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Mark Siegel

ES-175 Bigsby Install

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The only issue is that you'll need a roller bridge - if you keep the original on, you risk dogging it out. There should be no need to drill holes (and you really shouldn't!), the mounting plate should go right under the strap button. You could possibly need a longer strap button screw but probably not. Post some before/after pics! Sounds like a fun afternoon...

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Thank you so much for the reply. More detail: My Guitar is a 175D w/P90s and has the original Rosewood Saddle, Bridge, and Trapeze Tailpiece. The question is whether the hole pattern on the B6 mounting plate Hinge is the same as on the Trapeze Tailpiece?

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If the holes match up, then feel free to screw down the Bigsby's backplate. If they don't, then don't go all willy nilly drilling new holes -- use a fender washer under the strap button to hold down the backplate. (fender washers have nothing to do with Fender guitars, it's a type of washer) Between the strap button screw and normal string tension, the Bigsby won't go anywhere. Make sure there's some felt or something glues onto the Bigsby tailpiece wherever it makes contact with your guitar's body. I'm not sure if they come with the felt already on them or not.

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Don't do it!! Buy a Gretsch instead. Most of them are relatively inexpensive, great guitars, and have Bigsby's already installed. Sorry, but an ES 175 with P-90's is a very nice guitar...don't modify it or you may regret it....

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Thank you. I appreciate the support. I test drove the Gretsch 5120 and 5122 and looked at some of the higher end models. Although nice sounding Guitars especially with the Bigsby, my style is more jazzy than country. Besides, I already overspent my budget on the 175 when I acquired it a couple of years ago - still recovering. I will not drill any holes. If the hole patterns on the Hinge plates match, I most likely will go for it.

 

A couple of issues though: 1) the '53 175 has a plastic strap button (not the screw type button), which looks like it is wedged in solid. Not sure I want to mess with it. 2) will I need a new bridge?, 3) Bigsby recommended the B6 but could not provide the dimensions for the Hinge hole pattern. Any detail dims?

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Hi Mark -

 

BIG ES-175 fan here... I've also done Bigsby installs on two ES-135's, an ES-125TDC, an ES-225-TD, an ES-5,

THREE ES-175's, and a '64 Gretsch Double Annie. I've also installed numerous Bigsbys on a bunch of Fender and Gibson

solid body guitars - including B-5's, B-6's, B-7's etc. I intend on going to my grave with my '54 ES-175D, so no one

could dissuade me from adding a B6 to my guitar! lol... My main guitars and only electrics are 50's ES175D & 225TD

and a 50's reissue 175D w/ P-90's. All of which have Bigsbys.

 

Moving forward... The B6 is the ideal Bigsby for an ES-175. No drilling on the top of the guitar, nice tension on the

spring / strings, etc. However, the mounting pattern for the screws does not match up with the original tailpiece.

So you gotta drill at least 1 or 2 holes to install a Bigsby B6 on a non-Bigsby Gibson. Trust me, I've done it

numerous times. Yep, the strap button can be problematic... In my case I took it out and replaced with a Schaller

strap lock button on every guitar.

 

You can do whatever you want with the bridge... a properly cut ABR-1 is perfectly fine. Others prefer a roller bridge.

I like the ABR-1's and have never had any issues with tuning or setup. Just get the bridge & nut slots filed properly

and you're good to go. On a '53, I'd go for an original 50's Bigsby and compensated aluminum bridge.

 

Either way, good luck and post some pics!!!

 

p.s. I must say, as much as I love the old Gretsch's, there ain't no Gretsch on the planet that can compare to an

ES-175 with P-90's! [thumbup])

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Thank you for the encouragement. I am hoping that the string pitch is the same on the B6 so that I would not have to touch the bridge & nut slots. I spoke to a guitar tech regarding the plastic button. He said that they are sometimes glued in place but should not be a problem. As to drilling holes, do you recall which holes required drilling and which ones lined up as your reference.

 

What strings do you use? I still have not found the right strings for this guitar. I tried D'Addario Jazz Light Flat Wounds (11-50), which were too dull. I currently strung Gibson Vintage Reissue Pure Nickel Wounds (10 - 46). Although they buzz too much up the neck, which is not noticeable when amplified, there must be something better. Any recommendations? I am tempted to try Dr. Zebra strings.

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My main point was that if your strap button is fastened with a screw, then you do NOT need to drill a single hole.

 

Put a fender washer between the bigsby and the strap button and call it a day.

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Thank you. I appreciate the support. I test drove the Gretsch 5120 and 5122 and looked at some of the higher end models. Although nice sounding Guitars especially with the Bigsby' date=' my style is more jazzy than country. Besides, I already overspent my budget on the 175 when I acquired it a couple of years ago - still recovering. I will not drill any holes. If the hole patterns on the Hinge plates match, I most likely will go for it.

 

A couple of issues though: 1) the '53 175 has a plastic strap button (not the screw type button), which looks like it is wedged in solid. Not sure I want to mess with it. 2) will I need a new bridge?, 3) Bigsby recommended the B6 but could not provide the dimensions for the Hinge hole pattern. Any detail dims?[/quote']

 

Just ensure the route you take is reversible, you'd hate to ruin a '53. What brundaddy suggested sounds good.

 

You should post pics of the guitar

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hey guys,

 

sorry I haven't replied sooner, very busy weekend.

I agree with the other guys, the Bigsby install is not to be taken lightly.

especially after seeing your gorgeous '53. personally, I'd be inclined to

leave it as-is.

 

to answer some of your questions based on my experiences:

 

- string pitch / break angle is compromised a bit with the Bigsby.

