General tech questions

General 5120 Questions about Set Ups.

1

Ok, So I'm new the Gretsch Family and have some questions.

One of the reasons why I went with the 5120 is since I came from mostly acoustic guitars the size of the hollow body felt natural to me and comfortable. I have restrung acoustic guitars in the past.

I've only had it for a week and the strings have some discoloration between the pickups where they would be strummed with pick/fingers. It's born during 2011 and I have no idea how old the strings are. I do check tuning every few days. I play between 15 - 60 minutes at a time, sometimes more than once a day. It always seems to be a bit out of tune which may or may not be normal for it.

Long winded I know.

So I'm going to restring the guitar, but it has locking tuners (Sperzel) and a Space Control Bridge. Oh..and the Bigsby, which would be something new for string replacement.

Is it reasonable to find ask luthier to show you to do a set up and intonation right the first time? There is a large shop near me (St. Louis) that actually does a set up class (3 hours) for about $100 (+cost of strings). They even do a full blown Luthier School (1 year).

I'm also considering using Nickel Wound strings (Specifically Dr. Strings Pure Blues), and I need some advice on a gauge choice. The current strings feel decent, but 'big', I'm think they are probably 11s. Which seems alright, but was wondering if 10s would be a better choice.

My Google-foo and youtube skills are strong, so I have no problems looking up 'how to's. I just want my first time to go right and learn it right.

Of course if anyone else has any related thoughts on the matter, I'll gladly listen!

Thanks All!

-Kev

2

.10's should be fine.

Stringing a Bigsby can be a challenge but it isn't too difficult once you've done it a few times. I usually bend the ball end 90 degrees with some pliers, wrap it around the Bigsby, pull the string over the bridge and neck, clamp the string down tight with a capo and then thread the string into the tuner. The capo trick isn't necessary and I don't always do that now but it really helped me when I first started restringing my Gretsch.

The 5120 should have come with an Adjustomatic bridge which is just Gretsch's way of labeling a Tuneomatic bridge. I'm not sure why it would have a Space Control. Once you restring you can adjust the floating bridge's position using a tuner. Make sure the open string, 12th fret and 12th fret harmonic all read the same on the tuner. If the tuner reads sharp move the bridge back towards the Bigsby and if it's flat move it towards the neck. I also like to check the 3rd fret notes so the cowboy chords will sound right.

3

Welcome to all things Gretsch! Couple of things here. I always string my [not a string through style] Bigsby one string at a time. My bridge base is pinned and won't move anyway but I just like doing it that way in any event.

You say you have a Space Control bridge, so that makes intonation less than available with an AOM bridge or a Tru Arc Serpentune. If you're picky about intonation, I recommend you look into replacing that SC. A still active I believe or a recently retired thread had very simply instructions on how to intonate a guitar but it requires having an adjustable bridge where you can move the saddles with a screwdriver. Of course you have to first position the bridge close to ideal before fine tuning with the screwdriver.

The issue with your bridge or any straight bar style is that you can only get your intonation close to acceptable but not perfect (at least for the first 12 frets).

String gauge & composition is a subjective and personal choice and depends on several factors that only you know.

4

I had a 5120 when I first got into Gretsch guitars and it was a great guitar, regretted selling it. Stock strings were 10-46 and had a good bridge on it, no rattles etc however did not work well with the Bigsby. Well made, great acoustic sound and amped up was good for all types music.It was a limited edition model, wine red and had some TV Jones classic and classic plus on it, a set up and played superbly with a low action via a rocking bar bridge which was great with the Bigsby, wish I could get it back for old time sake.

5

.10's should be fine.

Stringing a Bigsby can be a challenge but it isn't too difficult once you've done it a few times. I usually bend the ball end 90 degrees with some pliers, wrap it around the Bigsby, pull the string over the bridge and neck, clamp the string down tight with a capo and then thread the string into the tuner. The capo trick isn't necessary and I don't always do that now but it really helped me when I first started restringing my Gretsch.

The 5120 should have come with an Adjustomatic bridge which is just Gretsch's way of labeling a Tuneomatic bridge. I'm not sure why it would have a Space Control. Once you restring you can adjust the floating bridge's position using a tuner. Make sure the open string, 12th fret and 12th fret harmonic all read the same on the tuner. If the tuner reads sharp move the bridge back towards the Bigsby and if it's flat move it towards the neck. I also like to check the 3rd fret notes so the cowboy chords will sound right.

– BuddyHollywood

Hi BuddyHollywood, I bought the guitar used, the previous owner installed the bridge and tuners. Thanks for the info! :)

7

Kev!!! Check your tuning constantly...while you're playing. Change those strings every 2-4 weeks, if you play that much!

8

Baxter beat me to it. I'd try new strings first and if you're playing bluesy Rock, then 10's would work fine.


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