Sideways Vibrola

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

  1. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    If you go to a Gotoh bridge, I recommend you look at stewmac.com. and look at the small post model. Of course, you may order there if you wish, or from another source. But the Stewmac site has a picture of the small post bridge I used, so at least you will know the bridge I'm talking about.
     
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  2. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    Thank you!
     
  3. vortexx

    vortexx Senior Member

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    I saw Angus Young use it on the tour after Back In Black (it may have been "For Those About To Rock") I used to run up to the stage when the lights would go down in the stadiums before the headliners cam on... So I'd end up standing in front of the front row. I particularly remember it because I had not seen one before (it wasn't a Maestro). Her used it a few times during a song and then folded it down. I don't recall if it was used for more than one song. At the time since I had never seen one before I couldn't figure out what exactly it was doing.

    Interestingly a few weeks ago I went to the 12th fret in Toronto and there was a recent custom shop gibson SG that the previous owner had fitted with one of these. The cover was missing though. They were selling it for close to $5000. so I wasn't interested in trying it. They may still have it but it's not on their site.
     
  4. vortexx

    vortexx Senior Member

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    I saw AC DC in 1981 so the guitar would have only been 20 years old at the time.
     
  5. rcwatts

    rcwatts Junior Member

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    Well, I have one of these bad boys, (on a 68 SG Standard, with the sideways vibrola and "Les Paul" truss cover -> but a 68 pickguard and serial number - weird 'eh?) and I never use the trem - just folded it back and never moved it, but I still have problems staying in tune. I will never replace it - but only use for session work (cause it is AWESOME sound) and then have to fiddle with it every few takes...

    Sooo, I have read several posts from very knowledgeable and experienced users here on these Les Paul forums that mention locking it. How exactly would I go about doing that - "locking it" ? Or any other advise on anything else to check - e.g. the bridge studs ala
    Dolebludger above - which is my first idea of something else to look at. or maybe check for loose or worn joints - or what?

    I bought mine at 'The Guitar Emporium' in Louisville ~20 years ago. At that time they said they thought it was likely a '68 (based on the serial #) made at the factory with some left over parts from the '61 series SG/LPs - the Sideways and the Truss Rod Cover. I have never been able to find out very much about it online - and have never asked Gibson - so who knows what it is - but it plays and sounds awesome - when it is in tune.

    thanks much and very cool forum dudes!
     
  6. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    rcwatts, I'd LOVE to see a pic of that guitar.
     
  7. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    Mine doesn't cause tuning problems, unless it is used. If you take off the nickel plated cover, you will see nuts on threaded shafts with springs behind them. If you tighten those nuts, the vibrola will have a harder action and will be less likely to cause tuning issues. However, if you do this, beware of attempting to use the vibrola if its springs have been adjusted to be too "hard". This is because the lower part of the vibrola arm is a casting and is prone to breakage.
     
  8. SoloDallas

    SoloDallas Senior Member

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    Tuning problems are usually on the nut. I use that liquid - I forget - and it works wonders.
     
  9. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    The nut and bridge lube that I get is called "Nut Sauce", though there are other brands. Tuning probs are usually at the nut, that is correct. But if the springs are too loose on this sideways vibrola, tuning problems can develop for that too. And lube won't help. Instead, you need to tighten the springs. But just beware of getting them too tight and then using the vibrola, as the lower arm will snap.
     
  10. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    IMHO It seems highly unlikely that Gibson made a '68 with that vibrola on it. Does the guitar seem like a '68, with a '68 neck? Is it all routed out beneath the pickguard like a '68?

    As it's not a stock vibrola you might be better off selling it getting a Maestro vibrola. I've heard people complain about them too, but I think they are great; better than a Bigsby and certainly better that sideways contraption.
     
  11. LPSGME

    LPSGME Senior Member

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    IMHO It seems highly unlikely that any '68 was made with '61 parts on it. Does the guitar seem like a '68, with a '68 neck? Is it all routed out beneath the pickguard like a '68?

    If it's not a stock vibrola you might be better off selling it and getting a Maestro vibrola. I've heard people complain about them too, but I think they are great; better than a Bigsby and certainly better that sideways.
     
  12. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    Yeah, you would be better off selling it. I have a '61 and the lower part of my trem arm had broken. It is a casting, so this isn't uncommon. I had to pay $247 for a trem unit (minus the cover) that looked like it had been dug out of the junk pile. Only thing was, the lower arm piece I needed was in decent condition, and that was the only part I needed. If your '61 trem unit is in good shape, no telling what you could get for it.
     
  13. vortexx

    vortexx Senior Member

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    All these vibrolas are cool in their own way even if you don't end up using them each one ads to the way your guitar sounds. I'd love to get my hans on both in the future.
     
