I believe I mentioned that I didn't get a new Bigsby because it might look out of place, i.e., too new, for this guitar.
I managed to find a 'vintage' B11. A little tarnish here and there, but pretty much used-but-not-abused looking. The worst part is the light rust on the arm's attachment pin - you can see it where the arm meets the body.
So I got out my usual polishing compounds and went at it.
You'll note that the B11 looks a little more 'art deco' than the more common B3 and B6 models. I thought it was a good change; it looks a little more lightweight. And it is, but only like 4 tenths of an ounce!
But that didn't stop me from double-checking. The last thing I want to do is have a crooked tailpiece.
So I used a long straightedge to 'extend' the sides of the neck down to the end of the guitar. I made marks on a piece of tape there.
You can also see that I soldered a ring onto the ground wire. I'll put that under one of the screws when I put the new tailpiece on, so the strings (and bridge and tailpiece) will be grounded.
If you've ever played an electric guitar and there is hum that stops when you touch the strings, the issue might be that the strings aren't grounded. When you touch them, your body is acting as a ground.
I'm lining it up so it will be straight when I drill new holes.
But there are 2 other holes on the bracket that don't line up with the old holes - they're further in than the old ones.
So I have to drill 2 new holes. Didn't want to, but they're small and they'll be covered up by any tailpiece that ever goes on the guitar.
I believe I used a 7/64 bit for these pilot holes.
I had visions of the Bigsby sliding all over the guitar, so I wanted to be safe.
Here it is mounted on the guitar. Bigsby tailpieces come with felt on a couple of spots where they touch the guitar top, and I decided to put some more on the two long 'rails' on either side. That way the finish won't get scratched up.
Not that this thing is coming off any time soon.
Some of the other Bigsby models have a more square mounting with 4 screws. I think this one looks a bit better.
After attaching it, I put the spring in (I'm using a 7/8 for now but I also have a 1 inch on hand), and strung it up.
Pretty cool, don't you think?
This arm is the standard 6 inch one, but I do have a 9.5 inch version on order. Just something to experiment with. I have a feeling the longer arm might wind up on the Gretsch.
Plus you can do the occasional bwwwowwww vibrato with it. Very cool.
I'm using .012s on this guitar (and my Gretsch...) with a wound .024 third string. Plays just perfectly set up that way. Not too hard to bend strings given the 24 3/4 inch Gibson scale length.