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jaberwock

Callaham Bigsby Front Roller Upgrade

Question

Has anyone tried one of these ? how much difference do they make to the tone and sustain,  because 45 bucks isn't exactly cheap !!

 

  Regards Jaberwock

frontroller(2).jpg

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Interesting concept...I'm all ears!

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3 hours ago, cmatthes said:

Interesting concept...I'm all ears!

What's the interesting concept? Tone and sustain from a Bigsby?

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string guide with added weight.

you can make the same thing at ace hardware for about 1/2 hour of your time and 5 bucks.

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9 hours ago, murkat said:

string guide with added weight.

you can make the same thing at ace hardware for about 1/2 hour of your time and 5 bucks.

 If I had access to a lathe I'd  try making one for sure; but if I can rescue my Thin line Tele from the thin weak tone it has at present for 45 bucks, I'll give that a go.

  Here's what Charles Guitars had to say about the mod:

 

All guitars equipped with a Bigsby B5 or B7 Vibrato suffer greatly because the front roller is made from hollow tube and so gives a very thin tone with little depth, resonance and sustain.

Callaham's upgrade kits provides a solid, stainless steel front roller and axle that will widen the frequency response and sustain to where it should have always been. The roller is polished to a mirror finish and is grooved to maintain string alignment. This is a simple retrofit and pays huge dividends.

We say:

We have fitted these and the difference is remarkalble, Bigsby's have always had a reputation of providing a Vintage look but thin sound....well not anymore with this upgrade the tone is thicker and fatter.

 

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18 hours ago, kizanski said:

What's the interesting concept? Tone and sustain from a Bigsby?

Any improvement there would be good.  I love everything about my Bigsby'd guitars, but if they're lacking anywhere, that would be where I'd improve things.  I have no tuning issues and am not under any illusions that a Bigsby might work in your VH Tribute act, but that retrofit definitely has me curious.

As far as making my own, I lack a number of prerequisites there, from tooling to the required skills! :D

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1 hour ago, cmatthes said:

not under any illusions that a Bigsby might work in your VH Tribute act

You'd just need a guitar change at each verse.  :lol:

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I have them on my USA Bigsbys.  Definitely makes a difference- the Bigsby manufactured piece is hollow, and noticeably thins out the tone and hinders sustain.  I also added the back Callaham "holed" bar to one of my Bigs, but with the rest I just added the Vibramate Spoiler- the Spoiler is actually easier to change strings with (especially in a hurry onstage).

The string guides on the Callaham are also a nice improvement.  Don't regret getting mine.

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9 hours ago, jaberwock said:

I remember reading that Hamer reworked the Bigsby's on their guitars.

 

This is interesting as well. I wonder what they did.....?

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Hmm... only issue here is that my Bigsby, like a lot of the ones out there, is the Licensed import version, not the USA version. I think this only works on the USA.  So, I'd need to get both another bigsby, but also the roller upgrade.

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^ best yet I have seen.

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On ‎9‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 2:44 AM, ArnieZ said:

T shirt says they're local boys. Never heard of them before.

Probably because I haven't owned a Bigsby equipped guitar in years.

 

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On 9/8/2017 at 8:40 AM, Jakeboy said:

This is interesting as well. I wonder what they did.....?

Hamer fabricated (in house) these parts out of aircraft-grade aluminum to fit under the mounting "horseshoe" of the B-3 units they used.  It helped modify the angle that the tailpiece sat on an arched top, but also had the resonance/sustain factors of a high quality metal piece (lighter weight, obviously) as a transfer point.

Most people I've pointed those out to have never noticed them before.

HamerNewportBigsbyaluminumshims.jpg

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14 minutes ago, cmatthes said:

Most people I've pointed those out to have never noticed them before.

Add me to the list!

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I found some copper pipe that with a little sanding, was a nice tight push fit inside the front roller, added around 30% to the weight, and really reduced the "tinny " sound when tapped; adding some silicon grease to the two brass "bearings" made a  big improvement to tuning stablity, and freed up the Bigsby movement.

 A brass GFS roller bridge increased sustain, and fullness, over the Schaller it replaced, this plus the Bigsby overhaul turned this guitar from one I was thinking of selling to  a regular player for around thirty five bucks !!

 

  Jaberwock

 

 Thinline b.jpg

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On ‎9‎/‎16‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, cmatthes said:

Hamer fabricated (in house) these parts out of aircraft-grade aluminum to fit under the mounting "horseshoe" of the B-3 units they used.  It helped modify the angle that the tailpiece sat on an arched top, but also had the resonance/sustain factors of a high quality metal piece (lighter weight, obviously) as a transfer point.

Most people I've pointed those out to have never noticed them before.

HamerNewportBigsbyaluminumshims.jpg

I definitely noticed these but I thought they were just shims to fit the Bigsby to the Arch top.  I'm late to this post.  I came across this because I'm doing research for my Monaco and Monaco III.  I'm not sure which route I'm going to go yet.  I agree about not being cheap to mod.  Front Roller $45, Rear Shaft 45, how about a Compton Bridge $80.  This us adding up to fix a simple tremolo.

I'm new to this Bigsby research but aren't the Bigsby's with the horse shoe like on my Monaco and MIII B-5 units?

 

Edited by dhuber

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For those of you who may try the Callaham roller upgrade, be aware there can be variability in Bigsbys that may make it necessary to perform some minor filing / drilling on the Bigsby frame.  I used a flat file on the inside edges of the horseshoe to get the edges perpendicular to the bottom of the Bigsby so the roller would spin freely.  I used a small round needle file to open up the holes for the roller axle. It didn't take much to get it installed but I did work slowly and fit check often.

The finish quality of the Callaham parts put the Bigsby to shame.

 

From Callaham:

"You can run a 3/16 drill thru the hole for the axel to clean out the burr left by the Bigsby axel.  If the horseshoe is twisted or warped that can cause a problem.  We can shorten the front roller if needed.  You can even send the Bigsby to us and we will custom fit it." ...  "But warped or twisted horseshoes is a common problem."

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Posted (edited)

I made a brass roller for my Bigsby on my friends lathe while I was back in the UK, unwound strings especially sound fuller and sweeter, finally got rid of the thin nasal tone that plagued that guitar.

  Jaberwock

lathe 1.jpg

brass roller bridge 1.jpg

Edited by jaberwock
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US Bigsby's are still sand cast, like they were made decades ago. I kinda wish they would make a machined version with the same type of bearings as the US. I have a guitar with a licensed Bigsby, with the nylon bearings. I'd love to have something with ball bearings.

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