The Workbench

Help with tuning issues on a G5191


I picked up a 5191 on Reverb and have taken it to the shop twice. The tech fixed the intonation, stretched the strings a ton, didn't hear or see any jumping in the nut when tuning, checked the bracing and the bridge but it's still going sharp, particularly on the low E, D, G and B and then flat when it's not going sharp. Each way about 2-4 cents.

You maybe get 20 seconds of playing before it goes out again. Any ideas on what else it could be? I took pictures of the nut bridge and tuners but the forum is only letting me post one.

Oh and the strings are wrapped 3 times max. Thanks for any help you can give!


My goodness, those look like nice guitars. I just looked up the specs, and it says that the nut is white graphite, and that's a good thing. That being said, tuning instability is almost always caused by the nut. It's almost never the tuners, even cheap tuners don't slip. They can't, it's a gear and worm that can't be turned by the post, because the string tensions too low ever turn the post (except in extremely poor quality tuners). Are you lubricating the nut with pencil lead or one of the commercial nut sauses? I'm using one them on all my nuts, with great results on the Bigsby. These mid level Gretsch guitars sometimes don't get the loving they need at the factory, and the nuts can be hurriedly dressed.

Always tune up pitch, this removes the backlash on the gears. If you tune down to pitch, the backlash will cause the string to go flat, as the backlash tightens up.

If you are tuning up to pitch, then what you are describing sounds like the nut is binding. You can try to gently open the offending slots with nut files or even a folded over piece of sandpaper. You are only trying to loosen the sides of the slots, not the bottom. Angle the slots toward the appropriate tuning peg slightly. Go slow and check your work often. You can always take away more material from the nut as needed, but you can't add it back.

If you are not confident enough to do this, take it to a good Luthier. Perhaps try a different guy, one who has worked on a lot of Gretsch guitars. These things are unique, and are not well understood by some people. I actually had a Guitar Center guy ask me if he could glue my bridge to the top of the guitar. No thank you, and I never went back there again.


Hey Wade, thanks for the help, I really appreciate it! Everything I'm reading seems to suggest that it's the nut. I haven't tried any of the lubricants yet, I was mainly hoping to diagnose the problem as quickly as I could since there's a small window for returning the guitar (which I dont want to do, just didn't want to get stuck with a lemon).

I definitely don't mind putting some work into getting the nut right, like I said, just wanted to check with you guys who know more about these guitars than I do in case you spotted a red flag that's unfixable and needs to be returned.

Thanks again!


Plus 100 to what Wade said.


Thanks Dave, you guys were right, had a different luthier file the nut and it seems like it's staying in tune way better.


That luthier should be your go-to from now on! Doing it right with a 24-hour turnaround? That's rare.

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