#1
Hello fellow guitar nuts,

I've been seriously gassing for a Gretsch 5420 lately (especially in the Fairlane blue, OMG it's drop dead gorgeous!). I tried one and really liked it. My problem (if you can call it that) is that I'm already very happy with my Epi ES-335 Pro, I can get pretty much any tone I want with it, or close, so although there's no question that having one more guitar around is just, well, awesome (duh!), I don't really like buying things unless I'll really use them. I'm not saying I wouldn't use the Gretsch but I'm trying to be realistic and gauge how much I'd truly use it over the Epi. And one of the things that makes me want to get the Gretsch is that it has the Bigsby, and these days I play a lot of Chet Atkins (well, I try to anyway   and it'd be cool to have the Bigsby to do his little Bigsby things. Plus I like how it makes the chords sound and shimmer when you slightly dip on the Bigsby... **chills**

So anyway I've been wondering... maybe instead of buying the Gretsch I should simply install a Bigsby on the 335? That'd make it the ultimate tone machine!!!! But then I'm wondering about a few things... first is: would it require to drill some holes to install? Because that'd be an absolute no-no. The second is: which one to get? From what I understand for a 335 I'd need either the B7, B70 or B700, right? Is one of them 'better'  than the other? And can you get them with the wire arm instead of the flat arm? Lastly, from what I've been reading over at the Gretsch-talk forums, regular bridges are not ideal with a Bigsby, and the Compton ones are better? Can someone chime in on it? From what I'm reading the Compton bridges are a definite upgrade over the regular bridges... but I have to admist I don't know much about them...

Overall I kind of like the idea because I'd get what I want from the Gretsch for a fraction of the price, and then the 335 would become even more awesome than it already is... not saying I won't get the Gretsch one day later down the road when I don't have to think about money (whenever that day comes... if it ever does....). Or is it a dumbass idea? Thoughts? Thanks!
#2
you'd have to drill.
you'd end up spending more money getting the parts and having it professionally installed and setup
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#3
I'm reading about a kit called Vibramate which means you don't need to (drill I mean)...
#4
I had a quick look, and I think that you still have to drill some holes for the Vibramate kit. Since you like the Epi, and don't want to spend too much, the Bigsby mod seems more attractive than buying a new guitar just for the sake of the trem. The only downside is that you likely won't recover the cost on resale, but resale loss on a new Gretsch is also going to be substantial.

I would be looking for a roller bridge, something like this:
http://www.stewmac.com/Hardware_and_Parts/All_Hardware_and_Parts_by_Instrument/Archtop_Guitar_Parts/Archtop_Guitar_Bridges_and_Tailpieces/Locking_Roller_Bridge_with_Bigsby_B70_Vibrato_Chrome_Polished_aluminum.html

Just check that the post spacing is the same.
Last edited by Tony Done at Apr 2, 2017,
#5
What if you try and get a Compton, but the retailer is straight outta Comptons?
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#6
The Vibramate is what most folks would use, probably. I personally think a good professional installation is even better. Get over drilling holes in the guitar; it's not that valuable, and it's likely that the Bigsby would be sold with the guitar when you get rid of it. 
#7
Honestly I'm not really thinking of resale value, I know it may sound silly because I guess yes it's not so valuable, but that Epi is da bomb, I'm telling you, ain't no way I'm selling that thing, and ain't no way I'm drilling some holes in it.

Maybe the best compromise would simply be to wait until I find a used Gretsch for sale... Tony mentioned a substantial resale loss, I think he's right, guitars in that price range typically lose a lot of value used... which makes great deals! So buying a used one would probably be the way to go... Bigsby B7 is like almost $180, add $50 for the vibramate kit, plus another hundred or more for a titanium Compton bridge... it's getting close to $400 already... not saying I could find a 'new edition' 5420 for that price, but with a little bit of patience...
#8
For what it's worth, there's a Vibramate designed specifically for ES-335-style guitars that only requires four small holes by the strap button*. The finished product, however, looks like this:

Which is an acquired taste that I have not acquired.

In fact, I'm not sure there's any Vibramate that gives an elegant final result, in my opinion. And on the ES-335, even a professional install would either be a rather inelegant B5 or leave those big tailpiece holes to be covered up. So I'd go for the factory Bigsby, given the cost and the end result.

