General tech questions

Synchro Sonic bridge setup tutorial for newbies?

1

Hi everyone, I finally bought myself a G6136DS Whit Falcon which I've been dreaming about since I was 18 years old (20 years ago) and I'm so happy about it, it just sings and make me a better musician (at least try). It is truly a Rock'n Roll machine, should've pulled the trigger in one of those years ago! Anyways, it that has a Synchro Sonic (Melitta kind of) and Cadillac "G" tailpiece and I want to learn how to set it up when I change the strings or at least fix some intonation issues. It is my first Gretsch, I have other guitars (Les Paul Jrs and Special DCs) but all of them are fixed TOM bridges so it is not so frightening to give them a go when I need a few adjustments, but with the Synchro I'm really scared of it! It looks frickn' awesome and palm mutting is just fine for me so I don't want to swap it for another bridge cuz to me it kinda ruins it the beauty of this bird (it is my dream guitar) so I need some advise. I know I could just take it to a good Luthier and be done with it but I want to know more and learn more before I let anyone else mess with it. This thing is so scary that I don't even have a clue where to start really, and I've never seen a single video about it, just pictures. So I don't even touch it, never ever changed the strings in the 6 months I've been enjoying it because of that and it already started to ruin the intonation, especially on the G string. And also I've notice it the bridge moved slightly so I'm kinda desperate (more like hungry for information really). So does anyone has a tutorial on how to set it up, a video would be a life saver! Thank you guys!

2

Syncro-Sonic bridges are fundamentally the same as a tuneomatic in that you can adjust each saddle back and forth to fine tune your intonation.

Since the low E is usually the string that needs the most space to be intonated correctly you could set that saddle all the way back towards the tail piece, adjust the bridge base so that your open E, octave E and 12th fret harmonic E are all the same. I also like to check the 3rd fret to make sure it's reading "G" on the tuner for open chords. Then you could get a ballpark idea of where the other end of the base should go by intonating the high E the same way. Once the low E and high E are lined up the rest of the strings should intonate correctly using the same technique.

Since it's a floating bridge tried to achieve optimal intonation by focusing on the placement of the bridge base first and then I adjusted the saddles for fine tuning when I had the Syncro-Sonic on my Duo Jet.

3

Syncro-Sonic bridges are fundamentally the same as a tuneomatic in that you can adjust each saddle back and forth to fine tune your intonation.

Since the low E is usually the string that needs the most space to be intonated correctly you could set that saddle all the way back towards the tail piece, adjust the bridge base so that your open E, octave E and 12th fret harmonic E are all the same. I also like to check the 3rd fret to make sure it's reading "G" on the tuner for open chords. Then you could get a ballpark idea of where the other end of the base should go by intonating the high E the same way. Once the low E and high E are lined up the rest of the strings should intonate correctly using the same technique.

Since it's a floating bridge tried to achieve optimal intonation by focusing on the placement of the bridge base first and then I adjusted the saddles for fine tuning when I had the Syncro-Sonic on my Duo Jet.

– BuddyHollywood

Thank you, I was worried about the right spot for the base of the bridge, that got me going, I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks a lot! :)

4

I did mine a little different, before I screwed it into the top of my silver jet. I kept all the saddles even, like they would be out of the box, and moved the base until I found the optimal spot where it sounded best, then I screwed it down and adjusted the intonation after. I'm sure you dont want to drill into your new falcon, but I would recommend some violin bow rosin on the feet, that will really keep it in place and not mess up the finish. That's what I did on my bases before they were pinned. Hope this helps!

5

Nothing to be scared of. Use you tuner and intonate it roughly by moving the whole bridge, fine tune with the individual saddles as per above. Change your strings first! You can't 'wreck' the guitar by having the bridge move. If you're worried, mark the top with pencil before you take off the strings, or do 3 at a time. Not that big a deal.

6

I totally get the fear of wanting to not mess up anything on your dream axe, but theres really nothing to go wrong. I found they are pretty "set it and forget it" once you've found the right spot. I thought those falcons were pinned from the factory?

7

If you haven't moved it yet, before changing strings, mark where it's at now, with tape or sticky notes. If it moves during the string change just move it back. A good starting point is measure from the top nut to the 12th string and double that. From there, each saddle is easily moved but if you were in tune before the string change, you shouldn't have to mess with them.

You could also get a Tru-arc.

8

You could also get a Tru-arc. That's the best suggestion! I was just waiting for someone other than myself to make the suggestion!

9

Than you all for the comments. So I spent like 3 hours going back and forward on this and no luck...

The Bridge moved already like l mentioned, so there's no way to mark it since it moved and screwed the original intonation. And I do not want to replace the bridge just yet, so I rather learn how to set it up.

So I did what Chmason85 said: tuned the Low E; pluck it, tuned it, went to the 12th fret, tuned with harmonics and pressing the fret (after moving the bridge around a bit); did the same on the High E string. So far so good but, some of the other strings don't want to be tuned the same way cause when I use the harmonics on the 12th fret they are tuned but when I press the fret they are shown as sharp, and the saddles are all the way back (near the tailpiece) so it can't go any further and if I move the bridge the intonation on the previously tuned strings goes away. So I'm going to start all over but where do I start with the saddles, do I leave them all the way back (near the tailpiece) and start over and them move the saddles?

What about the string height, do I first set the action before moving the bridge? What's the right order, bridge placement before or after the string action?

And what about the truss rod, do you guys think it needs to be messed with too?

10

Now you are talking a complete setup.

Have you done any of this before?

Nobody that doesn't have your guitar actually in their hands will know if your truss rod needs adjusting and if you are asking that question I would recommend that you DO NOT adjust it.

