Chet Atkins arm too low.

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by BigMac50, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. BigMac50

    BigMac50 Electromatic

    4
    Apr 10, 2019
    Scotland
    Hi all, new to the forum today so I hope my question is not a duplicate.
    I recently bought a G5420T but didn't like the standard tremolo arm. I bought a Chet Atkins arm and after drilling out a very small amount to make the fitting hole larger, fitted it easily.
    My new problem is that the arm is very low to the strings, indeed I can't even get my fingers in to hold the arm. I have researched spring size and note that there appears to be 2 sizes, 7/8 and 1 inch. Even an extra 1/8" won't give me clearance I would like.
    Is this a common issue and is there a way to resolve it? See pic enclosed. 15549063808766771871821060065228.jpg
     
  2. radd

    radd Synchromatic

    903
    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    I have bent a few other Bigsby arms to get them where I wanted, never had a Chet arm. If it was mine, I would take it off, mount it in a vice well protected and bend it ever so little making sure the bend was not happening near the joint where the arm meets the larger section.

    Could be someone who actually had/has a Chet arm has a better solution.

    Good luck
     
    calebaaron666 likes this.
  3. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Could you rotate the arm slightly so it points upwards?
    Maybe try a coin or washer under the spring.
     
    BorderRadio, thunder58 and radd like this.
  4. DaddyDog

    DaddyDog Country Gent

    Sep 18, 2011
    Mississauga, Canada
    I'm always removing the washer to lower the arm, so I'd try this for sure.
     
    Ricochet likes this.
  5. MotorCentaur

    MotorCentaur Gretschie

    245
    May 11, 2016
    Seattle
    Whichever hole you drilled out was probably unnecessary, a single drop of oil is likely all you needed. Try loosening the set screw for the handle, then twist it to where it fits best, yet still clears the knobs when rotated back. You may have to take the handle off and "massage" it to your liking. An 1/8" difference of spring height can make a lot of difference at the end of the handle height.
    I had to make my own Lefty Chet handle out of 1/4" stainless rod. So I bent a few with vices and wood blocks till I got one that was close and works. Good luck.
     
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  6. thunder58

    thunder58 I Bleed Orange

    Age:
    60
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    You could try what Ricochet is suggesting here . But unfortunately I don't think it's going to help much . Many years ago I had this same arm on my guitar and as I recall , I had the same problem . But it's a nice looking arm . Is this your first Gretsch ? If so , you do realize a Bigsby is maimly used for subtle movement , not "dive bombing ". Best of luck ...
    Welcome to the forum
     
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  7. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    No, the Bigsby is metric and the Chet bracket is imperial. Only 10 to 9.8mm but still...
     
  8. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Germany
    I would try the 1“ spring and turn the arm in it‘s bracket more upwards. I personally don‘t like the modern chet arm since I wasn‘t able to get a comfortable position.
    It‘s impossible to bend, by the way. I prefer the Duane Eddy handle
    A2436AB1-BCA2-4573-AF32-4DA78ADA9D01.jpeg

    for Hollowbodies and the vintage narrow handle

    505AF58C-4CCC-4C25-AD36-FA280F9141DC.jpeg
    for smaller guitars.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  9. MotorCentaur

    MotorCentaur Gretschie

    245
    May 11, 2016
    Seattle
    I didn't take into consideration the licensed/overseas Bigsbys.
     
    Ricochet likes this.
  10. Dostegrar

    Dostegrar Country Gent

    Nov 5, 2013
    Delta,b.c.
    I'm with the rotate the arm crowd. Instead of that first bend going down, rotate it so it goes up.
     
  11. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    I tried bending my arm, it wasn't easy, but it is the best solution. I used a hole drilled into my heavy work bench, put the smaller end in and push on the longer end with gloves on. I also tried a vice with some electrical tape on the jaws, but this wasn't effective enough. Remember to unscrew the tip. After this, I can 'fine' adjust it by rotating it.

    I experimented with aluminum rod too, and that worked well. The problem there is the aluminum will snap on you, especially if you dive bomb like I do :)
     
  12. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Same as @BorderRadio and @radd I bent mine.
    I have one on my tele, and it was way too low for me.
    I put the handle in a vice, and bent it by pulling with my hands. It wasn’t easy, but I tried to be careful. Now she works great.
    2AAB1E58-ECA7-458D-8F0D-6A69781F4345.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    Lionpotato and BorderRadio like this.
  13. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    Been there, got the T shirt. Use the long spring, maybe add a nylon washer. It should do the trick.

    On licensed Bigsbys, you have to enlarge the hole in the Chet arm bracket. Oil will only make a mess.
     
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  14. radd

    radd Synchromatic

    903
    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    I have a big, well mounted vice with a great set of soft plastic insert jaws. It worked well.

    The hole in the bench top is a great idea
     
    BorderRadio likes this.
  15. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    I’d start with the new spring. Bending hardens all metals and makes them more brittle.
     
    Robbie and radd like this.
  16. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    I tried a higher spring, extra washers etc, but all that did was make it harder to close my case.
    When bending it in a vice, or a hole or whatever, the trick for me was firm, consistent, static pressure. I double wrapped the end in the vice in a bandana, and wrapped the end I was bending in a towel. I pulled on it, and littlest bend did the trick.
     
    radd likes this.
  17. radd

    radd Synchromatic

    903
    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz

    I will say that bending is not something I would do on a cast arm, they feel brittle already.
     
    BorderRadio likes this.
  18. BigMac50

    BigMac50 Electromatic

    4
    Apr 10, 2019
    Scotland
    Thanks for the replies. I think I'll try the bigger spring with additional washers in the first instance. I don't have the facility to try to bend the arm, but by swinging the arm around gives me clearance in the short term, but it looks odd. I'm sure the bend is designed to go round the bridge not over it. 20190410_202026.jpg
     
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  19. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    My 2 cents is literally 2 cents / pennies, under the spring.
     
    Robbie and BigMac50 like this.
  20. sleeperNY

    sleeperNY Gretschie

    Age:
    68
    152
    Jun 18, 2008
    central NY
    I use that arm on all of my Gretsch guitars with the fixed bracket. I had to bent all of them to get where I wanted it. I used the 1/4" hole in a solid work bench and it worked easy. Just a small amount goes a long way. I don't think the handles are cast, just 1/4" steel.

    Jim
     
    BigMac50 and calebaaron666 like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice