Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Bigsby Billy

I call my red Gibson BFG "Billy", due to both the "ZZ Top" sound of the guitar and the rumor that Billy F. Gibbons designed its circuitry. When I bought Billy, I thought (and said, aloud) that it was the last guitar I would ever need to buy. And, it remained my favorite, until my 2005 Flying V came along. The addition of the P-94 at the neck, and the Bigsby tailpiece that I added moved the V into Favorite territory. 

Awhile back, I bought a vintage Bigsby B-3 to add to my Japanese hollow-body, in an effort to make a Rockabilly guitar. It didn't work out, because the B-3 didn't produce enough string tension over the bridge. So, I found an equally vintage B-7 frame, on eBay, for cheap, and bought it. I thought I would use the parts from the B-3 to complete the B-7. The tension bar would then make the strings sit tightly over the bridge.

In the meantime, I was playing Cooper (my LP Special, with a B-5) rather than Billy. So, I started thinking about adding a Bigsby to Billy. But, I don't have the cash to buy the adapter, plus another Bigsby. So...

Today, I gathered up the B-3 and the B-7 frame and started to work. 

Disassembly went smoothly, and more easily than I anticipated. 

Driving the needle bearings out was the biggest challenge, but even that only took a couple of minutes per bearing. 

Before long, I had all of the parts swapped, and the B-7 was ready to install. I still didn't have the adapter, so I opted  to do the old-school install. Nothing makes me feel more manly than drilling holes into the face of a Gibson Guitar!

I was careful to get the alignment correct, and I went with slotted screws to stay with the vintage vibe. 

The finished product was just what I wanted! I strung it up and played it for an hour. It holds tune really well, even with the stock bridge. But, I have a roller bridge to put on it, if string breakage becomes a problem. 

I'll be playing Billy for the first set, at The Phoenix, this Saturday, if you want to hear how he sounds.

We start at 9:00. 



At 8:42 AM , Blogger Andrew Wendel, Artist, Illustrator, and Musician said...

Just wondering what technique you used to remove the needle bearing assembly. I'd like to replace mine, and I couldn't figure out how.

At 7:22 PM , Blogger Jon said...

sorry that I missed your comment, when you made it.

I used a small socket, and tapped the bearings out with a hammer. Crude, but effective.


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