Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Setup, repair and restoration of Rickenbacker Instruments

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Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (abluesky) » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:59 pm

Ok, I will admit straight up that I am still a naive newbee relative to this forum (even though I've been a member for a couple years). EIther way, a very special c58 325 (mkII) made it's way to the home just this week. Opened the case, played a couple chords and then went to the arm and found it wouldn't really operate (at all). So I added a little more pressure to the custom arm and watch the strings shift up and fall out of tune. The movement was so tight that I surely felt something was a wrong (tension, etc) with the reissued vibrola.

I then found the "The Kauffman Curse" thread.

Bottom line, has anyone had any success in loosening/working the poor tension and action with this assembly? Should I simply just give it up? I am not looking for Van Halen action...just a little color. Ironically, my original Kauffman assembly off my Gibson archtop works beautifully.

Thanks for any advice.
Chris Evans
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (deaconblues) » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:09 pm

Does that guitar have the aftermarket larger vintage-correct bracket like this?

Image

I have heard that sometimes the standard tailpiece used on the c58s can cause the springs on the unit to bind up against the wood.

But mine has enough clearance and still doesn't work. It does seem strange that the c58 unit is universally awful when many vintage ones work at least to some degree.
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (abluesky) » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:29 pm

Thanks Dan. Yep, same one and I do have some clearance bewteen the springs and wood. You hit the nail on the head with the comment "It does seem strange that the c58 unit is universally awful ". Perhaps disassembling (the kauffman) and streching out the springs might help. I don't know.
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (leftybass) » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:32 pm

deaconblues wrote:Does that guitar have the aftermarket larger vintage-correct bracket like this?

Image

I have heard that sometimes the standard tailpiece used on the c58s can cause the springs on the unit to bind up against the wood.

But mine has enough clearance and still doesn't work. It does seem strange that the c58 unit is universally awful when many vintage ones work at least to some degree.


Actually, the guitar in question still has a factory Kauffman tailpiece claw......I have never researched Chip's claw, does it have taller hooks..?
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (deaconblues) » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:51 pm

leftybass wrote:Actually, the guitar in question still has a factory Kauffman tailpiece claw......I have never researched Chip's claw, does it have taller hooks..?


The top of the bracket sticks up past the end of the guitar a little further than the normal trapeze bracket. Of course, that would affect the spring break angle to some degree. But it would also keep the springs and other mechanicals from digging into the ramp like they do on some c58s.

The clearance on my (stock) c58 Kauffman is just a few sixteenths of an inch.
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (deaconblues) » Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:54 pm

Here's v86. I don't know if this bracket is a replica or a vintage part. At any rate, the screw holes are reportedly in the same place.

http://williamyoungguitars.com/files/V8626.jpg

I'd be interested to hear of a fix for the Kauffman if you find one. IIRC, John Hall once said that it rattles when it's loose and detunes when it's tight, with no happy medium.
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (deaconblues) » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:29 am

I have an update for the (surely tiny) group of people who will be interested!

In the course of customizing and setting up my '58 spec 325 (pictures over in the vintage 325 forum), I switched from .011 Chromes to .012 gauge T.I. flats. I also added a vintage-correct tail bracket.

The Kauffman never stayed in tune before with even mild use, but now it...does. I can get a slight Bigsby-ish shimmer by moving the handle side-to-side, and the strings barely go out of tune after several uses -- certainly it works well enough to be practical. I'm sure the solution had something to do with the tension on the strings finally falling within the parameters of the unit.
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (antipodean) » Fri Sep 27, 2013 5:12 am

deaconblues wrote:I have an update for the (surely tiny) group of people who will be interested!

In the course of customizing and setting up my '58 spec 325 (pictures over in the vintage 325 forum), I switched from .011 Chromes to .012 gauge T.I. flats. I also added a vintage-correct tail bracket.

The Kauffman never stayed in tune before with even mild use, but now it...does. I can get a slight Bigsby-ish shimmer by moving the handle side-to-side, and the strings barely go out of tune after several uses -- certainly it works well enough to be practical. I'm sure the solution had something to do with the tension on the strings finally falling within the parameters of the unit.

Back in the day even .012 gauge strings would have been though of as "light"! Glad to hear it's working!
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (rmeade) » Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:50 pm

Does anyone know where I can pickup a left Handed Kauffman Vibrola?? Thanks!
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (albertgen) » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:06 pm

Did they reissue that Kauffman vibrola, and if so where do they sell them? Thank you, Al
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Re: Kauffman Vibrola Revisited (reissue)

Postby (libratune) » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:31 pm

You can only find the Kauffman vibrola on 325C58 reissues (no longer being made by RIC) or a pre-1961 vintage Rickenbacker guitar. They were never sold separately by RIC. The Kauffman units from the C58s sometimes come up for sale on ebay, as some folks convert their C58s to "Lennon spec," which includes replacing the Kauffman with the proper Bigsby.
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