Greetings and a couple of questions

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by abarson, Nov 23, 2015.

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  1. abarson

    abarson New Member

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    Howdy, all!
    The guitarist in my band has a '71 SG that he bought in '72 and it sounds real sweet. It has what appears to be a Bigsby B5 vibrato, although it doesn't have the big logo. How do we determine if it's a real Bigsby or an aftermarket?

    I ask because it is missing the handle, and thought maybe he'd want to install one. He's less than enthusiastic, stating that these vibratos have a bad reputation for not staying in tune. Is this true, or is it merely a matter of correctly setting it up?
     
  2. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    Pictures please! The absence of the handle won't prevent any tuning issues that could be attributed to the vibrato - the spring is still there. The tuning issues themselves are seldom down to the vibrato alone. Rough bridge saddles and poorly cut nut are the number one culprit every time.

    Seriously though, a couple of pictures will go a long way to getting you some kind of an answer.
     
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  3. abarson

    abarson New Member

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    Next practice is next Sunday, so no pics until then.
    I quite understand that the lack of a handle has no bearing on tuning, rather once a handle is installed and used that the problem arises. Good points about the condition of the saddles and nut!
     
  4. Six String

    Six String Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to ETSG! :smile:
     
  5. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    +1 on that. Welcome! If the old warhorse stays in tune while in action... DON'T FIX IT!
    A guitar that stays in tune is much more valuable than one with a whammy bar.

    Seventies guitars of all types suffered from mod fever, which was sweeping the country.
    Many were butchered in arbitrary ways, and a '71 SG that has NOT been modded is
    probably a rarity.

    Here's a google search for "1971 Gibson SG Deluxe Bigsby" which can show what the
    instrument was supposed to look like.
    http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=1971+gibson+sg+deluxe+bigsby&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

    You might find a supplier of vintage parts,
    where you can order the correct handle for the trem. Anyone who owns a 'vintage" guitar
    has a duty: maintain it or restore it to what it was, and don't use it as a mod platform
    any more. There's been enough of that. The best mod platform is a used G-400 IMHO
    and not a valuable antique.

    If the old '71 has already been garbled up with "improvements" then the best thing is to
    try and restore it to original as well as you can. Just my humble opinion.

    Now let's see some photos of your colleague's guitar...
     
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  6. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    "...! If the old warhorse stays in tune while in action... DON'T FIX IT!
    A guitar that stays in tune is much more valuable than one with a whammy bar."
    Pragmatically, yes, monetarily, not so much. My Bigsby works fine, just requiring extra attention to properly cinching the strings to the tuners' posts, lubricating the nut slots and keeping the bridge saddles smooth.(I use a roller bridge) The Bigsbys on those were unbranded, I branded, iirc.
     
  7. abarson

    abarson New Member

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    Forgot to take a picture a rehearsal. :redface: It'll have to wait for next week.
    But it does look just like this one on Pinterest, minus the handle. So it's an unbranded Bigsby, if so. Why did they do that?
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/de/cf/5b/decf5b9f1343f5a2691427dcb445fc21.jpg

    Col Mustard
    This one is unmodified, aside from the missing handle. I'm pretty sure my guitarist has no intention to change anything on it.
    Any recommended sources for a replacement handle?
    It doesn't stay in tune as much as his PRS, but I don't know how old the strings on the SG are. He broke it out in order to play slide on "Rocky Mountain Way", and the PRS hasn't come back out since.

    Biddlin
    Is there a pictorial tutorial about the string cinching?
    What is the proper material for lubricating the nut slots, wax?
    I'm guessing your roller bridge is aftermarket? I guess that starts getting into the realm of whether it's to be kept stock or made into a "player".
     
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  8. ScottMarlowe

    ScottMarlowe Well-Known Member

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  9. abarson

    abarson New Member

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    Thanks, passing it on!
     
  10. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I like brother Malikon's vid. I found a reversible roller bridge conversion for my for my SG Classic . That might be tougher to find for that one. I just use a sharp #2 pencil to lube my nut slots
    [​IMG]
    , but there are a host of commercial lubes, like "nut sauce"
    [​IMG]
    or the shade tree techs around here mix some graphite shavings with Vasoline
    nutgoop.jpg
    , too greasy for me.
     
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  11. SG John

    SG John Well-Known Member

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    Back then, Gibson was licensed to make their own version of the B-5 for their flat top solid bodies. Most were blank, some were embossed with a "Gibson" logo. If it looks original, then that's what it is.
     
  12. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    I actually own a 71 SG Deluxe & have posted the lovely 'Belladonna' many times here on ESG's illustrious pages of enlightenment & intellectual guitar-centric inebriation. But a couple more,..? Meh, why not eh? For old times sake ey?

    71 Gibson SG Deluxe embossed Gibson trem 2 Patent Sticker T-Top pickups.PNG

    As you can see from the pic, Belladonna has a factory Gibson embossed 'Bigsby' B5 Tremolo. Gibson president Ted McCarty was actually offered the Bigsby corporation by Paul Bigsby in 1965 because of health issues & McCarthy left Gibson in 1966 to run Bigbsy fulltime. Ted then proceeded to work out licensing agreements & the Gibson embossed Bigsby was born! I seem to recall the re-licensed & newly Gibson Embossed Bigsby tailpiece making its big appearance on the SG right around with the 71 model year.

