Electromatics

Howdy! New to Gretsch, Purchased a 5420T and have questions

1

Recently started playing again after a short break of 20 plus years.

Always had a "thang" for the Gretsch guitars and ordered one just over a month ago. Having intonation issues since day one. Called Gretsch, at first was told it wasn't a warranty issue but soon after I was referred to a local Gretsch approved shop to have it looked at. The guy was nice enough, looked at it right away but was in a rush having to leave to pick up his kid from school. I offered to leave it for a few days, his reply was "it should be OK now, better than it was". That's true it is better but still not right.

Something I've noticed is the Bigsby is not dead centre. More towards the left side when looking from the body end towards the neck when laying flat. All the strings veer right heading to the bridge. Is this normal for this Model? It's not out a huge amount but certainly noticable.

Could this be a reason for my intonation and tuning issues?

I've lubed the nut, stretched the strings, been playing trying to break it in. Tried doing the intonation myself and within a few days It's all out agin.

Hate coming here my first time posting with guitar issues, hoping for advice from those that know these Gorgeous Guitars .

Any advice or help would be appreciated.

2

Welcome!

Find a tech who will take the time to set it up correctly. Where was this Gretsch approved shop? Odds are its just the bridge/saddles needing to be set. Something you will learn to do soon. There's a tutorial here somewhere.

Good luck.

3

A friend got a 5420T not too long ago and had nothing but praise. It played great from the git-go. As NJBob said above, find a good tech who is Gretsch approved and they should be able to set it up right; the shop where you got it should be liable for the work.

4

A friend got a 5420T not too long ago and had nothing but praise. It played great from the git-go. As NJBob said above, find a good tech who is Gretsch approved and they should be able to set it up right; the shop where you got it should be liable for the work.

– lx

That's the thing, I do believe where I was sent and the Tech (owner) IS very good. Unfortunately it was the wrong time, as he started to work on it his wife called ans asked himto pick up the kid from school. Then rushed through and finished up in less than five minutes.

Read some great things about his work and the rep from Gretsch knew him and said he was great. I'll probably take it back there and try again. Bit of a drive but worth it, the place close to me has a horrid rep for service.

Besides the tuning issues, must say I'm kickin myself for not getting a Gretsch Yeeeeears ago. Really enjoy playing it and love the sound, even when not plugged in.

Re, the shop I purchased it from: Was online in the US, had it sent to a friends in Buffalo and picked it up there ( I live outside Toronto). Was on sale for a crazy good price or I'd of gone to a "real guitar shop" and tried it out first. Was a BIG electronics, camera, type place. Didn't expect it to be set up very well.

Thanks for the input

5

Is this normal for this Model?

Well, "normal" is a fraught concept here. It's not ideal - not the way the designers and builders imagined it - but it's not terribly unusual, and not indicative of anything terribly wrong.

Sometimes Bigsby tailpieces mount off-center. You can't trust anything that used to be a tree, and Bigsbys are built with "old-school" production techniques (more handwork than you'd think).

If the butt of the guitar isn't perfectly symmetrical in profile where the two pieces of wood come together (see untrustworthy trees) - or the Bigsby bracket isn't mounted perfectly square to the tailpiece (see handwork) - then you get the opportunity for the bracket to push the tailpiece a little off-center.

The fix (and yours would be far from the first new Gretsch to need it) is to put a shim (like a washer) under one side of the Bigsby bracket on the butt - on the side you want to push the tailpiece toward. If your tailpiece cants toward the bass side, put the shim on the treble side of the bracket. I just put a washer under the screw itself; some guys think that's unsightly and form a wedge-shaped shim to lodge under the whole side of the bracket.

But who ever looks at butts?


In any case, any Bigsby off-centretude is not causing intonation problems. Intonation is solely determined by the "live" length of the string, between the nut and the string-bearing surface of the bridge (or saddle on the bridge). Intonation doesn't care what happens on the back side of the bridge.

The saddles just need to be adjusted to the proper locations for your string gauge.

