Gretsch Double Jet – Vibrato Change


I originally bought this guitar as the basis for a Malcolm Young project, but it was way too nice to strip down. As luck would have it, another, more tatty one appeared on eBay and got the treatment, which you’ll see in a different post.

The guitar is a 2008 anniversary Double Jet. It’s in excellent condition with hardly a mark on it. It has a semi-hollow body, a very fat neck and a rather odd mix of hardware. I don’t like the vibrato which is a design really intended for flat-topped guitars, and the pickups are horrible. They are a strange, ugly design and they squeal horrifically.

So, the plan is to swap the vibrato for something different, and replace the pickups. Sounds easy…


Right, well here’s the first problem. Notice how all the bridge saddles are right at the front of their travel? That’s because the bridge is in the wrong place. It’s nearly 5mm too far back, and it’s impossible to get the intonation right. More on this later…


With the original Bisby B50 removed, the holes for the securing screws are rather obvious. That might be a problem, depending on which vibrato I decide to use.


I had a very nice, genuine Gretsch V-cut B3 Bigsby which was going to be used for a different project so I thought I’d give it a try. Looks very good. I disguised the screw holes a bit by colouring the wood with a black permanent marker.

The picture on the left shows the original vibrato, the one on the right is the replacement. The V-cut B3 was designed for archtop guitars with a floating bridge on a wooden base. This guitar has a Tune-o-matic type bridge screwed straight into the body, and sits a lot lower. As a result the string angle over the bridge is very shallow, so the strings jump out of the saddle grooves when I’m playing. It was OK with the original bridge, but when I tried a roller bridge it was pretty much unplayable. Right. New plan…


In the end I went with a very cheap copy of a Bigsby B700 which I got off eBay. I also added my preferred Chet Atkins arm. Despite the budget price, it works very well, especially with the roller bridge. It has the ‘tailpiece’ look I wanted, it stays in tune and none of the screw holes for the old bridge are visible.

You’ll notice I’ve also changed the pickups in this picture. I’ll cover that in another post.