Other Equipment

Breaking Bigsby News!

1

The sixteen-year relationship between Fred Gretsch Enterprises and FMIC has taken another step today.

It was announced that FMIC has acquired the Bigsby brand from Fred Gretsch Enterprises. It would hardly be surprising to learn that FMIC had an interest in acquiring the Bigsby brand since Gretsch guitars are probably one of the largest consumers of Bigsby vibrato systems.

I must say that I am quite happy for Fred Gretsch to see that he is starting to shed some of his business holdings in that this is one less chunk of company business that he has to concern himself with. Hopefully, he will have even more time to travel than he already does. I suppose that it would be a natural transition at some point in time if he were to sell the Gretsch brand of guitars to FMIC, although there has certainly been no public indication thus far of any such discussions between Fred and FMIC. As much as he would like to see the company remain in the family, it doesn't seem like there is anyone in the family line who is interested in taking over the company, or anyone who could do so successfully.

For those who like the details, here is some information that I found about today's transaction:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (January 8, 2019) — Fender® Musical Instruments Corp (FMIC) today announced the acquisition of the Bigsby® brand and its assets from Fred Gretsch Enterprises.

The Gretsch family and FMIC have a longstanding relationship and have partnered to ensure that the transition of the business is a smooth one.

“We are excited to acquire Bigsby® and add to our esteemed portfolio of specialty brands.” said Jeff Cary, Senior Vice President of FMIC Specialty Brands. “There is such a rich history with the vibratos, and a mystique around the guitars, pedals and steel instruments that is fascinating. Fred and Dinah Gretsch have been wonderful owners and we look forward to working with them to ensure a smooth transition.”

“Paul Bigsby, Ted McCarty, Dinah and Fred Gretsch and Fender Musical Instruments Corp. all have one thing in common, an unquestioning dedication to product excellence over the long haul,” said Fred Gretsch. “We congratulate team Fender on this strategic acquisition.”

Bigsby® vibrato tailpieces have a long history that dates back to the earliest days of the modern electric guitar. Wildly popular with guitarists as an aftermarket product, the vibratos are featured on a wide range of instruments as original equipment offered by dozens of guitar manufacturers around the world.

Bigsby® will continue to run as a standalone business under FMIC’s Specialty Brands. Orders, inquiries or questions should be directed to Jeff Krause (JKrause@fender.com), who will be leading the business out of the FMIC Scottsdale, Ariz., office.

FMIC is currently working with a team in Pooler, Ga., to integrate the business into its systems before moving it physically to a new location.

2

I say bring back removable pins!

3

I say bring back removable pins!

– DCBirdMan

Are you objecting to the pins on the traditional Bigsby tailpiece, or are you objecting to the string-through Bigsby system?

4

I just like the Bigsbys up thru the early 70s (discussed in detail with knavel) where the pins actually can be unscrewed and removed, and just put your strings thru the hole right there in bar. Later pins are pressed in and can't be removed. Knavel says the change happened in early 70s.. mid 70s @ very latest.

5

I like the way Mr. Gretsch always handles himself with class and kindness and I hope he can better enjoy the fruits of his labors. FMIC has plenty of personnel to handle this addition easily. It is an interesting business note. Thanks for the post, Ric.

6

Paul Bigsby must be rolling over in his grave.

8

Paul Bigsby must be rolling over in his grave.

– Don Birchett

Why would that be, Don? I would think that Paul Bigsby would be happy for Fred Gretsch and would understand Fred's desire to lighten his load given his gradually advancing years.

9

Hold on there, Babalouie! I dare anyone here to keep up with Fred Gretsch, his passion for the business is stronger than ever, and as far as those advancing years are concerned his daily running/walking mileage will put lots of younger folks to shame.

The family business will remain in the family, no worries there. I am sure this will be a great business move for the Bigsby brand, you’d be utterly amazed how many guitars are out there all over the world with a Bigsby ( and hopefully, a DE handle!)

10

Why would that be, Don?

Nothing to do with the Gretsch family.

Rather, because of the sometimes wary friendship/sometimes rivalry/sometimes possibly bitter animus between Paul Bigsby (who arguably made the first wood solidbody cutaway electric guitar with a headstock suggested by the sideview of a violin headstock) and Leo Fender, who, it might be argued, "borrowed" many of the distinguishing characteristics of that guitar, built it plainer and cheaper than PA ever would have been caught dead doing, and Model-Teed the electric guitar mass market into being with it.

11

Why would that be, Don?

Nothing to do with the Gretsch family.

