How to build a Bigsby

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How to build a Bigsby

Postby Gary Smith » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:36 am

Since we all have either owned or played a guitar with a Bigsby, here is how they are made.

enjoy
http://www.youtube.com/bigsbyguitars#p/ ... eNOvWKmQSI
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby Paul Yandell » Fri Sep 24, 2010 10:52 am

What really makes the Bigsby vib what it is is the needle bearings that's why they stay in tune so well and are so smooth, there have been a handful of people who gave the music world great things PA Bigsby, Ray Butts, Leo Fender, Chet and Les Paul and others, God bless them all, paul
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby thenorm » Fri Sep 24, 2010 11:54 am

I had a real hassle getting information about Bigsby. The vibratos were originally made in Downey CA and from there they got sold and moved to Kalamazoo MI. I bought my son's Chet handle from that facility and was probably one of the last made there.

Gretsch then bought the company and for years I never could get a straight answer out of those people as to where they were actually made since a friend in Kalamazoo told me the old factory was shut.

Finally found out that they are still made in Kalamazoo at an unnamed foundry. There are, of course, some versions being made in the orient but I stopped looking into it. It's a bit irritating when a company seems so definsive about such things but I really don't care anymore. I just like to be informed is all....

The YouTube video is very informative. Looks like a noisy, dusty place to work....
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby Gary Smith » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:59 pm

when a company is sold from its original owner, the new owners usually try to manage things differently. Often times, the new owners don't have their heart in the company, its just an income source.

Paul Bigsby had his heart and soul in his companies and from what I can gather, he'd tell you anything you asked him about how something was done. No big secrets.

Mr. Bigsby was an inventor, a machinist, and was able to just about make anything that could be described to him. He told Travis that he could build anything, and I believe that he probably could.

some of his steel guitars were ahead of their time back in the late 40's etc, and when Merle described what he wanted him to make, Bigsby thought it was kind of odd, but agreed to build it anyway.

I'm not surprised that he used roller bearings in the vibrato, they were bearings frequently used in motorcycles and Bigsby knew they had very low friction, hence, their ability to return the strings to pitch with minimal effort.
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby Mike Nye » Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:56 am

There were several corners that he could have cut to keep his costs down, but he didn't . . .
If BRUTE-FORCE isn't working, you're just not applying enough of it ! ! !
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby thenorm » Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:42 am

Even today...

There is no reason to use those little pins to hold the string balls on the units. Whe P.A. first made the units the modern advantage of being able to buy single strings didn't exist and guitarists who wanted to use a lighter plain string had to buy banjo strings which have a loop end.

Nowadays all that is needed is a hole through the mounting bar which they already make. They could eliminate the machinerey and labor of installing the pins.

A case of building something a certain way because 'that's the way it was always done.'
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby Richard Hudson » Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:25 am

That would take away the adventure in installing new strings, Norm. :)
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby BillB » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:40 pm

Paul,
I just want to say that you too have given a lot to the music world and to those of us that are fans of Chet Atkins. Not only are we big Chet fans, but a great many of us are big Paul Yandell fans as well.
And so I say, God bless you as well.

Bill Bailey
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby thenorm » Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:34 pm

Richard Hudson wrote:That would take away the adventure in installing new strings, Norm. :)



I guess I'm not very adventuresome then...
Thanks to Paul Yandell I tried going without those pins and now have a drilled, pinless mounting bar and am happy as can be about it.

For those stll using the pins a trick I used for the past few years was to wedge a Pink Pearl eraser between the pin and top of the guitar. Kept the ball from popping off and left both hands free to properly attach the string at the tuning peg. Those Pink Pearl erasers are everywhere...they're the ones with the wedge ends. Anything similar works just as well...
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Re: How to build a Bigsby

Postby Vidar Lund » Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:36 pm

Just for the sake of good order:

http://www.bigsbyguitars.com/vibe/
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