If you ever wanted to fit a Bigsby to your guitar, you may well have stumbled through the minefield that is drilling, measurements, routing, filing, neck angle and the assortment of issues involved in retrofitting these highly sought after tremolo units.
Fear not though, for there is an easier way! The clever clogs at Vibramate have come up with a solution that allows you to fit a Bigsby to your guitar with nothing more than a Phillips head screwdriver and a bit of time. Whether you have a Telecaster, SG or Les Paul, at Northwest Guitars we have all the parts and the knowledge you need to get your vibrato up and running.
Bigsby for Telecaster Guitars
Telecasters are best suited to a Bigsby B5 Vibrato, great for adding shimmer to your chords and expression to your leads. Not only does it enhance your playing but it looks fantastic too, adding plenty of retro vibes to these versatile guitars. Sometimes referred to as the 'horseshoe', the B5 is suitable for most flat top guitars such as the LP Junior, SG and Rickenbacker 325.
The advantage of a Bigsby over a regular tremolo unit is mainly in the large size of the tremolo arm, which allows you to use it with just a finger, rather than having to grab with your whole hand like you do with a traditional tremolo arm or a Floyd Rose. This means that with a little practice you can pick and use the arm at the same time, allowing for much more flexibility when adding vibrato to your playing.
To match your Bigsby B5 to a Vintage-style Tele you'll need the Vibramate V5-TEV Stage II mounting kit. All Vibramate mounting kits are machined from high-grade aluminium to best match the Bigsby vibratos and minimize additional, unnecessary weight. This means you get a build quality that matches that of your B5, so you can rely on it time after time, whether practicing at home, on stage or in the studio. This ingenious bit of kit works by replacing your existing bridge pickup plate, allowing you to easily and securely install your Bigsby B5 Vibrato unit with minimal fuss and no damage to your guitar.
Designed with vintage aesthetic in mind, vintage-style kits come with a 'Ash Tray' type bridge plate to match the one you'll be replacing. If you have a Humbucker in the bridge position, then there is a version of the V5-TEV with a Humbucker Bridge Plate as well as one for guitars with Filtertron Pickups available too.
The American Standard Telecaster requires a conversion to a three-saddle bridge before you can proceed with the installation of a Bigsby B5, whether you're using a Vibramate or not. For an American Standard Telecaster the Vibramate V5-TEAS Mounting Kit allows you to securely install your new tremolo without ruining the finish of your guitar.
Bigsby for SG & Flat Top Guitars
There's not many guitars with a rock and roll heritage more hallowed than an SG, and once you add a Bigsby into the equation you've got one seriously good looking guitar! Whether you've got an SG in Heritage Cherry, Alpine White or Ebony the last thing you want to do is ruin the finish by drilling a bunch of holes in it.
Thankfully there's a Vibramate for that, and it's not just the SG it fits either. The Vibramate V5 Standard fits pretty much any guitar with a tune-o-matic style bridge and a flat top, be it a Gibson, Epiphone, Ibanez, Schecter, ESP as well as plenty of other big guitar brands.
Depending on the type of scratch plate your guitar has, you may need the Vibramate V5 Short Tail, if like in the picture above you have an SG Classic or a curved scratch plate. This SG also features the Vibramate Super Grip, adding a textured cover for the arm of your Bigsby to ensure no slippage no matter how sweaty it gets on stage.
Bigsby for Carved & Arch Top Guitars
If you don't have a flat top guitar there are still plenty of options to pick from with offerings to fit Gibson, Epiphone, PRS plus plenty of other models. Adding a Bigsby B7 to an LP style guitar is a popular option and there's no way you'd want to destroy the pristine Flame Maple top of a Gibson Les Paul! Thankfully with all Vibramate Mounting Kits you get three felt pads to ensure a fit that's firm enough to hold the bulky Bigsby unit in place, but soft enough to ensure no damage is done to the top of the guitar.
To mount a Bigsby B7 to your Les Paul style guitar you'll need the Vibramate V7-LP Mounting Kit. It's super simple to install and lets you add a wealth of additional sounds to your repertoire, as well looking ridiculously cool. It works with a big range of LP guitars with the stop tail and tune-o-matic style bridge.
There's also the Vibramate V7-335 Mounting Kit for fitting to a variety of Gibson and Epiphone 335 models, if you prefer hollow body and semi acoustic guitars.
The Vibramate String Spoiler is an extremely popular piece of kit that makes string changes a breeze. It also doesn't require any special tools to install, slipping easily into place by hand. The fulcrum position eliminates unwanted radial strain to the ball end string wrap, potentially increasing the amount by which the Bigsby will pitch bend, whilst simultaneously keeping the feel of your Bigsby exactly the same. It's an awesome upgrade for any Bigsby-equipped guitar, and one of our best selling bits of Vibramate kit!
Whilst the wide world of Bigsby's and Vibramate's can seem like a bit of a minefield, once you break it down it's quite simple to work out which is the right choice for you. With our guide, adding a Bigsby to your guitar doesn't have to be a headache!
If you're still not sure which Vibramate Mounting Kit is the right option for you, then feel free to give us a call or send us an email, and one of our expert team will be more than happy to help you pick the right kit for your guitar. To view the full compatibility list for all guitars, head over the Vibramate website where they have a huge list of instruments for all their products.
For more hardware knowledge learn all about Guitar Bridge Types.
Got a Floyd Rose? Get it playing its best with our Floyd Rose Setup Guide.
Read up on Guitar Tuners and their relationship with your guitar bridge.