[Update 8/8/2009: Decided to go with a Bigsby B5 for my Telecaster. The downside is that it requires a number of holes to be drilled so there is no going back. But that's why I bought this guitar. I just want to say, there is nothing inherently wrong with the Stetsbar, it's just not really built to handle my unusually heavy strings and I really didn't want to switch back to 10's]
[Update - 8/3/2009: Eric Stets, the founder of Stetsbar responded within a few hours of my email yesterday and we also chatted via phone. He talked me through is personal Stetsbar setup procedure and he's also going to forward some new springs to see if that helps. He's been very responsive and helpful, but it does sound like 12's may be a bit too heavy. I'll give it another try and see if I can get it working. Otherwise I'll have to consider if I would use lighter strings or actually consider altering the guitar in order to add another whammy bar alternative (Bigsby?, Kahler?)...]
After installing and reinstalling the Stetsbar three times on my tele without it working properly, I'm giving up and call the manufacturer to find a "certified" installer. I suspect the unit just doesn't work well with heavy strings but here is some of my frustration...
1) you need to install a shim under the neck. Granted it only raises the neck about 1/8" up, but it also increases the angle off the guitar. I followed directions to the tee drilling all the proper holes in the shim and reset the neck. After I replaced the bridge with the Stetsbar unit, I had to raise the new bridge so high I questioned why I would even need the shim. But I continued to setup per the instructions. When done, the whammy bar barely had an inch of play. Also, the guitar sounded very thin. I attributed this to the fact that the bridge was as high as a NJ Tutnpike overpass.
2) next I decided to pull out the shim from the neck and use the fender patented micro-tilt neck adjustment to align the neck with the stets bar. I was able to setup the guitar with great action and it sounded much better. One problem though, no matter how I adjusted the stetsbar, the whammy was full flat against the body with no play. Basically looked like the stetsbar springs could not compensate for my heavy strings.
3) so I decided to bite the bullet and switch to a normal set of . 010's which the Stersbar should handle without problem. No dice. Same problem as before. 1AM last night I cried "Uncle"!
This morning I'm going to restore my Telecaster to it's original condition. Tomorrow I'll call the manufacturer with some hard questions.
I guess this is why having a good tech do all your work is worth the money. They can deal with all the headaches and aggravation.
[Update 8/03/2009: - PS. You know you have a wonderful and fantastic Wife when she is nothing but consoling and sympathetic as you wrestle with your guitar instead of doing all the things you're supposed to be doing over the weekend!]
[Sent from my iPhone 3GS]