The Workbench

Educate me on this bridge

1

I've been looking at bridges to replace my current Compton bridge. I love how it sounds, but I'm not a massive fan of how it looks. Online, I came by this bridge with a slightly arched metal base. Please tell me more about this thing, I bet you people know more. It also appears to be slotless. Do you need to make slots yourself or do they not require slots?

2

That's the "Bigsby compensated bridge" - for wound 'G'. Gretsch used it on certain models but never used the pictured metal (mostly aluminium) base. If you see one it is aftermarket. The bridge is unslotted because the string spacing on guitars differ. I wouldn't use it without.

I had one on a G6120 Eddie Cochran signature and didn't like it. To stay close to the original looks I also swapped it for a Compton aluminium and that was a huge improvement. So why do you want to change it? Of all available options I don't rank the Bigsby bridge high. A Serpentune Tru-Arc might be what you are looking for if you really want a change.

3

Thanks for the reply. I dig the Tru-Arcs, but they're a bit out of my price range. I like the narrow look of the Bigsby Compensated. I found the Compton appear too bulky on the guitar. Next to that, ever since I got it, I get ear piercing highs out of it, it's not even funny anymore.

What made you dislike the original compensated? I've just ordered it (with metal base) on Reverb. It's less than half the price of a TruArc, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I think the metal base might look really cool.

4

No slots needed if there’s somewhat of an angle over the bridge (there’s none on telecaster saddles for example). Strings will make grooves eventually thou.

To work well Bigsby bridge should rock. Picture on the opening post looks like it won’t since the holes for tumblewheels appear to be too tight.

5

No slots needed if there’s somewhat of an angle over the bridge (there’s none on telecaster saddles for example). Strings will make grooves eventually thou.

To work well Bigsby bridge should rock. Picture on the opening post looks like it won’t since the holes for tumblewheels appear to be too tight.

– ChesterTheThird

Seller told me that if I crank up the bridge a bit higher, "it'll be able to rock back and forth, as the holes are cone shaped". I most definitely will, because I have my current bridge pretty high as well.

6

All a matter of taste but I just didn't like the functional design. Sometimes it rocked, sometimes not and it ended up staying in a weird slanted position. Also, since you can fit a wooden bridge to the correct radius of your guitar top I much prefer it over metal which also might be a little bit delicate with scratching the finish.

The purist in me rather thinks 'Guild' when he sees the alu base, btw. ;)

7

Glad to read it mostly comes down to taste. The rocking might be fixable with a little grease, so we'll see how that pans out for me. The Compton I have now does the same occasionally, it'll stay in a weird angle. Sanding the base is something I didn't even do on this one, so on the treble side it's barely touching on the bottom end.

Scratching of the top is something that I worry about as well, maybe I'll get two thin pieces of wood and glue those to the base to gain a little height and protect the guitar. Or maybe I'll use double stick tape.

8

I had that bridge on my Guild X160 Rockabilly. Replaced it with an ABT TOM that I had laying around. Really didn’t like the Bigsby bridge. I loved the LOOK of it, but it created too many tuning issues. Good luck with yours!

9

I'll be looking out for those tuning issues then, thank you for the heads up. If problems arise, back on goes the Compton.

10

I have a titanium Tru-Arc on my SSLVO and will never - that is NEVER - replace it, but I have a Bigsby comp on my Cochran and feel the darn' same. I also have one on my '56 6120 and feel identically similar about that one too.

These Bigsby bridges really are superb. They are AL, so quite bright, but not in an ugly way. They help add definition to the tone and really help the individual notes to pop out. FWIW, both of mine have wood bases, not the AL base that comes as standard with after-market Bigsbys.

As far as slotting goes, I cannot see any way you could use these without slotting them. Tailpiece spacing is not the same as nut spacing, so you most definitely need slots in the bridge to keep the strings from all sliding sideways and grouping together in the middle.

Honestly, I've tried it. They need slotting.

11

Good to know that Deke. Do you know if the spacing of the studs is the same on the bases? With my Compton, I have 2.9" spacing. Might stick with the wood base if I think it looks better.

12

Bigsby comp post spacing is a bit of a mine field. The old original ones are likely (but by no means necessarily) uniform, but more modern ones are a crap shoot at best.

'Standard' post spacing for Gretsch bar bridge, Space Control, roller, ToM, etc. seems to be 74mm (I believe the imperial equivalent is 2-29/32", but I'm happy to be corrected on that). This is what standard Tru-Arc bridges are it is expected they will fit most (all?) of the afore-mentioned variants. However, I always tell my Tru-Arc customers that if they have a Bigsby Comp bridge then we need to know the post spacing right from the off to be sure we supply something that fits.

13

What is the metal on your compton bridge? Changing the metal might help. If it is aluminum, that is about as bright as it can get. But I prefer the TruArc.

The Bigsby bridge that you show is compensated for a wound 3rd string. They do make one for an unwound so keep that in mind if you go that route.

