Monthly Archives: January 2014

Adding a Bigsby B3 to a Hagström Swede

So I had the thought today that hey, what about adding some more content to this site? Presenting the riveting tale of what I did on the afternoon of the day before New Year’s Eve 2013!

Swede

Guitar sans strings

First the strings come off. This was mildly annoying because I have been trying out the D’Addario EXP strings which are more expensive than regular strings and the set that was on the guitar were simply cut too short for a Bigsby installation.

The next step is to remove the existing tail piece. First the cover comes off, revealing the individual string anchors and their plastic riser.

Swede TP

The bridge laid bare of her cover, even

What can we see here? The anchors are obviously staggered with the front anchors sitting on two washers. This raises them a bit and gives all the strings roughly the same angle over the bridge saddles. The anchors were very well secured in the guitar with good long screws screwed in tight. Something that is less obvious from the above photo is the way the person drilled the wholes for the anchor and tail piece cover holes had not bothered to wipe off all the paint and wood flakes from the top before applying the considerable pressure of the plastic riser with hardware. Result? Lots of dents and little holes on the finish. Certainly not a big deal but a very strange thing to disregard at any price point. Some of the small paint flakes were stuck to the plastic riser after uninstallation:

Tailpieces

Tailpieces

Next bit, getting the actual Bigsby installed! Measuring where to put it turned out to be very straightforward and went so quickly I took no photos of it. I simply decided to first do a dry run to see where things would end up and how much room for adjustment there would be. I unscrewed the strap button, put the B3 over the end of the guitar and screwed the strap button back in. As it turned out there was no give up/down at all and very little room for rotation – pretty much ideal and no need to fiddle about at all. I made sure the felt rests on the B3 were as even on the guitar top as they could be and then made marks through the screw holes on the B3 with the actual screws, took everything off and drilled. Then everything went back on and I started to screw the B3 into place.

B3 installing

Screw insertion

At this point it turned out there was a small amount of adjustability in the angle of the folded-over end piece depending on which side of screws went in first. I tried to simply keep it at a right angle to the curve of the guitar (or is that “at an even tangent” on both sides? – something like that anyway). I covered the ugly area the old tail piece left with some black electrician’s tape – I would not call it unnoticable but it blends in very well and with the strings on I forget it is even there.

Swede B3 installed

(almost) Everything in place

After this the strings went on, the spring under the vibrato arm and the plastic washer under that, the strings were tightened and then slacked again and the plastic washer taken out (the arm was just way too high off the guitar body), everything was tuned up and roughly adjusted and that was that! It worked fine right off the bat and the next day when the strings had re-curved the neck again it was even better. The Bigsby unit is very smooth to use and causes no problems with staying in tune at all. I think it looks pretty cool too.

Swede complete

Done!

The astute reader will have noticed other modifications to my guitar – these will be discussed in a forthcoming post. Sorry about the iffy photo quality too, they were taken with a mobile phone during the Swedish winter.

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