Vintage Gretsch Guitars

When were the first gold Bigsby vibratos available?

26

Curt Wilson will attest to both the quality and rarity of the few '58 Country Clubs that were produced. I know he loves his!

27

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

Yeah thats a really sweet version--and so rare. I have seen just a handful of gold "Duane" arm bigsbys over the years. Maybe a birdland or L5 had them installed.

All bigsbys from 53-63 are fascinating as is their evolution and tooling

Great thread

28

Curt Wilson will attest to both the quality and rarity of the few '58 Country Clubs that were produced. I know he loves his!

– kc_eddie_b

Hmmm, speaking of quality... This guitar has some issues that might be from the factory or not.


As I'm interested in more opinions and maybe some help regarding the Country Club I hope everybody is okay if I open a seperate thread for the guitar. It's here: http://gretschpages.com/for...

I'm still interested in everything Bigsby and will chime in here for sure.

Thanks!

29

Reviving this thread to see if any of our GDPers know anything about plating. It seems like the mid-60s V-style Bigsby unit (in particular) lose their plating awfully easily. Plating to aluminum was apparently pretty dicey when Paul Bigsby introduced the first of his vibrato units, which is why the '55 model year units (on the 6120 and 6121) were anodized.

Then after '55 it seemed like PA Bigsby gave up on making gold units for awhile, although earlier in this thread the Duane arm B7 in gold shows that he apparently figured it out. So why do all this V-style units look so bad?

32

Those are pretty rough looking, but most of the Gretsches I've owned or seen with gold Bigbys (mostly early to mid '60s) have been okay. They are often a little splotchy looking, but IMO, it's pretty unusual for them to be quite that badly worn.

33

My 6121(refin) from late 55 173XX batch. Super nice shiny gold plating, any other pics of that batch Ed? I’m starting to think there were Gold plated ones at the end of 55 for sure.

34

Huh. That doesn't look very shiny in that picture, and to my eyes, looks exactly like what's usually referred to as anodized. Although I also recall many years ago that there was a discussion here about whether or not they ever were truly anodized at all. People who seemed to know much more about metal finishing than me seemed to think not.

35

I have an anodized one as well, much more flat on the luster than this, I’ll try and get a better picture, but this other one is really smooth and shiny and just a bit worn off at the tip of the handle.

36

I have a mid/late sixties Bigsby and the plating is beautiful. It's not a Gretsch but it must be plated the same way.

37

Here's another...

– kc_eddie_b

I need a vintage gold Bigsby (V cutout-Gretsch version) to install in place of my gold B-7 Bigsby on my 64 Country Club.. Anyone have one they'd part with? Cheers!

38

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– sascha

This guitar is stunning! I've always wanted a blond CC(along with a single cut Gent..). What year is this guitar?

39

This guitar is stunning! I've always wanted a blond CC(along with a single cut Gent..). What year is this guitar?

– Don Butler aka: Toneman

Hi Don. This is my '58 CC. The pictured B6 (non-V) was installed in the '70s according to the previous owner. As it is not historically correct I bought a non-plated Aluminium from the era and had it put on by a luthier while bringing the guitar back to perfect shape.

40

For Afire and Ed, smooth shiny on right, rough dull and more worn on left. They just seem like different metal finishes to me? Thoughts welcome.

41

For Afire and Ed, smooth shiny on right, rough dull and more worn on left. They just seem like different metal finishes to me? Thoughts welcome.

– JazzBoxJunky

Those are both anodized.

42

I would agree with that, except they are completely different color and feel and how they wore off, also the one on the right matches the knobs in feel and color? Extremely different lots of anodizing perhaps, sure seems plated to me?

43

For Afire and Ed, smooth shiny on right, rough dull and more worn on left. They just seem like different metal finishes to me? Thoughts welcome.

– JazzBoxJunky

But both seem pretty clearly (at least from this picture) to appear more in the "anodized" type of finish than the later gold plated finish seen on '60s Bigsbys, or even the '56-'57ish B7 posted earlier in this thread. But I certainly wouldn't know better than you. I've never even seen one in the flesh.

44

I’m guessing it’s likely both are not gold plated, I’m thinking we are looking at two very different types of anodized finishes, or perhaps the shiny smooth one is some other surface finish. Thanks for weighing in, early Bigsbys are a bit unique.

45

I find a variety of looks with "anodized" Bigsby units.

46

I find a variety of looks with "anodized" Bigsby units.

– kc_eddie_b

The anodized B3 unit on the left side of this photo (sans arm) was spray painted silver when I got it. I scrubbed the living crap out of it with turpentine, trying to get the silver paint off. It ultimately worked, and the gold finish never budged!

47

Thanks Ed, exactly as I thought, the surface treatments vary a lot in color and texture.

48

Is it possible that there are no gold Bigsbys in the '57/'58 frame after they stopped anodizing and before they actually plated? I tried to find a gold B6 from that time and every guitar I saw was not original.

49

Is it possible that there are no gold Bigsbys in the '57/'58 frame after they stopped anodizing and before they actually plated? I tried to find a gold B6 from that time and every guitar I saw was not original.

– sascha

They were gold plating in '56. As far as I can tell, there were no gold plated fixed arm, and I've seen gold plating on every variation of swivel arm'd Bigsbys, excluding the Swing-A-Way.

50

Gretsch went aluminum only from '56 to '61, bringing back gold on the Country Gent only in '62. But it appears that there were gold Bigsbys made in that time frame. They show up on Gibsons.

1958 LP Custom with '56 to very early '58 spoon/DE handle:

1960 ES-355 with flat arm and Philips bolt:

Whatever they were doing for the gold finish in this era, the results seem to have been pretty iffy. Maybe that's why Gretsch avoided them for several years, waiting until there was a consistent, durable and shiny gold finish coming from Bigsby. Because the ones made from '62 on were indeed pretty consistent and wear at least as well as, and I would say usually better than, the rest of the gold plated hardware.


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