Changing needle bearing on a Bigsby B-12

JohnnyThul

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Hi all,

I am currently in the process of finishing another guitar and now encounter a problem with the Bigsby I was going to use.

In fact I have 2 Bigsby B-12's, I guess, both are from the 90's. I wanted to change the rollers for Callaham ones. On one Bigsby, I tried to pull out the pins which hold the ballends, but 2 just snapped of unfortunately close to the roller.
I couldn't extract them with the tools I had so I tried to gently force the roller through the needle bearing -> big mistake and I really could kick myself for not thinking and being in a hurry....well, the needle bearing broke.

However, I managed to find a replacement needle bearing (original Bigsby part), but how can I get the old one out? I assume, it's a press fit and I would need a puller, but I haven't seen one for such a small bearing.

Any suggestions?

BTW, I then tried the 2nd B-12 and the pins and rollers came out perfectly, no damage, but to my great surprise the Callaham roller won't fit one of the needle bearings, whereas the old roller does, how is that even possible?? :) I mean, the Callaham roller goes through one needle bearing, but not the other. I cleaned and checked the needle bearing, greased it, but it won't fit, I am completely clueless now.
Maybe I will just have to sand off the one side of the Callaham roller to make it work..


Unfortunately I am not set up for metal work, only wood, so, please keep that in mind :)


Best regards


Jonas
 

Boreas

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Hi all,

I am currently in the process of finishing another guitar and now encounter a problem with the Bigsby I was going to use.

In fact I have 2 Bigsby B-12's, I guess, both are from the 90's. I wanted to change the rollers for Callaham ones. On one Bigsby, I tried to pull out the pins which hold the ballends, but 2 just snapped of unfortunately close to the roller.
I couldn't extract them with the tools I had so I tried to gently force the roller through the needle bearing -> big mistake and I really could kick myself for not thinking and being in a hurry....well, the needle bearing broke.

However, I managed to find a replacement needle bearing (original Bigsby part), but how can I get the old one out? I assume, it's a press fit and I would need a puller, but I haven't seen one for such a small bearing.

Any suggestions?

BTW, I then tried the 2nd B-12 and the pins and rollers came out perfectly, no damage, but to my great surprise the Callaham roller won't fit one of the needle bearings, whereas the old roller does, how is that even possible?? :) I mean, the Callaham roller goes through one needle bearing, but not the other. I cleaned and checked the needle bearing, greased it, but it won't fit, I am completely clueless now.
Maybe I will just have to sand off the one side of the Callaham roller to make it work..


Unfortunately I am not set up for metal work, only wood, so, please keep that in mind :)


Best regards


Jonas

I am currently replacing the crappy bushings in a Chigsby with Bigsby needle bearings. They don't fit (OD too big, ID too small), so I have ordered others.

But I took a wooden golf tee and inserted it in the bushing, and tapped it out with a punch. The head of the tee fit nicely into the bearing and the depression kept the punch from slipping out. Took some heavy tapping, but once it started out, it came out smoothly. You could also use a wooden or plastic dowel of the proper diameter.

Not sure how I will install the new ones. I will likely press them in with a vice with lubrication, and perhaps even heating the frame.
 

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JohnnyThul

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Hi Boreas,


A golf tee, hahaha, that is sophisticated! :) But weren't you afraid to break the Bigsby by punching the bearing out? I am a little reluctant to use (soft)hammerblows....

Thanks a lot for the advice, I am going to ask around, if someone may have a golf tee to lend :)


Best regards

Jonas
 

Boreas

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Hi Boreas,


A golf tee, hahaha, that is sophisticated! :) But weren't you afraid to break the Bigsby by punching the bearing out? I am a little reluctant to use (soft)hammerblows....

Thanks a lot for the advice, I am going to ask around, if someone may have a golf tee to lend :)


Best regards

Jonas

I was pounding on a $25 Chigsby, so didn't sweat it too much. I also used a small, tapping hammer with a plastic face. Light taps until it starts to move, then you can increase the force a little once you know it is released. Another option would be to try to press it out with a vice, but you will have to figure that out for yourself.

