Thoughts on Vibramate, Bigsby B5, and Callaham

Discussion in 'Tone Zone' started by VetPsychWars, Sep 17, 2018.

  1. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    Today I replaced the string shaft and front roller with Callaham upgrades.

    IMG_0349.jpg

    My major complaint with the Bigsby is the string spacing. It's just too narrow! The Callaham string shaft has an E to e width of 2-1/16" like the bridge does.

    Assembling the new parts was simple... back out a couple of hex set screws, replace the parts, and tighten.

    While I was waiting for the mail to come, I pulled the Bigsby off, disassembled, and set aside. As you can see, I have the short tail Vibramate, because I think it looks better. However, with the felt pads, it didn't sit right... the bass side was too low to the body.

    I decided to remove the felt and use steel spacers. I happened to have some leftovers from a Faber Tone-Lock kit, and the smallest ones were perfect. One of the studs was a bit high, but application of the whacker (a plastic dead-blow hammer) fixed that. Additional benefit, the studs are locked tight leaving a good mechanical connection from the Bigsby to the Vibramate to the guitar. Felt circle was left under the arch of the Vibramate.

    Looking at the felt pads under the Bigsby... those were removed. With the screws cranked down, the Vibramate and the Bigsby are essentially one unit.

    I had to modify the stringing method. One string at a time through the string shaft in its "closed" position was akward at best. I put all of the strings through the string shaft before "closing" the Bigsby. As instructed, striing without the spring in the Bigsby and stretch your strings and stretch some more! Also be sure that the ball ends are fully seated... I had two strings where they hung up on the windings and didn't get fully seated. Easily fixed, of course.

    I think the Callaham string shaft is a definite upgrade just to get the spacing right. The replacement front roller is perhaps not necessary but it does help maintain the spacing properly.

    So, summry: Callaham upgrades at about $95, worth it. Spacers, whether washers or Faber Tone-Lock, between the Vibramate and the stoptail bushings locks the VIbramate in a good position. Stretch your strings and keep stretching until the tuning stabilizes!

    Hope this is useful!

    Tom
     
  2. Six Stringed Demon

    Six Stringed Demon Active Member

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    I did a couple Bigsbys recently. A bolt on B50 on an Epi G400 and a B7 Callaham with vibrimate on an 08 Robot conversion. I’ve noticed the B50 strings walk side to side during heavy usage on the wiggle stick. The Callaham set up is by far better for stable tunability. I have a roller bridge I didn’t use on it due to lack of the right bridge stud size but found I don’t need it.

    Great job!!

    AB7E1937-29E3-4FF6-8199-548BB67293DB.jpeg 9716B68C-3532-4D8A-9FCD-6AC0E1F99BCF.jpeg
     
  3. Lynurd Fireburd

    Lynurd Fireburd Active Member

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    Can we please see a full pic of this guit?
     
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  4. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    Before the mods.

    Tom

    g.jpg
     
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  5. papagayo

    papagayo Active Member

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    The best Bigsby SG I played has a roller bridge, feeling and funing stability are very well.
     
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  6. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    I do have a roller bridge. There is enough slop even with the locking bridge to work ok and stay in tune.

    Tom
     
  7. No_Class

    No_Class Member

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    Just ordered the b5. Can't wait !!
     
  8. 4wight

    4wight New Member

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    i second (or third) the positive recommendations to use a roller bridge. Tuning stbility is noticeably improved. For me the potential issues with a Bigsby come from the break angle between the bridge and the front roller of the Bigsby. When it is too sharp it causes a lot of tuning problems. The Vibramate actually helps with this, as it lifts the Bigsby 4 or 5 mm off the body of the guitar, thus reducing the break angle a fair bit. But for me it's still not quite enough, and what I've done on my two modified Bigsby SGs is to remove the large roller at the front of the Bigsby and just leave the thin bar that runs through it instead. This reduces the break angle by another 3 or 4 mm and I rarely get any tuning issues now.
     
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  9. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    That's an interesting mod, to remove the roller and use the axle instead! Of course for the SG you can use a B3 and Towner bar, but it's not 100% perfect.

    Lots of good choices.

