String Lock With Gibson Bridge and Individual String Height Adjustment

This article addresses issues and offers an improvement to the standard Gibson arrangement.

Ultimate Guitar


The standard Gibson Bridge allows for a movement of each string supporter in forward and backward position and uses two nuts for adjustment of the overall height of the bridge but does not allow for a string height adjustment of each string individually. Gibson uses extensively a Bigsby vibrator. This is probably the best vibrator due to simplicity, reliability, good return and easy use. This relies on a heavy spring to keep the strings at the same position when not in use. However, Bigsby vibrator does not allow for a string fine tune up in case of a string lock mechanism present. This article addresses these issues and offers an improvement to the standard Gibson arrangement.

Description and Solutions

Gibson use kind of a World War 2 technology and the bad thing is this technology is not German. The strings go over a bridge which may allow tiny movements of each string saddle in forward and backward position and two nuts to adjust the overall bridge height. However, to allow for an individual string height adjustment is very easy. All one has to do is to make vertical rails on all four corners of each individual string saddle cube and put one or two screws to move the saddle up and down pretty much like Fender do on their bridges. This way, Gibson would retain their bridge, which, as a great advantage, can be made movable forward and backward for a rough intonation adjustment as well as retain the two nuts for a rough height adjustment, as well as the fine backward and forward adjustment of each string saddle and also allow for an individual fine adjustment of each string saddle and string thus providing a greater flexibility. Gibson can allow a string locking mechanism at the guitar nut or near as per the standard string lock design of other guitars. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. One of them is to use a machines: lock: fine tune rollers scheme at the guitar head. The strings come out of the machines and go to a string locker position on the head and not at the nut. Then each string goes through an individually adjustable roller (bearing). This roller is controlled by an individual bolt and can be pressed down or released up thus affecting the string tension. The bearing has to be accurately designed, possibly by a miniature real bearing (two braces and spheres or double cones or cylinders or any other shape sealed in grease) to allow a free movement of the string in forward backward direction (reciprocal movement) regardless on the vertical pressure. Also, the string pressing bolts and rollers can be positioned on the axel of the Bigsby on the top, front or on the back as the guitar players are used to. Alternatively, the same setup can be used before the Bigsby vibrator or on the individually adjustable bridge. Then, the bearings must be very accurately manufactured to ensure the free reciprocal movement of each string and, most importantly, the accurate return when the vibrator is used since the movement there is higher due to string elasticity. I think the Bigsby vibrator is the best vibrator used in a guitar from an engineering point of view as well as the attachment to the side of the guitar is the strongest and the best attachment. The Bigsby vibrator allows for a good return because the vibrator is returned to the highest position by a spring which has no limit in size and can be manufactured to be very strong yet the vibrator can be easily moved by the long and strong vibrator bar. Despite, I still do not like the idea to rely on a spring, although I have been told Bigsby or Gibson have initially used a Harley Davidson spring and John Lennon has been unable to find replacement in the early years and had to manufacture one with a friend. I, hereby, propose a reverse vibrator design to eliminate the dependence on strings. The reverse vibrator design is the same as the present designs just works the strings the other way around: when the vibrator is not used, the string tension keeps the vibrator in the highest possible position. When the vibrator is engaged, the vibrator pulls the strings to higher tones as opposed to the present standard designs where the vibrator releases the strings when engaged. When released, the strings return back to the original form. The problem with this design is the tension would affect the tuning machines. Thus, either a string lock is required or the machines must be very high quality with many teeth and a higher ratio in order to be moved with greater forces, impossible to be achieved by the vibrator as well as each string must be attached on each machine with fewer loops. A reverse vibrator design fully eliminates the necessity of having a spring. However, the guitar players are used to releasing the strings with engagement of the vibrator and may not agree to stressing them with a reverse vibrator. More: a double action vibrator with a locked normal position may be designed. Thus, when the player presses the bar, the strings will be released and the tones will go down. When the bar is pulled, the strings will be stressed and higher tones will be generated. When the bar is locked in neutral, nothing happens. Good spring is still necessary as well as string lock and or good machines and correct number of string loops.


Three problems with Gibson bridges have been discussed and possible solutions have been made: the lack of individual string height adjustment, the lack of string lock and the fine tuning with Bigsby vibrators. In addition, proposals for a reverse vibrator as well as a double action vibrator have been made. About the Author: By Steven Stanley Bayes

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    As always, you are proposing solutions for problems that don't exist...