Chet Atkins vibrato arm vs. regular bigsby arm

aanstadt

Gretschie
May 13, 2021
119
Atlanta
Hey there. I’ve never played a Chet Atkins Gretsch before and it dawned on me that if I wanted to, I could switch out the stock vibrato arm on my White Falcon for the Chet Atkins one. I wanted to get some feedback on people’s preference between the two style arms. I personally think the Chet Atkins arm looks cooler. But wanted to know if there is a playability difference. If so what is it? Is there an overwhelming majority that leans one way over the other? Would love to hear some pros and cons for both style arms. Thanks.
 

Randy99CL

Country Gent
Feb 17, 2020
2,195
Albuquerque
It is 1000% up to you and how you like it.
We all want them in different spots or different heights or different lengths. Squishy springs or stiff springs.

Some players grab and manhandle the arm, others (like me) just give a little finger push once in a while for effect so it depends on your playing style.

I watched a review of a Strat yesterday where the reviewer made a big deal of liking the longer, straighter arms more than the shorter bent arm that came with that guitar.

Try to find one you can try out.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,436
Tucson
I like them. Speaking only for myself, I find it easier to hook my little finger around it, if I want to move it both up and down. If I just want to brush the Bigsby downward, the butter knife of the Duane Eddy handle work just fine, but I find a greater sense of control with the Chet Arm.

Aside from that, I love the look of the Chet Arm. It’s a handsome piece of gear.

If you are dealing with a Japanese made Gretsch, the Chet Arm bracket will fit perfectly. If you have an Electromatic or Streamliner with a licensed Bigsby, you will have to have to hole enlarged, I believe to 10 mm.
 

aanstadt

Gretschie
May 13, 2021
119
Atlanta
I like them. Speaking only for myself, I find it easier to hook my little finger around it, if I want to move it both up and down. If I just want to brush the Bigsby downward, the butter knife of the Duane Eddy handle work just fine, but I find a greater sense of control with the Chet Arm.

Aside from that, I love the look of the Chet Arm. It’s a handsome piece of gear.

If you are dealing with a Japanese made Gretsch, the Chet Arm bracket will fit perfectly. If you have an Electromatic or Streamliner with a licensed Bigsby, you will have to have to hole enlarged, I believe to 10 mm.
Thanks so much. It’s a Japanese model. Do you have any recommendations on where I can find a trusted Chet replacement arm? Is it easy to swap out? Or should I have a luthier handle it?
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,436
Tucson
Thanks so much. It’s a Japanese model. Do you have any recommendations on where I can find a trusted Chet replacement arm? Is it easy to swap out? Or should I have a luthier handle it?
Angela Instruments would be my first choice.

Mounting is a breeze. If you can change strings, you can mount a new arm. Basically, you’ll need a set of Allen Wrenches, if memory serves, these are metric, but it’s been a while, so my memory of this may be inaccurate. Just relax the tension on your strings and you might be able to make the swap without restringing. I’d have some terrycloth wash clothes handy, to protect the top, and then I’d just go for it.

Basically, it’s just a set screw on the shaft of the Bigsby and you’ll have to put the spring back in place under the new arm. Aside from loosening and tightening the strings (and finding your Allen Wrench set) the whole process takes less time than it did to write this paragraph.
 

aanstadt

Gretschie
May 13, 2021
119
Atlanta
Angela Instruments would be my first choice.

Mounting is a breeze. If you can change strings, you can mount a new arm. Basically, you’ll need a set of Allen Wrenches, if memory serves, these are metric, but it’s been a while, so my memory of this may be inaccurate. Just relax the tension on your strings and you might be able to make the swap without restringing. I’d have some terrycloth wash clothes handy, to protect the top, and then I’d just go for it.

Basically, it’s just a set screw on the shaft of the Bigsby and you’ll have to put the spring back in place under the new arm. Aside from loosening and tightening the strings (and finding your Allen Wrench set) the whole process takes less time than it did to write this paragraph.
Awesome. Thanks so much for the details. Sounds simple enough. Looks like there is an 8” arm and a 9.5” arm. Which size do you use?
 

Archtops

Country Gent
Mar 4, 2021
1,340
SoCal
The only thing that stopped me from buying the Chet arm was I didn’t want to drill out the hole. But if, as you say, that doesn’t need to be done on the Japanese Gretsch then I’d love to add one to my 6659.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,436
Tucson
Thanks for this. The Angela Instruments is cheaper. Unfortunate they are sold out. Really appreciate you helping me locate this and for all your advice.
Your thread inspired me to buy one (in chrome) for my Guild. I got it from Angela which should make you feel powerful. You post a thread, and my Visa balance goes up. :)

Darren Riley is a reputable dealer, and $83 isn’t a bad price.
 


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