Rather, because of the sometimes wary friendship/sometimes rivalry/sometimes possibly bitter animus between Paul Bigsby (who arguably made the first wood solidbody cutaway electric guitar with a headstock suggested by the sideview of a violin headstock) and Leo Fender, who, it might be argued, "borrowed" many of the distinguishing characteristics of that guitar, built it plainer and cheaper than PA ever would have been caught dead doing, and Model-Teed the electric guitar mass market into being with it.

– Proteus

Bingo. That does make some sense.

12

It’s imperative that they tap the string thru and give the option of using pins or not, some string sets require longer travel and a larger hole for the G string.

14

Hold on there, Babalouie! I dare anyone here to keep up with Fred Gretsch, his passion for the business is stronger than ever, and as far as those advancing years are concerned his daily running/walking mileage will put lots of younger folks to shame.

The family business will remain in the family, no worries there. I am sure this will be a great business move for the Bigsby brand, you’d be utterly amazed how many guitars are out there all over the world with a Bigsby ( and hopefully, a DE handle!)

– Deed Eddy

Miss Deed, it was not my intention to suggest that Fred Gretsch's physical strength or capability of operating the business was in any way flagging. And if my remarks unintentionally implied that, I apologize to Fred. To the contrary, by all outward appearances, he has always seemed to me to be a quite fit man with a substantial reservoir of energy. However, as a man now in his seventies, it might be reasonably presumed, I think, that, like many of retirement age, he may wish to lessen his work load and increase his leisure activities to some extent. I know that he and Dinah are great travelers. That being said, as his close personal friend, you would certainly have greater insight than I as to whether he would like to shift greater attention to his non-work activities and if you suggest that that is not the case, then I would readily believe that.

As for whether the guitar manufacturing business remains in the family, that was merely conjecture on my part and I will happily concede that. I would expect that Fred Gretsch Enterprises will remain in the family, but I have never heard Fred suggest to me, or to anyone else, that any of his descendants are either (1) keen on running the guitar business or (2) that they have demonstrated any particular aptitude to do so. And I mean to take nothing away from his grandchildren by that statement. Some of them are still quite young and could turn out to be business savants. Again, as Fred's close friend, he may have confided information in you about his intentions for succession of the guitar business. I remain of the opinion, however, that the most logical candidate to continue to operate that portion of the business is FMIC who has already proven to be particularly astute in managing the design, manufacture, and marketing of these great instruments.

15

Bob, Tim had it right, not to mention Bigsby's belief that the Stratocaster headstock was grand theft of his own. I think that he viewed Fender with more than a little contempt and would not care to have his invention now a part of his rival's company.

Now if Fender were to re-release the Bigsby solid bodies, that would really twist the knife in the old cadaver.

Has nothing to do with Fred Gretsch.

16

At this remove in time, I’d like to think that, if they could see us now, all involved in the SoCal nexus of creative activity which resulted in the incredible persistence and ubiquity of the solidbody electric guitar would be able to bury the hatchet and appreciate what their collaboration and rivalry accomplished.

I think among guitarists, Bigsby’s name is only slightly less recognized than Leo’s. I think PA would be both gratified and a little amazed that his product is made in the hundreds of thousands, in factories on at least two continents, and has changed barely at all. He’d probably be grateful to Fred Gretsch for his stewardship, and not all that annoyed that the galactic empire Fender’s little company eventually became will now manufacture and distribute his product.

The only caveat to that line of thinking would be to hope PA’s heirs and assigns were well taken care of when he sold to Ted McCarty...

17

Bigsby will be alright, Fender is now being run by a guitar player (Andy Mooney), if it had been Gibson I'd be more than a bit worried. . .

18

More of these please!

19

Wouldn't it be cool if Fender re-issued a bigsby guitar? Kind of like what they did with the Newark Street Guilds? I'm pretty sure I would have to pre-order one of those!

20

The Merle Travis guitar was completed May 1948 and was chambered.

21

Looks like an easy enough build for fender! And as mentioned above, they've already ALMOST got the correct headstock shape. Am I crazy to dream of do you guys think it's possible?

22

I'm not sure I like this. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not crazy about huge corporations, their decision-making process, and their beancounters.

23

a good longtime friend of mine lost his job at Bigsby due this transaction. His services are no longer needed ; ) He's now unemployed. So,it's not only a owner change. Let's think about them,who now lost their jobs there.

24

The Merle Travis guitar was completed May 1948 and was chambered.

– Curt Wilson

Thanks for sharing! Is there any blueprint of the doublecut available?

25

I'm not sure I like this. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not crazy about huge corporations, their decision-making process, and their beancounters.

– WB

At first blush I'd have to say I'm not crazy about it either, but I thought that back in '03 and look how wrong I was about that.

Plus, it's none of my darn' bid'ness so I'll lose no sleep over it.

Fred's no fool, he knows what he's doing.


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