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Thread: Aristocrat with Bigsby

  1. #1
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    Aristocrat with Bigsby

    I took delivery of a gold, NW Aristocrat yesterday, and I’m super impressed with it. Having owned a NS X175B, I was aware of what the quality would probably be like, and I wasn’t disappointed.

    However, I’m really missing a Bigsby. It feels weird not to have one, but I’m a bit torn about installing one. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it’ll need a B7 type and a Guild version is probably not going to be an option.

    I have concerns about the “feet” under the bridge, stability, and excessive downward pressure on the bridge. I’m considering the Callaham front-roller to help things out a bit.

    I haven’t made a decision yet, so for those of you with a Bigsby on your Aristocrat, what bridge/bridgebase are you using? Any tips?

    Should I return it and get a Duo Jet? :)

    Last edited by dhdfoster; 03-18-2014 at 09:04 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member walrus's Avatar
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    I have no advice on the Bigsby, but I wanted to say I love that gold finish!

    walrus
    1984 Guild D64
    2008 PRS Hollowbody Spruce

  3. #3
    1) How often do you use a Bigsby?

    2) Do you already own a guitar that has one?

    3) Do you object to having one with and one without?

    4) Dang that's a pretty little thing don't it?








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  4. #4
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    1) How often do you use a Bigsby?

    All the time. Even in my sleep.

    2) Do you already own a guitar that has one?

    Yes, several.

    3) Do you object to having one with and one without?

    I don't object, but it feels incomplete. :)

    4) Dang that's a pretty little thing don't it?

    Yes, it is!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Walter Broes's Avatar
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    I have two friends who have old Aristocrats with a Bigsby. One is a late 50's one with a Bigsby B7 that was put on aftermarket. That guitar has a tune-o-matic on a custom made aftermarket base, kind of like what you'd see on an archtop, but thinner. It's stuck down with two wood screws in the bridge base, so obviously it doesn't move.

    My other friend just got an early 60's (?) Aristocrat in mahogany finish, the striped sapele kind, with the two white soapbars. That guitar has a Guild B7, and it looks like it might very well be original to the guitar : it has the philips screw in the arm, so it IS and old B7, pre-61 or 62, and it has the matching Bigsby bridge with the assymetrical "Dogbone" base like you see on goldtop Les Pauls with a Bigsby. He came by my place last week, and I've played the guitar for a while, and it doesn't look like that bridge is going anywhere - the tuning is as solid as it gets with a Bigsby anyway.

    You're kind of in between a rock and a hard place with an Aristocrat : the neck pitch is a little too shallow for a Bigsby B3, but it does get pretty steep with a Bigsby B7 - the first guitar I was talking about has the Bigsby shimmed quite a bit to make the string angle to the bridge less severe. That seems like more of a problem to me than the bridge moving - I think all the usual archtop bridge tricks should work for an aristocrat bridge as well.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Walter Broes's Avatar
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    Here's the early 60's one I was talking about - it was missing the lead pickup cover when he got it, hence the workbench pic


  7. #7
    Two of mine ('58 and '60) have an ABR1 on the original base. So far that seems to work best for me. They're also both down as low as they can go, but they're good there. The original wooden bridges were not working out well and the action was very high. I have another which I think is a '55, and it has the wooden bridge screwed in. That one seems fine the way it is. It may be a bit of trial and error for you. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Broes View Post
    I have two friends who have old Aristocrats with a Bigsby. One is a late 50's one with a Bigsby B7 that was put on aftermarket. That guitar has a tune-o-matic on a custom made aftermarket base, kind of like what you'd see on an archtop, but thinner. It's stuck down with two wood screws in the bridge base, so obviously it doesn't move.

    My other friend just got an early 60's (?) Aristocrat in mahogany finish, the striped sapele kind, with the two white soapbars. That guitar has a Guild B7, and it looks like it might very well be original to the guitar : it has the philips screw in the arm, so it IS and old B7, pre-61 or 62, and it has the matching Bigsby bridge with the assymetrical "Dogbone" base like you see on goldtop Les Pauls with a Bigsby. He came by my place last week, and I've played the guitar for a while, and it doesn't look like that bridge is going anywhere - the tuning is as solid as it gets with a Bigsby anyway.

    You're kind of in between a rock and a hard place with an Aristocrat : the neck pitch is a little too shallow for a Bigsby B3, but it does get pretty steep with a Bigsby B7 - the first guitar I was talking about has the Bigsby shimmed quite a bit to make the string angle to the bridge less severe. That seems like more of a problem to me than the bridge moving - I think all the usual archtop bridge tricks should work for an aristocrat bridge as well.
    Yep, I noticed that it's very in between the two desirable neck angles for either Bigsby style. Thanks for the info on those two. A custom base and shims may be the ticket.

  9. #9
    Senior Member SFIV1967's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walter Broes View Post
    My other friend just got an early 60's (?) Aristocrat in mahogany finish, the striped sapele kind, with the two white soapbars. That guitar has a Guild B7, and it looks like it might very well be original to the guitar.
    Walter, that can't be original. If I read Hans' book page 37 correctly, that B9 version (Guilds version of the B7) was only introduced around 1966/67 when the neckjoint on the Starfire V/VI moved from the 16th fret to the 18th fret.
    See also Hans comment on page 71 which shows such B9 and bridge on an Aristocrat. So the setup is exactly like the one on your friends Aristocrat.
    Ralf
    Last edited by SFIV1967; 03-18-2014 at 11:24 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Walter Broes's Avatar
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    Ralf, I know, I have the Old Testament too. But Bigsbies didn't have that screw in the arm around 1966. I don't see why anyone would go through the trouble of replacing that screw. I'd been meaning to send Hans an email about it, with some pics of the guitar.

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