Which I hope is at LEAST 10s. More than some - but perhaps fewer than most - guys think 11s work better on archtops, both for tone (to get the top moving a bit more) and for tuning stability.

If intonation is changing after you set it, either:

• the neck is wandering around (highly unlikely, and you'd notice the action changing)
• the base is moving on the top of the guitar (which can't happen if your 5420 has the "secured bridge" with the posts threaded into the guitar top)
• the bridge is shifting in position on the posts (could only happen if the holes in the bridge are over-size, and I've never seen that on a 5420)
• the saddles are wiggling back and forth in the bridge (possible, as the Adjusta-Matic on the 5420 is not the most premium hardware a guy might imagine)

Now, the lateral pressure on the strings from the off-centre Bigsby could contribute to pulling the saddles around - but likely not much.

Also, you say "intonation goes out," not that the guitar goes out of tune when Bigsbying, so I expect you know the symptoms of a nut which is grabbing strings and not letting them return to position when they're whammy-stretched. You say you've lubed it.

OK, I'll believe it. But if it needs lubed, it needs some dressing. This is common on Electromatics - especially Electros sold by a big box consumer electronics store for a "crazy good price." Probably right out of the shipping box, which came from Korea and did the backstroke in the southwest for awhile, then airplaned to the Great Lakes region - with no setup attention from anyone along the way.

I've always found it worth the money to have a pro dress my nuts. They feel so tight otherwise.


The 5420 is a great guitar - but like any good one, it needs a setup. And then it needs a fair bit of playing to settle it in.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it...till your tech tells you we're idiots and don't know what we're talking about - AND gets your guitar set up to suit you.

6

Hello Bully,

I echo everything The Proteus said. I own a 2013 5420T too, I had the same issues also, after a good tech set it up and hours of playing, the guitar settled, sounds and plays like a dream.

I recently switched to 11s from 10s and all I can say the guitar resonates and sounds better. The blacktop pickups are an animal on its own, I’m not changing it. Sounds awesome.

And welcome to the forum!

7

Proteus said "I always found it's worth the money to have a pro dress my nuts".

This is why he's often seen on the wrong side of town.

8

Thanks for all the input folks.

I agree with the thought that it was never touched after the factory setup. Planning on taking it in to get set up properly sometime next week. Will have it done properly and yes my "Nut" will be dressed.

Anyone use 12s? Read the Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats work well with this guitar. Any opinions or suggestions on strings?

9

"Anyone use 12s? Read the Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats work well with this guitar. Any opinions or suggestions on strings?"

If you're going to be playing more jazzy stuff, the TI's are awesome. 12's will likely require a truss rod adjustment.

For more rock/billy stuff, I'd stick with standard electric strings, with a plain G for bending.

10

I hope you get the little things ironed out. These are great guitars, when they're set up right.

11

Thanks for all the input folks.

I agree with the thought that it was never touched after the factory setup. Planning on taking it in to get set up properly sometime next week. Will have it done properly and yes my "Nut" will be dressed.

Anyone use 12s? Read the Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats work well with this guitar. Any opinions or suggestions on strings?

– bully4me

Something to remember bully, if you switch to 12's, you need to give them to the tech when he deals with the nut as he'll need to increase the slot widths, but if you don't like that gauge after playing for a few weeks and want to go back to 10's, those wider slots are going to be wider than ideal now, most likely requiring a new nut.

I use D'Addario half rounds on my electrics. They're very smooth and practically eliminate noise when moving along the strings but aren't 'dead' as flats tend to be. I use their equivalents - Flattops - on my acoustics and archtop acoustic. Both are phosphor bronze and very lively strings, but without the buzz and noise of round wounds.

12

Choice of strings depends on what music you play, and the tone you prefer.

Before you take our string advice, you should ask us what our musical direction and tonal prefs are, then evaluate how they dovetail with yours.

