Recreating a dogbone Bigsby bridge

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WezVWezV Frets: 8567
This seems to be one of those parts that is hard to find, but I need one for a project.  Its just a misshapen lump of aluminium so i figure it shouldn't be too hard to make one - lets see if I am right.

For those that don't know, this is the bigsby bridge base that came on Gibson's during the 50's.  Its odd shape is designed to cover the wraparound tailpiece stud holes, but they continued to use this past that point.   Its not to be confused with the sorkin/bowtie bridge which has a more ordinary shape and is designed for flatops




First step is to find some detailed pics.





.  First i compare a bigsby saddle to the monitor  and adjust the pics until it fits


Then i can stick some paper over that and take a tracing, i ended up doing it from the bottom view as it was a better pic.  That gives me a drawing of a reverse dogbone - must remember its upside down later on or i will  end up with a lefty version!




The plan is to make a couple of these. 

  First will be a clone of the original - used as a floating bridge with the bigsby saddle.   The second will be a cosmetic dogbone with TOM-spaced holes  so a normal bridge can be used and  mounted straight through the bass plate.  That might look naff, but the reason I am considering both is some don't like the tone of these... the second option would maintain the normal Les Paul tone if that is an issue.

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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 596
    Why do you want to make one of them, is it a tonal thing or because of looks alone, an abr1 looks neater to me 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    Cosmetics and curiosity 
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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 1307
    Subscribed!
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  • GassageGassage Frets: 19957
    Wez, as I am aware of the ultimate goal here, I too am watching...

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    Gassage said:
    Wez, as I am aware of the ultimate goal here, I too am watching...
    yeah, i will start another thread for that when i am further along.

    I have already done a small job which i think gives an instant and significant improvement.

    Bigsby have a habit of hiding the patent number under black paint... the casting always looks crude, even when the moulds were new in the 50's, but hiding the patent # always makes it look a lot worse to me


    But a quick rub with thinners gets it closer to how it should be :)



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  • GassageGassage Frets: 19957
    WezV said:
    Gassage said:
    Wez, as I am aware of the ultimate goal here, I too am watching...
    yeah, i will start another thread for that when i am further along.

    I have already done a small job which i think gives an instant and significant improvement.

    Bigsby have a habit of hiding the patent number under black paint... the casting always looks crude, even when the moulds were new in the 50's, but hiding the patent # always makes it look a lot worse to me


    But a quick rub with thinners gets it closer to how it should be :)



    Good move.

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    roughly cut the dogbone

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  • GassageGassage Frets: 19957
    Is that my R6 Wez?

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    Yeah
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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 7256
    Gassage said:
    Is that my R6 Wez?
    I can't imagine what you are recreating... ;-)


    I've often wondered why he never popped a Bigsby on the "Brick" Les Paul... I'm sure I read that he preferred the neck on that one...
    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • GassageGassage Frets: 19957
    impmann said:
    Gassage said:
    Is that my R6 Wez?
    I can't imagine what you are recreating... ;-)


    I've often wondered why he never popped a Bigsby on the "Brick" Les Paul... I'm sure I read that he preferred the neck on that one...
    *snigger*

    Donald Trump has spoken movingly about 7-Eleven. It reminded him, he said, of the way Americans came together in 1941 after Pearl Necklace.

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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 1307
    Is this a Gilmour thing?
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567

    I guess the reason @gassage owns an R6 with a Bigsby is a Gilmour thing.

    The guitar had an unusual checking pattern that was not really very pleasing, so we decided to go with a top re-fin to get it closer to how a 50's goldtop should look.

    The dogbone is a bit of fun for me.   If it works well, it gets @gassage closer to the Gilmour thing.  if it doesn't (loss of tone is my main concern), the original bridge can be re-fit, and it will still be a good approximation of a mid 50's goldtop


    We should hopefully end up with 3 options that can be swapped at will.  Full Dogbone,  Dogbone base with TOM and normal TOM.  


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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 1307
    Solid bar bridges are very popular with Gretsch fanboys.  The Dogbone has some love still, but most Gretsch players use Tru Ark of Compton compensated bridges these days. 

    They do improve tone, no rattling moving parts, so better tone transfer, but they either intimate or don’t. You need to get one intonated for either a plain or wound G. Matching the shapes of the base to the curve of the guitar top is also a big consideration. If it’s a floating bridge, a bit of rosin rubbed on the base will prevent it from moving without effecting paint. 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567

    The saddle shown above is just one leftover from my first ever Bigsby order about 15 years ago.  We will replace it with a plain G saddle if needs be,   although, back to that Gilmour thing, good enough for him...  options are kept open at this point

    Next job on the base plate is to create the recess underneath, then the ends will be shaped to match the top using the old abrasive taped to guitar trick.  

    Once that's done I need to see if I can get away with threading the aluminium, or need to add some inserts to hold the posts.   I keep meaning to check spacing, if it matches the TOM bridge  I can use the existing holes to pin the dogbone.  The posts can go right through the baseplate, which should add stability to the whole unit.  Of course, there is the option of making the saddle part to fit whatever spacing I need... but I don't want to do that when the parts are easily available


    The big difference is mine is cut from aluminium bar, rather than cast like bigsby parts usually are

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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567

    subtle difference on that one.   Its flat on the bottom and the wrong shape.  You can still buy those ones a bit easier.


    The Gibson version matches the carve and has a larger offset shape to cover the wraparound stud holes on an early 50's les paul.  They still used this  through the 50's even when not using a wraparound bridge



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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    this is now a bit further along.

    the baseplate is my work, the rest of the parts are from an old bigsby bridge that's spent 15 years in the parts draw


    Inserts are a good fit


    Slight overhang on the large bigsby thumbwheels



    The guitar it is for is in paint, so here it is on a different LP


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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 596
    edited August 12
    I'd love to hear the difference having just done that goldtop with bigsby i thought it sounded bloody great as standard, i can't imagine it sounding better,  looks good Wez
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    Its certainly going to be interesting switching between the two bridges.  I wouldn’t want to rule out going back to a normal bridge 
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  • customkitscustomkits Frets: 596
    WezV said:
    Its certainly going to be interesting switching between the two bridges.  I wouldn’t want to rule out going back to a normal bridge 
    sound clips please when you swap around, I'm genuinely interested in the tone
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  • TeyeplayerTeyeplayer Frets: 638
    WezV said:
    Its certainly going to be interesting switching between the two bridges.  I wouldn’t want to rule out going back to a normal bridge 
    sound clips please when you swap around, I'm genuinely interested in the tone
    Just want to voice how refreshing your openness to experimentation is Wez, looking to the past but willing to adapt if it simply isn’t that great. Keep the good work up. 
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  • WezVWezV Frets: 8567
    I needed to age the baseplate... apparently bleach is the way to age aluminium.   it worked really well and now matches the old parts  much better

    I also got the last coat of paint on the top earlier today, so time for a quick mockup



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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 1307
    Looks fantastic 
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