What will I Learn?
- What tools you’ll need in order to restring a Bigsby-equipped guitar
- How to re-string a Bigsby
What looks like a fairly simple tremolo system can actually cause a bit of a headache the first time you come around to re-stringing your Bigsby-equipped guitar. I know it did for me the first time I tried to do it. It’s safe to say I needed a few extra arms to get it right because the ball-end of the string just wouldn’t stay hooked to the Bigsby. What a mess.
But after doing it a few more times, I wanted to share some advice to make life easier for you when you want to re-string that Bigsby.
Disclaimer: This is just a basic how-to guide. If you aren’t confident with doing it yourself then book your guitar in for a setup or for a re-string with your local tech. Always be careful when using string clippers and make sure to release the string tension before clipping the string.
In a Nutshell
When stringing a string-thru body guitar or even a classic tremolo style body, the string catches on the bridge-piece and frees up both of your hand to focus on pulling the string through the machinehead and winding it onto the string post.
A Bigsby is slightly different because you have to hook the ball-end over a pin extruding from the Bigsby tailpiece. And the trick is making sure the ball-end stays hooked onto the small pole-piece while you do the work on the machinehead post.
The second any tension is lost, the string will fall off and you’ll need to start again.
Bigbsy themselves recommend getting a small foam wedge to keep the ball-end in place every time you do another string.
It’s also worth mentioning that when you do loop the ball-end over the axle post you’ll have to retain the string tensions so that the ball-end doesn’t just fall straight off.
The Official Bigsby Answer To Re-Stringing
- Wirecutters – to clip strings
- Needle Nose Pliers – to crimp the string
Here’s the step-by-step guide:
- Crimp the string at a 45° angle next to the ball end (A).
- Feed the string underneath, around and over the axle (B).
- Place the ball end of the string onto the axle pin (C), keeping tension on the string to hold the ball in place.
- Push a foam wedge (D) into the space under the axle to keep the string in place on the pin while winding.
- Wind the string onto the tuning machine, tune to pitch and remove the foam wedge.
The Capo Trick
- Needle Nose Pliers
- A Capo
Another good way to hold the tension of the string down while you wind it around the post is by simply using a capo! You’ll still need to crimp the string to feed it onto the rotating shaft of the Bigsby trem.
You’ll still need to crimp the string to feed it onto the rotating shaft of the Bigsby trem. Feed the string underneath the rotating shaft and put the ball-end onto the axle pin as normal.
Then, instead of using the foam wedge to hold the string in place, you can pull the tension of the string and place the capo onto the 9th fret. Hey, Presto!
This will hold the string in place while you measure how much string you’ll need to wind around the post. The best thing about this is you can take your sweet time winding it around the post. With the capo on you could even leave the guitar and make a cup of tea!
From there you can just thread the machinehead post and string as normal.
Alternatives To Re-Stringing A Bigsby
I don’t mean you shouldn’t re-string your guitar. You should always re-string your guitar – it’ll just sound better. Trust me!
But there are some ways around the conventional method of re-stringing your guitar. For example, the Vibramate String Spoiler system which locks onto the Bigsby and enables you to attach the string to the bridge via a far more conventional, top-loading method.
Or you could try the Duesenberg trem. This isn’t a solution if you already have a Bigsby but it allows you to replace your tune-o-matic bridge with a Duesenberg Trem without damaging the guitar! Neat right?
Hopefully, after reading this guide you’ll feel more confident with re-stringing Bigsby-equipped guitars. It’s probably easier than you think but a bit of practice always helps!
Are you curious about how long it can take to restring a Bigsby-style bridge? Check out our ‘How Long Does It Take To Restring a Bigsby & Floyd Rose?‘article, comparing two of the trickiest tremolos!
Let us know in the comments below if you have any other ways of re-stringing your Bigsby, or if you prefer to get a tech to do it!
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