News & Events

Celebrating 2014 Bigsby Birthdays

December 12th 2014 marks what would be the 115th birthday of Paul Adelbert Bigsby. When it comes to guitar history, names like Leo Fender, Adolph Rickenbacker, and Les Paul may be more widely known, but their work would not have been possible without the man who designed and built the first solidbody electric guitar.

Paul Bigsby

Paul Bigsby

A skilled motorcycle machinist—and also a music fan—Paul Bigsby got into the world of guitars in the mid-1940s when he designed a replacement vibrato mechanism for C&W artist Merle Travis’s Gibson L-10. Paul’s device set a new standard, and it rapidly became the vibrato of choice for most guitar manufacturers the world over—a reputation it still enjoys today.

In late 1946, Travis approached Bigsby with a concept for a new guitar. Travis’s rough sketch depicted a solidbody electric with all six tuning pegs on one side of the headstock. Bigsby, whose personal philosophy was “I can build anything,” immediately went to work to make the concept a reality. When the guitar was completed, Merle Travis played it on recordings, on radio, and on public performances. The revolutionary design caught the eyes and ears of guitar players and builders alike—and it changed the sound and look of guitars forever.

Paul Bigsby continued to hand-craft custom guitars and vibrato units for the next twenty years. But by 1965 health issues prompted him to sell the Bigsby name and inventory to his friend Ted McCarty. That sale that was effective on January 1, 1966. Paul Bigsby died on June 7, 1968, leaving a legacy of innovation and craftsmanship for which every guitarist today should be grateful.

Speaking of Ted McCarty, his is the other Bigsby birthday to be celebrated (what would be his 105th, as of October 10th of this year). Ted was no stranger to the guitar business when he purchased the Bigsby Company. As many know, he’d been president of Gibson Guitars since 1948, having led that company through its one of its most successful periods, often referred as the ‘Golden Era’.

Ted McCarty

Ted McCarty

When Ted McCarty took over Bigsby, he retired from Gibson. He focused on filling the demand for Bigsby’s True Vibrato, which was being ordered by virtually all major US guitar manufacturers. Of all Bigsby customers, Gretsch Guitars was the single largest, establishing a strong relationship between the two companies. That relationship led to Bigsby’s purchase by Gretsch in 1999 when Ted McCarty retired after sixty successful years in the music business. Ted died in April of 2001.

Fred Gretsch describes the care that has been taken to preserve the Bigsby heritage, saying, “Gretsch guitars have featured Bigsby vibrato tailpieces for sixty years. Gretsch and Bigsby are often thought of together, and now we’re one company. We’re continuing to manufacture vintage-style Bigsby vibratos and bridges using the same hand-made methods prescribed by Paul Bigsby more than half a century ago.”

News & Events

A fresh perspective on NAMM

Occasionally, one must take a step back to gain a more clear vision of a situation.  In any industry, people within the field have a different understanding and perspective of those looking in–sometimes vastly different.  The awe inspiring, massive display filled halls that are a trademark of every NAMM show can be overwhelming to the uninitiated.  Over time, people in the music industry can become desensitized or even jaded to the incredible and unique experience.  At the Summer 2014 NAMM Show, we were lucky enough to have Sam Dennis join us. Sam is a Freshman at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University in California, and joined us to experience all that NAMM and Nashville had to offer.  We were thrilled to have him join us and enjoyed his synopsis  and photos which we posted below:

Nashville Namm
A big, brand name of a city with a small town feel is the best possible way to describe Nashville. From seeing the Parthenon and enjoying a beautiful day in the park, to taking a stroll through the Country Music Hall of Fame, to walking around Broadway for a night full of music, there’s always something fun and exciting to do. The food is authentic, the people are generous, there’s an abundance of cowboy boots, the streets are safe – and now, once every summer, you can enjoy the National Association of Music Merchants convention in the state of the art Music City Center. Talk about a great city! Artists and music lovers from all over come to the city and pack into the NAMM show. Everyone you see and meet is a character in their own right: from Heavy Metal guitarists to keyboard salesmen, the possibility of making connections and friends is endless. And travel is a piece of cake. The small, versatile Nashville airport is as simple as it gets. Going is definitely a collection of memories you won’t be able to forget!–Sam Dennis

Sam Dennis Summer NAMM

Click HERE for more information on NAMM.