  14. dniles

    dniles Junior Member

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    I used to use mine to mimic a pedal-steel sound (along with a volume pedal). It stayed in tune as long as I didn't get too crazy with it. Nut sauce would have probably helped that. I can't imagine removing it - it's way too cool looking.

    Also, the body on my guitar is clearly from the early 60's (the number of screws on the pickguard is correct from that era), the neck's serial number dates to '67. I always thought it may have been a replacement neck. Who knows?
     

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  15. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    dniles:

    If the picture attached to your post is your guitar, yours is clearly a '61 or a '62 as to the part shown. Since I bought my '61 new, I pretty much know the history of this model guitar. This sideways trem wasn't factory installed after '62. Actually, there was a lot of owner dissatisfaction with it (and other features of this guitar) in the late 60s. I thought about selling or trading my '61 in about '67, and quickly discovered that the thing was virtually worthless then. Just a few years later, the SG started to come back into favor due to its use by some big names of the time. But it is very, very doubtful that anybody would have installed the sideways trem on a '67 in, say, the 70s due to (1) lack of availability of this part, and (2) general players' dislike of this trem in those years. In very recent years the '61 and '62 sideways trem LP SG has become a collector's item, so only in recent years would there be any motivation for anybody to install this trem on a later model for purposes of faking. But, these trem units have become almost impossible to find (see my post on trying to find parts for it recently).

    You can check your guitar to see if this trem was original on it. Next time you change strings, remove the trem unit (easy to do) and look for filled screw or stud holes underneath it. As the sideways trem uses different attachment holes than the later Maestro unit, and far different holes than the fixed bridge and TP set up, you should be able to see the original holes (or where they were filled) if your trem is not original. If you don't see any of these things, your trem was original with your body.

    As to your question of whether your neck could be from '67 due to serial number. I doubt that a '67 neck could be made to fit a '61 - '62 body. The '61-'62 neck had a wider fretboard and a slimmer neck than a '67. Also, almost all of the '61 - '62s had the back of the neck blended smooth into the body with no "step". (Only a few late '62s may have had a step.) My "bought new" '61 has a neck width of 1 3/4" at the nut and a little over 2 1/4" at the 22nd fret.

    Hope this helps
     
  16. dniles

    dniles Junior Member

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    Dolebludger:
    Thanks for the information - a lot of this I had not heard before, especially about the neck and being blended into the body (which in this case, it does have). I always thought that the guy who engineered this vibrato, given the number of parts involved, really needed to find a new line of work!:)

    Anyway, this thread has gotten me interested in finding out more about SGs. The last few years it's spent more time in the case than when I first bought it. I've been playing mostly Fenders the last 10 years.

    Thanks again!
     
  17. Dolebludger

    Dolebludger Premium Member

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    If your neck is blended into the body at the neck/body joint on the back of the guitar, it is rather well established that yours is a '61 - '62. Mine too has pretty much been a resident of its case since 1968, and after that I drifted toward playing other guitars. But with info I had that nice guitars like this sold for up to $25K just a couple of years ago, but now are going for only $10K to $15 due to the poor economy, I think I'll hold on lo mine a while, so I might as well play it. Plus, it is educational for me to play a guitar with a light body, as its response is so much different that my heavier bodied solid body guitars. Sort of make you use different techniques that I should master anyway. BTW, it was the light weight and resulting effect on resonance and tone transmission that put these guitars ad disfavor in the music community in the 60s (sideways trem or not).
     
  18. dniles

    dniles Junior Member

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    Dolebludger:
    I have no plans on selling either. I've always heard that about the thinner body too, sustain not being as good and all. I bought mine in '78 when I had a '53 LP Std. I liked the SG better actually, although the '53 was pretty trashed and I eventually sold it.

    Funny thing was, at the time I bought the SG, I was also looking at a mint red '62 Strat. I decided I liked the SG better (at the time I was a Gibson guy). That Strat today would be worth a little more than the $500 price it had at the time.

    Oh well.
     
  19. Kevin James

    Kevin James V.I.P. Member

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    Great info on the sideways trem. I never thought I would ever be able to afford a 60's SG standard and especially not one old enough to have an original sideways trem. I just scored a very late 1960 as a project guitar though at a price I would have been crazy NOT to buy.

    I strung it up last night (it didn't even have strings on it when I got it) and I figured out pretty quickly it is a PAIN IN THE *SS to string this thing. The ball end of the strings kept slipping right out from under the string retainer before I could get enough tension on them.

    Is there any tricks to make stringing these easier?
     
  20. Actinic

    Actinic Senior Member

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    A third hand, i.e., your wife or friend.

    Perhaps a capo with variable grip? I wouldn't try this for fear of kinking a string that is not under full tension.

    Stew McDonald has useful devices for every occasion, but not this application.

    An invention was disclosed in 2009, but without illustrations, it is difficult to determine its efficacy:

    Device For Facilitating Stringing Of A Musical Instrument
     

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