This issue: Bigsby alternatives, Gold Foil pickups & jacked up tones
WOBBLE ME GIBBO
I would like to fit a vibrato system to my Gibson ES-135. I have considered the traditional Bigsby unit, but no matter who I speak to, they tell me that tuning stability is an issue. Plus, I would rather not drill holes in the guitar if possible, so I would like a unit that can be fitted without drilling or other ‘damage’. I have seen the Duesenberg Les Trem II, which looks perfect, but it seems too good to be true. Do you have any experience with that particular unit, and what else is there to consider, please? Gary Holder, via email There are a number of retrofittable vibratos available for Gibson-style stoptail and tune-o-matic-equipped guitars, Gary. Stetsbar makes a good version and there are also options from Schaller and Floyd Rose. You’re right, though, the Duesenberg Les Trem II seems so ergonomically simple and easy to fit, one wonders if it really does the job… We can tell you that it does; a number of friends have fitted them to guitars with nothing but positive comments so far, as indeed is the case for Duesenberg vibratos in general.
Before buying one, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Firstly, the centre-tocentre post measurement for your existing tailpiece must be 81.5mm in order for the Les Trem II to fit. Secondly, you’re still using the guitar’s existing bridge/saddles and nut, so any friction/burrs, etc, there are a threat to tuning stability. The Les Trem II comes with the two most common metric- and imperial-thread replacement studs and a couple of washers should you need them. Chrome, gold or nickel and a whole heap of wobbling fun!
Ever since I read your interview with Joey Landreth from The Brothers Landreth a while back [issue 407], I have been toying with the idea of getting some Gold Foil pickups for my Strat (a 2013 Classic Series ’50s model). I have two questions, please. Firstly, will they fit in a Strat? Secondly, what are your observations of their sound compared with standard single coils and humbuckers? Richard Kemp, via email We think Joey Landreth probably sold a good few sets of Gold Foils around that time, Richard. As you’re doubtless aware, a handful of modern brands (Mojo in the UK and Lollar in the US, for example) make reproductions of these quirky Tesico-style classics, perhaps best known via Ry
Joey Landreth and Gold Foil pickups: Richard’s thinking of doing the same
The Les Trem II: the most elegant and effective stopbarretrofit vibrato available?