Check HERE for more information on the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

News & Events

Gibson Collector’s Choice #14

Gibson has released the next installment of their Collector’s Choice Series; the fourteenth! This model pays tribute to session ace Waddy Wachtel! Working with a variety of artists including Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, and  The Rolling Stones his original Les Paul can be heard on hundreds of recordings.  Featuring the unique features of a slim & fast neck, worn lemon burst finish, and aged B5 vibrato the instrument promises to be a lead player’s dream! Be sure to visit Gibson’s website HERE for more details, and your local dealer to check out the guitar in person!Waddy Wachtel B5

Waddy Wachtel body

News & Events

GuitArlington 2014!

Arlington 2014 posterLabor Day has passed, and autumn is just around the corner. While kids are going back to school and leaves are getting ready to change their color, our attention is keenly focused on a singular event—GuitArlington 2014! Each year this is one of, if not the, biggest events celebrating all things guitar.  Again returning to the Arlington, TX Convention Center on October 18-19, we’re confident that 2014 will be the best yet! Sharing space with our friends from TV Jones, our booth is sure to be a destination stop during this incredible event.  If you haven’t had a chance to check out TV Jones new Setzer Signature, DuoTron or T-Series pickups, this will be your chance.  Come visit and take your turn checking these out—you owe it to yourself!  If you’ve been thinking about adding one of our tailpieces to your guitar, you are also in luck! We’ll be offering FREE installations throughout the show! Check out this FLYER and email tech Adam Seutter at for more details and to reserve your time slot.  If your guitar is already equipped with a Bigsby, feel free to bring it by for a FREE 8-point Pit Stop check up! A brief visit that is sure to get your Bigsby working in tip top shape! We look forward to seeing YOU soon!

Get ready for 2014 by reliving 2013! Check out photos HERE.

News & Events

Value in Old Guitars

Recently, Barron’s online investment magazine ‘PENTA’ posted an article entitled ‘Value in Old Guitars’.  As any regular visitor to this website knows, the Bigsby company is steeped in vintage guitar legend and we attend a number of vintage guitar-based events each year. As we all put our hearts and souls into creating music and finding the perfect gear to achieve the tones in our head, it can difficult to see the business side of the equation.  Peeking into this side of the business, the Barron’s article sheds light on why the vintage guitar market is as strong as it is.  And what instrument did they use to demonstrate their point? Lefty Frizzell’s Gibson SJ-200 modified by Paul Bigsby!

Lefty Frizzell's Sj-200

Lefty Frizzell’s Paul Bigsby modified Gibson SJ-200


While certainly a volatile industry, there is a reason vintage guitar show events pop up all around the country (and world!) and  people are willing to shell out big bucks.  Whether it is speculation that the instruments will be worth more in the future, or something as personal as trying to recapture that moment and feeling from yesteryear’s teenage self, we may never know exactly why these guitars command the prices they do.  In any case, we find it interesting and are certainly happy to be part.  Check out the Barron’s article featuring Lefty Frizzell’s Gibson/Bigsby SJ-200 HERE.

Speaking of…..We’ll see YOU at GuitArlington October 18-19!

News & Events

Summer NAMM 2014 Wrap Up!

The race to Anaheim is on propelled by a great Summer NAMM Show! Back for a second year at Nashville’s incredible new Music City Center, the 2014 event held July 17-19 really raised the bar. The 2014 show was the largest in six years and featured more exhibitors, live performances, and both domestic and international visitors. Almost 450 exhibitors showcased more that 1,500 brands to an energetic crowd. Seminars, Retail Boot-Camps, live product demonstrations, and the opportunity for face-to-face meetings, its no wonder at all why the show was a success. In the past two years, attendance has jumped 13% for this event; 2014 saw a total of 12,442 registered attendees.

Not to be outdone, 2014 Summer NAMM also provided a unique opportunity for the general public to get a taste of the action.  Saturday July was Music Industry Day.  For a small fee, anyone interested was able to walk aisle after aisle and check out world-class gear.  Needless to say, many many folks took advantage of this awe inspiring opportunity!

For more photos from around the show, click HERE.

Always one of our favorite events of the year, the 2014 Summer NAMM Show at Nashville’s Music City Center was a great experience! Thanks to all who were able to join us this year; see you in 2015!

To read NAMM’s report, click HERE.

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