General tech questions

Do You Have Troubles With Your Standard Bigsby at String Changes?

51

"I assume this allows a marginally set ball end to wander without heading off-pin?" -chrisp2

The ball is less likely to fall off if the string slackens.

Under tension, they tend to move to the bar, unless they get hung up at the end of the pin.

I think some brands' ball ends have a slightly larger hole or have rounded edges, and some pins are thinner, they have more play and usually sit at an angle until the string is tight.

52

Agreed with all points, Chris.

Gman, yes. Good stuff. Funny these comments come back to back: I once had the inspiration to make fatter diameter Bigsby rollers - presumably as a sleeve to fit over the original shaft. It was going to provide enhanced pitch-variation-per-erg-of-handle-input. Grooved just like Callaham's fatter front roller, and yeah, we were going to just leave a hole for the string.

However, in taking the pins out of the original axle to mock up a protertype, we broke one. (It was an old piece; maybe the light friction fit had calcified. OK, electrolytically self-welded.) I still have that Bigsby in a bag. I also have the prototype for the replacement roller.

About that point, it dawned on me that the last customer support issue I wanted to be in the middle of was suggesting to the average Bigsby owner that he should pry those retaining rings off and disassemble his Bigsby. Even with the specialized tool, there's opportunity for disaster. With the rounded-off straight screwdriver most guys would try to use, opportunity becomes certainty. I didn't want to be the guy indirectly responsible for the consequential nasty gouges in guitar tops all over the world.

I assume Callaham makes buyers sign a legal waiver of responsibility. Really, they got brasser 'nads than I do!

– Proteus

I have the first prototypes in a box as well. MANY versions of the shaft and roller. As far as the snap ring puller, you could have included one with a simple demo video and yes, a disclaimer.

BTW: I remembered I switched over to Duesneberg parts on the new guitars (same as Callaham), but improved shaft geometry as far as angle ( Duesey string-through-roller bar). Do you see the flat bar that's part of the the milled roller in the pict above? BETTER angle. Forgot about that.

What? Me? Forget about Deiter? Oh The Shame.......

53

It's a pain, but I just pre-bend the ends with pliers and then put cloth under the Bigsby in case it slips so it doesn't chip the finish. Do that a few times and you should get it.

54

for me it's always a nightmare. I've big fingers. i've changed the set on my new 6120 two days ago. a 52/10 ernie ball set. more than 30 minutes to change it and with the help of my wife.

55

It's so easy for me, maybe my technique seems obvious to me, but not to others. I hold the string with all 4 fingers of my right hand and twist my hand off axis with the fretboard so the string breaks off at an angle off my pinky, keeping tension on the string, while holding the string with the other hand on the other side of the post. I hold my hand like this, keeping tension, while I get the 1st wrap on the tuner. Then it's just a matter of keeping tension on the string while winding. I do put a bend in the string first (fingers...no tools), stick it under the bar and hook it on the post, making sure that the ball end is in line with the string for easy fishing. I guess this takes about 5 seconds per string. Is this anything everybody doesn't know?

56

Yeah Charlie. I have a technique it would be just as convoluted to describe, involving my right elbow and both hands. It's easy for me. It's pointless to describe it, though - because I recognize how many practice runs I've had. AND my contortions wouldn't be necessary if the pins were longer. Simple as that.

You've been using your method for years. How many Bigsby string changes have you done? Of course it's easy for you.

Is this anything everybody doesn't know?

Well yeah. You method reads nutty to me. Sounds like you thread the post first? How do you know how long to make the string? (Or did you describe it out of order?)


My point isn't that you're doing it wrong - who cares? I've been stringing Bigsby guitars for 40 years, and I do it differently. We both get the guitars strung, which is the goal.

My point? It's not dead easy to string a standard Bigsby the first or second or third time you do it, and our belittling others who ask why it's so hard is like a surgeon telling me surgery is easy.

Sure it is - for him. You forget that your expertise is born of many iterations of practice.


Also, I wonder about "5 seconds a string." That I wanna see.

But if you make the video, it will also just demonstrate there's something of an Olympic event quality to being able to put a string on a Bigsby. It shouldn't be a competitive sport. If stringing a guitar can be made easier (without fundamentally changing the instrument), it should be.

Playing is what we want to practice, not maintenance.


Another analogy: pit-stop tire changes on race cars. What's wrong with a hubcap and five lugnuts? That's the way we always used to do it. Just gotta get fast at it, man.

