Back in March of 2015, I put a Bigsby B11 vibrato on my 1958 Gibson ES-225.
I've been playing the guitar a fair amount since then and decided to make a few changes/upgrades to the Bigsby, and also to the type of strings I've been using.
I spotted Bill Callaham's Bigsby upgrade parts and decided to give a couple of them a spin. I've also been less-than happy with the super-stiff spring on the Bigsby - I tried both 7/8 and 1 inch springs and neither made me happy. So I found a new spring to try as well.
And I wanted to try out a longer arm on the vibrato. Finally, I was itching to try some Thomastik-Infeld flatwound strings on the guitar.
Sounds like a lot of stuff but it got done in a couple hours. And I have a boatload of pictures.
I felt like the current bar is a bit short so I'm giving the long one a spin. Don't know until you try.
From the left we have the new longer arm, a Callaham 360 degree arm mount, the Callaham main string bar, and a 'soft touch' Bigsby spring from Reverend Guitars.
There was, but in the process, I still managed to shear one of the string pins off after all. Not a big thing, since I won't be reusing the bar. And if I ever did, I could maybe just put a new pin in, I thought.
Seems that the suggested method of disassembly is to take the pins out while the bar is still in the body of the thing. (Or remove the clip, but I don't have a spring clip tool).
As it transpires, if I had tried removing the pins with the bar in place, I would have failed. Because I was totally unable to remove the pins!
If you look closely at the picture of the pins, you'll what they are - just a rolled piece of metal. You can see the seam on the one on the end.
So it seemed like squeezing them to reduce the diameter and then pulling them with pliers would do it. (As is mentioned on the interwebs).
You can see where two more pins snapped off in the process.
I stopped to think. (A rarity).
I'm not going to reuse this bar, right? If I ever needed it, I could just get a replacement, right? Yes to both questions.
Ok, now to remove those stupid pins.
Sixty seconds with the Dremel and a reinforced cutting wheel, and our pins are gone!
I got the bushing off!
Is that beautiful or what?
This is getting exciting.
You might be able to tell the arm bolts were not the 'official' Bigsby nut with a nylon insert - they were generic nuts. I procured the proper nut and will use that for the new arm.
And the old 10-32 (I think) nuts, which will wind up in my 10-32 nuts drawer (I kid you not).
I'm going to try these Thomastik-Infeld George Benson flatwounds this time. I was using DR Pure Blues nickel roundwounds, but I have flatwounds on my Rickenbacker 12 string and my Breedlove bass and they're fantastic, so I figured, why not on this one too?
The Callaham arm mount doesn't have that 'stop' machined into it like a stock Bigsy, so you can swivel it anywhere you want. Very cool.
I'm getting used to the arm -it's really long! But it's right under my picking hand, and easy to use.
Couple of notes: first, the Reverend spring is amazing! The vibrato is now super touch sensitive and responsive. Now I can get gentle or dramatic pitch changes with it. Most highly recommended.
Second, the T-I strings are fantastic. Smooth touch, zero finger noise, and a great balanced tone. Plenty of treble, unlike a lot of flatwounds. Expensive, but very much worth it.