At this point I would suggest you take your guitar to a competent luthier/guitar tech and have them do a setup for you.

it seems from the nature of your questions and your earlier 'fear' that maybe this dream guitar isn't the one to learn on.

The modern white falcons are mostly different from other Gretsch models in cosmetics, functionally they are basically the same and anyone who has every set up a guitar, preferably an archtop, will have no problem. They are also pretty sturdy instruments being made out of plywood and heavily finished.

Spend the $40 or so on a pro setup. Then continue your research and knowledge quest.

11

Do what you already did, but put the high e saddle all the way forward, and adjust its intonation by moving the bridge base on that side. Low E all the way back, high E all the way forward, move the entire bridge to set their intonation, and then the other four strings by just moving the saddles.

12

Truss rod adjustments are no big deal really. However you do have to take them slow and only go about a quarter turn at a time. It may take a day or even a few days to get the balance between the bow of the neck and the bridge height just right. It also takes time for the neck to settle.

13

Now you are talking a complete setup.

Have you done any of this before?

Nobody that doesn't have your guitar actually in their hands will know if your truss rod needs adjusting and if you are asking that question I would recommend that you DO NOT adjust it.

At this point I would suggest you take your guitar to a competent luthier/guitar tech and have them do a setup for you.

it seems from the nature of your questions and your earlier 'fear' that maybe this dream guitar isn't the one to learn on.

The modern white falcons are mostly different from other Gretsch models in cosmetics, functionally they are basically the same and anyone who has every set up a guitar, preferably an archtop, will have no problem. They are also pretty sturdy instruments being made out of plywood and heavily finished.

Spend the $40 or so on a pro setup. Then continue your research and knowledge quest.

– Toxophilite

Sorry I came across kind of strong here. Feel free to monkey with your own guitar of course. I do it all the time and enjoy it a lot.

The nature and context of some of your questions made me think maybe you might be happier with someone else doing it all.

Do you like a flat neck? Do you like some bow? Some people like more than others. There should be a little to accommodate the envelope of the strings vibration

Press the first fret of your low E (or put a capo on it) Press the 14th fret and now tap the 7th or 8th fret. Is there a little room? a bit of movement? If not maybe loosening your truss rod a 1/4 turn would be good, If yes maybe leave it alone. If you feel there's too bug a gap maybe tightening the rod a little will help. (never more than a 1/4 turn at a time and then check again. It's somewhat similar to checking nut height be pressing the 3rd fret and tapping on the first. it is a personal preference as well though

However this interacts with action adjustment. I'd set your intonation, set your action how you like it, for an electric 2mm , low E 12th fret 1.6mm high E 12th fret is a decent guide. Depending also on your preference.

Then check your intonation again , just in case, and then check your neck bow as suggested above. If adjustment is necessary then you'lll probably want to adjust your action back to how you like it. etc etc.

That's my two bits. Likely I missed something.

14

I would set the neck relief (truss first) or check it at least, then the string height and lastly the intonation. Usually, after proper intonation the saddles should somewhat resemble two three step stair case with the higher three strings overall relatively higher than the lower.

15

Thanks for all of your advice, appreciate it so much!

I found that it's pretty easy to adjust the saddles, I can do it by hand which is pretty sweet and not scary after all. My main concern is the floating bridge cause it not only moves back/forward but also up/down and then you have to align the strings with the pickup poles (right?).

I adjust the guitar to about 80% but some strings are still stubborn and don't stay in tune in some frets like the 3rd and 4th, mostly the lower strings. For instance when I play a D major chord it sounds tuned but when I play a G major open chord it sounds like the G and B strings are out of tune compared to all the other strings, even when they are all tuned separately according to my tuner and, most important, my ear. My tuner is the very accurate TC Polytune 3 btw.

I've also found an official video on Gretsch's Youtube channel how to adjust the truss rod, it sounds pretty straight forward but I won't be messing around with it just yet cause I don't have the measuring tools.

That apply to string height as well, I thought about using the credit card trick on the 12th fret like I've heard and seen on videos but none were using a Gretsch or even a hollow body guitar so I was afraid it wouldn't apply on my Falcon. Has anyone tried that trick?

Is there a way to measure the strings height and the truss rod adjustment without the ruler/measurement tool? Any old school tricks that actually work?

16

I would set the neck relief (truss first) or check it at least, then the string height and lastly the intonation. Usually, after proper intonation the saddles should somewhat resemble two three step stair case with the higher three strings overall relatively higher than the lower.

– James V Roy

Is this for strings that have a plain G string? Mine never looks like that .

17

So I swap the strings to start all over again with a set of 0.11 Elixir Nanos but them the Low E keeps buzzing no matter how high I adjust the bridge's height so I'm going to take it to a Luthier and let him give me some hints on what I'm doing wrong and probably practice on my Les Paul Jrs and move it up from there. Thanks everyone, you guys were a huge help!

18

So I swap the strings to start all over again with a set of 0.11 Elixir Nanos but them the Low E keeps buzzing no matter how high I adjust the bridge's height so I'm going to take it to a Luthier and let him give me some hints on what I'm doing wrong and probably practice on my Les Paul Jrs and move it up from there. Thanks everyone, you guys were a huge help!

– glauberjoe

That sounds like a truss rod or a fret leveling issue.

19

Is this for strings that have a plain G string? Mine never looks like that .

– Toxophilite

This is just an approximation, not set up for any specific guitar. They can and will vary type.

Another thing of note, though I don't know if Gretsches experience this but to intonate some Strats I've found it necessary to lower the bridge pickup, especially on the bass side.

20

Yeah I think that's for a plain G. With a wound G it generally zigs back at the B string not the G.


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