Electromatics

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

26

When checking the intonation at the 12th fret, GENTLY depress the strings. If you squeeze too hard with your finger pressure, it will pull the string sharp in pitch causing you to believe the intonation is off.

When securing the bridge base, the factory uses a jig that places the bridge in the proper location. It's bullet proof! From there, fine tuning is achieved by the individual bridge saddles.

100% of the time when confronted with this issue with players, either on the phone or in-person, the outcome is as described above. Also know as the string vibration sustain decays after its been plucked, it will slowly drift sharp. Therefore, use the initial attack as your point of reference when checking intonation. Plus, always have a fresh set of strings on your guitar when checking the intonation.

If you don't follow the above rules, you'll just be chasing your tail.

27

tuning issues

Is your guitar going out of tune, or do you have intonation issues - meaning "are notes above the 9th fret sharp or flat when your guitar is in tune playing open strings"?

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Thanks Joe for that input.

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Thanks Joe for that input.

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tuning issues

Is your guitar going out of tune, or do you have intonation issues - meaning "are notes above the 9th fret sharp or flat when your guitar is in tune playing open strings"?

– WB
It's both. For a bit of background I have done intonation many times before in Fender's, Gibson's and others. Back when in the mid 80's to mid 90's was in a band and on the road for a few years doing Zep Covers then Original Stuff. Started playing at age 7 and graduated with Grade 10 Royal Conservatory (classical music). Only to let ya know I'm not a total beginner when it comes to this.

At this point I have the intonation (according to a very good quality metered tuner) spot on. If I play any open strings it's in tune, if I check the 12th fret, again it's in tune. However when I play above the 12th on any string the notes get sharper and sharper.

As for the tuning, it doesn't stay in tune, after playing ten minutes it will be out again.

However, have my new Baby going in next week, hoping it will be resolved.

31

I wasn't suggesting you didn't know what you were doing, sorry if it came off that way - it's just a simple semantics thing that has ocurred before on this (and other) forum(s) - sometimes people with tuning problems refer to them as "intonation trouble" and vice versa.

Otherwise, I'll echo what everyone else said - the usual culprit for tuning problems, especially on guitars with three-on-a-side headstocks is the nut. That needs to be cut specifically for the string gauge you're using. What I do is "ramp it" a little bit, file the headstock side of the nut at an angle so the string bearing surface of the nut is no bigger than it needs to be.

32

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

– Ric12string

I'm a 10's user, I use elixir light guage 010-046 quite successfully on my hollow body Gretsch. Fortunately I have zero binding or tuning issues or extra slop in the nut grooves, this leads me to believe that the 11's that came on the guitar new might have fit a bit tight. Anyway they sound great even when playing acoustical. Sorry for the Dick and Jane version of setting intonation, we just weren't aware of your past experiences yet. I'm a blues, southern and classic rock enthusiasts also, and I make heavy use of string bending. I play coated string because they produce very little scratching sound when I slide between chord changes. As for my musical interest THIS WEEK, "neo classic led zeppelinish - skynyrdized fusion punk no salsa just a touch of cilantro"!

33

Howdy Folks. Have a Great Long Weekend (for those of you who are Canadian) and Happy Canada Day!

Took my Baby Electo into the shop today. Getting the Nut, Frets and everything all set up while she's there.

However after checking it out a bit the Tech believes the Bigsby is the issue. As I noticed (and wasn't sure if it was normal or not), the Bigsby is not centered. Therefore all the strings are on an angle heading towards the bridge and throwing out everything. Angleing to the bridge pulling everything to one side, using the bigsby really messes things up.

Was told not to worry, next week when I pick it up it will be in proper working order. Should be intersting to see what he has to do to fix it. Can hardly wait till it's all finished.

That's all the info I have for now. Will update once I know exactly what had to be done.

34

Happy Canada Day back atcha' from the west coast.

Well, so the tech says the Bigsby is the culprit, eh? I'm not drinkin' his Koolaid. I'd like to know his reasoning. From what I've learned around here and over the years, the primary source of tuning issues is the nut with the bridge bridge's position second most common. Setting the bridge in the correct position, or at least close, isn't difficult. I understand the issue with the Bigsby being offset as I had that issue with my Super Chet when I got it. This condition only had the effect of pulling the bridge base to the right, straightening out the strings run to the nut by removing the slight kink at the saddles. I had the Bigsby re-aligned by my luthier and the bridge pinned to prevent movement from changing strings or accidently hitting it.

Proteus hit the nail on the head regarding intonation: anything south of the bridge doesn't affect intonation, canted off to the side or dead centre. The 'live' length of the string as he points out requires remaining a constant and it sounds like your strings are binding in the nut slots. Unless the tuners can't maintain the same tension, it's the nut. All the offset Bigsby is capable of doing is moving the bridge base sideways and that's it.

