Electromatics

G5265 Baritone Questions

1

I just picked up a black sparkle G5265 baritone, made in China, and have a few questions for anyone that has one of these. Tone, finish, action, cosmetics all good, but I do have issues with it.

  • Gretsch recommends 14-68 string gauge. I want go to lighter strings and tune c to C, not b to B. Any recommendations/cautions or advice?

  • Many folks report tuning issues with the Tune-o-Matic. I'd like to go with a Tru Arc roller bridge, if they will fit this guitar. Any advice? I contacted Tim @ Tru Arc, but he has not responded yet.

  • My guitar came with significant quality issues: a volume pot that was either ON or OFF (no gradation), a pickup selector that refused to stay on one pickup, always returning to the centre detent, and missing springs on the neck pickup. I'm going to have everything fixed under warranty, including replacing hardware with CTS & Switchcraft. My question: any other hidden quality issues I need to know about with these Chinese builds?

  • Does anyone know what model Bigsby is on this guitar? It looks like a B-5, but I'm not certain. See photo from Gretsch's website

My last question - related to the underlying wood. Before I remove the Gretsch strap fittings and replace with Straplocks, am I likely to find crappy wood underneath?

Any insight and field experience with these guitars will be welcomed. This is my first Chinese-made Gretsch.

Larry

3

Gretsch recommends 14-68 string gauge. I want go to lighter strings and tune c to C, not b to B. Any recommendations/cautions or advice?

What is the scale length? That will determine which gauge strings you need for the tension and tuning you want. I like the D'Addario "Baritone Light" on my 30" scale baritone. There are some string gauge-tuning-tension calculators on the internet you can use, or just feel free to experiment.

Many folks report tuning issues with the Tune-o-Matic. I'd like to go with a Tru Arc roller bridge, if they will fit this guitar. Any advice? I contacted Tim @ Tru Arc, but he has not responded yet.

The Tru-Arc is not a roller bridge, but a rocking bridge. It can be ordered to fit your guitar with proper measurement of the post spacing, but note that the bridge posts on your guitar are not moveable, so you may not get the intonation you want with a Tru Arc. Even the "Serpentune" model may be off, unless of course you redrill the post holes, which I would say is not worth the effort. Also note that most tuning problems are the result of poorly cut nuts, and not anything to do with the bridge. Your Tune-o-matic should have no tuning issues whatsoever, and the reason for switching to a Tru Arc is related to the tone of the different metals used, not the tuning stability.

My guitar came with significant quality issues: a volume pot that was either ON or OFF (no gradation), a pickup selector that refused to stay on one pickup, always returning to the centre detent, and missing springs on the neck pickup. I'm going to have everything fixed under warranty, including replacing hardware with CTS & Switchcraft. My question: any other hidden quality issues I need to know about with these Chinese builds?

CTS & Switchcraft should solve your electronics problems. Other things I would look out for in inexpensive guitars are the quality of the nut and the fretwork.

Does anyone know what model Bigsby is on this guitar? It looks like a B-5, but I'm not certain. See photo from Gretsch's website

This is almost certainly a Bigsby B-50, which is the imported "Licensed" version of the B-5.

My last question - related to the underlying wood. Before I remove the Gretsch strap fittings and replace with Straplocks, am I likely to find crappy wood underneath?

I don't know specifically what wood is in this guitar, but likely Basswood or some species of Asian "mahogany". If you find the straplock screws loose, you can stick a toothpick (with or without wood glue) in the hole to tighten it up.

4

It's a 30" scale, like a Danelectro, so technically it's a Bass Guitar. Mine came from the factory as a bass tuned E to E. I use it as an A to A Baritone with 12 - 62 strings. For C to C tuning, I use a Waterstone Baritone guitar with a 27" scale. I think you'll just have to experiment. Try some regular 10 to 46's tuned C to C and see how it feels. BTW, if you move the Bigsby all the way to the end of the body, the strings won't get hung up on the edge of the bridge, and if you connect the pickups to the wiper arms of the volume pots instead of the top end, you can actually use them as separate volume controls. They're actually pretty cool instruments. I keep my Danelectro tuned E to E, the Gretsch tuned A to A, and the Waterstone for C to C. They end up on quite a few of the recordings cut at my studio.

5

It's very similar to a G5235T Pro Jet, aside from the color and neck length.

6

Thanks everyone. I'm happy to say that the dealer here in Canada stepped up, replaced all the pots with CTS parts, and the pickup selector with Switchcraft, fixed the pickups themselves, as well as doing a setup, all under warranty. So the guitar is good now, quality issues resolved. I also had a response from Tim @ TruArc, and it looks like we have a rocking bridge solution too. The bridge DOES have posts that will take a rocking bridge, intonation should be good enough, according to Tim.

FYI, scale length is 29.75 inches. I'm going to try 14-60 gauge with long strings.

Will let you all know how this progresses - but I can say this: the tone and playability of this Chinese Gretsch is pretty good. Sounds THUNDEROUS.


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