Bigsby or Maestro Vibrola for my SG? - Telecaster Guitar Forum
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Old November 18th, 2010, 05:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Bigsby or Maestro Vibrola for my SG?

Just got a used Tokai SG copy; I absolutely can't live without a trem on any of my guitars, I've got Bigsbys on all my Teles.
So, the obvious choice would be a Bigsby B5 or even a B7 for that SG.
On the other hand I'm very intrigued by the looks of those Maestro Vibrola trems on old SGs (particular the longer Vibrola version) - but I've never had a chance to handle one of those myself, and since I do use the trems on my guitars quite a bit, I'd choose function over form...

So, has anybody here ever had a chance to compare Maestro Vibrolas and Bigsbys on similar guitars?
How is the trem lever action on the Vibrola? Gradual & smooth, but a bit stiff, like a Bigsby? Very loose and soft, like a Jazzmaster trem? Very abrupt and immediate like a Strat trem?
What about tuning stability?

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Old November 18th, 2010, 06:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I have used both on SG's that I have owned. They are both very similar in terms of "sweep". I found the Maestro to be "slightly" looser and smoother but not by much.

I say that since you like Bigsby's so much, just go for one of those.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 06:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Virtually all of the Maestros I've played were nighmares. The springs on the old ones are worn and the ones on the new ones aren't as good as the old ones. That said, I avoid them because of my first sentence. i may have been unlucky all this time ;) I find a Bigsby is more reliable if a little more of a "machine" taking up space on the front of your guitar. If you do go the Bigsby route be sure to make sure everything operates smoothly and there are no catches anywhere in anything that moves before you buy it. Good luck!
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Old November 18th, 2010, 06:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks, guys; hmm, seems like I should go for a Bigsby, but maybe a B7 instead of the B5 usually found on SGs - since the long B7 looks slightly like a Vibrola, at least...
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Old November 18th, 2010, 08:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Frankly, the only trem bar I've ever gotten along with was a Vibrola on a '66 SG Special. But I don't own any trem bars now, so maybe I'm just not a whammy kinda guy.
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Old November 18th, 2010, 09:05 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Here's a pic of my(unfortunately long-gone) '69 SG with a factory B5.This should give you an idea of how a B7 would fit
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Old November 19th, 2010, 06:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That's a nice one!
They seem to be really rare, but I have found pics of SGs with B7s on the web, so they should fit (except on those late 70s/early 80s SGs where the neck sits farther inside the body, and they had to move the bridge back...)
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Old November 19th, 2010, 07:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a 69 SG Standard w. a factory Maestro.
I love it!

I think that the large chrome tailpiece adds a unique tone to the sound and the feel is smooth for me - not too spongy but just stiff enough to be nicely responsive. The arm sits on a higher angle to the body than most Bigsbys I have tried and I prefer that - it's very nice for a gentle shimmer on chords.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 07:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The Bigsby works better if you play pedal steel type bends.
Not as a bending mechanism, but as an anchor point.
It creates more down bearing at the back of the tune-a-matic bridge.
I recently got a 61' VOS SG/Les Paul and am going to put a Vibramate and Bigsby on it.
I haven't decided on a B5 or B7 yet.
The Maestro "drifts" more, causing double stop and contrary motion bends to go
out of tune (flat).
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Old November 19th, 2010, 07:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'vealso asked the same question over on TGP, and they mention the same thing - wehn doing bends (esp. double stop bends), the Maestro seems to react more like a floating Strat trem - the other, unbent strings will detune slightly; now, the supposedly softer action of the Maestro would be nice, but since I use pedal-steel-style ends A LOT in my playing, I guess the Bigsby will be the better choice for me!
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 12:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Update: Well, I DID get the Maestro, not the Bigsby, in the end - here it is:





The lever action is softer than with a Bigsby B5, but stiffer than with a B3 or B16. Since I slightly widened the nut slots for the 11s I strung it up with, this guitar doesn't have any tuning stability issues at all - even when doing the Nels Cline wobble it stays in tune perfectly.
What I don't like is the position of the lever - it is too close to the surface of the guitar, I guess I'll have to bend it upwards a bit (and I'll also have to losen the nut that holds the lever, it's too hard to move the lever out of the way when not using the trem).
My Bigsbys feel a bit more "solid" because of the material they are made from (after all, the Vibrola is only thin sheet metal covering a trapeze tailpiece-like frame, not solid aluminium, like a Bigsby), but when it comes to the way they work, I'd say none has any advantages over the other.

Oh, and about the bending issues: if I bend up one string by a semitone or two, with a tuner it is noticeable that the other strings drop by a few cents - but a lot less than they would with floating Strat trem - certainly not enough to be a problem when playing.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 09:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Roman,

That's sweet man!

I just finished putting my old SG back into service and tried a Bigsby for a little while... My biggest complaint was that the handle of the Bigsby was right over top of the knobs every time I went to change something.

I went with a stop tailpiece and am happy with that solution (It's cheaper than a Maestro too! LOL) but the appeal of a talent bar is always there!


I do think Maestro's look 'right' on SG's.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 09:38 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Bigsby!
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 06:21 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Hey RomanS....Here's my take on an SG with....

a Bigsby! This one's a Bigsby "Palm Pedal" which pulls the B and G strings up a whole tone each..........JH in Va.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 06:35 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Very angus young man - I dig it alot.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 12:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Hey Roman..........

How did you ground the tailpiece? I don't know about Tokai guitars but a Gibson is grounded to the stud tailpiece so when I installed the Bigsby Palm Pedal on my guitar I had to drill a small hole under the tailpiece at an angle into the control cavity to solder a grounding wire..........JH in Va.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 12:59 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Real nice Roman! I think it looks a lot better than the Bigsby.

How do you like the Tokai? Is the quality as good as a Gibson, or more like an Epiphone?
I've been thinking about a Tokai or Greco SG/LP Jr. I know certain years are better than others. The sellers say they are good, if not better than a Gibson, but I would like an owners opinion....
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 01:17 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Hayes View Post
How did you ground the tailpiece? I don't know about Tokai guitars but a Gibson is grounded to the stud tailpiece so when I installed the Bigsby Palm Pedal on my guitar I had to drill a small hole under the tailpiece at an angle into the control cavity to solder a grounding wire..........JH in Va.
Apparently, with that Tokai it's the bridge that's grounded - there was no ground wire when I pulled out the tailpiece mounting studs...
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 01:21 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryM View Post
How do you like the Tokai? Is the quality as good as a Gibson, or more like an Epiphone?
Frankly, I'm too much of a Tele man that I could form an objective opinion, my experience with SGs from Epiphone or Gibson is rather limited...
This one is from the cheapest, Made In China Tokai line; except for the nut, which needed some serious work on the slots (eventually, I want to replace it with a bone nut, anyway), the quality is quite OK, at least on par with a friend if mine's Vintage-brand SG (which is in the same price range).
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 02:31 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Hayes View Post
a Bigsby! This one's a Bigsby "Palm Pedal" which pulls the B and G strings up a whole tone each..........JH in Va.
Jerry-
I can see the utility of a whole-step raise on the G string "pedal" a la parts of "Midnight at The Oasis",but for half-step raises do you do that by ear or is there a stop like on some Sho-Bud RKRs?
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