The Workbench

Soggy Bottom Bigsby

1

Gentlemen,

I have recently acquired a 6121-55 and have the following question: Have you ever seen this on a 6121 Bigsby B3gbvn Vibrato Tailpiece?

Notice how at the pin bar appears to be sagging to the right and causes the strings to not go over their respective mics. The main plate and hinge assembly appears to be square and doesn’t appear to be dropped.

However, I think it may be the pin in the hinge is bent or poorly constructed allowing it to sag due to more pull from the thicker strings?

Not sure if the whole thing is bent although I see the same on other images that I have found. Do you think that it was dropped and is bent or is this normal for this model?

Constructive feedback will be most appreciated.

2

Here's another image that shows this condition as it doesn't appear as pronounced in my original image, however, they have managed to get the strings over the pups even though the bigsby is sagging to the right.

3

I've seen that but probably not to that extent.

The solution is to remove the Bigsby then either put a wood shim under the treble side of the hinge piece that overlaps the butt end of the guitar or put a washer or two under the screw on that side.

Have fun!

4

Yes I've seen this before, and your example is about the worst case that I've seen. That said, you've got a beautiful instrument.

First, check to see if the Bigsby is mounted "off center" with the neck. It sure looks like it is to me. You'll have to find the centerline of the neck, and redrill and remount the Bigsby.

This should take care of this situation. Whether or not a mounting hole will show depends on how far off you have to move the Bigsby.

Sometimes folks put a washer under the mounting hinge on one side, that will shift or help straighten out the misalignment. Unfortunately, to my eyes and your picture, that Bigsby is really far off centerline. It'll take a pretty thick washer or shim to get this one aligned.

Worst case, after properly aligning and redrilling the Bigsby, you may need to fill one hole if it's showing. No big deal to me to get this resolved, if you really like the guitar.

Best of luck.

5

Is it a new guitar?

A slight offset in a Bigsby mount is not uncommon - a result of less-than-perfect symmetry in the shape of the body at the butt, or manufacturing defects in the Bigsby itself.

I don't get too bent out of shape about it (so to speak) if the problem is slight and can be fixed with some sort of unobtrusive small shim under one side of the mounting bracket.

But the offset is extreme on that guitar. It should have been caught and resolved at the factory, before the guitar shipped.

If I received that as a new instrument, I'd see about sending it back for a fix or replacement.

6

^ I‘ve wondered the same. Unbelievable that this guitar has passed the quality control.

7

Thank all y’all for the quality feedback and support.

This is a previously enjoyed 2010 6212-55 that is otherwise minty and appears to have extremely low mileage as was promised. So, how did the BB get so bad?

NFG from the factory.

To make a long story short, I: - Measured twice. The BB is mounted TDC. - Took off BB and found it was poorly manufactured. - The hinge was able to swivel up to 6mm to the right! - Installed very thin brass washer as shim but was not suffice. - Put hinge in vice -protected- and gave heave-ho. - Reassembled. - Perfection!

So, it was a shoddily made Bigsby. I’m surprised at the poor design and manufacturing. The hinge and pin were especially grade 8 shop class quality. So floppy and was twisted to one side. Dropping it off a roof wouldn’t have done that and there would have been other evidence. If I had laser measuring, I would bet money on the bearing holes being misaligned across the yoke as well.

I’m not sure that purchasing a new one would be any better than what I had to start with. The guitar is mint otherwise. So, I bit the bullet and put it in a vice with wood and leather to protect the finish and gave it a guesstimated heave-ho to what I thought would bend it without snapping the pin. Success!

Now is dead straight and it looks factory with no evidence of mod.

Bad Bigsby.

She’s a work of art otherwise. Upgraded to TV Joneses and Sperzel tuners.

Thanks for listening!

8
  1. Get a better bridge, 2. Center the strings on the fingerboard, 3. Screw the bridge to the top of the guitar.
9

Thank all y’all for the quality feedback and support.

This is a previously enjoyed 2010 6212-55 that is otherwise minty and appears to have extremely low mileage as was promised. So, how did the BB get so bad?

NFG from the factory.

To make a long story short, I: - Measured twice. The BB is mounted TDC. - Took off BB and found it was poorly manufactured. - The hinge was able to swivel up to 6mm to the right! - Installed very thin brass washer as shim but was not suffice. - Put hinge in vice -protected- and gave heave-ho. - Reassembled. - Perfection!

So, it was a shoddily made Bigsby. I’m surprised at the poor design and manufacturing. The hinge and pin were especially grade 8 shop class quality. So floppy and was twisted to one side. Dropping it off a roof wouldn’t have done that and there would have been other evidence. If I had laser measuring, I would bet money on the bearing holes being misaligned across the yoke as well.

I’m not sure that purchasing a new one would be any better than what I had to start with. The guitar is mint otherwise. So, I bit the bullet and put it in a vice with wood and leather to protect the finish and gave it a guesstimated heave-ho to what I thought would bend it without snapping the pin. Success!

Now is dead straight and it looks factory with no evidence of mod.

Bad Bigsby.

She’s a work of art otherwise. Upgraded to TV Joneses and Sperzel tuners.

Thanks for listening!

– r0de0

Good deal finding the actual cause.

Enjoy the heck out if it now.

10

Good solution.

A certain...ah...varibility in Bigsby quality control hasn't been unknown through the years. I've sometimes thought it could be tightened up. (As when I discovered interchangeable parts that didn't, and when I went through three new ones trying to find one without a flaw under the plating.)

On the other hand, I've consoled myself with the thought that the units are still being made with original PA-era molds, tooling, and shop tools.

The kind of judicious mechanical analysis and retrofitting you did would, I think, be right in line with what might once have been done during assembly.

In any case, in your case, all's well that ends well.

At least until the whole things gives in to stress weakening along the axis where you applied the necessary force, and it comes apart. (My own experience with self-destructing tailpieces has taught me how effective the undramatic but relentless pressure of string tension can be in putting asunder what man has wrought.) But that will be a story for another day.

FMIC actually has a pretty unblemished record, so far as Gretsch is concerned, for improving not only specs, but fit-finish-and-QC as well. I'm hopeful they'll do the same for Bigsby now that they own it.

Enjoy your new guitar.

(Yes, and do replace the bridge!)

11

I hope Mr C sees this thread and takes steps to get the Bigsby folks to get a handle on quality control. From what we've seen here, there is little to No QC at Bigsby if they're going to let a product this poor leave the premises!!

Separate division of the company or not, this gives a bad rap to Gretsch and Fender.

12

this gives a bad rap to Gretsch and Fender.

Well, not quite yet. The ink still isn't dry on the agreement!

13

Dave, Dave, Dave. On rare occasion, you fall victim to hyperbole. You came close on this one.


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