Vintage Gretsch Guitars

When were the first gold Bigsby vibratos available?

1

I'd like to know when Gretsch first put a gold Bigsby on any of their guitars. As far as I know early Falcons didn't come with a Bigsby but the Caddy tailpiece in standard. Neither did the Country Clubs.

Was a gold B6 available in 1958? Could it be fitted in the factory if I see this on a '58 guitar?

Thanks.

2

My 55 6121 has a gold Bigsby B3, so I would say late 54? And yes a gold B6 would have been available in 58, but not really standard on a Gretsch Club or Falcon

3

Thanks. Sure this is original? I thought 6121s (like vintage 6120s) always had plain aluminium Bigsbys. Isn't the mix of this feature and some gold hardware what makes the so unique visually? I can't remember I have ever seen a 6121 with a gold Bigsby. Do you have a picture?

5

They were anodized gold before they were gold plated. I believe that gold plating came in '56, or early '57. I have had B7s with DE arms that were gold plated.

– Jonathan A. Sipes......maker of aluminum dust.

Thanks, I guess I should've been more clearly. I was asking for the gold plated version. I have seen a 1958 Country Club with a gold B6 and ask myself if this could be original as they generally came with the G-cut tailpiece and the seller doesn't know exactly.

7

The 6120s all came with anodised fixed arm gold Bigsby b6s so 54/55

8

Gretsch used the gold anodized Bigbsy for 6120 and 6121 circa 1954-1956. After that, they used plain aluminum. Then they started using a gold plated Bigsby on the Country Gentleman in 1962. The 6120's Bigsby stayed aluminum. And in the '60s they used a gold Bigsby on some other models, e.g., Falcons, Vinkings, Jets.

So, from roughly late '56 to late '61, Gretsch only used aluminum Bigsbys. So, if a Bigsby was factory installed in 1958, I would expect it to be plain aluminum. Of course, the definite answer resides under the hinge. I suspect there will be two or three extra holes from the original G tailpiece.

Post some pics. Even if not factory original, maybe it's period correct. In addition to the patent number, I'd be looking for either a slotted or phillips head screw attaching the arm. If it's a plain stud, then it's no earlier than 1962.

9

They were anodized gold before they were gold plated. I believe that gold plating came in '56, or early '57. I have had B7s with DE arms that were gold plated.

– Jonathan A. Sipes......maker of aluminum dust.

This thread got me wondering how rare 1950s gold Bigsbys are and sure enough, they do seem quite uncommon. But speaking of a gold DE arm, check out this rig:

Knowing how the Les Paul fanatics are, I bet that sold for a small fortune, being the only way to accurately Bigsbify a '56/'57 reissue Custom.

10

My 55 6121(late 55#173XX) Bigsby is definitely gold plated, or something smooth and shiny gold colored. I have a gold anodized one from the 50's that's much rougher texture, although it has seen more weather. I'll try to put a side by side picture up later.

11

Thank you very much so far, everybody! I knew I could count on you. I'll keep you updated. Either here or in a NGD thread. Wish me luck.

12

The Bigsby on the said guitar is a later specimen. The pins are stuck into the bar with no way to unscrew them. I have the guitar here now. The seller is kind enough to let me check it out before I possibly buy. Wow, this has a really fat neck. Anyone interested in pics?

13

Always.

14

This thread got me wondering how rare 1950s gold Bigsbys are and sure enough, they do seem quite uncommon. But speaking of a gold DE arm, check out this rig:

Knowing how the Les Paul fanatics are, I bet that sold for a small fortune, being the only way to accurately Bigsbify a '56/'57 reissue Custom.

– Afire

Nice! That's a rare one for sure

15

Teaser:

P.S. 1958 Country Club with spruce top. The guitar somehow looks twisted in the pic on my computer but it's totally fine in real life. Anything I should look at closer?

P.P.S. Did I mention this has a REALLY fat neck?

18

Teaser:

P.S. 1958 Country Club with spruce top. The guitar somehow looks twisted in the pic on my computer but it's totally fine in real life. Anything I should look at closer?

P.P.S. Did I mention this has a REALLY fat neck?

– sascha

Beautiful Country Club.....my favorite finish is the blond, ie natural. If you don't like the fat neck, assuming you do buy it, just shave it down to the profile you like - or have a luthier do it like I did to my '72 SC. That guitar comes with what I'd be willing to bet is as large a profile as on any Gretsch, especially considering it's the 1.75" wide neck (at the zero fret). It went from a chunky D-shape and flat on the bottom to a shallow C. Humongous improvement!

19

pretty wide fingerboard on those too right?

20

pretty wide fingerboard on those too right?

– WB

Nut width is 43mm (1.75"). Same as on the '59 Duo Jet next to it. But both necks couldn't feel different. The CC hasn't been played for the last 30 years and needs a good setup. Those don't come up here often; in fact it's the first one I came across and I'd like to keep her. It's half the cost of a 6120 of the same year.

21

Beautiful Country Club.....my favorite finish is the blond, ie natural. If you don't like the fat neck, assuming you do buy it, just shave it down to the profile you like - or have a luthier do it like I did to my '72 SC. That guitar comes with what I'd be willing to bet is as large a profile as on any Gretsch, especially considering it's the 1.75" wide neck (at the zero fret). It went from a chunky D-shape and flat on the bottom to a shallow C. Humongous improvement!

– Windsordave

Thanks, Dave. I don't think I would shave down the neck on an original 1958 Gretsch. I'll see what a setup can do and then it's to decide if she stays or goes back. Meanwhile I enjoy the sweet smell of both guitars.

22

Interesting about the neck. 1958 is a year with which I have very little experience, just a single Anniversary I breifly owned. But other than my '57 Gent (with its weird wide/flat D shape), I don't think I've ever had any hollowbody Gretsch with a neck that I'd call particularly chunky. Early Jets could be hefty, but other than that, most Gretsches I've ever owned have had a pretty moderate sized C neck.

Which brings me to a question - has anybody noticed Gretsch using different profiles for different models? I.e., intentionally leaving a bigger profile on their most traditional upscale electric, the Country Club?

Anyway, that's a gorgeous blonde. I hope you can get it to play like you want it to.

23

I did happen to notice that my 59 Annie and my 58 Clipper have the exact same neck shape. So,maybe lower priced high production guitars got similar shapes?

My early 59 6120 has the best neck shape and feel of any vintage Gretsch I've ever played, and probably the most silky piece of Ebony I've ever felt.

24

Afire, the 50's and early 60's Clubs I've played all had that wide nut width and fingerboard. and a first year Club I've played had a pretty deep and chunky neck too, in a good way. - later ones I've played were wide, not deep. Being used to my Guilds (narrower nut widths), the old CC necks feel downright huge and too wide for me - but then I don't have big hands either.

25

That Clubs a beauty Sascha!


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