Install Bigsby B7 on my '67 ES 335?

Doug Kilishek

Member
Messages
13
Need some opinions here. I have a '67 ES 335 w/ Trapeze. I've always loved the look and sound of Bigsbys and am considering fitting this w a Bigsby B7. Am I crazy for thinking about altering it (which would involve drilling holes for screws)? If not, should I also then be looking at changing out the saddles to allow for better string movement across them? Do roller bridge saddles significantly affect the sound? Anyone done this and regretted it?
 

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Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,351
It’s a tough call. Personally I couldn’t do it to an otherwise clean and no issues guitar, I’d probably be ok with it an on a player grade guitar. With my ‘65 355 which had a vibrola for which the neck angle was too shallow I really wanted a Bigsby on there and I literally got to the point of holding the drill over the guitar but I couldn’t do it - eventually I designed a complicated way of mounting the Bigsby into the vibrola holes, so if I ever sell the guitar I can just reinstall the vibrola.

In practice, people tend to like late 60s 335s with Bigsbys and stop bars more than they do the trapeze so either of those mods isn’t that big a hit to the value, it’s just how you feel about modding something.

Bigsby B3s sometimes work fine on 335s without drilling extra holes, the only issue is Gibson’s policy on neck angles in the 60s seemed to be if there’s room to adjust the ABR it’s in right - they can vary a lot and some will be fine with a B3, others won’t.

You don’t need a roller bridge, no. If people like them all power to them, but they always strike me as a fussy solution to a problem that can easily be addressed with a good set up by someone who knows Bigsbys. In fact, assuming it’s the original bridge the nylon saddles are great for Bigsby and vibrola models in that they’re a nice slippery surface for the strings to pull across. If you don’t have nylon saddles (I’m on my phone, the photo is really small right now) then the graphtech and tusq saddles do a similar job. Saddle slots should be cut properly as well - deep V shaped slots are a recipe for string binding.
 

Highnumbers

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,461
Considering the impressive movement of prices for late 60s 335s over the last year, it seems like a mistake to drill one for a Bigsby if it’s as clean and original as this one looks.

That said, adding a Bigsby or even stoptail seems like quite a popular mod for these, as mentioned above. But one day it will be hard to find a late 60s 335 that hasn’t had a tailpiece modification.

Does Vibramate sell a kit for the 335? That would allow you to mount a B-7 with no added holes.
 

John Quinn

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,575
Need some opinions here. I have a '67 ES 335 w/ Trapeze. I've always loved the look and sound of Bigsbys and am considering fitting this w a Bigsby B7. Am I crazy for thinking about altering it (which would involve drilling holes for screws)? If not, should I also then be looking at changing out the saddles to allow for better string movement across them? Do roller bridge saddles significantly affect the sound? Anyone done this and regretted it?
You can try the all - but I would go with whatever Gibson did back then first - then maybe put a Roller Bridge on.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,351
Considering the impressive movement of prices for late 60s 335s over the last year, it seems like a mistake to drill one for a Bigsby if it’s as clean and original as this one looks.

That said, adding a Bigsby or even stoptail seems like quite a popular mod for these, as mentioned above. But one day it will be hard to find a late 60s 335 that hasn’t had a tailpiece modification.

Does Vibramate sell a kit for the 335? That would allow you to mount a B-7 with no added holes.

The Vibramate requires stop tailpiece holes, unfortunately. Either Vibramate or Towner (I forget which) make a ‘spoiler’ that goes onto the bridge posts and creates break angle on a B3 install, so that’s a possibility.
 

50 Watts

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
96
I love a good B7 on an ES-335. A super clean one with a trapeze, I would tend to leave stock though. I've added B7's to ones that had a prior b3 or some other modification that marked up the top already. There is a B7 vibramate kit but be aware that that doesn't guarantee you won't scuff up the top. The nitro is thin and reacts with lots of things (cork, felt, rubber).

I've tried roller bridges and you definitely do not need one. B7's work just fine with the stock ABR-1.

B3's can be hit or miss. If your neck angle is right, they work fine. If not, its a pain and you are stuck chasing your tail to add downforce.

I tend to view the addition of a B7 as an irreversible modification. You want to be really sure that you're going to keep it.
 
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Spider-Man

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,384
No. Please don’t ruin that guitar with a horrible Bigsby. Those things are terrible.
 
Messages
256
Is it possible to drill out new mounting holes on the bigsby that match the guitar?

$200 bigsby vs not $200 guitar is the way I’m looking at it…
 

KennyM

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,008
Did it to my 67’ with a period correct Bigsby and I like it. Mine’s a definite player grade so wasn’t overly concerned with drilling. It did definitely change the weight balance and not for the better, but it’s dealable and a little Bigsby wiggle is a cool thing.
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,351
Is it possible to drill out new mounting holes on the bigsby that match the guitar?

$200 bigsby vs not $200 guitar is the way I’m looking at it…

With B3s you can buy adaptor mountings that allow them to be installed without drilling holes, the difficulty with B7s is they need to be screwed down to the top as well so it's hard to avoid drilling them. Depending on the neck set for that guitar you could potentially string over the roller and not need the top screws.
 

CalebLivion

Member
Messages
70
I’m a Bigsby guy. I have them on all of my electric guitars. I would never tell anyone not to put one on their guitar….
However…. I wouldn’t drill holes on the top of a valuable 60’s Gibson unless I was rich.
If you must add a Bigsby, I’d install a B3 or a B6.
You could probably install it using only the existing strap button screw, and avoid drilling any holes (only if your strap button screw is solid and centered that is).
There is the risk that the break angle might be too shallow, but you could add a break angle behind the bridge easily with a Towner String Tension Bar.
Here’s a pic from google.
83E6C70B-BBF3-4859-8726-D1B2338338EA.jpeg
 

Laurent Brondel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,328
It’s your guitar and you do what you want, my attitude would be to modify an instrument that already has issues and thus value is already affected, and/or one I never intend to sell.

The solution above will not work on a guitar with a shallow neck angle. My ‘66 Riviera has room for only one thumb-wheel on the TOM posts and is almost maxed out to the bottom.

I really like a Bigsby too, it's a cool device.
 




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