Bigsby helping hand. I learned this trick years ago from a guitar tech who maintained a slew of Bigsby-equipped guitars for a rockabilly client. If you’ve ever restrung a Bigsby, you know the problem: You make a nice tight curl at the string’s ball end, wrap it over and then under the roller bar, carefully slip the ball end over the pin, maintain string tension with one hand as you valiantly try to guide the string across the nut and into the tuner post with the other, and then gnash your teeth as the ball end pops off the roller pin, forcing you to start over.
But you can avoid this frustration, and all it requires is an eraser with wedge ends. Cut the eraser in half lengthwise (Photo 4a) and jam one piece under the ball end to hold the string in place (Photo 4b). Now you have both hands free to guide, thread, and tighten the string. The eraser is soft and flexible enough not to damage your guitar, yet that ball end isn’t going anywhere.
Combo port-a-tilt. If you play clubs, surely you’ve heard the “turn it down” refrain, usually delivered by the manager or an irate bartender. (Hey, I’m just trying to hear my guitar over those damn drums!) The problem, of course, is that your amp is blasting your knees and seated customers’ eardrums, but not aimed at your ears. Leo Fender solved this problem with tilt-back hardware mounted on large combos and piggyback cabs, and we can adapt his trick to much smaller amps.
The secret is to get your hands on a solid doorstop. I like the one in Photo 5a because its brushed steel handle provides extra rigidity and support. It’s sold on Amazon for $9 by a company appropriately called Everything is Play.
I keep it in my gear bag—it’s about the size of a stomp tuner—and then wedge it under my amp (Photo 5b) when I set up onstage. With a low-profile doorstop like this, I’ve discovered that even if you push it all the way back to the cab’s rear bottom edge, the center of gravity works in your favor to keep the amp leaning forward. In other words, it remains stable. Position the amp a foot or two farther back on the stage than usual, and you’ll get a nice directional beam from the speaker. Now you can turn down and still hear your guitar, and everyone’s happy.