The saddles on the AOM provide the intonation adjustment - or moulded as on Tim's Serpentune - once the bridge is in the correct location. The nut is the source of the strings' binding so that's what needs to be looked at in particular BUT, you need to have the strings you want to use available to the luthier to install. Perhaps the strings on the guitar now are too big for the slots. You don't have access to this guitar's history so you don't know if these string came with the guitar and match the slots.

35

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

I hate it when they feel tight....... (Sorry, Tim. I HADDA do that!)

36

bully4tone -- Welcome to the GDP! This place is an incredible resource for help and knowledge sharing. It is also a wonderful place to get persuaded to buy stuff you'd never thought of buying before.....! Seen It happen to my own self MANY times over the years.....

FWIW -- I've used 10's (Thomastik-Infeld JS110 Flat Wound) for Bigsby-equipped Gretsches for several years and have been very happy with them.

Checking intonation -- I play a harmonic note on the 12th fret (rather than actually pressing the string to the fret board) for comparing tuning with the open note. That precludes "pushing" the note out of tune.

Out of tune on upper frets -- I often find the culprit is my left hand fingers, with improper string pressure, pushing notes sharp.

37

bully4tone -- Welcome to the GDP! This place is an incredible resource for help and knowledge sharing. It is also a wonderful place to get persuaded to buy stuff you'd never thought of buying before.....! Seen It happen to my own self MANY times over the years.....

FWIW -- I've used 10's (Thomastik-Infeld JS110 Flat Wound) for Bigsby-equipped Gretsches for several years and have been very happy with them.

Checking intonation -- I play a harmonic note on the 12th fret (rather than actually pressing the string to the fret board) for comparing tuning with the open note. That precludes "pushing" the note out of tune.

Out of tune on upper frets -- I often find the culprit is my left hand fingers, with improper string pressure, pushing notes sharp.

– senojnad

Any note, played anywhere going sharp when fretted is why I won't have big/tall frets on any guitar. This issue of notes going sharp due to tall frets has been mentioned before. If you're strumming or playing single string work it isn't really an issue. My fingerstyle uses combinations of fretted and open strings so tuning is wonky with tall frets....and no, using less pressure doesn't happen when I'm using my thumb to fret. Right around .035" high is tall enough for me.

38

Happy Canada Day back atcha' from the west coast.

Well, so the tech says the Bigsby is the culprit, eh? I'm not drinkin' his Koolaid. I'd like to know his reasoning. From what I've learned around here and over the years, the primary source of tuning issues is the nut with the bridge bridge's position second most common. Setting the bridge in the correct position, or at least close, isn't difficult. I understand the issue with the Bigsby being offset as I had that issue with my Super Chet when I got it. This condition only had the effect of pulling the bridge base to the right, straightening out the strings run to the nut by removing the slight kink at the saddles. I had the Bigsby re-aligned by my luthier and the bridge pinned to prevent movement from changing strings or accidently hitting it.

Proteus hit the nail on the head regarding intonation: anything south of the bridge doesn't affect intonation, canted off to the side or dead centre. The 'live' length of the string as he points out requires remaining a constant and it sounds like your strings are binding in the nut slots. Unless the tuners can't maintain the same tension, it's the nut. All the offset Bigsby is capable of doing is moving the bridge base sideways and that's it.

The saddles on the AOM provide the intonation adjustment - or moulded as on Tim's Serpentune - once the bridge is in the correct location. The nut is the source of the strings' binding so that's what needs to be looked at in particular BUT, you need to have the strings you want to use available to the luthier to install. Perhaps the strings on the guitar now are too big for the slots. You don't have access to this guitar's history so you don't know if these string came with the guitar and match the slots.

– Windsordave

WindsorDave

I get what you're saying. Although I'm not sure about the Bigsby not being at the root of this. The Guitar has had the intonation set more than a few times, sounds spot on. Then goes off the more it's played. As you said with yours pulling to the right, mines pulling to the left (by more than a few degrees) making the strings bind. Like a nut causing a binding issue, this is doing the same. Also think it's doubled with the nut ( which is also being dealt with).

No history with the guitar as it's new, first owner. As far as the strings go, getting 10's put on, If I find them a lil light can move to heavier ones much easier than the other way around.

Thanks for the input. How far was your Bigsby pulling to the right and were you able to adjust it or did it have to be reset?

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I bet the guitar comes back playing perfectly. I have a feeling your tech is right.

40

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.

– bully4me

Bully,

My breaks tend to be a bit shorter than 20 years - more like 15-16, but I do them with great regularity so I still suck. Then again, I have time to spend and my very first electric is on it's way - a Fairlane Blue G5420T.

I'm finding these threads very useful. The amount that I don't know is expanding at a significant pace. Yeah, I know that sounds weird - but it works. Think of yourself as being in the center of a bubble, the volume inside the bubble is what you know - the surface area of the bubble is what you know you recognize as "stuff I don't know." Outside the bubble is simply unknown. I sort of like knowing I'll never know it all.

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I wonder what the resolution of this tale was.

Come back, Bully4me, and give us ... the rest of the story.


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