*I stand corrected - it doesn't require any new holes at all.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Apr 3, 2017,
#9
Yeah, it's pretty fugly I have to say... looks good on the Gretsches! :-D Just not on a 335. What the heck is that ugly-a$$ "custom mod" crap? that certainly doesn't help! :-D
#10
Quote by OliveG
Yeah, it's pretty fugly I have to say... looks good on the Gretsches! :-D Just not on a 335. What the heck is that ugly-a$$ "custom mod" crap? that certainly doesn't help! :-D
In all fairness, without the holes it can be pretty righteous:


But neither the uncovered holes, nor a big square sign that might as well be a traffic cone covering a pothole, particularly complement an elegant, classy sort of guitar
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#12
Quote by Tony Done
It doesn't look as ugly as a Floyd Rose to me.
Doesn't take much doing
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#13
I put a Bigsby with the Vibramate on my Epiphone LP 1960 Tribute. No drilling or changes on the guitar. The Vibramate plate attaches right on the stop tailpiece posts and you attach the Bigsby to the Vibramate. It works well. The bad part is the cost. That Vibramate is about $50-60. It's great but it just a piece of metal. Not worth $60 but that's what it is. One warning is that you make sure you buy an American made Bigsby B7 because the one licensed by the Bigsby B700 made in China is not compatible with the Vibramate. Like you I just want that "shimmer" vibrato so no intense attempts at dive bombing which a Bigsby isn't good at.

Here is a video I posted on you tube where I put a B7 on my Epiphone Les Paul Tribute using the Vibramate and the B700 that I am adding to my Epiphone Ultra II and I show the differences.



Let me also add that the Bigsby String Spoiler is another $30 but it's well worth it. The Bigsby has always been a pain in the ass to change strings on but the Spolier makes it very easy to do.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 3, 2017,
#14
Rickholly74
It's a shame there isn't a longer Bigsby that could cover the stoptail holes on the 335 like it does on the LP. There is a slightly more elegant retrofit option I'd forgotten about for the 335, though, which is the B6, with which you can stick a string retainer in the holes, which I think is a bit nicer in terms of the finished product:


The string spoiler is a good call; personally I think it just looks a bit ugly on there so I tend more towards the tools available to help restringing the standard setup (of which the simplest is a thick dowel with a nail through it with which you can kink the string), but those who have to deal with restringing a Bigsby regularly may still prefer the spoiler's convenience as the standard setup really is a bastard.
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#15

The string spoiler is a good call; personally I think it just looks a bit ugly on there so I tend more towards the tools available to help restringing the standard setup (of which the simplest is a thick dowel with a nail through it with which you can kink the string), but those who have to deal with restringing a Bigsby regularly may still prefer the spoiler's convenience as the standard setup really is a bastard.

I agree the Spoiler doesn't look nice but I hated bending the strings and trying to get them on those little pegs. Frustrating at times.
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#16
Rickholly74
For sure, restringing a Bigsby without any tools to help with it ranks below cleaning out the hair trap in my shower drain on the list of jobs I like doing.
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#17
This would be a good thread by itself. "The easiest way to put strings on a Bigsby". You need three hands because once you get the string on the post (not bad once you use to bending the string and looping it under) you have to hold it on the post while to trying to use one hand to turn the tuner and somehow hold the string with tension to get a good wrap on the tuner.
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#18
Quote by Rickholly74
This would be a good thread by itself. "The easiest way to put strings on a Bigsby". You need three hands because once you get the string on the post (not bad once you use to bending the string and looping it under) you have to hold it on the post while to trying to use one hand to turn the tuner and somehow hold the string with tension to get a good wrap on the tuner.

So... couldn't the roller be redesigned a bit so that instead of catching the ball end on a pin, you slip the ball end into a slot or something?
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#19
That's the Spoiler adapter. See the pic above that K33 posted. The Spoiler is on that Bigsby. Like he said it's a little ugly but it does work well and brings the strings up to a better angle.
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Apr 3, 2017,
#20
Quote by Rickholly74
That's the Spoiler adapter. See the pic above that K33 posted. The Spoiler is on that Bigsby. Like he said it's a little ugly but it does work well and brings the strings up to a better angle.

I meant more along the lines of having a slot where the pin is. I know, you'd still be popping it in underneath, but it might be less inclined to slip out.

Not being a Bigsby owner(or really much of a trem guy in general), I'm probably missing something.
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#21
I don't know. Not a bad idea but then again that is what it is. 
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#22
I feel like even just a slight hooked end on the pins could convince the ball-ends to behave themselves.
Quote by Tony Done
This is a vibramate B5. It looks as if it hides or uses the post holes:





It doesn't look as ugly as a Floyd Rose to me.
I'm not sure why I didn't reply to this properly earlier, but yeah I had considered this option a bit. For me, the B5 looks wrong on an archtop, but of course nobody is required to agree with me on aesthetics. The other issue I have with that setup is that the B5 doesn't rest flush against the body and, not being anchored at the end, it seems to me like it would place quite a bit of stress on the tailpiece bushings and holes. Presumably we'd know about it if it was a serious risk, but it would freak me out psychologically at least
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Apr 3, 2017,
#23
Quote by Rickholly74
This would be a good thread by itself. "The easiest way to put strings on a Bigsby". You need three hands because once you get the string on the post (not bad once you use to bending the string and looping it under) you have to hold it on the post while to trying to use one hand to turn the tuner and somehow hold the string with tension to get a good wrap on the tuner.

