Does a Bigsby change tone?

Tele belly

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
114
Hey guys.. always thought the looks of a bigsby on a tele was cool looking and cool sounding. That being said, I have a tele that sounds “cool” now and I don’t want the bigsby I’m thinking of buying to change the sound. Now I’m not one of those guys with sonic hearing that can hear the difference that tuning keys make or slight variations in pickup pole height but I don’t want it to make it thin sounding. Any of you bigsby users care to chime in and help me figure out whether to buy or not to buy? I mean, maybe buy upgraded bridge or saddles to go with the bigsby kit? Thanks in advance for any insight.
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,249
Add a B5 to a Tele that has a 3-saddle bridge with a bridgeplate that is notched to clear the strings. It will go over the saddles almost the same as a toploader and sound almost the same. I doubt I'd be able to guess which was which between recordings.
 

Tele belly

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
114
Add a B5 to a Tele that has a 3-saddle bridge with a bridgeplate that is notched to clear the strings. It will go over the saddles almost the same as a toploader and sound almost the same. I doubt I'd be able to guess which was which between recordings.
Thanks!
 

Guppie

Member
Messages
1,070
I have put a bigsby on my Gibson SG. There was hardly any difference. I have listened out for it. Nothing that couldn't be influenced by string gauge, pickup height, pot resistance and such.
I have put bigsby's on other guitars before and the only consistent change that I have noticed is a slightly brighter attack transient in the first millisecond on a note. That's it.
I have noticed no negative impact on sustain. Sometimes I really thought the bigsby added some sustain.
The bridge is the important factor here. It should be stable and good quality.
 

Whiskeyrebel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,249
Vibramate makes a bridge plate that holds a B5, mounts the pickup and also holds 3 barrel saddles. I have not tried it though. I have a notched plate with the B50 screwed right to the guitar. The Vibramate looks like it would have been easier to install than the way I did it.
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
21,832
I have Bigsbys on 2 of my Airlines... imho, they give the guitar a bit of a softer tone, but these are hollow mahogany bodies. Also I like the action feel from the Bigsbys.....I did put on BriggsBixfix higher rollers.. now they stay in perfect tune.. on solid body guitars the tone results could be different...View media item 194337
 

Rotten

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,238
I put a Bigsby on one of my ES-175s. I noticed no change in tone and I play loud and clean.
 

DRS

Member
Messages
11,649
My Epi Johnny A came with a Bigsby. I bought a fixed tailpiece and swapped it. Not any real difference. I ended up putting the Bigsby back on and couldn't be happier.
 

brobar

Member
Messages
439
I haven’t put a bigsby on any of my teles or guitars mainly because someone who knows way more about it than I do says they are a complete tone-suck.

he has mentioned it in countless threads: search link

of course that doesn’t mean he is right or wrong, but I’ve seen many others corroborate that story. And then you have some here who refute it. So who knows? Give it a go and tell us how it turns out?
 

John Quinn

Member
Messages
1,679
Hey guys.. always thought the looks of a bigsby on a tele was cool looking and cool sounding. That being said, I have a tele that sounds “cool” now and I don’t want the bigsby I’m thinking of buying to change the sound. Now I’m not one of those guys with sonic hearing that can hear the difference that tuning keys make or slight variations in pickup pole height but I don’t want it to make it thin sounding. Any of you bigsby users care to chime in and help me figure out whether to buy or not to buy? I mean, maybe buy upgraded bridge or saddles to go with the bigsby kit? Thanks in advance for any insight.

My experience is that a Bigsby make a improvement in tone on Hollow Body and Semi Hollow Body guitars. Solid Body guitar - not so much..
 

3waytie4last

Unfluencer
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
4,528
I just bought a tele with a bigsby and it sounds exactly like a vintage tele should sound. Would it sound even more so without the bigsby? Dunno, but it's just fine as is.

The main concern is it adds weight and can be an unbelievable PITA to string. So if you do it, watch a video or two for techniques of how to string it correctly, and/or get a Vibramate String Spoiler.
 

Rossi163

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,929
I love the look of a tele with a Bigsby but I have never found one that rings out acoustically like a good tele should. A big part of a tele's tone comes from the downward pressure on the 3 barrel bridge from the through-body string path and a Bigsby negates that.
Some guitars, like arch tops, improve from the added mass a Bigsby provides, a tele isn't one of them.
That's been my experience, YMMV.
 

Dashface

Member
Messages
5,350
I just love the looks of a Bigsby. Since I play live and don’t like tuning problems I always swap out the spring in my Bigsbys with a little piece of pipe. Problems solved!
 

Guppie

Member
Messages
1,070
mainly because someone who knows way more about it than I do says they are a complete tone-suck.
I'm not convinced he knows more than you do. Especially reading the reactions on this thread. I think he just really knows how to state an opinion.
 

brobar

Member
Messages
439
I'm not convinced he knows more than you do. Especially reading the reactions on this thread. I think he just really knows how to state an opinion.
I was never a senior master builder at Fender and I’ve never started and run a super successful custom guitar manufacturing company. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he probably does know a bit more about it than I do. But then again... I’ve never put a Bigsby on a tele so MOST all people who have done so will know more on the subject than I do.
 
Messages
694
Hey guys.. always thought the looks of a bigsby on a tele was cool looking and cool sounding. That being said, I have a tele that sounds “cool” now and I don’t want the bigsby I’m thinking of buying to change the sound. Now I’m not one of those guys with sonic hearing that can hear the difference that tuning keys make or slight variations in pickup pole height but I don’t want it to make it thin sounding. Any of you bigsby users care to chime in and help me figure out whether to buy or not to buy? I mean, maybe buy upgraded bridge or saddles to go with the bigsby kit? Thanks in advance for any insight.
It does a bit because it changes where the strings anchor and the angle of them behind the bridge. I would say the attack becomes slightly thumpier with a Bigsby. Less of a sharp attack. (Assuming the strings loaded through the body prior to installing a Bigsby).
 

wetordry

Member
Messages
4,647
I dont think they sound the same, or feel the same. I sure don't think they sound bad. I like them regardless, it's a tradeoff.
 

Tele belly

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
114
I just bought a tele with a bigsby and it sounds exactly like a vintage tele should sound. Would it sound even more so without the bigsby? Dunno, but it's just fine as is.

The main concern is it adds weight and can be an unbelievable PITA to string. So if you do it, watch a video or two for techniques of how to string it correctly, and/or get a Vibramate String Spoiler.
That’s a cool looking tele you have
 




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