But I see they've wimped out and reduced it to a single fastener.

57

The only Bigsbies that can be a bit of a PITA to string are the double roller ones. B6/B3 types you get used to pretty fast.

58

Charlie Chitlins, when you mentioned five seconds, you were referring (hopefully) to how long it would take you to mount the ball end on the Bigsby pin? Rather than the length of time to attach a string to the guitar?

59

Just the bend and slipping the end on the pin. After that I suppose it might take another 15 to get the string wound onto the post enough for it to stay there by itself. It's much easier than a Danelectro.

60

Perhaps a request to the powers that be at Bigsby for longer pins on all models would be a good thing, eh?

61

I emailed a guy last week, Deed. No word.

62

The pins are a common part, called “spring pins”, “roll pins”, and “slotted spring pins”.

I suppose very small quantities are not so easy to get but I have not checked at the usual suppliers like Fastenal or McMaster Carr.

1/16” X 7/16” would be about the same as stock.

1/16” X 1/2” would be a notably longer pin in practical use.

The pins in a Bigs’ string bar look to be a rather heavier gauge steel but I have had zero trouble with stock stainless pins.

Removing and replacing the pins is not hard at all even with the Bigsby on the guitar.

A GDP bulk buy of 1/2” inch pins and a quickie how-to-do-it video would cost less than $1.00 per 6 pin set. If one were so inspired.

63

This all assumes a USA Gretsch V Bigsby. Others may also use a 1/16 X 7/16 pin, I am just not 100% sure.

65

At a buck a set, you'd probably even cover postage and an envelope.

66

For single roller Bigsbies, I have my dorky little routine that works for me.

I sit on a chair, on a carpeted floor. Put the guitar between my legs, butt end of the guitar on the floor. For the bass strings, the guitar faces out, for the trebles, it faces me.

-remove string -make a bend in new string at the ball end. You really don't need pliers for this. -attach string to pin. Keep tension on it from then on, wich isn't hard to do seated in that position : you're pulling it up. -thread string through tuner. -have peg winder ready in right hand.
-start winding away, pulling excess string away from guitar with left hand, to keep tension on it. -go at it like a maniac with the peg winder. -repeat until you're done

I must have done that literally more than a couple of thousand times, and a B6 hollowbody takes me less time than a strat these days, to restring.

When I'm supposed to do it "proper" with the guitar laying flat on a workbench before, I'm a ridiculous klutz and it takes me half an hour.

67

WB, am I correct then that you do not wind the string under itself when putting winds on the tuner? That would seem to be more involved than what you have described.

68

I do, actually. That would have been just a little harder to describe. And instead of actually winding it over itself, I usually almost always grab the string and coil it over itself, because at that stage there's enough slack to do that and not have to wind. I should make that a chapter of my next truefire video, ha.

69

https://www.mcmaster.com/#s...

Looks like 8 bucks and change for a hundred of them

– Otter

Well if someone buys a lifetime supply, and wants to offer them here, I am happy to make a quick vid showing how to pull and replace with the Bigsby still on the guitar.

No need to send me pins for a vid, I am sure I have some 7/16 here, which illustrates things just fine even if not an extended pin.

I have had zero trouble with the wall thickness of typical pins such as the McMaster Carr pins, but I will check the wall thickness of some stock Gretsch/Bigsby pins anyway so the debate can rage.

70

Roller pins existed when PA built the first unit. I'm sure he designed the early Bigsbys with the allen-screw/pin unit to be easily removed if the player desired to use the string-thru method. Otherwise why go to the trouble?

71

Perhaps a request to the powers that be at Bigsby for longer pins on all models would be a good thing, eh?

– Deed Eddy

Please no. Longer pins mean less room between the guitar and the pin to try and get the string on. Leave the Bigsby alone. It's perfect as is.

72

Please no. Longer pins mean less room between the guitar and the pin to try and get the string on. Leave the Bigsby alone. It's perfect as is.

– ....

No it is not perfect as is. Otherwise there would be no debate like this. Let me guess, you don't gig? A gigging musician wouldn't want to spend any extra seconds on changing strings, WHEN there is a way to make it easier.

I don't even know what are you talking about, the room? The pins are not gonna be THAT much longer lol!

73

No it is not perfect as is. Otherwise there would be no debate like this. Let me guess, you don't gig? A gigging musician wouldn't want to spend any extra seconds on changing strings, WHEN there is a way to make it easier.

