How to Install a Bigsby Vibrato on an Epiphone Dot Guitar

Written by matt gerrard
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How to Install a Bigsby Vibrato on an Epiphone Dot Guitar
Semi-acoustics such as this one and the Epiphone Dot, are often fitted with Bigsby vibratos. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Bigsby manufactured some of the first practical vibrato bridges for guitars. Employed as a motorcycle mechanic, Bigsby would repair and improve existing guitar parts brought to him by his friends, eventually going into business for himself. Synonymous with the early rock 'n' roll sound, Bigsby vibratos are commonly retrofitted to guitars popular with players of that style. The Epiphone Dot is an example of this. A hollow-bodied, twin-humbucker semi-acoustic. Though a modern guitar, the Dot is representative of the type of instrument that may have been fitted with a Bigsby bridge.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Bigsby Vibrato, B7, B70 or B700
  • Mounting hardware (included)
  • Alignment string (included)
  • Grease pencil or fine marker
  • Masking tape
  • Drill
  • 1.9mm drill bit
  • 2.3mm drill bit
  • Phillips screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Slacken and remove the strings from the guitar one at a time. Remove the lowest string, followed by the highest, then the second lowest, then the second highest. Repeat this pattern in order to prevent and excessive amount of tension on one side of the neck. Remove the existing tailpiece and bottom strap pin.

  2. 2

    Place the Bigsby flat on the guitar body. The lowest part of the bridge includes a hinged flap that will anchor the new tailpiece beneath the strap button. Line up the flap with the strap button hole. Wrap the extra-long alignment string included with the vibrato, around the low-E tuning peg. Run it down to the bridge and secure it to the low-E pin on the vibrato. Then connect it to the high-E pin, and run it back up to the high-E tuning peg. This will create a template that will show the eventual position of the strings, allowing you to check the alignment.

  3. 3

    Mark the positions of the two screw holes on the bottom edge of the guitar, just above the strap button. Do the same with the two screw holes on the top surface of the guitar.

  4. 4

    Place the 1.9mm bit in the drill, and hold the mounting screws up alongside it. Wrap a piece of masking tape around the drill bit to mark the position of the screw head. This will provide a marker to prevent you from drilling the holes too deep. Check all of the alignment and positioning one last time before starting to drill.

  5. 5

    Drill the two screw holes on the bottom edge of the guitar first. Work slowly and carefully, a hand drill may be preferable to an electric one. Install the two screws and replace the original strap button. Drill the two screws on the surface of the guitar using the 2.3mm bit, and install the two screws.

  6. 6

    Restring the guitar and tune it.

Tips and warnings

  • The three different models of vibrato suitable for this type of guitar, the B7, B70 and B700, represent different manufacturing accuracy and metal quality. The B7 is the top of the range, and the B700 is a licensed replica. As is the case with most instruments, choosing the best one possible will benefit the guitar in the long run.

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