Great Bigsby modification

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Great Bigsby modification

Postby thenorm » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:20 pm

Paul and I had an exchange a year or so ago about the common sense approach to stringing a Bigsby.
This arguement goes on and on and on over at gretschpages and I always post the same thing.

Drilled



Image


strung


Image

Pros: Obvious

Cons: None

Photos by Paul Yandell
Last edited by thenorm on Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby albertgen » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:58 pm

Sounds like a worthwhile investment to me , Al
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby thenorm » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:20 pm

modified my original post to show these
Drilled



Image


strung


Image

Pros: Obvious

Cons: None

Photos by Paul Yandell
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby Joeb » Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:16 pm

Cool Norm. So how does one do this procedure? What size drills, How to remove the pins. Is there anyone that can do this procedure that we can send our bigsby's to? I wouldn't mind paying someone to have my 5 Gretschs done. What's the scoop? This sounds like someone could make some serious money by doing this operation. Joeb
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby Mike Nye » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:14 pm

It's pretty obvious EVERYTHING that PA ever involved himself with had sound engineering principles behind them.

The logic behind him incorporating those string posts on the vibrato's mandrel is to AVOID a 90 degree bend of the 'TENSIONED' strings. A 90 degree bend in 'TENSIONED' metals is "TABOO,' to be AVOIDED, from both metalurgical and engineering standpoints . . .

Yah, they're a pain inda ass, butt (sorry 4 da pun) HE HAD HIS REASONS ! ! !
Last edited by Mike Nye on Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby thenorm » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:21 pm

I had one of the older Bigsby's so backing the pins out was a simple thing using an allen wrench. I really don't ahve much in the way of tools so I just took a phillips screwdriver and burnished the holes on mine to be sure there were no sharp edges. The ones in the picture, at least one of them was made for Paul by the Bigsby people. He and I got to e.mailing about it. He fooled with it, told me to go ahead and try it on mine and somewhere in there called Fred Gretsch about it. Fred had at least one made for Paul but the last time we talked about this there were no plans to pursue it as a project.

I grumbled to Joe Carcucci (GMIC/Gretsch) about it and he said he thought they were at least looking at the idea but FMIC doesn't have any association with Bigsby...that's all Gretsch.

I don't know how Bigsby puts the pins in on the newer models but I think it's a no-looking-back mess to get them out.

If it was me I would print out those two pictures and take them and one guitar to a local machine shop or someone I knew who had the proper drills and tools to do the job. You only need to make sure that the holes in the bar DON'T let the string ball come through. The recessed holes are a nice bit of business and shouldn't be much of a problem.

I'd ask around a lot before I'd actually do it but once those pins are out it's easy in easy out to move the bar. You just need to pull the retaining ring. Restringing is Much easier.

I'll see if I can find the last thread about this on the gretschpages. They talked about pulling those pins then.
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby thenorm » Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:26 pm

Mike:
Your thought makes sense but this is what I thought was oriiginally behind it. (I use this as a cut and paste to save retyping)
_________

I believe the reason Bigsby made his vibrato using pins was because at the time of the unit’s design you could not buy strings singly. If a guitarist wanted a lighter first and second string he had to use banjo strings which have a loop end instead of a ball end so Bigsby made sure that need was fulfilled. Once assorted single strings became available it never occurred to the makers of Bigsby to modify (and simplify the manufacture of) the unit.
________

I've never experienced string breakage since I did this. Paul and others on the gretschpages haven't complained about string breakage either. Paul sent me one of his he had drilled. It's not recessed but I think it's drilled out a little more. I put the pins back in my old one and it's in a ziploc bag now.
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby Mike Nye » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:42 pm

Point well taken . . .

Ya gotta keep in mind that 60-years ago things were built lika brick shithouse, to LAST FOREVER, and their designs were tested & proven accordingly.

I'll be willing to bet that PA strung up a guitar an octive ABOVE concert pitch, grabbed the handle of his FIRST prototype and yanked the instrument up 'n down by the handle like a yo yo to give it THE ACID TEST prior to offering vibratos bearing his name for sale ! ! !
If BRUTE-FORCE isn't working, you're just not applying enough of it ! ! !
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby thenorm » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:00 pm

The Bigsby True Vibrato is flawless in its design.

PA done good on that.

A think people don't know is that originally, instead of the spring he used a rubber plug, a rubber cylinder for a spring. Obviously looked in the motorcycle parts box to rectify that.

________

I asked the guys at gretscpages about pulling the pins and so far only got one answer:

The Norm wrote:

I Do have a question Guy on another site wants to know if there is an easy way to get the pins out of the Bigsby bar if it doesn't have allen screws


Easy? Depends. I have two Bigsby's not attached to any guitar, a B6 and a B7. Looking at them, I imagine the pins can be pulled, but since you would still have to drill the rest of the hole that it may be easier to drill out the pin and the hole at the same time. Just my guess.
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Re: Great Bigsby modification

Postby Mike Nye » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:13 pm

Extracting the 'Press-in' type pins is easily accomplished with REAL Vice-grips, NOT the Ho Chi Minh brand from the Dollar Bin at Bonie's Market . . .
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