Bigsby on a Les Paul Jr

BorderRadio

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Just a warning though, I gave up this idea of wraparound-bridge-with-notch idea. There was a lot of play in the stud screws, and it didn’t really ‘rock’ consistently. Strings ‘pinged’ when I grabbed the bar, which is bad. I had very poor tuning stability. It was probably due to the fact I had very little break angle, like 1.5 degrees behind the bridge.

In my case since the guitar had a set neck, I couldn’t adjust the break angle. You might have better luck, but at that point you’re down the Bigsby rabbit hole….good luck, post it up if you go there :)
 

Boreas

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So go with the B3
I see you are 13. Great questions! Will you be doing the work yourself?

A B3 will likely require a neck shim and will raise your strings a little higher over your pickup. Most people don't mind this. Typically a B5 or B50 is used on a flat top guitar such as yours. Google "Les Paul Jr + Bigsby" and look at the images. Most will be B5 or B50. A B3 will give you a smoother feel with the tremolo, but a B5 isn't bad. The B5 most likely will not need a neck shim change but may not feel as smooth or "free" as the B3, assuming you can get everything properly set up.

Whether you need a new bridge kinda depends on your satisfaction with tuning stability and the instrument returning to pitch. Some people switch to roller bridges, but I guess some people stay with your style.

If you will be having a tech do the work, I would talk to them about your options, since they will be the one installing it. They may feel a lot more confident installing one over the other. Better yet, if you can visit a guitar store, TRY a guitar with a B3 if you can find one, then try one with a B5. You will find they feel different and you may have a preference for one or the other.

I would warn against a B50 or B500 because of the nylon bushings in the roller/hold-down bar. They tend to be sticky and result in trouble returning to pitch. If you do go with a less expensive B50 it is likely you will end up modifying it slightly to eliminate them - either installing ball bearings or a BiggsFix that replaces it with one with bearings.

As far as the Vibramate is concerned, I have never installed one. I just install my Bigsbys the standard way with screws. It is very simple, but does require drilling 4 holes - so unless you are good with tools and measurements, I would have a tech install it. Perhaps he would even know of a Vibramate that would fit, but your cost goes up with every additional part you may need, and you have to consider how much your instrument is worth to you. The Bigsby most likely will not increase its value much.
 
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Telecaster582

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I do plan on doing it myself. And I don't really think I'm going to sell it anytime soon. I'm kinda new to all the guitar tech stuff but I I've been a guitarist for 5 years. And, if I can get the money I'll put the bigsby on. So maybe I'll change the thread to how the heck to solder. I've rewired a strat about 5 times, but failed every time. Tried a partscaster tele, it won't work. And now the Les Paul I tried today won't work either. Be on the lookout for a how to solder thread.
 

BorderRadio

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Yes they can work, but you're gonna have to measure to see which model will work for the LPJr. If you get the B5 style vibrato, then you will also have to drill into the top of the guitar. It's all very doable, but remember to measure like 10 times before you start screwing anything down.

I'd avoid TOMs for any vibrato, they generally rattle and can snag strings in the groove if not set to rock a little at the base. Roller bridges are better, but I prefer bar bridges. Since IME the lightening bar is not proven to work that well, you will either have to remove the studs and fill the holes left in the top, and drill new studs to for the TOM post spacing. OR you can do the floating bridge thing. Keep in mind everytime you change the strings on with a floating bridge, it will fall off. You'll have to set up all over again if you don't tape it down.

Ha, well please start a new thread for wiring and soldering tips & tricks. :)
 

Sea Devil

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Be warned: bar bridges are nother potential rabbit-hole! If you decide you must have one, you might want to look at a TruArc Serpentune. It's compensated and is available in both rocking and non-rocking form, and the "low rider" base might work with your guitar. I don't know of any bar bridge that uses stop tailpiece hardware, though. As I said, it's a rabbit-hole, and since it's not relevant to any of my guitars, I'm not going there.
 

David Barnett

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This will need a B50 or B70 or B500 or B700 type Bigsby to get a good break angle over the bridge.

0860695050-scaled-p5hhxwkz157x72hisieesgrassfooj9i583ox4e6f4.jpg
 

Telecaster582

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Yes they can work, but you're gonna have to measure to see which model will work for the LPJr. If you get the B5 style vibrato, then you will also have to drill into the top of the guitar. It's all very doable, but remember to measure like 10 times before you start screwing anything down.

I'd avoid TOMs for any vibrato, they generally rattle and can snag strings in the groove if not set to rock a little at the base. Roller bridges are better, but I prefer bar bridges. Since IME the lightening bar is not proven to work that well, you will either have to remove the studs and fill the holes left in the top, and drill new studs to for the TOM post spacing. OR you can do the floating bridge thing. Keep in mind everytime you change the strings on with a floating bridge, it will fall off. You'll have to set up all over again if you don't tape it down.