I don't even know what are you talking about, the room? The pins are not gonna be THAT much longer lol!

– rocksteady

With all due respect, I think you're making an assumption about the 'maker of aluminium dust.'

I can say that I'm a gigging musician and used to play my own music with my own bands for a living for several years. I'm semi pro now and still play shows but I don't make my entire living from it.

The that last thing I would consider is a live string change while an audience waits...even if the guitar had no bigsby. I can't see anyone doing that at a gig unless it was a very casual affair. I would have no problem changing a string between sets.

As I've been known to break a string live occasionally. I keep another guitar on a stand plugged into a A/B box ready to be picked up instantly. A pro always has a back up instrument. I've played a vintage Gretsch using a conventional V cut B6 for all the time I've been gigging and haven't used anything else.

I always found restringing a Gretsch with a bigsby (and I have several now) no problem at all. I don't quite understand what the fuss and debate is about actually, the design has worked and been used steadily for the past 60+ years I will say that this is just my opinion and experience, if other people have difficulties then they can alter their bigsbys and look for solutions.

74

With all due respect, I think you're making an assumption about the 'maker of aluminium dust.'

I can say that I'm a gigging musician and used to play my own music with my own bands for a living for several years. I'm semi pro now and still play shows but I don't make my entire living from it.

The that last thing I would consider is a live string change while an audience waits...even if the guitar had no bigsby. I can't see anyone doing that at a gig unless it was a very casual affair. I would have no problem changing a string between sets.

As I've been known to break a string live occasionally. I keep another guitar on a stand plugged into a A/B box ready to be picked up instantly. A pro always has a back up instrument. I've played a vintage Gretsch using a conventional V cut B6 for all the time I've been gigging and haven't used anything else.

I always found restringing a Gretsch with a bigsby (and I have several now) no problem at all. I don't quite understand what the fuss and debate is about actually, the design has worked and been used steadily for the past 60+ years I will say that this is just my opinion and experience, if other people have difficulties then they can alter their bigsbys and look for solutions.

– Toxophilite

I'm not a touring band pro, I play locally, small gigs and functions mostly, no big stages and lights. I don't know guitarists here who carry backup guitars for that kind of work. TBH, I don't remember last time I broke a string on a gig, actually, but it did happen. Thankfully, it wasn't a Bigsby guitar, so no sweat.

Here's the deal. If you fine with it, good for you! The longer pin wont affect you in any way. So what makes you an interested party in his debate? How is that you mind to make it easier for us, not so lucky and accomplished stringchangers? That what I fail to understand.

75

I'm not a touring band pro, I play locally, small gigs and functions mostly, no big stages and lights. I don't know guitarists here who carry backup guitars for that kind of work. TBH, I don't remember last time I broke a string on a gig, actually, but it did happen. Thankfully, it wasn't a Bigsby guitar, so no sweat.

Here's the deal. If you fine with it, good for you! The longer pin wont affect you in any way. So what makes you an interested party in his debate? How is that you mind to make it easier for us, not so lucky and accomplished stringchangers? That what I fail to understand.

– rocksteady

Well I know 'what the deal is' The deal is, As a member with lot's of bigsby experience I'm completely entitled to share my opinion as long as I'm polite. Also I though your were being a little hard on Jonathon Snipes who also as a member certainly has the right to state his opinion. You were saying he obviously wasn't a gigging musician.(how did you know that??) and you stated anyone who 'gigged' would know that you need to change string fast. I found that to be erroneous so I felt a need to point it out. I felt anyone who gigged shouldn't be changing strings on stage no matter what the size of the venue. I could see doing it at a friend's party or an informal folk gig.

It is a debate. That means a variety of opinions(often conflicting) hopefully in an attempt to reach a consensus, or something.. It doesn't mean everyone agreeing and any dissenting opinions must stay away or else. To many people this is a "if it isn't broken don't fix it scenario" To others it's a 'problem' That's cool

If you read the last sentence of my post you would know I was pointing out that it's not difficult for everyone, however, if people want to change their bigsbys no-one(certainly not me) is stopping them. yay!

Personally I don't see that bigsbys need to be redesigned. As I pointed out they've worked great for 60+ years. That's got to be worth something.

I thought Gretsch already made a players Bigsby on their players models for those who find the original Gretschs problematic I just never have And I have a right to say that. Also I'm not actually particularly lucky though I wish I was.


Register Sign in to join the conversation