Metal alternatives to the B70 (B50, B60) nylon bushings?

Discussion in 'The Great Bigsby forum' started by Carl Bigsby, Oct 17, 2021.

  1. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    Until recently the only Bigsby I have ever owned was the B6C on my G6118T. It always worked really well, so I never paid much attention to how it was designed or worked mechanically.

    I wanted a smaller Gretsch and I find 335s very comfortable and bought a Korean 5622T just to see if I liked Gretsch take on the thinner, center block guitar. I liked it and I ordered a new G6620T, because I couldn't find any used ones and or even new ones in stock.

    But the delivery times are long these Covid days and I begun to like the 5622T more and more and started to work on how to to get rid of the annoying mechanical buzzing and when digging deeper I started learning a bit about Bigsbys and the differences between then Korean and the US made ones. (BTW, the buzzing problem was solved by replacing the rattling bridge.)

    I discovered that the Korean Bigsbys have several nylon bushings which will dampen the vibrations when they travel from the string to the body, both at the front roller byt also in the rear roller where the strings are attached. The US Bigsby seems to be all metal, which will transfer the vibrations with less loss than what the nylon bushing on the Korean ones cause.

    By replacing the stock front roller with a BBF's front roller I got rid of two of the six nylon bushings, which was good for the tone and now trying to find ways to replace the remaining four nylon bushings. I have googled around, but with no results.

    Any ideas?

    BTW Replacing the B70 with a B7, may look like the easy and obvious solution, but Bigsby has for some mysterious reason designed them with different mounting hole patterns, so they are not a straight swap and I have no plans to refinish this guitar... Strange because it would be an obvious upgrade path for anyone who wants to super tune a guitar with a Korean Bigsby...
  2. Roy Clark

    Roy Clark Synchromatic

    Jun 16, 2017
    Bat cave.
    I own one the import and never heard what you are describing? Are you sure you are noticing a problem that does not exist? A lot of players will tell you they are a big differences in the American and the import. I tell them I smell bull S**t. I refuse to listen to them. If it is a problem I cannot help you. Are you sure you are having a real issue? I have never heard or read about doing what you are doing to the import Bigsby? And some one saying it made the Bigsby better. I have heard of Bigsby snobs though. Most just replace it.
  3. mrcoffee23

    mrcoffee23 Gretschie

    Sep 23, 2009
    Virginia, USA

    I think the US made ones run more smoothly, and I have noticed more note decay on imports, at times.

    Can you perhaps swap the hinge plate from import to US to maintain mounting pattern, or are the hinges different spec?
  4. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    For Metal a Floyd Rose is essential, accept no substitute.
    Craig Encinitas and Carl Bigsby like this.
  5. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    I am not describing a problem. This is all about removing a cost cutting compromise to make the Korean B70 more efficiently transfer the vibrations from the strings to the body in the same way that the US made B7 does it.

    The string vibrations in a guitar with B7 or B70 are transferred to the body via the neck, the bridge, the Bigsby's front roller and the Bigsbys rear roller (i.e. where the strings are attached to the Bigsby). At the bridge everything is fine and everything is all metal, which transfers the string vibrations well to the body.

    With a Korean B70, at both the front roller and the rear roller the vibrations need to pass through nylon bushings which will dampen the vibrations, unlike when using a US made B7 which is all metal which will not have the same damping effect on the vibration transfer.

    I like to fine tune my instruments to get the most out of them and when I discovered this cost cutting compromise, I initially thought of replacing the B70 with a B7, but since inte won't fit in the same holes I started to look into if I could change any parts to make my B70 more similar to the B7 and replacing the nylon bushing seemed to be good idea, but I haven't found any upgrade bushing for it, hence this thread.

