Bigsby Installation

Discussion in 'Tone Zone' started by Dudemeister, Jan 3, 2021.

Tags:
  1. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    I have a question regarding the installation of a Bigsby trem.

    I have a B700, and I know I'll have to drill a couple of holes in the body to lock in the trem, but can I put felt pads underneath to prevent it from scratching the finish?
     
  2. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    So here is the B700 on my Epi Les Paul Custom. This guitar was hanging on the wall for the last few years, and when I pulled it down, all the gold hardware looked awful. Dirty and tarnished. I removed all the tuners, bridge tail piece and studs and washed them in diswasher detergent and then dried them with a hair drier. They now look like brand new.

    After pulling the stud inserts for the tail piece I was looking at filling them with wood dowels, but found that the closes thing I could get was 1/2" dowels which are too thick. I don't have a lathe to turn these and didn't feel like spending the next 2 hours trying to sand them down, when I got a brilliant idea:

    Why not use .45 Auto case, which should fit snugly. Moreover, I fit a primer on it loosely, so when I tighten the tailpiece down, it will press on it and make good contact. I know brass is not as conductive as copper or steel, but after checking with an ohm meter I had conductivity with zero resistance.

    Anyway, I do like the setup, but I have a problem with is the huge spring the trem came with, which I measured at 1.25" in length, and it just pushes the arm out at a really weird angle. I ordered the shortest spring I could find, a 7/8" long spring, hopefully that will help.

    Epi-Bigsby-001.jpg Epi-Bigsby-001.jpg Epi-Bigsby-002.jpg Epi-Bigsby-003.jpg Epi-Bigsby-004.jpg Epi-Bigsby-005.jpg Epi-Bigsby-006.jpg
     
    Supersonic likes this.
  3. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    The whole Bigsby thing actually got started when I got my ES335 style guitar, a Grote. Great guitar, plays well, nicely made, but for some strange reason I felt that it was missing something, a Bigsby trem to be exact.

    So I bought an "el cheapo" clone on eBay for $25, but while it may look like a Bigsby, it's a sloppy P.O.S. It couldn't return to the same place twice if it tried. It was literally impossible to touch it without throwing the rig out of tune. At the same time I was waiting to receive this one, I also bought the gold one above. It was a used B700 for $75, and it's a world of difference between that and the clone junk.

    But now I needed to replace the junky one, so I bought a B70, which is a nice step up from the B700. It fit the already drilled holes, so at least that was a relief. While I was at it, I also replaced the bridge with a Wilkinson roller bridge, and installed Grover self-locking rotomatics in place of the Grover clones that came on the guitar.

    In all, I spent about as much on the upgrades as I did on the whole guitar, but It was worth it.

    Grote+Bigsby.jpg
     
    Davis Sharp, Caddy and Supersonic like this.
  4. tryagain

    tryagain Member

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    May 5, 2020
    I believe Vibromate makes a plate that will make the Bigsby a bolt-on unit without any drilling required.
     
    Davis Sharp likes this.
  5. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    That's correct, but it's meant for guitars that have a standard stopbar tail piece It basically installs in place of the tail piece using the existing stud inserts. This guitar came with a trapeze tail piece, so I had to drill the holes. But that didn't bother me. It's not like I'm drilling holes in a $3000 guitar.

    It would probably had been a good idea for the Les Paul above, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time.

    P.S. I did get that 7/8" spring the other day and it makes a huge difference. Not only does it bring the trem arm back to a reasonable angle to the guitar, but it's also much smoother, that the other one. Just works better.
     
  6. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,365
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    So what's the difference between the B70 and the B700? They are both imported right? I put the B7 USA one on my LP but I never even checked to see which one is on my Riviera until now and I guess it's the B700.
     
  7. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    Other than the design of the main body I don't see a big difference in construction, but the polished aluminum B70, just seems to have a better finish than the gold B700. it might be the plating vs the bare metal, can't quite put my finger on it. From what I've read, while the USA made B7 is Sand Cast, the B70 (Korean) and the B700 (Chinese) are both die cast aluminum.

    As for functionality, the B70 seems to be more accurate than the B700.

    The 700 doesn't return exactly in the same place. If I tune the guitar, then do a dive on the trem, when it returns, it's sometimes flat by about 5 cent. If you pull on it, it might be sharp by 5 cent when it returns. Interestingly, all the the strings are sharp or flat by the same amount, so I can only surmise the trem arm/rod did not return to the same spot, it's not the string going out of tune due to stretching or tuner slippage.

    On the other hand, the 70 returns to the proper place about 90% of the time. Every once in a while it might be flat, but just bumping the arm will bring it back . Also the difference on the strings being 5 cent off is not that noticeable, at least to me as I'm a string bender. And since ALL the strings are out by the same amount, the guitar is still "in tune" to itself.

    The one thing I remember is the forward roller the strings pass under, was pretty tight on the B700, but was free wheeling on the B70, maybe that's where the difference is. Last but not least, my B700 was used, and it came with a really long spring, almost 1.25", so I ended up buying a replacement spring that was 7/8". The B70 came with a 7/8" spring.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021 at 10:38 AM
    Supersonic likes this.
  8. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,365
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    Cool. I'm putting new strings on my P93 Riviera as we speak. I got a new gold Vibramate string spoiler thing and I'm anxious to see if there is any difference in how it holds tune. I already love how easy it is putting the strings on compared to the normal way.
     
  9. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Member

    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    72
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2018
    Interesting, I see a lot of comments about how difficult it is to put strings on a Bigsby, but I didn't find it particularly hard. I think the trick is making sure the ball end has a good bend in it. I use a pair of pliers to do that and I don't have any issues with the string coming off the post.
     
  10. Raiyn

    Raiyn Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,015
    Likes Received:
    4,332
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    Me neither, my bar is drilled.
     
  11. Supersonic

    Supersonic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,365
    Likes Received:
    1,886
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    I know how to do it. I didn't say it was difficult, it's just a pain in the ass that I no longer have to bother with now.
     

Share This Page