Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Bigsby or no


Bigsby's seem more common on Gretsch than any other brand, and they do seem to suit them very well. I have owned a 1955 club for a few years now, it was owned and played extensively for a while by Roddy Frame. Whilst in his safe hands Roddy added a gold Bigsby as well as a strap button or two, the usual pro mods.

He did, however keep the original tailpiece (sadly the melita must have remained in his sock drawer) which came with the guitar when I got it.

After much deliberation I finally decided to put it back to stock, the result has been very pleasant, it seems to have added sustain and I think it looks more elegant, had it been a 50s bigsby I probably would have left well alone but it was an 80s one and fairly brash looking.

Does anyone else prefer their Gretsch without a Bigsby or am I alone in this, a thread of un-Bigsby'd Gretsch's might be cool


A big box Gretsch just looks naked to me. I purchased a Country Club some years ago and the first thing that I did was slap a B6 on it.


Certain guitars feel wrong with a Bigsby, others feel wrong without one. In my opinion, Gretsch electrics are "more Gretschy" with a Bigsby.

I've added Bigsbys to three of my guitars that came without them --- my Epiphone Casino, a Samick Artist Series SG, and a Riff ES-345 copy. But I've never removed a Bigsby from a guitar that came with it.

Current count of electric guitars is 8 with Bigsbys, 20 without.


I like it better with the stock tailpiece, if you had a correct year Bigsby it would look better, at least to my eye.


The stock gold tailpiece is a thing of beauty with brushed gold against bright


I might be heretic, since neither of my two Gretsches has a Bigsby. Nothing against, apart maybe the extra weight, but I just don't use it. But I do love that great Gretsch sound.


Gretchen owns Bigsby, so it follows that they'd include them on their guitars. That being said, I can live without a wiggle stick, and have a G3140 without one. My Pro Jet has one, so, I'm covered either way.


Having at least one Gretsch without a Bigsby is a good thing as it makes you try different things musically.


This time two years ago I would've said "a guitar without a Bigsby is useless". Then I got a 1951 Brooklyn made Bacon Belmont without a Bigsby and chose to leave it stock. I play mostly that guitar and it's taken a year or so but I don't even reach for the Bigsby anymore as I'm so used to making my for vibrato without a wiggle stick. Who-da-thunk?


I currently own 2 Gretsch guitars and both have a Bigsby. I sometimes get tempted to add a Bigsby to my Epiphone Casino but the guitar is great as it is.


Wabash, just an observation here. Is it your intention or your spellchecker at work? Gretchen? : )


I wish spell checkers would add the word Gretsch to their vocabulary.


I only own 2 Gretsches without a Bigsby,i prefer my Falcons with the Caddy Tailpiece .


I've only had bigbsy equipped gretsches. I would like a non-bigsby streamliner.


I originally couldn't figure out a use for a bigsby. But little by little, they made themselves necessary. Even if only for some vibrato on closing chords. But more and more of my tunes made room for them. The only guitar I play now that is sans bigsby is my 1940 Epiphone Triumph. I'd never put a bigsby on it. Don't want that hunk of aluminum sitting on that old carved spruce top. And it is the guitar I play the most by far these days...though the completion of two long term custom projects in the next months will likely change that. But I almost feel like there is a "phantom bigsby" there that I keep forgetting is absent. Like what amputees describe. Not a huge fan of the cut-out tailpieces. Nice. I like the simplicity. But they don't grab me. Caddy tail pieces, on the other hand, are works of art. I wouldn't mind putting one on a Club, but the bigsby would get in the way....


When I bought my non-Bigsby (stock) '55 Streamliner from Roy (Journeyman) I loved how it looked and how it played without a Bigsby. Before I bought it Roy sent me an audio file of him playing the guitar and his tone on this guitar was just sublime. I knew of course that the tone was coming from Roy's playing but the overall beauty of the sound that emanated from the guitar was I knew that without a Bigsby this Streamliner was a tone monster.

