Placement of Bigsby on SG

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pingdum, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. pingdum

    pingdum Member

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    Hey folks,
    I have an early 80s Special II. I'm getting a Bigsby B5 for it. What do you folks say is an optimal placement for it? It already has a roller bridge. I was planning on going to a store and take a few measurements to see what the manufacturers did.
    Also, the unit I'm getting doesn't have a spring so I have to get one separate. What's the thoughts on that? 1" or 7/8ths?
     
  2. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    pingdum, I'll venture a response to your question. Keep in mind I'm not a luthier and don't know the official specs, but maybe I can help with an illustration of my guitar.

    My SG is a 1974 SG Special with the stock "Gibson" stamped Bigsby-style vibrato. It isn't exactly a B-5, but the design is similar.

    Anyway, the attached pic shows the distance from the tension roller to the center of the roller-saddles on my roller bridge. As you can see, from the tension roller to the roller-saddle center is 1 3/4 inches for the low E and 1 15/16 inches on the high E.

    I did not measure to the bridge posts as I originally had the wide Schaller "harmonica" bridge and the bridge was not angled, as it is on most ABR's and Tun-o-matics. So, giving you my vibrato-to-bridge post measurement would be of little use since your bridge is angled and mine was not. Instead, I thought it would, perhaps, be helpful to show you this. Keep in mind these measurements are as close as I could tell with my ruler, but they are very close. I have 10's on my guitar, by the way. Also, my spring is 7/8".



    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  3. pingdum

    pingdum Member

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    Thanks for the info. Yours seems closer than the stock ones I've seen recently, but not as close as the Vibramate places it. Which seems too close to me.
    I ordered a 1" spring. I think that's what comes standard. I might order a 7/8ths one too just to try it out.
     
  4. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting. I can theorize a bit about that. I've noticed a lot of non-Norlin SG's have more neck angle than my SG, which means the bridge sits just a little higher. The original Schaller bridges had recessed post holes which allowed the bridge to sit very close to the body of the guitar.

    Here's a photo of the underside of my bridge:

    [​IMG]

    I wonder if the closeness of the bridge to the body meant they put the vibrato closer to the bridge to get the break angle they wanted. But, with higher bridges they put the vibrato further back to get the appropriate break angle.

    Or maybe I'm overthinking this!

    This has created a slight issue with the Wilkinson roller bridge I have. Since it does not have recessed post holes, I physically cannot adjust the bridge as low as the original bridge. This means my action is slightly higher than I'd prefer, but I've gotten used to it.
     
  5. Matt Rayner

    Matt Rayner Member

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    The nearer you put it to the bridge the twanggier it's going to sound.
    But you didn't need me to tell you that.
    Just put it where the hell you like.
    The main consideration is how much bar do you need in front of the bridge.
    Personally I hate playing a chord and I can't hold the whammy at the same time.
    Ie. Play chord then have to grab whammy bar.
     
  6. pingdum

    pingdum Member

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    Yes I did actually, thanks. :)
     
  7. pingdum

    pingdum Member

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    So cool, it showed up today, and even though the auction said it didn't have one, it came with a 7/8" spring. Now I have both sizes to try out.
    The instructions suggest to place it so the roller is located where the tailpiece used to be, makes sense, although they seem to think the placement isn't overly important. The location of the handle seems to be more of a concern to them.
     
    Biddlin likes this.
  8. pingdum

    pingdum Member

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    I got it on, it plays and sounds great...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I positioned it basically to where the handle was the most comfortable. It's further back than the original tail and it seems to have more bark now. That's just what I was going for. Although I'll always have to use an angle plugged cord if I want to fold the handle back.
    I had heard it's difficult to string them up, boy is that right, what a pain in the ass. It'll be damn near impossible on the fly.
     
  9. Biddlin

    Biddlin Well-Known Member

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    I like it ! That looks like it should slide like glass . The longer, shallow break angle from the bridge should be great for string bending, too.
    Biddlin ;>)/
     
  10. Matt Rayner

    Matt Rayner Member

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    One thing that totally freaked me out when I bought a B5 kit for my Telecaster is that the replacement bridge actually rocks in the stud bushings.
    On the Tele B5 kit, you have to drill two holes in the body and insert these two bushings - much like on a Gibson. The bridge then drops in:
    http://www.jag-stang.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/mustangBridge_stock.jpg
    and it is a very very loose fit. At first, my thoughts were WTF is this POS??!
    But, it's pretty functional . It's like the rocking bridge on a Gretsch.
    Another advantage of the Fender is that the strings run dead straight to the tuning pegs after the nut - unlike the Gibson. I've got to say old Leo - who couldn't play a guitar - certainly had a wicked engineer's vision.
    Hey. But let's watch Neil Young with his B7. He gets mad at about 5 minutes. ;-)
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6xNft9MutQ]Neil Young - Powderfinger - YouTube[/ame]
    Jesus. Wouldn't you love to have a beer with Neil Young?
     
  11. Matt Rayner

    Matt Rayner Member

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    Smitty
    I gotta say mate that Gibson Bigsby looks way too cool.
    I find myself having to look at it obsessively and wishing it was mine.

    Actually, how old is it, mate?
     
  12. Matt Rayner

    Matt Rayner Member

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    Pingdum
    Happy for you on your new whammy.
    They're great fun
    Enjoy it mate
    ;-)
     
  13. pingdum

    pingdum Member

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    Oh yea, I haven't stopped wanking for the last 2 days.
     
  14. smitty_p

    smitty_p Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the compliments. My guitar is a 1974 SG.
     
  15. dbb

    dbb Well-Known Member

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    Best placement of a Bigsby on MY SG - putting it on your guitar, not mine. :laugh2:

    I can't really play with them, but like seeing all you guys that like them and know how to deal with them is lots of fun.
     

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