13

Welcome bully, I'm glad you are here, I am amazed by wealth of knowledge the good people here have shared. Proteus and others are giving sage advice, I lucked out with my new Electromatic guitar (5422TG), the intonation was spot on right out of the box, though I did immediately change the strings and set the action to where I liked it best. Setting intonation is quite easy, as others have mentioned, it's adjusting each string to be exactly one octave higher on the 12th fret than it is when played open. One of the clip on tuners is very helpful in getting things nailed down perfectly. Find a flat tipped screwdriver that fits the screws on the adjustable saddle pieces very well (so that you don't ding up the screw slots) . I usually begin with the low E string, tune it to E then check the tuning at the 12th fret. If the note played on the 12th fret is sharp in comparison to the note of the open string, the string needs to be lengthened, by screwing the saddle piece counter clockwise towards the tail of the guitar. Re-tune and check again. The opposite is true if the 12th fretted note is flat compared to the open note, shorten the length of the string by screwing the saddle piece clockwise towards the neck of the guitar, re-tune and check again. Keep making adjustments until you have it set. I hope this explanation helps, there are also numerous tutorials on YouTube that do a "show and tell" presentation on setting intonation as well. Humidification hasn't been brought up, some type of case humidifier (I use an Oasis Case Humidifier) is a good idea during seasons when the ambiant humidity is low or you live in a dry area, I live in Phoenix Arizona, so that's pretty much all year long. The G5420T is a great guitar, it was my second choice, I do believe that once you have things ironed out, and it has settled in, it will prove to be a winner.

14

Before you take our string advice, you should ask us what our musical direction and tonal prefs are, then evaluate how they dovetail with yours. -- Proteus

Yessir, just what is your musical direction -- this week, that is?

15

As I'm not recommending strings, it doesn't matter.

But since you ask, Ambient Roots Prog Twang.

16

Electro-anarchist Glam Rockabilly. This week.

17

Psychedelic Taoist reggae-funk-jazz-rock, with a dash of salsa.

18

Rastabilly Skank!

Oh,Welcome aboard Bully.

19

Rastabilly Skank! -- JCHiggy

Funny thing. My old girlfriend was called that once.

20

As I'm not recommending strings, it doesn't matter.

But since you ask, Ambient Roots Prog Twang.

– Proteus

Whoa! Being a little testy this morning, are ya?

22
WOW! Amazed by the number and quality of response from everyone.

Well, as stated I haven't really played in many, many years. Guess you could say I'm all over the place. Guess it's more Blues, Classic and Southern Rock, with some 50's country and rock as well the last lil while. However the "Taoist Reggae-Funk-Jazz-Rock sounds fun... if ya drop the Salsa.

Been doing to much internet reading. Saw an article regarding Gretch with Bigsby's and they was suggesting NOT to go lower than 12s. That's why I asked, never played with that heavy of a guage on an electric and sort of raised an eyebrow.

Once again thanks everyone for info and warm welcome. Cheers

23

Don't believe everything you read. Many people use .10s quite successfully with a Bigsby.

24

Just believe everything you read here.

People do use 10s with Bigsbys. Many use 11s. Between 10s and 11s, I bet that accounts for 80% of Gretsch/Bigsby players. Maybe more.

12s are fine - but certainly unnecessary, unless you really want that much mass, resistance, and acoustic resonance. (Of my Gretschs, I use 12s on just one guitar - the Country Club - simply because they sound so majestic.)

With your range of musical styles - and the fact that you haven't played for some years - I'd kinda recommend .0105s. (10-1/2 - 48.) D'Addario has a set. And probably roundwound - unless you specifically know you want flats for a particular jazzy or retro purpose.

25

Don't believe everything you read. Many people use .10s quite successfully with a Bigsby.

– Ric12string

Brian Setzer for one!

...and I always thought the "half" gauges were complicating things too much. 9.5s? 10.5s? Really? 9, 10, 11 doesn't provide enough variety? LOL But to each his own, of course.

I want a pickup wound to 8.5K. It can't be 8.4K or 8.6K, because I can hear it.


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