FWIW, I did it with the frame still installed on the guitar, so it was pretty-well supported. You may want to support the corner on a padded vice somehow and drive it through that way. Another way to do it is with a drill press if you have one that is pretty beefy. The proper way is with an actual press.

I have never removed the bearings from an authentic Bigsby. They may come out more easily, or worse. I don't know. You could try a little heat on the frame, or perhaps penetrating oil to help the operation.

As an aside, I have another Chigsby installed on my Mustang, and it works just fine. The bushing is not as sloppy and there is much less friction. As you can see on the bushing above, the friction was terrible on this unit and it was unusable once up to string tension.But I just found a source for authentic B5s (NOT B50s) on eBay for about $125. I bought one of those if I can't get this Chigsby "upgraded".
 
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Boreas

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Hi Boreas,


A golf tee, hahaha, that is sophisticated! :) But weren't you afraid to break the Bigsby by punching the bearing out? I am a little reluctant to use (soft)hammerblows....

Thanks a lot for the advice, I am going to ask around, if someone may have a golf tee to lend :)


Best regards

Jonas

Always a good idea to have a few wooden golf tees around! This one had just been used to install an under-bridge pickup on an acoustic guitar. Golf tees fit well through the bridge pin holes and help with alignment.
 

Boreas

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Hi all,

I am currently in the process of finishing another guitar and now encounter a problem with the Bigsby I was going to use.

In fact I have 2 Bigsby B-12's, I guess, both are from the 90's. I wanted to change the rollers for Callaham ones. On one Bigsby, I tried to pull out the pins which hold the ballends, but 2 just snapped of unfortunately close to the roller.
I couldn't extract them with the tools I had so I tried to gently force the roller through the needle bearing -> big mistake and I really could kick myself for not thinking and being in a hurry....well, the needle bearing broke.

However, I managed to find a replacement needle bearing (original Bigsby part), but how can I get the old one out? I assume, it's a press fit and I would need a puller, but I haven't seen one for such a small bearing.

Any suggestions?

BTW, I then tried the 2nd B-12 and the pins and rollers came out perfectly, no damage, but to my great surprise the Callaham roller won't fit one of the needle bearings, whereas the old roller does, how is that even possible?? :) I mean, the Callaham roller goes through one needle bearing, but not the other. I cleaned and checked the needle bearing, greased it, but it won't fit, I am completely clueless now.
Maybe I will just have to sand off the one side of the Callaham roller to make it work..


Unfortunately I am not set up for metal work, only wood, so, please keep that in mind :)


Best regards


Jonas

I just saw your edit. Can you explain again what is going on with the Callaham? Any pix? What do you mean your second B-12? Why did you want to change out the bearings to begin with? What do you mean by "rollers"? I refer to the front hold-down as the "roller". When you say roller, are you referring to bearings, or the front roller assembly?

On my B-50s with the cheesy plastic bushings, I remove the chrome roller altogether and just use the steel axle. I also replace the plastic bushing with ball-bearings. This alteration reduces the break angle at the bridge as well as vastly improving tuning stability. It is rare that those plastic bushings allow the guitar to return to pitch. I assume your B-12s have the traditional bronze bushing on the front roller, so that may not be an issue for you.
 
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Boreas

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Hi Boreas,


A golf tee, hahaha, that is sophisticated! :) But weren't you afraid to break the Bigsby by punching the bearing out? I am a little reluctant to use (soft)hammerblows....

Thanks a lot for the advice, I am going to ask around, if someone may have a golf tee to lend :)


Best regards

Jonas

I also would contact Callaham for further instruction. Some of these tweaks/upgrades are snake oil. Unless your bearings are shot, they typically can simply be cleaned and re-packed with grease.

I bought a Briggs-fix and although it was a nice piece of equipment, it still didn't put the break angle where I wanted it for the bridge I wanted to use. I have had best luck using Jag/Jazz rocker bridges because of their low profile. I find I get the best results with minimal break angle combined with a Reverend squishy spring.
 

Peegoo

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A 6" bench vise or a large C/G clamp is ideal for this operation because you can line things up and press the old part out and press the new part in, in a very controlled manner. No banging on the thing with a gros marteau...
 