- plastic button can be a *****. mine was half cracked when I got the guitar,

so I cut it and re-drilled for a new strap button (in my case, a schaller strap lock button)

 

- drilling holes can be dicey. the bottom center hole usually lines up, but in most

cases that I've come across, the top two original holes will not match a Bigsby.

So if you drill for the Bigsby and go back, there may be two holes on the **outside**

of the hinge. sometimes you get "lucky" and can use two out of three.

 

- I use D'Addario 12-52's on all my ES's. I like the tone / playability of the slightly

heavier strings. The Bigsby actually gives and helps facilitate bends as it gives with

the tension as you bend. Pretty cool.

 

I think brundaddy has some good points. although I might opt for plastic washers

rather than using any felt on the guitar. Again, my experience has been that felt

eats the crap out of nitro over time. Even old nitro, it may leave a ring / impression

in the lacquer.

 

Again, your '53 looks stunning. I'd really leave it as is and find a reissue to mess with.

If my '54 was that clean I would've done the same.

 

Anyway, hope this helps. Best of luck!

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Ah, ok I see. I'd definitely drill new holes in the Bigsby (so that you use the factory holes from your tailpiece) before I go drilling any new holes in your guitar.

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they say a picture is worth a thousand words... well here are 4-5.

 

mine is a '54 with the same tailpiece as his '53. I installed an original

50's Duane Eddy style Bigsby with the stamped patent info....

(took months to find / get delivered from the UK.)

 

anyway, you can see what you'd be up against. I marked up your pic with

the approximate hole locations in red. the green indicates the existing

countersunk / drilled holes for the ground. after seeing them together,

I think NONE of the holes on mine lined up, including the strap button.

 

again, not for the faint of heart. lol...

 

screwed.jpg

 

1.jpg

 

2.jpg

 

3.jpg

 

4.jpg

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Thank you for the pics... Since you have the original Tailpiece removed, could you measure the center-to-center distance between the upper mtg screw spread and the lower mtg screw. The lowest risk would be to use the original Tailpiece Hinge as a template for drilling new holes in the Bigsby without touching the guitar. Since I do not have a B6 to compare and until Bigsby makes available the exact specs, I agree with the consensus to leave my guitar as is.

 

To be gig ready, the relatively inexpensive Gretsch is starting to sound better.

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looks right at 1 3/8", center to center.

 

if you decide to go for an alternative guitar altogether,

I highly recommend the limited run ES-175's w/ P-90's.

<---- my avatar is a 2006 model w/ factory P-90's.

There's at least one on eBay right now with a Bigsby

already installed.

 

I've had a few Gretsches, both vintage and reissue. While they're

fun, unique guitars - I wish I had just gone ahead with the

ES-175 in the first place. Could've saved thousands of $$$$.

 

again, hope this helps in some way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for the pics... Since you have the original Tailpiece removed' date=' could you measure the center-to-center distance between the upper mtg screw spread and the lower mtg screw. The lowest risk would be to use the original Tailpiece Hinge as a template for drilling new holes in the Bigsby without touching the guitar. Since I do not have a B6 to compare and until Bigsby makes available the exact specs, I agree with the consensus to leave my guitar as is.

 

To be gig ready, the relatively inexpensive Gretsch is starting to sound better.[/quote']

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Thank you. The 1-3/8"center distance between the first row of screw holes seems to be close to the Bigsby hole pattern except for the lower screw. On Stewart-MacDonald's website it shows a B6 and specifies 1-5/16" between the upper screws and 1-3/16" to the lower mounting screw. To verify, I would need to buy a B6 for about $150 and measure it. In any case, it seems that there are too many variables (i.e. string pitch, nut, bridge etc...) that pose a risk. Therefore, shelving this project for now is the best advice.

 

As to the piece on e-bay, besides being way out of my budget, I noticed that it did not have a picture of the guitar bottom showing the Bigsby hinge and strap button. On the reissue model, is the Bigsby factory installed?

 

For now, the lower end Gretsch (5122 model) which comes with the Bigsby already installed is about $650. This may be my best work horse alternative.

 

Thank you again for all your help. If you have a chance, please post a picture of your 2006 jazz box showing the Bigsby hinge.

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Hey Mark -

 

I was working across town today and couldn't take any pics of my reissue,

I can probably take some pics tomorrow though.

 

I don't think any of 2006-2008 reissues came with Bigsbys. I installed the B6

on mine and love it. I know what you mean about the cost though. They were / are

pretty expensive new and used. Great guitars though. I could **almost** sell

my '54 and be perfectly happy.

 

Will post some more pics tomorrow.

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One last note + pic for posterity...

 

I don't often look at these things, so I was surprised how

well this one lines up. It's almost a perfect triangle for the

screws with the strap button located right in the middle.

(my camera angle is little off)

 

I believe I used the original center screw / hole and

drilled for the top two.

 

Top screw spacing measures 1 + 5/16"

distance between top and bottom center screw

is right on the edge of 1 +1/4". Hard to tell with it mounted,

but very well could be 1 +3/16" as the Stewmac site suggests.

 

Anyway, attached is a pic. Good luck whatever you decide to do

and have a great Holiday Season!

 

bigsby_ri.jpg

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Happy New Year!! Decided on the Gretsch G5122DC w/Bigsby factory installed. For now, this should satisfy my desire for the Bigsby sound. I will keep you posted if my interest peaks once again to outfit my ES-175 with the B6.

 

Best regards,

 

Mark

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Mark,

I have a '59 that I bought with a Bigsby (B6) on it, which I promptly disabled and continued to play with great enjoyment for the last 30 years. May I just say congratulations on your decision - but if anyone reading this has a lead on a good roller bridge, I might re-enable mine. Remains my favorite guitar one way or another...

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