Which Vibrola

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by NICQ, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. NICQ

    NICQ New Member

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    Hi Guys

    First post - I'm building a Firebird this year and in my research on what's a good Vibrola unit this place here seems to be the most knowledgeable :smile:


    From what I read the Allparts unit gets mixed reviews - some say the quality of build or steel is not the best, some installed it and it worked fine...


    On my search I found a unit from Hosco - the picture on the store's homepage shows the difference between a Montreux Vibrola unit and the Hosco:
    20151024_115623_resized_2-z.jpg

    -> the Montreux's spring curve is too round while the break angle looks good
    The Hosco unit looks like it's designed correctly from the picture


    I went on and ordered a nickel Hosco Vibrola and received this:
    Screenshot001860.jpg Looks more like chrome to me than nickel...



    And the spring curve also looks exactly like their Montreux example from the picture above
    Screenshot001861.jpg


    When I layed it on the Firebird body the problem with this spring curve was obvious:
    Screenshot001862.jpg The strings are situated too high - even with string pull and less angle I would have to raise the bridge quite a bit to make this work...



    another thing - when I layed it on a flat surface you can see that the spring is actually higher than the base of the unit :
    Screenshot001863.jpg

    When I press the plate down flat like it would've been mounted there is some pressure on the spring against the surface - if you apply some string pull or push down the lever too the pressure will raise the baseplate again or apply some serious force on the screws holding it in place...
    Screenshot001864.jpg
    The tremolo wouldn't have any room for travel because it is pushed against the surface from both sides by the forces applied... I guess this is not normal and looks like a incorrect design (spring bent too much) ?



    I'm sending that unit back - I need a nickel one anyways...


    Any recommendations on an aftermarket vibrola?
    How's the WD vibrola? Or should I give the Allparts unit a try?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated :smile:
     
  2. Gahr

    Gahr Well-Known Member

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  3. Relic61

    Relic61 Well-Known Member

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    This has been an exasperating subject for me too! I have tried to restore quite a few older Gibson's that had their Vibrola's removed & ended up not coming with the guitars by the time I picked them up.

    Surprisingly, there has been many spring variations over the years and finding a reliable Vibrola that also offers low string height is a real challenge!

    I know Biddlin has used a modern repro model Vibrola with much success. I'm not sure on which manufacturer it was specifically (maybe WD or All Parts?? can't be certain)

    I'll send off a PM & ask him to check out the thread & spread his guitar love & knowledge.
     
  4. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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  5. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    I have heard that vibrolas from anyone, even Gibson, will often need the spring bent to a proper angle.
     
  6. NICQ

    NICQ New Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far!

    I read some old threads on here and on the lespaul forum where someone stated that the metal used for the allparts unit is not the best quality wise... also bending the spring part or the part where the strings are mounted can result in breaking the thing...

    Crazyparts.de used to have a aftermarket one that was quite good judging from the feedback of people who bought it - it seems as if they have switched to only offering the Gibson unit now? With 259eur it's a bit much - I would consider that when putting it on an expensive guitar but not my DIY firebird kit build...

    I have searched for the Hosco Unit which was reported to have the right break angle and is well built but I couldn't find it anywhere...

    Will try the Allparts or WD Tremolo next..
     
  7. Silvertone

    Silvertone Member

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    Any update on this? I have just built a Firebird "ish" build and have purchased a virbrola from Ebay. I have not looked at the fine details yet but it seems I may have the same issue. I'm swamped with work but wanted to post a quick reply and show what my setup looks like currently. Here is a mockup just laid on for now.
    mock_up05.JPG

    Cheers Peter.

    PS - I'll get some more pics together and see how it lines up as far as break angle over the bridge. I'm about at that spot in the setup anyway but work is getting in the way. ;-)
     
  8. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful work!

    Do Firebirds not have the typical Gibson neck angle? Because the OP's picture shows his bridge nearly bottomed out.

    I may have to add another few degrees to my neck pocket angle if this is a serious issue...
     
  9. Silvertone

    Silvertone Member

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    Gibson has a few standard neck angles, depending on carve top, flat top, and neck body join location. LP standards are about 4.4 degrees and LP JRs can be as low as 1.0 degree or so. Firebirds are around 3.0 degrees and SGs can be around 2 degrees. Like any design it's all about bridge height. They also have a shallower headstock angle than the standard LP and SG.

    Some Gibsons have angled neck pockets and others are flat. I like the simplicity of the LP JR neck pocket. It is angled but is tapered the same as the fret board and makes for an easy fret board neck join and also easy glueup because there are fewer surfaces to align properly.

    Cheers Peter.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  10. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised with a 3 degree angle, he'd need to set it that low:

    [​IMG]

    EDIT: Wait, wouldn't the string pressure bring that down to the right height?
     
