Vintage fixed Bigsby handle

ForTheLoveOfIvy

Gretschie
Feb 28, 2022
473
London
I'm curious if the knowledgeable think this is a genuine vintage handle. The photos aren't very clear. I see that the hex screw is in the right place...ie above rather than below (like later Bigsby handles and repros) but shouldn't there be a number "2" stamped on the underside of the arm about half way up?

 

gasmoney

Gretschie
Aug 6, 2014
127
usa
Original 54/55 era arms are pinned to the shaft. They didn’t use an Allen bolt until swivel arms came out around 57’.
So with that this arm is either a repro or an original that has been tapped with threads.

Looking at it I’d say it’s a reproduction.
 

Fairlane Blue

Gretschie
Sep 24, 2018
226
The south end of Hell
Most of the Gretsch tremolos and arms I've seen - both vintage and new have numbers stamped onto the body of the tremolo itself. Not all the arms do but most of the B6 and B7 guitars do as do the Telecaster tremolos. This should be legit if it has the numbers. The only models of Bigsby I've seen that don't have numbers are the export models like mine that are sent to Korea, China, or Japan. If it says "Licensed" then it most likely doesn't have numbers stamped onto the arm but on the body. Mine does any way. This is how you can tell a real Bigsby from a forgery.
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Double Platinum Member
Jun 22, 2020
2,313
Ottawa, Canada
All,

Just me, but the only reason I can see anyone wanting one of these is for authenticity.

Like the old Kaufmann, and the old Burns trem, they are in the way, far more than they are of any use.

The Burns at least, will swing away.

But having said that, for authenticity purposes, they sure look nice!

The old Doc Kaufmann unit has always been one of my personal favorites, unfortunately, it's one of the least functional.

BIB.
DSCF1681.JPG DSCF1543.JPG
 

Wayne Gretschzky

Country Gent
Gold Supporting Member
Aug 27, 2008
3,934
East Coast
Most of the Gretsch tremolos and arms I've seen - both vintage and new have numbers stamped onto the body of the tremolo itself. Not all the arms do but most of the B6 and B7 guitars do as do the Telecaster tremolos. This should be legit if it has the numbers. The only models of Bigsby I've seen that don't have numbers are the export models like mine that are sent to Korea, China, or Japan. If it says "Licensed" then it most likely doesn't have numbers stamped onto the arm but on the body. Mine does any way. This is how you can tell a real Bigsby from a forgery.
Vintage Bigsby units don't always have "numbers" stamped into the reverse side (actually added to the casting). In the 60s you'll find standard B6 units will display a letter (A-D) at the bottom just above the tail-bracket hinge. Whereas the V-style B6 units of the same period employ a system of dots (0-3) in the same location... see photo below of a 1960 V-style example with 3 dots. In each case these marks represent position identification within the casting. The B6 units were made 4-out of sand casted matrix.

Screen Shot 2023-04-02 at 4.02.10 PM.png
 

Fairlane Blue

Gretschie
Sep 24, 2018
226
The south end of Hell
Vintage Bigsby units don't always have "numbers" stamped into the reverse side (actually added to the casting). In the 60s you'll find standard B6 units will display a letter (A-D) at the bottom just above the tail-bracket hinge. Whereas the V-style B6 units of the same period employ a system of dots (0-3) in the same location... see photo below of a 1960 V-style example with 3 dots. In each case these marks represent position identification within the casting. The B6 units were made 4-out of sand casted matrix.

View attachment 205378
I mean letters - not numbers. Why I said that I don't know. I have a D stamped into mine. That's why I said "only the ones that I've seen" have numbers stamped into them. I know that these are sand cast and they cut them off a runner or sprue then sand and polish. You can tell the the letter and/or numbers are cast into the mould.

It only costs a little bit for the aluminum that these are made from so I'm guessing that we're paying for the name and the labour costs when buying one of these since Bigsby or at least the Bigsby company is the only one that makes these with their name on them.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
6,627
Where the action is!
It only costs a little bit for the aluminum that these are made from so I'm guessing that we're paying for the name and the labour costs when buying one of these...
One area where the material cost makes a real difference is the gold plating. 15-20 years ago the upcharge was almost negligible. Now it's $55.00. Out of curiosity I just weighed the case of a watch I'm currently restoring. It's got $731.68 worth of gold in it. It's a sad fact that a lot of vintage watches are now worth more as scrap than they are as timepieces. It's heartbreaking when I see a movement and dial listed on eBay that I know came from a very desirable watch that has undoubtedly had its case melted down.
 

Fairlane Blue

Gretschie
Sep 24, 2018
226
The south end of Hell
One area where the material cost makes a real difference is the gold plating. 15-20 years ago the upcharge was almost negligible. Now it's $55.00. Out of curiosity I just weighed the case of a watch I'm currently restoring. It's got $731.68 worth of gold in it. It's a sad fact that a lot of vintage watches are now worth more as scrap than they are as timepieces. It's heartbreaking when I see a movement and dial listed on eBay that I know came from a very desirable watch that has undoubtedly had its case melted down.
Right. The bare metal value is what most people want. You can get more money for that than watch itself it worth! Jewelry too. 😕
 

Highnumbers

Gretschie
Oct 11, 2009
154
Southern California
One area where the material cost makes a real difference is the gold plating. 15-20 years ago the upcharge was almost negligible. Now it's $55.00. Out of curiosity I just weighed the case of a watch I'm currently restoring. It's got $731.68 worth of gold in it. It's a sad fact that a lot of vintage watches are now worth more as scrap than they are as timepieces. It's heartbreaking when I see a movement and dial listed on eBay that I know came from a very desirable watch that has undoubtedly had its case melted down.

AFAIK, guitar parts are never plated with actual 24k gold though, they're anodized with a gold-like material.
 

HelloMrSoul

Newbie
Dec 10, 2012
3
Inland Empire
The originals didn't have hex screws and, you are right, it should have a number stamp. Ed and Fred will know better but, it's not looking good!
I made my own and it cost a hell of a lot less! View attachment 204675
You did an awesome job of replicating that vintage fixed Bigsby handle.
The originals didn't have hex screws and, you are right, it should have a number stamp. Ed and Fred will know better but, it's not looking good!
I made my own and it cost a hell of a lot less!
 
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