    It's nothing wrong with my B70, the guitar sounds fine and the Bigsby stays reasonably well in tune. This is all about fine tuning the guitar mechanically to get the most out of an already good guitar.
  6. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    Unfortunately if won't fit in the sam holes.
  7. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    Ha, ha! Great idea! Floyding a semi hollow! That would have been a first...
  8. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    What size are the bushings?
  9. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    ^^ yeah, you might find Oilite Bronze bushings that fit.
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  10. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    I don't know. I have to google around a bit to find out.
  11. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    OK, interesting.
  12. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    mrfixitmi likes this.
  13. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    Thanks. The link doesn't lead anywhere, but I can probably find them with by googling. Now I only need to find the dimensions I need for the replacement bushings.

    Do you think that I'll need any special tools to fit them or can I expect them to easily slide in likek the nylon ones?
  14. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    That was just an Ebay link. If you Google Oilite a ton of stuff comes up. Often bushings are pressed in. But I'm not sure if the Bigsby are straight bushings or collared or...? You are likely going to need to measure accurately to a couple thousanths of an inch.

    Are these what you want?
  15. MrWookiee

    MrWookiee Synchromatic

    Jun 17, 2020
    SoCal, USA
    If you want to go all the way, a needle/roller bearing supplier like Timken might have something in their catalog to fit your specs.
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  16. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    Thanks. They are collared. But I won't take it apart until my 6620T arrives in a couple of weeks. I can't be Gretschless, can I? :)
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  17. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    A needle/roller bearing will probably be too big to fit without drilling. The stock nylon bushing are quite thin. The BBF fronriller has a proper bearing, so this is all about optimizing tone by getting rid of the cheap nylon bushings which will dampen the vibration instead of transferring them as well as possible, like the US Bigsbys do.
  18. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    I'm all for optimizing guitars—I may well have spent more time tweaking my guitars than playing them. But I'd be surprised if the type of bushings on the rear roller had any audible effect on the transfer of energy to the body. The front roller puts quite a bit of downward pressure on the strings behind the bridge, and there isn't much distance from there to the rear roller. Are the strings really vibrating behind the front roller in any meaningful way?

    I'm sure there's no harm in replacing the bushings if you want to, but I can't help wondering whether it's worth the effort.

    I'm also open to being corrected on this. I haven't taken a physics class since 1997 (and that class did not go well), so there's a reasonable chance that my instincts are wrong here.
  19. Carl Bigsby

    Carl Bigsby Gretschie

    Well, I don't know if it will make a difference. I am just trying to remove unnecessary compromises when possible.

    In my experience the Korean made Gretsches are very well built from very good material, but they finish them in far to thick plastic lacquer and the most of the components are too cheap compared to the guitar itself, which is why I think it makes a lot of sense to upgrade a Korean Gretsch. The pickups are good these days and the tuners are fine. But the plastic nut isn't and it's cheap to have a good luthier make a new bone nut to replace the plastix one. The pots and switches are surprisingly unreliable and again cheap to replace with quality parts. The bridges aren't great and replacing the bridge with a quality part isn't very expensive either. On Gretsches with floating bridges there is often poor contact between the bridge base and the top. Sanding the bridge base to get perfect contact costs close to nothing and is indeed rewarding.

    Then we have the Korean Bigsby. Replacing the front roller seems to be and accepted good upgrade around here and I agree. Then there is really just the nylon bushings left.

    First of all, there must be a reason for not using them on the US Bigsbys.

    But then if we look at the mechanics, I think it's understandable why Bigsby doesn't use them on the premium line.

    The front roller is pushing the strings against the bridge. It similar to the job the tail piece is doing on a Gibson with an ABR-1 bridge. And anyone who has compared a heavy tail piece compare to a light tail piece have probably heard a difference. Imagine that you built a tail piece in nylon. That would dampen the strings and would transfer very little of the string vibrations to the body.

    The rear roller is anchoring the strings to the body and partly decoupling the string ends from the body using nylon can't do any good for the livelyness of the guitar and is probably the reason why Bigsby isn't using it in the premium models.

    But perhaps there is no audible difference. As I said, I haven't tried but I wouldn't be surpriced if I preferred the bronze bushings suggested above.
    section2 likes this.
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