Other Equipment

Fixed arm Bigsbys…What’s the appeal?

1

I have never played one. Just wondering why the lack of adjustment in position is a good thing. I don't doubt that some great players have and do love them. But is it the lack of adjustment that appeals? Or is there something else that makes the lack off adjustment worth it? And can one put such a thing on a B5?

2

They probably have the best touch sensitivity of all the arms. A lot of the swivel arms bolts have springs on the underside that basically make the arm squishy and less precise. Don't get me wrong I love the swivel and the fact that you can put the guitar in a case and swivel it back so it doesn't touch the lid. The Chet/Travis swivel mount with the rod type handle is quite precise too. Once you learn how to play around a fixed arm it's no big deal, and they really are the most sensitive, imho

3

I agree with JBJ. Two of my gigging guitars have fixed arm Bigsby's and two have a swivel arm and I find that the two fixed arm Bigsby's are definitely more touch sensitive than the swivels. I like that when I'm playing I know exactly where the arm is so I can play around it easily, as JBJ mentioned, but when I need it I barely have to reach my pinky finger and the arm is right there.

With the swivel arm, it's not a huge deal of course, but sometimes I reach for where I think it is and it's sitting an inch lower than I expected and that split second of non-contact throws me off a little. I also find I have to crank harder on the swivel arms to get the same bang for the buck as the lighter touch fixed arms...but that's the sensitivity thing again.

Lastly....and purely my own opinion and taste...I just like the look of a solid fixed chunk of whammy bar on a guitar

4

Does a fixed arm get in the way of strumming? I do some pretty rapid synchopated stuff.

5

Does a fixed arm get in the way of strumming? I do some pretty rapid synchopated stuff.

– Strummerson

I don't find that it gets in the way at all but I think it's very much a matter of preference for the individual player.

I'm used to it I guess as my first Gretsch, a guitar I played exclusively for two years after I bought it, has a fixed arm so it feels natural to me.

6

Wasn't the fixed arm just the very 1st design they had before they even got to the swivel? I had a 1953 Telecaster with original fixed arm Tele set up. Like most I prefer the swivel design.

7

They probably have the best touch sensitivity of all the arms. A lot of the swivel arms bolts have springs on the underside that basically make the arm squishy and less precise. Don't get me wrong I love the swivel and the fact that you can put the guitar in a case and swivel it back so it doesn't touch the lid. The Chet/Travis swivel mount with the rod type handle is quite precise too. Once you learn how to play around a fixed arm it's no big deal, and they really are the most sensitive, imho

– JazzBoxJunky

Agree with JBJ. HOWEVER, I've found the fixed arm to be annoying. A swivel CHET WIRE ARM is the perfect solution for me. I can't explain why, but it has a LOT more touch sensitivity than flat-armed Bigsbys -- at least that has been my experience.

I'll look in "Me and My Guitars" to see if Chet had comments on this subject....

8

I have a fixed arm Bigsby on my Duo Jet. It came with both. After a month or so of owning the guitar I swapped the fixed arm for the swivel arm and I liked it but it ended up breaking fairly early so I put the fixed arm back on with the plan to one day get another swivel arm. In the meantime I got acclimated to the fixed arm and now I prefer it. It's really sturdy, it's always in the same spot and it opened up some creativity by allowing me to create some fun riffs using the bar that I would not have done otherwise. I've tried the same riffs on swivel arm Bigsbys, a Jazzmaster tremolo and a Strat tremolo and it just doesn't feel as natural as when I play the same riffs on the fixed arm Bigsby. I did have to make very minimal adjustments to my right hand approach a bit while playing my Duo Jet to make it work for me so if you do some punk rock strumming you can still do it, just strum it closer to the neck pickup. Because it's so sturdy I also use it as an anchor for my right hand when playing certain riffs.

9

I have been playing one since 1989. I have 4 old guitars with fixed arms.

The appeal is so very basic for me. It is such a classic mid century design that is both aesthetically appealing and utterly perfect in its intent.

The later ones are more pratcical for sure. But, as mentioned above, the sensitivity and nuances you get from a fixed B6/B3 are like nothing else.

I never minded the arm being stationary. I just worked around it.

You know It worked for Eddie C. for 5 years. He certainly could have modified his legendary 6120 in 1957.

10

There is no fixed arm appeal for me. I use the flat arm swivel type. I shorten the arm so it just makes it to my little finger and I bend it to where I like it. It's there when I need it, my palm is in the right location for me to mute strings near the bridge, I can play 3 finger style chords (with or without the thumb) without bumping into it and it's definitely out of the way to play rhythm. I don't buy that the fixed type is more sensitive because the way I have mine set up you have to give it a push to move it out of the way or it stays put. It doesn't swing on its own.

11

And you can take out, say, 98% of the up/down slack with simple adjustments

12

If you haven't spent the time to learn to play a fixed arm, you'll never understand the beauty of it! And like I said, I love the swivel!

13

My experience is similar to senojnad's. Could not adjust to the stationary arm. Maybe try it again someday, but no rush. I also like the swivel Chet Wire the best with the Duane Handle a close second.

15

They make Eddie and Cliff fans feel more authentic. Also, the first thing you have to do when you get a new Bigby is to defeat that stupid little spring that keeps the handle from ever getting tight, which causes the slop in the handle. This is one of those things like the thumb screws on the Melita Bridges. They always came with them, everybody always changed them out immediately, but the manufacturers never addressed the problems. Today, I think some players are afraid to mod their Bigsby's and Melitas, but in the day, everybody knew that that was what you did. If your swivel arm has any play in it, you need to fix it. There should be no more lost motion with a swivel than there is with a fixed arm.

16

They make Eddie and Cliff fans feel more authentic. Also, the first thing you have to do when you get a new Bigby is to defeat that stupid little spring that keeps the handle from ever getting tight, which causes the slop in the handle. This is one of those things like the thumb screws on the Melita Bridges. They always came with them, everybody always changed them out immediately, but the manufacturers never addressed the problems. Today, I think some players are afraid to mod their Bigsby's and Melitas, but in the day, everybody knew that that was what you did. If your swivel arm has any play in it, you need to fix it. There should be no more lost motion with a swivel than there is with a fixed arm.

– Billy Zoom

BZ, what's your preferred way of doing this................removing it?

17

FWIW..... I spent a good bit of time going through "Me And My Guitars" but found nothing about Chet's views on fixed vs. swivel or flat arm vs. wire arm.....

18

Sometimes I use a flanged nyloc nut and tighten it just short of tight, they stay put and don't move.

19

I'm currently using a fiber washer and double K-nuts.

20

I'm currently using a fiber washer and double K-nuts.

– Billy Zoom

Thanks BZ.


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