Disabling a Bigsby

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by dmunson, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    After doing a search, I found that a few years ago there was a discussion about disabling a Bigsby by replacing the spring with a short piece of pipe or a wooden dowel. Have any of you devised anything more recent.
    I really like the look of the vibrato, but honestly, I don't use it.
    Pop1655 likes this.
  2. MrMajstyk

    MrMajstyk Gretschie

    Dec 3, 2011
    los angeles
    Way back in the day, like the late 70s, our lead guitarist had a 60s Tenny, and he removed the handle and the spring and just let it bottom out on itself! Worked fine.
  3. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    If you don’t want to use it, why not leave as is and swivel the arm to the rear straplock? It’ll do the same thing as modding it.
    BorderRadio and Hammerhands like this.
  4. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Synchromatic

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    I don’t use the Bigsby yet. But I like the look and the possibility that one day I will want it, and it will be there.
  5. It is a very solid hardtail tailpiece even if not used . . . (B50)

    that said, in maybe the ultimate "disable" . . .
    I did take it out once my moddin' got far enough along that I could string-through (think Gretsch Corvette and Fender Strat and Tele -inspired) secondary mod . . .
    a shallower break angle off the bridge saddles and violin like "afterlength".

    Some string OVER the top front bar which still doesn't disable, but helps ?
    I do like the solidness of it in the centre spruce block but yes I lost the 10 ozs. of weight - disabled and parts saved.
  6. benjwri

    benjwri Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2011
    Central ON Can
    I went the pipe route quite a while ago. A short piece of plastic tubing is what I used. Worked great, simple, cheap. What I do now is remove it and sell it, always good for 60, 70 bucks!
  7. mbkri

    mbkri Synchromatic

    Sep 22, 2012
    Just dont use it. It does look great. But why go to the trouble of modding it to make it not work? Seems to me you would be turning it into a “faux” whammy arm, an artifice needlessly.
    Jelly Roll Horton and Merc like this.
  8. speedicut

    speedicut Friend of Fred

    Jun 5, 2012
    If one is sure about removing it, I'd replace it with the Gretsch Cadillac tailpiece...always cool looking!


    If if will fit of course
    G5422T and Merc like this.
  9. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    I’m still a little confused on what the purpose of disabling a Bigsby is for. The Bigsby literally did nothing if I didn’t touch the arm. In fact I think it gets used twice a year with my playing and it’s pointed to the rear strap lock 99% of the time. Three of the four Gretsch’s I’ve owned even had an unpinned bridge and the Bigsby had no influence when not used.

    I can understand blocking a Fender Stratocaster if someone doesn’t use the whammy as it’s the same unit as the bridge. If someone doesn’t use it and has a really heavy palm resting on the bridge, I get it. But a disabling a Bigsby?

    I’m not trying to beat anyone up. I just can’t comprehend the reason. Is it because you’re having difficulty with string changes?
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  10. Wayne Gretschzky

    Wayne Gretschzky Country Gent

    Aug 27, 2008
    East Coast
    I agree with Merc... the question kinda baffles me. Just swivel the handle out of the way... boda-bing the Bigsby is "disabled".
    Telechamp, thunder58 and Merc like this.
  11. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Apr 5, 2014
    I can see the value of 'hardtailing' the Bigsby if it is causing tuning problems. Some good string bending will 'work' the Bigsby mechanism.
    section2, Henry, Flouswa and 2 others like this.
  12. thunder58

    thunder58 I Bleed Orange

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    ... then leave it alone
    Merc and G5422T like this.
  13. Highroller

    Highroller Synchromatic

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    Reminds me of those Derek Trucks SGs with the fake Maestros. They got the tailpiece, but no arm. wtf??!!

    Do what you will and all that, but you're on a Gretsch forum, and by and large, Gretsch fans are also Bigsby fans. You gotta expect a little blow back for a question like that!

    It's like buying a Porsche and disabling 5th gear. Why, Oh Why ... would you do that? :eek:

    Ha! Good luck with it ... I think.
    Merc and thunder58 like this.
  14. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    Everyone's different so I say try the short pipe, tube or whatever it won't cost that much and you can always change it back if you feel the need. I don't use whammy bars much. On my Strat I blocked it off because all I had to do was look at it or put a tiny bit of pressure on the bridge and it went out of tune. Even palm muting knocked it out of tune.
    The Bigsby is different though if you just push the handle out of the way and don't move it you shouldn't have any tuning issues.
    I laugh when anyone tells me they don't have any tuning problems when they use their whammy bar. They all go out of tune - Strat, Kahler, Bigsby, Floyd Rose what ever.
    Do some trems on the bar for a few minutes and then look at the tuning on a good strobe tuner - some strings will be sharp, flat or out of tune. It's hard enough to keep a guitar in tune while strumming, bending but a whammy bar is the ultimate de-tuning tool. It bothers some players more than others. I have a couple dozen guitars and my Country Gent is the only one that has a working whammy all the others have been disabled or removed. The Floyd Rose system is probably the most stable of them all but even those with their locking nuts go out of tune. I had my share of recording metal bands in the 80s and 90s and the guitars were constantly out of tune. The guys would play these burning fast leads and you couldn't really tell until the solos were over and they started playing chords...:eek: and it was worse when there was 2 guitar players in the band.
    Even gentle trems on a Bigsby can knock the guitar out of tune by the end of a 4 minute song. For me most of the time it isn't worth it. I will usually move the songs that I use the Bigsby on to the end of the set...:).
  15. Setzerhotrod

    Setzerhotrod Country Gent

    Oct 26, 2011
    Anchorage Alaska
    Use the pipe. When going for a string bend, you’ll bend the string only instead of bending the string + compressing the spring. When compressing the spring on a bend you stand the chance of other strings going out of tune..... frustrating.
    section2 and BorderRadio like this.
  16. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    To be honest, the spring compression thing is not a big deal if you use a stiff spring, not a squishy one. I also got used to bending two notes to pitch by bending both strings to compensate for the detune— all by ear.

    Still, blocking the Bigsby works in a pinch to prevent the detune. If I was this huge bender I’d probably not get a Bigsby guitar with a floating bridge in the first place :)
    section2 and Merc like this.
  17. Wjensen

    Wjensen Electromatic

    May 25, 2019
    Raleigh, NC
    I like some others can not understand why you would want to disable the Bigsby. Having bought a Gretsch for the entire package of the Filtertrons, the hollow body, and the Bigsby, of course I like it, even though I seldom use it. In watching a number of users of the Bigsby, it is not designed for deep dives but to give a bit of shimmer to a chord as an effect.

    Still, if you don't want to use it, it is easy enough to turn the handle toward the lower strap lock and everything else works like any other guitar.

  18. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks for the responces guys. Tuning has never been a problem with the 5230. In fact it feels as stable as any of my hardtales. One of my concerns though goes back to the 60's when a guy picked up my Country Gent by the vibrato handle, just before the start of a set. I could not get that thing back in tune to save me.
    Other than that, and with the little that I actually use it, the vibrato has never been a problem.
    And, I'll most likely leave it as is. It does look pretty cool, and I've always thought so.
    Thanks again for your input.
    Merc likes this.
  19. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    D’oh! I can’t imagine someone picking a guitar up by a Bigsby, wow!!
  20. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    I agree. If I didn't want the wiggle arm then I would really hard tail it so that bending is easier.
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