Which Is Best? Bigsby B5 vs B50 [Main Differences]

When looking for a Bigsby to install in your guitar you might have stumbled upon these 2 options.

They look almost the same, but are these Bigsby models the same?

Here is the short answer to that question:

The main differences between the Bigsby B5 and the B50 are that the former is the original USA made model, made of sand-cast metal that can be used with a Vibramate while the latter is a licensed more affordable import version made of die-cast metal that has a plastic sleeve and a different screw layout.

For those who want a deeper dive into the world of Bigsby 5 models, in this article, I will try to answer the most pressing questions most players have.

After reading this post you will have a clearer idea about which guitars are each of these models intended for and many other basic Bigsby-related things.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

Bigsby B5 main features

The Bigsby B5 is a tailpiece designed to fit flat-top guitars such as the Fender Telecaster.

It is important to state that this is a tailpiece and not a bridge replacement. For a Bigsby to work there needs to be a bridge on the equation.

The B5 is made in the US and it has remained the same since its inception. It is one of the models that the company offers, and it’s used by many famous players.

Here are the most important specs of the Bigsby B5:

SpecsBigsby B5
Weight10 ounces

Which guitars do the Bigsby B5 fit

The Bigsby B5 is designed to fit any flat-top solid-body guitar such as a Fender Telecaster or a Gibson SG.

Bigsby B50 main features

Bigsby B

The Bigsby B50 is a licensed, more affordable version of the original B5 manufactured abroad.

This system works just the same as the B5 and is practically identical in looks.

The main specs for this vibrato are:

SpecsBigsby B50
Weight10 ounces

Which guitars do the Bigsby B50 fit

The Bigsby B50 is designed to fit any flat-top solid-body guitar such as a Fender Telecaster or a Gibson SG.

Main differences between the Bigsby B5 and B50

Even though both Bigsby systems are manufactured under the Bigsby brand, the B50 is a cheaper import alternative to the original B5.

Here is a very informative table that compares both models:

SpecsBigsby B5Bigsby B50
Weight10 ounces10 ounces
Screw holesDifferentDifferent
LogoBigsbyBigsby Licensed
FitsFlat-top solid-body guitarsFlat-top solid-body guitars
Made inUSAAsia
Can be used with VibramateYesNo
PriceMore expensiveCheaper

But is the B5 better than the B50? Well, this is a hard question to answer.

To begin with, both units are not interchangeable, the screw layout is different and the holes drilled in a guitar for one won’t take the other.

This also means that you can’t use a Vibramate with the B50 and you will have to drill into the body of your guitar.

The build quality is objectively better for the B5, this one being all sand-cast metal while the B50 is die-cast and has a plastic sleeve. But this is to be expected considering the latter is cheaper.

About the playability, the nuances between both are minimal, however, the B50 will have a slightly more pronounced “dead zone”.

Do you need to drill to install a Bigsby?

You don’t necessarily need to drill to install a Bigsby bridge. You can use a Vibramate which is sold separately and will allow you to install a Bigsby without drilling new holes into your guitar. The Vibramate secures to existing tailpiece mounts in the guitar and lets the Bigsby be attached to it.

Here you can see one being installed:

There are no alternatives like this, as far as I know, for licensed Bigsby tremolos such as the B50

How much weight does a Bigsby add?

A Bigsby tremolo adds around 10 ounces to your guitar. This doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it should be noted that all this weight is added at the tailpiece which will probably drastically change the balance of the instrument. You should take this into consideration if you play standing up a lot.

If this problem surfaces you could try to re-balance the guitar by adding weights on the headstock, however, this will take a toll on your back.