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Bigsby arm higher after string change?

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by DaddyDog, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. DaddyDog

    DaddyDog Country Gent

    Sep 18, 2011
    Mississauga, Canada
    I feel like this has happened to me several times, and I never see anyone else mention it. Once in a long while, I will remove all strings for a thorough cleanup. When I get it all done, and get strings back on, the Bigsby arm seems to be sitting higher (further from the strings). I don't think I'm crazy (based solely on this) because when I swing the arm back to put the guitar in its case, the arm touches where it did not before.

    The spring appears to be properly in place. Is there some trick I'm missing??
  2. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Country Gent

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    As long as you did not change the gauge ouf your strings, I have no idea why this happens. Maybe a worn out spring that "resets" after a few days?
    T simmons likes this.
  3. drrohle

    drrohle Synchromatic

    Jan 3, 2014
    Hays, KS
    Could be the spring (or it's washer) is getting hung up on a burr or something and is not seated all the way into the cups.

    I had that happen once, then when I hit the arm hard, I heard a pop and everything was normal.

    Also, be sure the string beads are seated fully down close to the shaft.
    BorderRadio likes this.
  4. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Apr 5, 2014
    My vote is that the spring is 'cocked' and not seated down in the cup properly. Check the top and bottom of the spring to see if it's flush with the surfaces.
    BorderRadio, benjwri and ffooky like this.
  5. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Do you properly stretch the strings? New strings can be a bit like rubber bands.

    Tune up to pitch, give it a good few tugs. I get my finger tips under a string and slide down the entire fretboard length giving it little tugs(not just the 12th) and tune up again. Repeat 2 times for each string.
  6. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Again, I'm with englishman, and add a supplementary check : sometimes the springs are a bit larger in diameter than the cups of the die-cast Bigsby chassis, particularly the lower one, so I have to rework the spring with the grinder (touret à meuler) for a firm sitting in the cup.

  7. abeauch

    abeauch Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2011
    Messines, Québec
    Again, my English is approximate so I do not write here a lot but read everything on this forum.

    Here is a very pertinent question. Each time I change strings with the exact same new set (I use wound G 11-49) on my Country Club (6196T) I feel them easy and slinky, the neck relief becomes less (sometimes a slight release adjustement is needed) and you are right: the vibrato arm is effectively higher. On my accoustics, all of that happens except of course the Bigsby.

    In my opinion, as the wound strings get old and dirty they become as stiff as telephone posts and I really feel they exert much more pull on the scale. And the Bigsby arm gets unperceptively but surely lower and lower every day, and so you do not notice it. And when you put the new ones, everything releases and yes, the arm suddenly stands higher! I go 100% with Ricochet for the immediate remedy (stretch) to all the real inconvenients, the higher arm not beeing an issue at all for me. The advantages of new strings are so enjoyable that I do not care at all for the higher arm. Just wish that all the plusses would last forever.

    You have a very good eye and feel in detecting what I think is just a normal phenomen.

    André B.
    Ricochet likes this.
  8. thunder58

    thunder58 Gretschified

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Poltergeist ...............
    DaddyDog likes this.
  9. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Well, André (avec un accent, s'pas ?),

    In fact, I never noticed such a problem on my Bigsby-equiped guitars... And my Strings are 10-52 Ernie Ball or Dean Markley standard.

    So that drives me to think that the difference is small (maybe a few mms) and resorb quickly to return to the nominal height that I expect.

    But yes, I'll take accurate handle height measurements the next time I will change my strings, just to check !

  10. Sonny Strimple

    Sonny Strimple Synchromatic

    May 8, 2011
    Western Maryland
    I think Eman has it right. Just lift up slightly on the Bigsby arm and twiist the spring with your fingers, it just may need reseating.
    benjwri likes this.
  11. JHall55

    JHall55 Synchromatic

    Dec 18, 2012
    This happened to me last week...really threw me for a loop until I noticed the spring was not all the way in the cup.
  12. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Oh, another tip I often see on my guitar and may be responsible for up to a 5-6mm different height in arm position : rotate on itself the spring to research the lowest arm position (with strings released enough to allow rotation of the spring)

  13. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    I had this happen on my Panther too after removing all strings for fretboard oiling.

    I tried and tried and decided, that all the hassle isn't worth it, because I just needed to remove the white plastic washer below the spring. Problem solved and it never happened again. Removing the washer had no negative side effect.
    audept likes this.
  14. DaddyDog

    DaddyDog Country Gent

    Sep 18, 2011
    Mississauga, Canada
    I suspect @englishman and @hcsterg were closest. The spring was clearly seated in the bottom cup. So I loosened the strings just enough to lift the arm, push the spring back and into the upper cup, then let the arm down. I also spun the spring 180 degrees, thinking maybe it wasn't level on top? But I don't think so.

    Tuned back up, and voila! Back to normal. When swinging the arm back, it no longer touches.

    My string gauge was still 10, but a different brand. I've never done the 'stretching' in the past. Also the washer had already been removed. Thanks to all for your input!
    Aymara, audept and Henry like this.