You can use a capo to hold the tension on the neck, then loop it around the string tree and tune it up as you usually would. Use the other hand to hold the ball end onto the post because sometimes they slip off while tuning up, with or without a capo.

It's still a pain in the ass though. I love bigsbys, but it turns a 5-10 minute job into a 30 minute job.
WHOMP

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#24
Quote by K33nbl4d3
In all fairness, without the holes it can be pretty righteous:


But neither the uncovered holes, nor a big square sign that might as well be a traffic cone covering a pothole, particularly complement an elegant, classy sort of guitar

Yeah, that does look much better, I agree with you...
#25
I recommend getting the  Gretsch 5420. You might be happy with all the different sounds you can get from your Epi 335 clone. I know I'm thrilled with mine. But, when you add a true hollow-body like the Gretsch, with Filtertrons and the Bigsby, I suspect you'll discover new sounds you hadn't imagined before, and you will like them. You also cannot know for sure how losing the hard tail might affect your Epi in some unexpected way. Might not make a difference. Might change it radically. As I've said before (and gotten lots and lots of negative feedback), if you find screwing around with modifications to your guitar to be fun, then go ahead and have fun. But, if what you have know is really good and you like it, and you also want something different, get the second guitar. 

If it turns out that that the  Gretsch 5420 doesn't really do what you hoped it would, you can always sell it. 

And none of what I said should be taken as a slam against putting a Bigsby on a 335. If I had a second 335, I might be tempted to put a Bigsby or other whammy bar on it. But I wouldn't do that to my current only 335. 

Bottom line, modding can be fun. It can be rewarding for its own sake. If you want to do it, do it. But it is also fraught with peril. Acquiring a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) instrument that is already they way you want it strikes me as a slightly safer, less perilous path. 
#26
Yeah, I think you're right. I'll just wait until I see a good used 5420 for sale. Not really feeling the Bigsby on the 335. I think the only mods I'd want to do on the 335 would be a different set of pickups like some Lollars (maybe, current are fine, I'm just wondering how much more awesome it could get with some Imperial PAFs 😬) and upgraded pots/caps. Maybe the Compton... Maybe...
#27
Quote by donender
You can use a capo to hold the tension on the neck, then loop it around the string tree and tune it up as you usually would. Use the other hand to hold the ball end onto the post because sometimes they slip off while tuning up, with or without a capo.

It's still a pain in the ass though. I love bigsbys, but it turns a 5-10 minute job into a 30 minute job.

Brilliant and simple. Thanks so much for that tip. It was a "duh" moment for me. Great piece of advice.
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#28
Quote by Rickholly74
Brilliant and simple. Thanks so much for that tip. It was a "duh" moment for me. Great piece of advice.

No problem. It took me a good four years or so to figure that out, but a quick google search of "easy ways to restring a bigsby" brought that up.
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#29
Quote by gerdner
I recommend getting the  Gretsch 5420. You might be happy with all the different sounds you can get from your Epi 335 clone. I know I'm thrilled with mine. But, when you add a true hollow-body like the Gretsch, with Filtertrons and the Bigsby, I suspect you'll discover new sounds you hadn't imagined before, and you will like them

Ordered the Gretsch today. I'm excited! Hopefully it ships soon!
#30
Heres my Gibson ES-335 with BIGSBY B6 retrofitted with a screw-less Towner system

#32
OliveG Absolutely... The downward tension allows for honing in your tension over the strings and the hinge plate adaptor with the 2" strap button screw retains the hinge plate to the guitar so you dont have to drill in the four extra screws.
#34
townerusa
I would be careful about falling foul of the site's advertising rules, which generally err on the side of banning if something looks or smells like it could be advertising (as it's hard to tell who's affiliated and who's just enthusiastic). However, that's a nice looking Bigsby on a nice looking 335.
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#35
Mmmh I'm not sure how his post could have even been construed as advertising? It fits the topic 100% and what would be the point not to say what he used? If he hadn't his post would have been pretty much pointless? I'm sorry but this sounds a bit extreme, no?
#36
Quote by OliveG
Mmmh I'm not sure how his post could have even been construed as advertising? It fits the topic 100% and what would be the point not to say what he used? If he hadn't his post would have been pretty much pointless? I'm sorry but this sounds a bit extreme, no?
Yeah, this is probably alright, but it happens quite a lot that new users who show up and talk about a specific piece of gear get in trouble for what appears to be advertising. Especially given his username, he does look like someone affiliated with the brand and as such is probably at greater risk of such a fate. I agree that this instance was a potentially helpful contribution, and it's a caution rather than a threat - but if he created the account only to talk about the Towner product it would at least be a good idea to indicate any connection he has to the brand. This is purely from my experience but I can only think of a couple of accounts affiliated with brands who predominantly post about said brands and they generally make it clear in their forum signature.
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#37
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Especially given his username, he does look like someone affiliated with the brand and as such is probably at greater risk of such a fate.

! I just noticed that! * face palm *