Ha, well please start a new thread for wiring and soldering tips & tricks. :)
I did 🙄
 

Boreas

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Yes, start a new thread for the wiring.

Unfortunately. without having the guitar in-hand and sitting down with the various options you have come up with it is impossible to say with any certainty. You may want to try a Gibson/Epi site.

THE KEY is always break angle at the bridge. You have to look at the difference between where the string departs the tremolo and where it meets the bridge. This is usually referred to as the break angle at the bridge. If the angle is too shallow, which can happen with a tremolo without a hold-down bar, the strings will often buzz and slip when bending notes. Or it may miss the bridge altogether! In these cases you have to raise the bridge significantly, which may involve shimming the neck. With a B5/50/500 or anything with a hold-hown bar, you often have the opposite problem of too much break angle at the bridge. The roller itself creates some friction (especially B50/500 models with the plastic bushings), and the increased break angle only magnifies it. The higher break angle also increases down-force at the saddles, which adds more friction.

You can likely get ANY trem system to work but it is part of a SYSTEM. The trem has to match the bridge you have chosen, or the bridge needs to match the trem. By experience, I believe a B5 would work on yours (would be the typical add-on Bigsby for a guitar with a flat top) but the break angle would be significant. It may require a lower-profile bridge or a modification to the Bigsby - something like a BriggsFix which repositions the roller at a higher spot, reducing the break angle and the friction. Not a bad thing with a B50 because it eliminates the sticky plastic bushings and replaces them with ball bearings. I suspect, with your set-up, that is how I would proceed. Buy the Bigsby, then figure out your bridge options.

Bridge options would be to stay with yours (likely smooth enough), a roller bridge - typically HIGH profile, or a rocker bridge like those on a Jaguar or Jazzmaster. If you aqre extremely lucky, whatever trem you choose may mate perfectly with your existing setup. But it isn't likely. The X-trem you have above may actually work if you can get one WITHOUT the hold-down bar. I have installed a couple MosLike trems on a flat guitar, and I tghink the break angle might be fine with your bridge. But to me, the X-trem and MosLike are a little on the dainty side, but they seem to work just fine. They are also typically sold as a kit with a fairly tall roller bridge. But I had to ad a pretty health neck shim to accomodate it.

This is a MosLike trem and bridge on a flat-top Duo Sonic: NOTE how high the pickups are. They won't go much higher without modification. This is what happens if you increase the angle of the neck with a shim.
 

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Boreas

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This is more complicated than I thought it would be
Yes it certainly can be. It isn't terribly complicated, but is best left to people who have done it before, or are at least really knowledgeable about trem systems and specifically what they want.

Since my last post I have reconsidered your situation. You have a great guitar there. The LP Jr. is great because of its simplicity and tone. A trem will change all that. Not that it will be worse, but it will be a different guitar - and you will have invested $200-300 into it that youo won't get back. For that kind of money, you could fairly easily buy another used guitar WITH a trem. Squier Strat, Gretch Electromatic, Epi LP, etc., etc.. Then you have your original guitar and another one that does completely different stuff. For a guitarist starting out, I think this option would be your best. But keep us in the loop and let us know what you decide!
 

BorderRadio

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I agree, something other than a wraparound LP Jr. is better suited for this kind of mod. Your Tele you mentioned would be a lot easier to add a Bigsby to...
 

Telecaster582

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True, but I'm not amateur at guitar. Just cause I'm 13 don't make me an amateur. Not saying I'm a pro, either. The tele is going to be a 52 replica, so I think I'll try a Guitarfetish one for 50 bucks and see how it goes. I don't really plan on selling anytime soon but if I can get a chance to get one I think I'll try it
 

Telecaster582

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I should get a job. This hobby is more expensive than it looked like it was when I had one acoustic and my neighbor teaching me for free 5 years ago lol
 

David Barnett

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I agree, something other than a wraparound LP Jr. is better suited for this kind of mod. Your Tele you mentioned would be a lot easier to add a Bigsby to...

Seems to work on this one:

1643396971991.jpeg


That's Chris Huston of the Undertakers, Liverpool England, circa 1961-ish. I think he used the Bigsby-Sorkin bowtie bridge with it.

Chris is also the guy who installed the Bigsby onto John Lennon's Rickenbacker 325.
 

BorderRadio

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Seems to work on this one:

View attachment 945451

That's Chris Huston of the Undertakers, Liverpool England, circa 1961-ish. I think he used the Bigsby-Sorkin bowtie bridge with it.

Chris is also the guy who installed the Bigsby onto John Lennon's Rickenbacker 325.
Yeah, I hear ya. OP is 13 years old and/or new to the Bigsby-DIY vibrato world. I know it can be done, I've done it with a bowtie base, on a Gretsch Special Jet. I mean, one can put a Bigsby on anything, but peeps gotta make baby steps when starting out 😆
 




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