Sideways Vibrola

Discussion in 'Vintage SG' started by altoricky, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. altoricky

    altoricky Junior Member

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    Hi to all,

    This is my first post so a big thanks to everyone who replies.

    Does anyone have any tips for setting up the (infamous) sideway vibrola?

    It is, in my opinion, a truly extraordinary piece of (over?) engineering compared to the lyre vibrola that replaced it. The one on my '62 LP/SG is very stiff and heavy. I remember seeing Brit guitarist Tony McPhee using one to good good effect during the early 70s and he didn't appear to be struggling with it in any way.

    Thanks again
     
  2. Brian Butler

    Brian Butler Senior Member

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    Sorry, I have no reply except, don't be disappointed that no one replied. That's rare. Keep on postin' and welcome. :)
     
  3. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    I wonder if those things every worked right.

    I had a 1961 LP SG Custom, and I had to lock the darn thing because it was better locked than loose. I could never figure out how to adjust it to be useable.

    I now have a '63 LP SG Custom that was made with a Bigsby, which is better but nowhere near as nice, IMHO, as the Lyre on my '68 SG.

    It's too bad that there's no way to put on a Lyre without ruining the guitar's original state.

    At least you have a premium guitar otherwise with wood to die for.

    Good luck.
     
  4. 61LPSG

    61LPSG Senior Member

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    altoricky, I didn't see this post until now. I have a '61 with the (sideways) Vibrola. I never use it. I used to have it locked, but really isn't necessary. I don't care for them, but then I don't like Bigsby's or Maestro's either. I have to admit to some serious wanking on Flody Rose equipped guitars. Just don't care for them on Gibby's.
    You could get a more loose feel, and more travel by replacing the springs with lighter one's, but it won't stay in tune too well. The spings are the same type used in dies and injection molds so you could check a local machine shop for some.
     
  5. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    If you want to use the side-pull trem, and the action is too hard, you could loosen the bolts right behind the casting that holds the strings. Of course, you will have to remove the cover first. It is better to have "light action" on this trem, as the cast aluminum piece to which the folding arm bolts is prone to breakage.
     
  6. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    Oh, yeah, another thing. If anybody finds a way to get these things to come back into tune after use, let me know. The fact that this thing refuses to retain tuning, plus breakage of the cast aluminum arm were the reason this device only saw a run of less than two years.
     
  7. altoricky

    altoricky Junior Member

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    Thanks for your reply
     
  8. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    Oh, well, you got a couple of good ideas here, and these side-pull trems are rare. They were only made for about a year. And the reason was that they worked so poorly. And ironically, it is this trem that gives this guitar its collectors' value. Back in the old days when these guitars were new, most players just ignored the trem.
     
  9. vortexx

    vortexx Senior Member

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    I saw AC DC just after their Back in Black tour and Angus Young was using it on one of his guitars. It seemed to work fine but then again he probably has a great guitar tech to keep it working properly.
     
  10. BCRGreg

    BCRGreg V.I.P. Member

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    Having had 8 of these damn things, and being somewhat proficient at making guitars work, I have come to the conclusion that it is best left untouched.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    I second Greg. I have one on my '61 Custom (pictured) and I leave it as pictured. I love it, couldn't be without it, but just to look at it and for the additional metal resonance it gives to a SG tone.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    As I mentioned above, I have one on my '61 SG Standard, and again I agree with the folks who say "don't touch it". It will not come back in tune. I think those who believe Angus Young actually used one are mistaking it for the Maestro trem unit in later models, which has the same approximate shape -- and appearance from a distance.
     
  13. standard man

    standard man Senior Member

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    I have never heard of these trems before. They look pretty kool!
     
  14. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    Yes, they look cool. And they a are big + to the collectors' value for those of us who own them. But they play cool only if you like playing out of tune, or just don't use the trem. They were kind of an experiment on us by Gibson -- that didn't work out very well. They were only on '61 LP SG Standards and Customs, and some '62s. Then, sometime in '62 Gibson built a "transition version" of these guitars with a Bixby. After that I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) Gibson went to a fixed stop tailpiece.

    I bought my '61 new at age 19, partially because it "looked cool", but mainly because it had an incredibly thin neck and (for its day) was capable of pretty low action.
     
  15. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    Gibson then went on with the Maestro "Lyre" Vibrola (pictured one this '69: Maestro should have been available from '63/'64 to 1971, then discontinued and then reintroduced recently for "historical replica purposes").

    [​IMG]

    Same story: even the Maestro can be touched barely for some "tremolo" (slight, very slight modulation before it sends the guitar out of tune).
    I always keep it stored as the sideways. But couldn't be without, both in terms of looks AND tone (it DOES add a "metallic" edge to the guitar sound).

    Dolebludger, I used to own an original 1961 Standard, mint. Got stolen years ago. I still think about it.
    COuldn't afford to get another one like that, so I went for a restoration project. Bought me this original piece of wood and will proceed slowly with the restoration (I was already in possession of the most difficult part to find, the sideways vibrola, had bought it years ago).

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. SG Lou

    SG Lou Senior Member

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    Is this the one I just saw up on Ebay?
    he had it listed for $2900
     
  17. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    Yup. Made an offer of 2.5k and they guy gave it to me.

    I'm amassing old wood! :fingersx:
     
  18. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  19. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    There is another reason for NOT using the "sideways trem". I had been thinking that my '61 SG had lost a lot of tone quality since I bought it in '61. I had used the trem a little decades ago. Also, I had recently changed the bridge out on my Epi LP because the stock one was defective in a number of ways. I selected a Gotoh for it and love it. After that I removed the strings from my SG to oil the fretboard, and examined the bridge studs, which are only about 1/8" and screwed directly into the body with no metal sleeve. The studs were loose! Of course they were. they bend every time you use the trem. So I got a Gotoh for it, and discovered that it came with slightly larger studs that would still screw in the holes -- but tightly so as to give good vibrational transmission. I played it after I re-strung it and installed the Gotoh, and now it sounds huge.

    My trem is folded back, and that is where it will stay. IMO, a roller bridge is the only solution for the trem damaging the setting of the bridge studs. But that's another subject.
     
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  20. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    You just gave me a terrific suggestion. Will do on all my SGs with vibrolas.
     

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