Of course I hadn't factored me into the equation and the possibility that I could suck all the tone right back out, but as soon as I got the guitar in my hands I knew I needn't have worried. It sounded sweet and looked beautiful, clean and dare I say, unencumbered by a honkin' big Bigsby. And besides, I already had Bigsbys on my other guitars (except for the Gibson ES-295 pictured here which I love to occasionally pick up and play as a classic Bigsby-less guitar) so I planned to leave the Streamliner as the Gretsch gods intended.

I was very happy with that decision until the Streamliner became my regular gigging guitar. After a couple of gigs with it I became acutely aware of how much I use the Bigsby as part of our band's overall guitar sound. I found I was missing it...but didn't want to put the Streamliner into semi-retirement as a woodshedding guitar.

So after unsuccessfully searching for an affordable '50s B6 I coughed up the cash for a modern B6 from Rocky at Street Sounds and then I had the best of both worlds. A Streamliner with incredible playability (and still retaining a lot of the killer tone in spite of me) and the handy dandy whammy bar that allows me to keep doing whatever it is I'm doing when playing live with the band.

And like my wife is just as purty in two different outfits, the Streamliner looks just as purty with and without the Bigsby.


I have sorta toggled back to solidbodies for now, so going to sell a recent gold Bigsby that was a good one. Keeping World's Only Fully Shortened Merle Arm because eventually I know I will go back to hollowbodies!!

I guess it really depends on your style -- also used Bigsby in a medium amount, but absolutely for ending chords.


After much deliberation I finally decided to put it back to stock, the result has been very pleasant, it seems to have added sustain...

I don't know that sustain is the word I'd use, but I've noticed going back and forth between Bigsby and no Bigsby on vintage Jets that they're more lively and resonant without the Bigsby.


when I first got my '59 Annie in 1966, it came with a Bigsby that had been installed by the previous owner. I've never used the Bigsby much. it just wasn't in my style of playing. some years back, I'd try to buy a G-tailpiece for the old guitar on ebay only to be "sniped" at the last second. so, I'll probably leave the Bigsby on the guitar.

on a different note, I also own a 2001 New Jet that has the G-tailpiece and I'm just fine with it. as I said earlier, I've never really used a Bigsby.

my 2006 Caddy Green Duo Jet came with a Bigsby. I've thought from time to time about changing out the Bigsby with a Cadillac tailpiece. maybe not. I've come to the conclusion that if any Gretsch I buy comes with a Bigsby, the Bigsby stays. some Gretsch guitars just look better with a Bigsby whether I use it or not.


This used to be Roddy Frame's guitar, guys! It's a shame most people do not care. But there are people in this world who rank him one of the greatest songwriters in pop history. At least I know I do.

Twankjunkie, you are free to do whatever you want with the guitar but I would care rather about the non-original bridge and base than about the Bigsby. If you want originality the type of B-6 is wrong anyway.

Play this in excellent health!

Here's your guitar "in action":


I'm firmly in the camp that a Gretsch semi/hollowbody looks better with a Bigsby. And I use them regularly so there's the functionality as well.

It's not that I don't like the chromatic "harp" tailpiece, I have one on my '41 Synchro 100 and bought a new one to put on my '55 Fleetwood's restoration, I just like a Bigsby's use feature better. They both look good on Gretsches, it's just personal preference I guess.


Mine has Bigsby, all 4 of them. It looks great, sounds great and plays best! Although I secretly love the Cadillac tailpiece for sheer aesthetic only.


I'm with jetbunny here. All my Gretsches have a Bigsby although I don't use it as much as I should, but the Cadillac tail piece does call out.


You have Roddy Frame's guitar????! Is that the guitar on "Dreamland"?? How did you attain this guitar? I'd keep any mod that Roddy did! I wouldn't even change the strings.... ALWAYS a Bigsby!

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