ball end around something like a screwdriver. The string end takes on that rounded shape and it's easier to fish it around to hook onto the axle pin. 

Once hooked on, it's generally not too difficult to keep some pressure on the string as you get the tuner end sorted out but you can jam a piece of foam or something under the Bigsby axle to stop it flopping off in you have trouble. I've never found it necessary, though. 

Restring a Bigsby #1

Restring a Bigsby #2

Restring a Bigsby #4

Fish the bent string around the axle and onto the pin

Bigsby's own installation instructions mention bending the ball end to a 45º angle but I prefer this method—I don't like placing any hard kinks in a string as it could weaken it.