14

Thanks for the info, Don. I made sure to order a bridge with wound 3rd compensation, I've been using TI-flats for quite some time now. (And still bright as heck!). The compton I use is stainless steel.

As for the spacing, I guess I'll find out in a few weeks when I get it in the mail. I think a metal base will look killer on the guitar, so we'll see how it pans out.

15

The bridge shown in original post is the set up for guitars when the first Bigsby's were introduced. Back then, the medium strings had a wound 3rd (G) string and the 1st (E) was 0.013" diameter. Heavy strings were available. From the pictures I've seen of this bridge, the 2nd (B) string is way over compensated. These bridges did rock, but not on the adjustment screw, but on the heads of the bridge pins. This might be a problem when trying to find an appropriate bridge base.

The Bigsby bridges on FMIC guitars were compensated for strings with a plain 3rd (G) string and rocked on the adjustment screws.

So, what strings do you use and how much is the Bigsby is part of your life? For budget situations, I'm tempted to recommend the FMIC bar bridge. It rocks, and the radius is close enough. The tuning is close enough if you can use a wound 3rd (G). The regular Tru-Arc does the same but gets the action about the same over the fret board.

If you use strings with a plain 3rd (G) and your 1st(E) string is 0.011"d or above, you may need to use a Tru-Arc Serpentune.

Lee

16

The bridge shown in original post is the set up for guitars when the first Bigsby's were introduced. Back then, the medium strings had a wound 3rd (G) string and the 1st (E) was 0.013" diameter. Heavy strings were available. From the pictures I've seen of this bridge, the 2nd (B) string is way over compensated. These bridges did rock, but not on the adjustment screw, but on the heads of the bridge pins. This might be a problem when trying to find an appropriate bridge base.

The Bigsby bridges on FMIC guitars were compensated for strings with a plain 3rd (G) string and rocked on the adjustment screws.

So, what strings do you use and how much is the Bigsby is part of your life? For budget situations, I'm tempted to recommend the FMIC bar bridge. It rocks, and the radius is close enough. The tuning is close enough if you can use a wound 3rd (G). The regular Tru-Arc does the same but gets the action about the same over the fret board.

If you use strings with a plain 3rd (G) and your 1st(E) string is 0.011"d or above, you may need to use a Tru-Arc Serpentune.

Lee

– Lee Erickson

I use TI Flatwound strings, Jazz Swing type. Gauges as follows: 10, 14, 18, 23, 33 and 44. Wound G. Bigsby is a BIG part of the Gretschperience for me. Bar bridge is still an option, it's not as expensive as a Tru-Arc, nevertheless, I still prefer the look over the Biggs bridge over that one. I might go up a gauge on the flats, I've run out of my stockpile anyway.

QUICK EDIT: I'd like to point out that I appreciate how extremely helpful everyone has been so far. You're all excellent and I hope you all have superb weeks.

17

I also really like Bigsby Bridges. For a while, Electromatics came with G-String compensated Bigsby bridges with wooden bases - best of both worlds.

A well set up Bigsby bridge is a thing of beauty, definitely slot them. The Bigsby design allows to space the strings how you need them on your guitar, by lining the string up over the bridge, wacking them with a hammer to make an indentation in the aluminium, and then filing the slots properly. I would do this with an old set of strings, obviously.

If the base doesn't fit the curvature of the guitar top, aluminium is easily sanded just like a wood.

18

It's here! Filed the slots, put it on there and tuned it up. Intonation is spot on, it looks cool as well. But wow, it's standing high on its legs!

Immediately noticed that the guitar is a lot twangier unplugged. And then the G string stripped out and now I have to wait for a new set to arrive, hey ho.

19

Daddy Long Legs

20

Great if you like it. I still don't know why. Looks kinda wonky to me.

21

Great if you like it. I still don't know why. Looks kinda wonky to me.

– sascha

To each their own! It's very stable though, as the bridge itself can rock on the studs. No movement other than that whatsoever, so tune stable too.

22

Don't get me wrong. If it works, it works. And if it sounds even better than before: excellent!

23

Daddy Long Legs

– Limuz

That's similar to the base that came on my '72 Super Chet. Very unstable! Your base is only about 40% as thick as it needs to be. As Toxo did for me, he slaved another piece of ebony to match the bottom contours of the base and drilled the holes into it. Sand the new bottom to match the contour of the top, reinstall the screws and bridge and Bob's your Uncle. Simple fix and greatly reinforces the base to what it should be.

24

That's similar to the base that came on my '72 Super Chet. Very unstable! Your base is only about 40% as thick as it needs to be. As Toxo did for me, he slaved another piece of ebony to match the bottom contours of the base and drilled the holes into it. Sand the new bottom to match the contour of the top, reinstall the screws and bridge and Bob's your Uncle. Simple fix and greatly reinforces the base to what it should be.

– Windsordave

I will definitely keep this fix in mind, I have some spare bridges laying around I can use to raise the bunch.

For now, it's actually really stable. The top rocks nicely back and forth with the Bigsby. Studs and base are steady as a rock.


Register Sign in to join the conversation