From the shimmery chords of Chet Atkins to the blistering double-stops of Chuck Berry, since the 1940s Bigsby tremolos have been making their unique mark on the world of rock 'n' roll. You can obtain a piece of the vintage sound by installing a Bigsby tremolo on your Epiphone SG. This upgrade will require concentration and know-how, but you will be rewarded with the expressive vibrato only Bigsbys can provide.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 3/32" Drill bit
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Painter's tape
- Grease pencil
- Guitar strings
Remove the guitar strings by loosening the strings and cutting them in the middle. Unwind strings from tuning pegs and pull through the tailpiece.
Mark the location of the tailpiece by affixing a strip of tape to the guitar and using the grease pencil to mark the position of the holes. Next, take the tailpiece off the guitar.
Place the Bigsby on the guitar so that the handle is pointed toward the guitar head. Adjust the placement so that you can comfortably use the tremolo while also being able to use your SG's controls.
Thread the included alignment string from the Low "E" tuning peg, through the Bigsby, and back through the high "E" tuning peg. Align the string in the nut slots and bridge, making sure it is running straight up the neck of the guitar. Adjust the position of the tremolo until the string is straight and does not touch the back of the bridge. If the string is breaking across the bridge, move it toward the rear until the strings clear. Mark the screw holes with the drill bit once the Bigsby is properly aligned.
Drill the mounting holes following the marks you made. To prevent drilling too deeply, wrap tape around the drill bit level with the depth of the screw.
Fasten the Bigsby to the guitar, starting with the screws nearest the bridge. Evaluate the alignment of the tremolo after tightening each screw and adjust as needed.
String your Epiphone SG with new strings by crimping the ball end of the string and hooking it over the string pin. Leave the strings loose for now.
Place the washer and spring into the space under the Bigsby handle. Tune your guitar and test out your new tremolo.
Tips and warnings
- Bigsby recommends lubricating the wood screws with bar soap and using double-sided tape to secure the tremolo during alignment.
- There are several different models of Bigsby tremolos; be sure to purchase the correct version for your Epiphone SG. The Bigsby B5 is the model most often used on thin solid-bodied guitars like SGs.
- Use care when drilling into your Epiphone SG--one mistake can mar your guitar's finish.
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