  11. Silvertone

    Silvertone Member

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    Why are you surprised that a 3 degree neck angle would have the bridge that low? Depends on the neck join location, thickness of fret board, and a few other factors. I think that bridge height is almost the perfect height. I like having it quite low to the body. It makes more sense for stability to have it pretty much flat on the deck. Mine has almost the exact same problem. I always shoot for about 5/8" for the height of strings at the bridge. With that dimension the higher vibrola is too high and ends up with almost no break angle. This is what mine looks like -
    maestro height01.jpg

    This is almost the exact problem as NICQ. String tension pulled it down a little bit but not much. If I raise my bridge my action gets a little too high. I might try and compress the curve of the spring. There's not much else I could do. I could recess the whole vibrola but that is a severe fix. I could also go with the Derek Trucks method by taking off spring and just adding a tailpiece. Again that would be a bit of work because the spring is welded into the frame. I thought adding the vibrola would help with neck dive. I might have to look at a bigsby! LOL

    Cheers Peter.
     
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  12. Silvertone

    Silvertone Member

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    I have managed to take the spring apart and have contacted the ebay seller. They seem to be willing to discuss with me. I might try and modify my spring but it seems very difficult to do so. I have a neighbour friend that has a little machine shop in his garage I may take the piece over to see if he can make me a flatter replacement part.

    Regards Peter.
     
  13. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    I didn't think about differences in neck setting. My SG isn't much higher than that, now that I look at it.
     
  14. Silvertone

    Silvertone Member

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    Most guitars should be about that height off the top. Most bridges are about the same height. The neck angle difference makes up for neck join, carve top vs flat top. Some guitars do not have a neck angle and just sit parallel to the top at about that height. As I said before ideally I like the bridge flat on the top of the guitar. It is more stable and arguable transfers better tone.

    With a cut tenon the fret board is left to sit on something either the top of the guitar is planed so that it matches the neck angle, which is what I think the SGs do, or there is a ramp inserted under the fret board to sit on the flat top. Because it's a double cut there is not much to plane to get the fret board to sit on it. Here is a pic that shows the tenon and what looks like a flat piece cut below the fret board. I'm not sure how a standard SG joins, but this is something you will have to consider.

    Capture.JPG

    I recently built a replica of a Gibson Futura, which was the prototype of the Explorer. They split the difference on this one because the neck join was so far up the neck. Half was sanded into the body and the other half there was a ramp /shim added under the fret board.
    tenon_join_JR.jpg

    A LP LR neck does not have a cut tenon but the whole of the neck just sits in the neck pocket. The problem with this is you need wood on both sides, unlike a bolt on neck. Here is a pic of a LP JR I built. Notice the tenon is the same as the fret board. Neck angle isn't a problem because you can adjust as required and nothing sits on top of the body.
    photo25.JPG

    Cheers Peter.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  15. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    I see, so if I added a tenon to my neck, do you think that would be sufficient without the cutaway reinforcement? My only issue there would be making a channel for the tenon at the same angle as the pocket.

    Edit: So, I see the typical way is creating a box jig, but could I not just make a flat channel and a wedge to fit under the tenon?
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  16. Silvertone

    Silvertone Member

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    It should be sufficient because you have a lot more neck pocket length on the bass side because it's a single cut. You could also go with a long tenon, which goes into the neck pup route. Again I think your design is well suited to this because your neck pup is moved a bit more forward. The first pic in my post has a short tenon on the SG. Notice it stops short of the pup route. I ended up cutting a small ramp / wedge to go under the fretboard on my Futura build. It worked out quite well. IF I was designing a guitar from scratch I might try for a simpler neck join. I really like the way the LP JRs are designed but you would have to change the way your cutaway meets with the neck to provide a little bit of wood there like my LP JR picture. There are lots of options. It just boils down to what you think may be the best for you and your design.

    Cheers Peter.
     
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  17. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Actually, the extra space is not from moving the pickup forward, but the moving neck pocket back by filling the end of the pre-cut route. So that means part of the mortise will already be angled for me, if I just leave a channel in the center when filling the end.

    Thanks for your help Peter! Much appreciated.
     
  18. AngelDeVille

    AngelDeVille Well-Known Member

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    I ended up buying one of these for a V, if it works out I'll need another.

    image.jpeg


    I would need a short for the second project in silver, I was thinking I could cut this down.

    image.jpeg

    I love my bigsby's but they are a pain to fit to a V.
     
  19. Lynurd Fireburd

    Lynurd Fireburd Active Member

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    Been thinking of going all Lonnie Mack on an inexpensive import V I have. I'd need a gold crossbar though. lol
     
  20. AngelDeVille

    AngelDeVille Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     

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