    Now back to my Bella! The control pot date codes find 3 exactly the same and reading 1371071 or a CTS manufactured pot made the 10th week of 1971. Here's some pics.

    71 SG Deluxe embossed Gibson Bigsby control pot date code 1371071.PNG

    71 SG Deluxe embossed Gibson Bigsby.PNG

    My honest experience with this factory Bigsby B5 style trem is that despite my honestly needing & wanting it to work well which entailed my lubing the nut & ensuring the saddles were smooth, lubed & nothing is binding or pinching, I still had issues with this B5 style tremolo with returning to pitch consistently after mild to moderate use. I even went to a new hardened spring but still, consistency could not be found in factory form. So I wanted to know why!

    After making sure nothing is grabbing, pinching or binding what's left is the design & science of the B5 tremolo. Lets take a look at mine again.

    71 SG Deluxe tremolo..PNG

    Look at what is being required from the strings & what happens with repeated use, not only is the string having multiple points of contact before it touches the bridge (at a rather far distance I might add) the string are being wound over & around one string roller & then, under another string roller before hitting the bridge saddles.! This allows the string spacing to wander which ultimately changes the pitch & destabilizes tuning the guitar! I've aligned those strings straight & played with the Vibrato to see what happens. Believe me, they will always wander! There is even a company that makes string retainers to prevent this 'wandering' so yes, this silly $#!t really happens & it's enough to bother players with pitch sensitive ears to the point of not wanting to touch the tremolo!

    The other issue besides too many contact points on each string, to long string travel from the ball ends to the bridge, the propensity for string spacing fluctuation &, just the sheer physics of it all by really asking a lot from a string by requiring it wind around, over & under string rollers before even hitting the bridge saddles! As if all that wasn't enough, the Bigsby B5 system requires the tension of the guitar strings to power the system back to 'zero' tuning. Compared to the simple functioning of a Meastro Vibrola tremolo, a Bigsby B5 just has too much going on & being required of it to work consistently & flawlessly as designed in stock form.

    Sure, a lot of tremolo systems count on the strings to pull everything back to zero balance & be in tune, yet some of those systems are also counting on & using other springs & their tension to work with the strings to pull everything back to zero where a B5 style tremolo's spring is not fastened or attached firmly to ad any of its backward acting tension & stability because the spring itself is simply sitting held in place by the tension of the strings squeezing it in place while resting in its rounded out spring holders.

    Heck, achieving consistent zero return to pitch even runs into problems on high-tech trems like the Floyd Rose system & the Fender Strat trems. In fact, This problem tremolo tuning instability problem spawned a whole side industry of tools to aide & assist proper return to zero tuning & pitch like the 'Trem-Setter' & the 'Mag-Lok'.

    And, Worse still, (can there really be a worse still at this point you ask? Yes.) all this gets further exacerbated if you like using light gauge strings. Even going from 9 to 10 guage string makes a noticeable difference in feel & performance.

    So now you can begin to understand why your buddy is happy just playing the guitar & having it hold tune well enough for him. That said, they can be coaxed into working pretty good if you are willing to chase the dragon & use the necessary tools, tricks & add-ons to wrestle these beasts into submission & on to doing your bidding.

    And after all that & things possibly ending up getting decided to maybe leave 'well enough' alone, it would still be a thoughtful gift on your part if you did locate a period correct handle for your buddy for Christmas! He doesn't 'have' to use it you know. They can be attached & folded nicely out of the way and in fact, it don't need to even be mounted to make the guitar that much more complete by having it there for if & when the time comes.

    Rock On.
     
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  13. syscokid

    syscokid Well-Known Member

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    Oh Hell, just butcher it with a Kahler (designed for a Strat)... add a couple mini toggle switches... not that I really know anything about this... :mad:
     
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  14. abarson

    abarson New Member

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    Biddlin, thanks for the additional information!

    Relic61, that has to be the most concise vibrato analysis I've ever encountered! Makes a lot of sense. And although my guitarist certainly knows how to use a whammy, I guess part of it just bugs me to see it incomplete, whether used or not.

    syscokid, self-proclaimed heretic?
     
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  15. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    Why thank you sir, you're too kind. Too kind to all of us. Really, we're a bunch of idots here. Encouraging us will only make things worse!

    LOL. Thanks abarson. And don't forget the trem handle for a Christmas gift!
     
  16. Duffman

    Duffman Member

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    Late to the party....here is my '72, all original and to be honest I swing the handle around and never use the whammy ...

    DuFf

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. chilipeppermaniac

    chilipeppermaniac Well-Known Member

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    Very Nice, Duff....
     
  18. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    Wow man! Have you ever dated the pot codes?? Your SG Deluxe looks pretty similar to me for some reason...:hmm: Oh yeah, it looks a whole lot like mine!

    I always did like the embossed pickup covers. They are one of my favorite Gibson items that I watch for on Ebay & 'pick up' (see what I did there eh) whenever I can get a decent deal.

    I actually put them on my 69 SG Standard simply because I LIKE 'EM soo much! LOL

    Here's a pic of the 69. What ya think?

    69 SG \'customized\' Standard.PNG

    I do love's me some Patent Sticker tone baby!
    So are those embossed covers too much?
    Does it look too much like a Gibson toaster??
    :rofl:
     
  19. Duffman

    Duffman Member

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