    Tom
     
  10. No_Class

    No_Class Member

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    I ordered the vibramate as well. Mainly because i don't need to drill any holes in the guitar, but also to help with the break angle at the bridge.
     
  11. SG standard

    SG standard Well-Known Member

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    For me that's the perfect solution, not only does it allow you complete control over the break angle at the bridge, but it also looks a bit less 'heavy duty' than the B7, (though that's just a matter of taste, and I've got nothing against the B7's looks!). I'm thinking of going the B3 + Towner bar route on my Gordon Smith, but I need to check if there's enough room.

    When it comes to the B5 + vibramate I think it's a brilliant idea, but it does place the B5 closer to the bridge than you'll usually find on a factory installation - and that doesn't help with the break angle. Check out the Spacehawk below - there's quite a length of string between the roller and bridge, and this reduces the angle a bit. SG + B3 +Towner bar for comparison:
    [​IMG]
     
  12. No_Class

    No_Class Member

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    Do i need to run a ground wire to the Bigsby if i decide to mount it without the vibramate and further back?
     
  13. 4wight

    4wight New Member

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    Not necessarily, if the ground runs to the bridge, the strings touch the bridge as well as the Bigsby, so everything is grounded. I have three Bigsby-ied SGs and none of them have separate or special ground wires, they all work off the the ground wire that runs to the bridge post (or tailpiece post) as per normal. But if the ground wire runs to the tailpiece post and you are mounting the Bigsby further back and not using the tailpiece posts at all (are you removing them and filling the holes?), then obviously you'll have to run the ground wire to the bridge post instead. One of the advantages of the Vibramate is that it screws directly into the tailpiece post so the Bigsby is automatically grounded
     
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  14. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    That's the advantage of the Towner bar, most grounds go to the stoptail, so the Towner bar grounds everything.

    Tom
     
  15. 4wight

    4wight New Member

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    I think the poster asking about the ground wire has bought a B5, so a towner bar isn't applicable in that instance. It depends how far back the B5 is going to be mounted - if it clears the tailpiece holes completely then the ground wire will have to be rewired to the bridge, but if it's placed so that it sort of covers the tailpiece holes it would be possible to remove the posts and run the ground wire under the Bigsby - it would then be held in place when the Bigsby is screwed down
     
  16. No_Class

    No_Class Member

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    Thanks. I wasn't sure if the bridge or the tailpiece was grounded. I will see how to do tomorrow!
     
  17. No_Class

    No_Class Member

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    Installed the b5 yesterday with the vibramate. No issues with the breakangle at the bridge. It looks really awesome. But the bridge is moving when i use the Bigsby. Is this normal or should i go for a roller bridge? As it is now it won't stay in tune. _20181013_101432.JPG
     
  18. VetPsychWars

    VetPsychWars Well-Known Member

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    Keep stretching your strings. It won’t stay in tune with a roller bridge either until you have everything fully stretched.

    Tom
     
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  19. 4wight

    4wight New Member

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    It's looking great, but when you say there's no problem with the break angle at the bridge I'm not sure I'd agree with you. Although it's difficult to see from the angle of the photo, it looks to me that it's still too sharp (it looks about 20 to 25 degrees off horizontal to me - you could try posting a picture taken parallel to the body of the guitar to see the angle properly), especially given that you're not using a roller bridge. I found that that any angle sharper than about 10 to 15 degrees off the horizontal affected the tuning stability, and that was much exacerbated when not using a roller bridge. (The fact that you say the bridge is actually moving when you use the Bigsby isn't a good sign to me - and maybe shows that the tight break angle is putting too much force or friction through the bridge.) Below is the break angle on one of my Bigsy SG's - it works pretty well and seems pretty stable to me, but I'd like the angle to be even less if anything. I've got an Epiphone Casino from the sixties with a Bigsby and the break angle on that is ridiculously shallow (perhaps around 5 degrees off horizontal) and its really stable as regards tuning.
     

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  20. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    I purchased a used SG where the previous owner decked the tailpiece without top-wrapping the strings over the tailpiece. The excessive downward pressure from the strings caused the bridge to cave in over time.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018

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