Modern Gretsch Guitars

6128T Duo Jet — Replace Bigsby with “G” Tailpiece?

1

I recently picked up a beautiful Duo Jet from around 07. It's an absolutely stunning guitar, but as is usual with me, I don't get along very well with the Bigsby.

I've done all the standard things -- had the nut attended to carefully by a good luthier, sticky tape under the rosewood bridge, fewer wraps on the tuner posts (with a locking wrap style), and still it's not giving me the tuning stability I'd like. Part of the issue is that I simply don't like playing with heavy strings. 10-46 are the heaviest I'm willing to go, and I really prefer 9s. I know that a Bigs just isn't going to perform all that well with anything less than 11s, and I just would rather not go there.

It's fine -- I'm not a vibrato bar guy. I know, I know, a Gretsch isn't really a Gretsch without one, but I'd really rather keep this guitar than move it along to the next guy. It sounds, plays, looks, and feels a cut above. It's essentially what I always wished a Les Paul was like, except the Bigs.

So, I guess my question is: can you replace the Bigsby with a "G" cutout tailpiece without permanent mods? I'm thinking of this tailpiece model: Link

2

What you'll need to do is drill the back of the tailpiece to match the holes on the bigsby. It should be a fairly simple swap over. All the best.

3

What would happen if you taped/hot-melt glued a slug in place of the spring? That could give you the stability without drilling new holes. Yes, you'd still have the Bigsby arm there, but swing it back out of the way.

I don't use my Bigsby's much (am starting to experiment) so the arm is usually swung all the way back. I have no stay-in-tune issues except when I actually use the Bigsby.

4

Interesting -- so the G tailpieces don't have the same hole pattern? That seems nuts to me that they'd manufacture them like that, especially with a modern production line that makes the Duo Jet both with and without the Bigsby. Crazy.

A slug, you say? Like a socket wrench socket? That's certainly an interesting idea.

Even when I'm not using the Bigsby, I get poor tuning stability when I bend strings -- one will go out, which will throw the others out, since it's a floating trem. Like I said, heavy strings are not in my future, so I'd love to get the tuning stability sorted out with light strings, and I assume that means ditching the Bigsby.

5

I've got a spare tailpiece if you're interested. I sent you a PM.

6

You shouldn't feel the need to apologize for not being a Bigsby man... G tail is part of the same loving family. :)

7

Yeah… if you go with the G-cut tailpiece, don't get the '60s style version (with horizontal wavy ridges across the top) in that link you posted… get the cooler 50s era version. They are finally reproducing them again!

8

Personally, I would go the socket route. the reason your guitar will not stay in tune is due to the fact that each string creates a certain amount of tension/pressure. When you bend a string the others should go slightly flat. You have a set of roller bearings on each side of the Bigsby that move slightly when bending a string. If you block off(with the socket) the ability to move, your tuning issues should go away and save you the cost of buying a "G" tailpiece. The other issue that nobody seems to ever bring up is the spring. These springs come in two heights. But I've found so many that vary in tension. The Spring is Not consistent in the amount of tension each one has. It's like the quality(or lack thereof) isn't consistent. I've found many Bigsby Springs that I can compress with my thumb & fingers and others that won't compress at all. Why are these springs so inconsistent in tension? This has been a gripe of mine for decades!

9

Donald --- Interesting! Have you (or anyone else) found a reliable source for replacement springs? Anyone figure out if higher-tension springs are better for lighter strings, or vice versa?

Maybe this is why some people have magic Bigsbys that stay in tune, and others don't, no matter what they do?

10

Your Bigsby prob's are a setup issue imo. Don't know what you or your "luthier" have done to it but........... Mine has performed perfectly from day 1 - rock solid with 10's & 11's (never had 9's on it) I've played another 30 or 40 Jets ALL with a rock solid bigsby (all with 10's).

But ... if you don't use a bigsby replace it - easy to do & will make re-stringing quicker :)

11

I put a G cut tailpice on my DSV Duo Jet and it was all for the better for me. I play with .10's and there was very little of any brake angle over the bridge and the strings felt lose, I also suspected that was the reason I had s bit of string buzz even on a high action. Turned out I was right, all my problems where cured with the G cut tailpice.

You might also want to experiment with different bridges, you get obviously changes in tone but also string feel. I tried a Melita, Tru-arch stainless, adjust-o-matic on a ebony base and finally settled on a Faber locking TOM on the adjust-o-matic's ebony base. All bridges had different tone and string feel, but the Faber had a good balance between the characteristics.

BTW, where can I get the 50's repro tailpice? And do you think I have to drill new holes for it to fit even if I have a 60's type repro on now?

13

Nice, thanks! The DSV Duo Jet is basically a '55 reissue so the 50's G cut tailpice will complete the look!

14

Are you stretching your strings after you put them on? The Bigsby is not the problem. A properly set-up guitar will stay in tune with or without a Bigsby. A new tailpiece will probably not help if you aren't stringing it correctly from the start. Think about it; how many guys do you see banging away on a Bigsby without tuning issues?

15

Ok, so thanks for all the really insightful comments.

I decided to give the Bigsby another try, and took it in to a luthier that I've heard is the guy around here in Boston (Steve Morrill). He took one look and said, "that nut needs some work". He also suggested that the spring might be kind of worn out, and said he'd give that a shot.

I'll report back either way, if I need to move to a different tailpiece, or if this worked!

16

Thread resurrection!

I'm tempted to replace the Bigsby on my DSV Duo Jet with the stop tailpiece after playing my friend's 1955 Duo Jet recently. I really like the way it felt.

I found this one from Black Rider. Does anyone know if the holes will line up?

G Tailpiece

17

You shouldn't have any tuning problems with light gauge strings and a Bigsby...you're doing something wrong. However, if you do go with the G tailpiece, be sure to stuff some foam under it. They have a bad resonance in the low mids that's a real tone killer.


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