Guitarist reaaders are evidently a resourceful lot, and have come up with plenty of solutions to the age-old problem of restringing a Bigsby-equipped guitar without a] doing your back in b] weakening and snapping countless strings at the ball ends or c] smashing your beloved axe to smithereens in a frustrated rage. Here are a few ideas:
GET CAPO, ATTACH CAPO, RESTRING
I have three Gretsches, all with Bigsbys, and I read your reply in issue 288 to the problem of re-stringing a Bigsby with a sort of fond warmness. In an ideal world, having as many arms as a Hindu God would be the perfect solution to this. I've heard the idea of the block of polystyrene or foam to hold the strings in too (it's suggested in Gretsch owner manuals) but after getting fed up with the mess this idea makes, I have what I think is an easier solution - a capo!
The idea is really very simple - wrap the ball end of the string round the Bigsby, bending it slightly at the end like you suggested. Pull the string the length of the neck and simply attach your capo around the 12th or 9th fret. This will hold that slippery string in place while you tighten it at the tuner then, simply remove capo and repeat for the next string!
Dave Midgley, Manchester
DOORSTOP THE PRESS
In response to your request for pics showing Bigsby re-stringing aids (Feedback) here’s a method I use. Just a simple rubber doorstop from the hardware shop does the trick, once you’ve bent the string and got the ball end on the peg!
YOGA WITH BIGSBY
I had to laugh when I read Richard Harris’ letter to Q&A about the frustration of restringing a Bigsby-equipped guitar. It’s an absolutely infuriating exercise! The way I get round it when I’m on my own is while sitting down, I thread the string onto the locating pin, sit the bottom end of the body on the floor and the neck up on my knee, and hold the string in place on the roller with my big toe. This leaves two hands to take care of business at the machine-head end. It works better if you take your sock off… It hurts your toe but it works, I hope this helps!
Tim Rojek, Ipswich
... And our own resident guitar repair guru, Doctor Robert, adds the following:
"I find that a smidgen of pencil lead (graphite) in the nut slots helps a lot with the tuning stability of Bigsby units. Also, avoid too much string wrap around the tuner posts as the strings take longer to settle down: you can literally tie the strings onto the post with a simple knot."
So remember, if you're having guitar playing or gear-related woes, send us an email on email@example.com, and we'll do our best to solve it for you in our Q&A section each issue... If we can't, maybe our readers can!