Bigsby for a jazz bass...

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Blackjac97, May 30, 2012.


  1. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Maine
    Hello!

    I'm currently putting together custom jazz bass. I would like to experiment with putting a bigsby tremolo system on my bass. Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject or helpful advice? Maybe which model bigsby would be best? :help:

    Any thoughts/advice/info at all would be very helpful and much appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. JLS

    JLS

    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Yep: massively bad idea.
     
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I've seen people use Bigsbys on their basses, but they're not without problems, such as going out of tune. I haven't tried the Hipshot but it looks worlds better, and I have a Kahler on one of my basses and it's definitely worlds better.
     
  4. BritPicker

    BritPicker

    Apr 20, 2009
    That's an awesome idea! Think of the fun you could have with that! Especially with fuzz on. It would be incredible.

    I'd be using the heaviest constructed one I could get. Make sure you have a good spring.
     
  5. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Maine
    JLS, what are your thoughts?
     
  6. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Maine
    BritPicker,

    The only one on the bigsby website that looks like it would even come close to fitting my bass is the b50, and it will take some modification. Luckily, I know of a good machinist!

    And do you think it would be worth it to get the 1" inch spring that bigsby sells as a replacement for the stock spring?
     
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Bigsby tremolos have needle bearings in the rollers. That is what makes them work so well. Hopefully they are over-engineered and can take the added stress of a bass setup. Otherwise, you are going to be pretty ticked.
     
  8. mech

    mech In Memoriam

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    The strings must be able to slide over the saddles and nut with basically no friction or it will never return to pitch. A locking nut and saddles with bearings can be fabricated. I've tinkered with a couple of basses with tremolos and frankly, they were a waste of a perfectly good bass.

    mech
     
  9. JLS

    JLS

    Sep 12, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    I setup & repair guitars & basses
    Quote from Chasarms: "basses with tremolos/a waste of a perfectly good bass."
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Well that's just dopey. You realize you don't have to use the bar every second, right?
     
  11. BritPicker

    BritPicker

    Apr 20, 2009
    If the springs not too expensive then get it. I'd be inclined to give it a go as it comes. If you can try it before your machinist friend starts work on it, just to see if it can work, so much the better. It's easier to sell off an unmodified item.

    As for the strings sliding through the nut, sure just lubricate the slots with soft graphite from a pencil, and make sure the saddles and nut slots are smooth. Maybe flatwound strings would slide easier.

    I'd imagine you're seeking wobbles rather than full-slack-divebombs, so I don't know if locking nuts is overkill.
     
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I have Sperzel locking tuners on my bass with the Kahler, but I've also played Dave LaRue's Sterling with the stock MusicMan tuners and a Kahler and it won't go out of tune, either.
     
  13. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    The only bassplayer I saw with a bigby tremolo system is Stanley Clarke, otherwise I only saw Kahler on bass.
     
  14. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Maine
    mech: I'm thinking about getting the gretscch space control roller bridge that they put on the white falcon bass (see thread "Bass Bigsby?"). It's not too hard to find them on ebay and a few other websites. These were designed for use with a bigsby for a bass guitar.

    Brit: I'm not sure that I'd even be able to try the b50 without modifying it. It looks to be just a hair too big to fit on the bass with the tension bar attached to it. Also, I will be using flat-wounds because I'm in the process of making the fingerboard on the neck that I'm using fretless (currently de-fretted, looking for good veneer to use in the fret slots). I will be sure to make sure the nut is well lubed. Thank you so much!

    p.s.
    And, yes, I am just looking for some tasteful vibrato to add to my playing! :)

    Why do most people hold the view that a tremolo, bigsbies in particular, are such a bad idea? What about them makes it such a bad idea? I'm not trying to play the devil's advocate, I'm just genuinely curious. As long as the tuning and the overall integrity of the bass hold up, then what would be the problem?
     
  15. mech

    mech In Memoriam

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    A roller bridge is good. Stable tuning is the problem I've seen but since you're going fretless you can compensate. One of the probs I see with a Bigsby style is that the strings need to wrap around the bar and the large wrap at the ball end will not want to conform to shape. Your machinist friend may be able to come up with a slot retaining system for the ball end that would keep that portion of the string straight and be much stronger than a pin. Finding the right spring to get a good arm height could also be worked out by the machinist. It'd be good for him to know the total string tension and he can probably work through the mechanical advantage of the system, since it's basically a pulley, and come up with a good estimate of what's needed and will fit. If you are also only going to use it for mild effect I would build in "soft" stops for how sharp/flat it would go to minimize any effect on tuning and to keep it from going totally wonky when replacing strings. I'm interested in seeing how this goes.

    edit: You will probably need extra long scale strings. I'd mock it up and take measurements before buying any.

    mech
     
  16. But, if it's going to be a fretless bass, then why would you need a bigsby?
     
  17. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Maine
    So, you're suggesting a bar, perhaps, has had the guitar string pegs removed, and maybe holes and a retaining slot drilled through the bar instead, which would be more conducive to the heavy bass strings (there are pictures of a guitar with that same mod in the "Bass Bigsby?" thread)?

    Would the extra long scale strings be necessary due to the extra length that the retention slot in the bar would facilitate? You don't mean making an extra long scale bass, right? (juuuust makin sure :) )
     
  18. Blackjac97

    Blackjac97 Supporting Member

    May 27, 2012
    Maine
    @mercer

    Originally, Les Claypool inspired me to think of that setup. I'm in love with his sound, and wanted to be able to use some of his inflection (I realize that not all of his dive-bombs would be possible with a bigsby, but I don't wanna go quite that extreme). Like mech mentioned, having a fretless could be an advantage with a tremolo, so that if your tuning goes out you would be able to compensate by changing your intonation. Plus, it gives you a wider array of sonic options to choose from, providing you with more freedom while you play.

    Also, it would be just plain badass, in my opinion, if you could pull it off.
     
  19. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    This ain't Twitter pal. That said, welcome to TB! :p

    I'm just a hater of Twitter lingo because people aren't places. As you know @=at. :(
     
  20. mech

    mech In Memoriam

    Jun 20, 2008
    Meridian, MS, USA
    The extra string length will be needed since the anchor will be several inches behind the bridge plus the string will need to wrap at least partially around the bar on the Bigsby. I don't think I would try drilling through the bar for the strings to go through since they would be called on to make a very sharp bend on the exit side. Something more along the line of a 12 ga steel or brass plate (3/32") firmly bolted to a flat surface milled onto the round bar of the Bigsby. If you looked at the assembly from the end, it would look like a "P". There should be room for 5 #8 bolts, three between the strings and one on each end that would use drilled and tapped holes in the bar.

    BassBigsby.jpg

    This design is guarenteeeed for 30 seconds or 30 feet but I think it would have a good chance of working with some massaging.

    edit: The plate would need to be in whatever position worked best with the geometry of the system...height of the bridge from body, height of bar from body, etc. I would disassemble the Bigsby and make wooden parts and use lengths of string (tying type, not bass strings) to see how it acted before cutting metal.
    mech
     
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