one more bowtie bridge question...

Setup, repair and restoration of Rickenbacker Instruments

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one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:47 am

There was a thread about the Bigsby Sorkin Bowtie Bridge a short while ago. I was looking at some photos on seller websites, and it occurred to me that my bridge looked different somehow, and it was -- someone ground down (reduced) the height of the bridge eliminating the relatively knife-edge string contacts to a flat 2mm wide surface. I figured someone decided to do this in order to create a bridge string radius to more closely match the radius of the guitar. Guitar = 10, "modified" bridge = 12. I'm not sure how significant that flat top bridge "ridge" is; there is no buzzing of any strings there.

But, I thought I'd replace it. Searching on the internet, starting with Bigsby corp. itself, they have a part number of 0495-0240, and other sellers sell a part number GB-0526-001.

Here are links to two sellers, each sells (when in stock) a "different" stock-numbered bridge. Take a look at both, and if you can, tell me the difference between the two:

Bigsby Part Number: 0495-0240 https://www.amplifiedparts.com/products ... e-assembly

BOWTIE BRIDGE SKU GB-0526-001 https://www.allparts.com/products/gb-05 ... d375&_ss=r

The first-mentioned bridge seems to be unavailable/out of stock everywhere. No data seen that reveals its radius.

The second is available with some searching. When fully described, the data show that it has a radius of 15 in. (which is probably why mine has been modified in a way to change string positions and still retain that smooth upper surface with no string notches). The second also is described as made of nickel, but I'm thinking that the base is nickel and the string contact portion is aluminum, as so it seems of mine.

So, what's the difference between the two?

PS - I continue to poke around the internet. Bigsby's web site support offers a "contact us" link. I'll see what they have to say. (I hope they answer.)
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:41 am

While I'm waiting for a reply.... Has anyone used some sort of material under the base of one of these to prevent it from moving, to increase friction? In all of my reading so far, I haven't seen where someone actually did this, but someone suggested using thin cork in response to someone asking about this, as I am here.

I don't think cork would be very good; fragile, and really, too thick and "sound dampening", it would seem to me; probably a PITA to find/buy. Thinking about this, I thought of the Magic Nano Tape that I bought a while back -- no adhesive residue, reusable, about 1 mm thick -- but I'm thinking that, too, may be too thick and might affect tone, although I don't know how much on an electric guitar; may be insignificant (vs. an acoustic guitar where dampening, I imagine, would be very significant). While nano tape doesn't have a tacky, gooey adhesive, there's no telling how/if the tape itself might react with the finish. Further thinking led me to consider that plastic food wrap might be good -- very thin yet would physically protect the guitar's finish, and is probably inert since edibles are wrapped in it; low risk of reaction on the finish. It would have a relatively solid contact on the face of the guitar not much different than having nothing at all. I'm not sure if this would really increase the degree of friction/reduce the potential of the bridge from shifting during use; worth a try, maybe.

So, who uses what?
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Sat Sep 05, 2020 3:25 pm

As I wandered across the Internet Web Sites of Music Gear Dealers, I revisited one who sold the Bigsby-listed Bigsby Sorkin Bowtie Bridge, and while it was (still) out of stock, this time I noticed that the dealer suggested that I might be interested in a couple of other related items, and presented links to those at the bottom of the web page. The items were a couple of saddles -- replacement saddles that fit on the base of the bowtie bridge; serendipity. After confirming and reconfirming the one that matches the bowtie bridge/base, I ordered one. This seemed like a no-brainer, since I didn't need an entire assembly. This saddle, too, is listed on Bigsby's parts list. Actually, I ordered two of them, as they weren't that expensive, and more so to have a spare if FUBAR raises its ugly head as I work to adapt it to my liking.

The Bigsby-listed-by-Bigsby saddle has a radius of 12 inches, which I assume the Bigsby-listed-by-Bigsby assembled bridge must have. The alternate bridge assembly, which is currently available, has a saddle radius of 15 inches from what I'm able to tell. I liken the two different bridges to sort of like a couple of near-identical Bigsby trems -- one is "Made in USA" (B5) and the other is the licensed version (B50) made some place else, I guess. Subtle differences distinguish the two. Of course, the 12-inch radius more closely approximates the 10-inch radius of my guitar neck, and that's good.

I have not received a reply from Bigsby yet regarding my question. I'm still curious, and think that the saddle radius must be what's different about the two versions. I'm happy, though, to have circumvented my indecision about which of the two to buy.
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:53 am

I forgot to mention something interesting... I read an account of a guy installing one of these bridges (non-Rick guitar) and it mentioned that he placed string slots on the saddle with oxygen-acetylene torch tip cleaners. I never heard of these. My el cheapo nut files were an altered set of blade feeler gauges, notched like a saw. I never had the need to sink a lot of money into a good set of files, as I only used them rarely. Anyway, here's a link to a set of the cleaner reamers that Home Depot sells:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Lincoln-Ele ... /100341101

Petty cheap, although the smallest diameter reamer may still be a little large for a high e string slot. (It's sort of amazing that this store and Lowe's is so buzzy during this pandemic, so I'll be going down to buy this later in the week, maybe tomorrow.) Seeing as how it would be awkward to actually use these reamers while attached to its case, I noticed this and figured I could cut off the reamers and use this handle:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Lincoln-Ele ... 939727-_-N

The cleaner kit is carried at my nearby Home Depot, but not the drill tip set. I try to use PayPal for all my purchases, so I went to ebay and ordered this instead:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/26-Pcs-Precisi ... SwanVfH5K4

So, I'll see how it goes. If you read the user feedback for the tip cleaning kit, you'll read that one guys uses these for slotting his guitar nuts. Anyway, this is simply an FYI.... I wish I knew this a decade ago.
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:39 pm

I received the saddles today -- look good.

I went to Home Depot and bought that $4 tip cleaner set. I have no idea how that guy whose post I read said these could be use to cut slots in an aluminum saddle. I doubt he ever did it, just passing along hearsay. I tried to cut a slot in a plastic pencil clip; would probably take forever to cut a soft nut. (Not recommended, although I think if you simply needed to smooth out a rough slot on a nut, this might be useful.)
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (scott_s) » Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:06 pm

Nut slotting files are a little pricey, I'll admit. But I haven't regretted buying any of them for a second. :wink:
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:28 am

Yeah, it's time to buy a set. I'm going to do it today. (Thanks.)
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (scott_s) » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:27 pm

maxwell wrote:Yeah, it's time to buy a set. I'm going to do it today. (Thanks.)


They're a joy to use, and you'll never have to settle for a poorly-cut nut (or saddle slot) again! I am very passionate about making my guitars play as nicely as possible. :)
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (maxwell) » Mon Sep 21, 2020 5:29 pm

Just to tie the loose end up about the nomenclature/stock numbers of the seemingly two different bowtie bridges (in case anyone else is/was curious).... I did exchange emails with a nice guy at Fender (who apparently owns Bigsby now), and this final statement by him clears it up pretty much:

"Those are the same bridge. GB-0526 may be an old Bigsby reference number. The 0495-0240 is the only one we offer, and it’s made in the USA. There is no licensed version of this bridge."

So, that's it. I was pleased that the Fender rep took the time to correspond with me on such an esoteric point.
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Re: one more bowtie bridge question...

Postby (scoobster28) » Wed Sep 23, 2020 11:23 am

That's great to hear.
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