Boreas

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And interestingly...some of the import "Chigsby" units are actually made better than the US ones.

I was not impressed with the "finish" of the B5 I just purchased. The inside of the casting was dull and discolored - not polished at all. Still had some mold compound on it! Another thing I noticed was if the frame screws were not torqued just right to the body, the arm would bind in the rollers. I think the Chigsby frame is a different alloy and may be stiffer. Some state aluminum alloy, some state zinc alloy. However, stiffness can also mean brittleness.
 

Boreas

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A 6" bench vise or a large C/G clamp is ideal for this operation because you can line things up and press the old part out and press the new part in, in a very controlled manner. No banging on the thing with a gros marteau...

I agree. My good vice is out in my freezing garage, so I thought I would try to tap them out since it was a cheap unit. If I had a vintage Bigsby, I likely would have approached the situation differently. However, if I had a vintage Bigsby, I doubt there would be a need to actually replace them. I would start with just re-packing the bearings with fresh grease. But in my defense, I did not use a BFH. I used an old fretting hammer.
 

Boreas

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Instead of replacing the ball pins, I think I am going to drill out the pivot bar holes so that I can use the string-through-the-bar method of re-stringing.
 

JohnnyThul

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I also would contact Callaham for further instruction. Some of these tweaks/upgrades are snake oil. Unless your bearings are shot, they typically can simply be cleaned and re-packed with grease.

I bought a Briggs-fix and although it was a nice piece of equipment, it still didn't put the break angle where I wanted it for the bridge I wanted to use. I have had best luck using Jag/Jazz rocker bridges because of their low profile. I find I get the best results with minimal break angle combined with a Reverend squishy spring.

Hi Boreas,


The Callaham rollers are pretty well made, so, I do not think it's an issue with these parts. The Roller where strings come through is also fitting the left needle bearing perfectly, only the other one it doesn't fit through, so, I assume it's an issue with the 2nd bearing.
However, the old roller that came with the Bigsybe still fits through both bearings with no problem.....maybe the bearing is slightly off center or the like and the old roller maybe just a little used up.

Pressing the bearing in I don#t think will be too much of a struggle, but getting the old one out, that's another story.... I will see on the weekend, how I will do it, I will definitely try the tee :)
If all fails, I will just drill the old roller and use that, which would be a shame, as the Callaham part is much better made.


Best regards

Jonas
 

JohnnyThul

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Hi Peegoo,


That is a good advice and I planned to do it already after having done it the wrong way 20 years ago on a B-7, back then, when I was a teenager and tried to put a Bigsby on my Les Paul (that ended up taking 6 holes in the top, due to misplacement among other funny things :)).


Best regards

Jonas
 

Boreas

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If you drill out the bar for string-through, add a generous chamfer to both sides of the bar to prevent the sharp edges of the holes from cutting the strings.

Yeah - I believe you or someone here gave me the proper specs for the chamfer. Thanks! Without the pins, it will be easy to remove if I ever need to re-lubricate the bearings.
 

Boreas

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I find it odd that Bigsby has many followers, but there is virtually no customer service or thought to A&R. All the Bigsby innovation and remediation seems to take place with the end-users! Oh, BTW, the B5 I just bought was made in Korea! So much for the originals still being made in the states.
 

JohnnyThul

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I find it odd that Bigsby has many followers, but there is virtually no customer service or thought to A&R. All the Bigsby innovation and remediation seems to take place with the end-users! Oh, BTW, the B5 I just bought was made in Korea! So much for the originals still being made in the states.

Hi Boreas,

I know that the B-50/70/60 vibratos are made in Korea by WSC (Partsland, Roswell) and I know a lot of their hardware and pickups and most of it is of a very high quality. But I have never seen a B-5/6/7/11/12/16 from Korea. You are sure about that?

The licensed versions from WSC have a "licensed" script below the Bigsby logo. Also, as far as I remember the rollers dimensions should be all metric, so, you cannot change parts between these and a US Bigsby (well, maybe the handle).

Then there are the B-600/700 ones from China, but these I never tried, as I do not like their look.

Best regards

Jonas
 




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