Meet & Greet

New to forum and new to owning a Gretsch guitar

26

Well my search for a semi-acoustic guitar seems well and truly over. I spent most of yesterday evening carefully adjusting and re-adjusting the truss rod until the neck began to fall back into place after each adjustment and then left it overnight to settle.

This morning I adjusted the neck so that there was a tiny element of back bow and then I roughly calculated the bridge position and fitted a set of D'addario 10s strings which I then tuned. I then adjusted the truss rod so that the neck was level again with the strings pulling on it and then adjusted the truss so that with a capo behind the first fret and pressing down on the string at the very last fret, measured with feeler gauges there was a relief of 8 thousandths of an inch at the 8th fret which seems about right.

With a bit of tweaking of the bridge height so that there were no obvious string/fret rattles, I tentatively gave the guitar a whirl and I almost fell off my stool... compared to what it was like when I brought it home, the transformation is absolutely amazing and had it been set up like that when I first went to see it I'd have snapped it up in an instant.

It transpired that the lady had had the guitar up for sale for 6 months with no takers and I could understand why... in all honesty I only bought it for its appearance which I admit would look great on any wall. I tried to adjust it for her but whoever had been trying to adjust it prior to me had made a right mess of it so she really appreciated my help to try and get it saleable for her. It wasn't about the money for her, it was all about sentiment and the guitar going to a home where it would be appreciated which because of my efforts to try and help her, is why I became the chosen one and she offered it me at such a silly price that I really couldn't refuse even though I told her it was far too cheap and to hold back and wait for another buyer but she was determined that I should have it which now I'm so pleased she was. The guitar will certainly be appreciated no fear about that.

It's taken me a good two days to sort out the basic issues and it's still work in progress as I think I can get the action nearly as low as my Telecaster. I don't know if it's a known fault but the bridge sounds somewhat 'buzzy' at times. There are maybe a couple of high frets which will need dressing but the buzzing noise really isn't fret rattle so when I change the strings next week and re-adjust the relief I'll look more closely at the bridge to see if I can eliminate any source of rattle.

I put on a set D'addario 10s today but this guitar for me is crying out for the low E and A to be slightly heavier and the next two strings to be medium and the top two to be 9s but that's for me and my style of playing. That is how I used to load my guitar when I was touring all those years ago and always bought loose strings which you could buy readily back then but there days it seems all about selling complete string sets.

I set the bridge position by using a straight edge placed at the nut and the 12th fret marked accurately on it and transferred that distance from the 12th fret to roughly just over an eighth of an inch behind the mark which was placed over the bridge centre and the bottom three strings were actually intonated correctly at the 12th fret but the top three were very slightly sharp but not so far out that it was that noticeable so next week when I change strings I'll make up a wooden bridge position scale so if I ever have to take off the entire set of strings, I'll be able to set the bridge very precisely and quickly.

I could mark the bridge position by using masking tape before taking off the strings but I'm not a fan of using masking tape on such a good guitar finish even if it is the low tack type. The adhesive used can etch the surface so I try to avoid using it.

The pickups definitely need their heights adjusting as they sound quite unbalanced...not difficult I'm so pleased that over the years I've picked up a few luthiering skills along the way...it's certainly helped with this guitar.

27

I have a feeling by Memorial Day you'll have this guitar in prime playing condition. You're well on your way now. Excellent reporting!

The stock bridge also rattled on my 5120. You may want to check out a Tru-Arc Serpentune. It's a compensated saddle bar bridge designed similar to a Bigsby bridge but thicker and better sounding.

28

I don't know if it's a known fault but the bridge sounds somewhat 'buzzy' at times. jasperthecat

Tony, the little intonation adjustment screws on the saddle pieces, of the "Adjust - O - Matic bridge, can back out and rattle. Try snugging the offending adjustment screw/s back down CW, to eliminate the rattling. If the screw/s continues to vibrate loose, clear fingernail polish can be dabbled on the threads before re-snugging the screw/s back down. I know some guys who will use the very lowest strength "Loctite 222" (purple) thread tightener, to tack the screw/s down, in the same manner. This rattling is a well known issue with the Tune - O - Matic (Gibson) and the Adjust - O - Matic (Gretsch) style bridges, that has irritated guitarists for decades. I'm very happy that your "wall hanger" is turning out to be an actual player. I think that these dear Ladies chose well, when selecting the new home for their dearly departed loved ones cherished guitar. I can sense the excitement, love and appreciation in your posts. Congratulations, I think you have a lovely guitar.

29

I have a feeling by Memorial Day you'll have this guitar in prime playing condition. You're well on your way now. Excellent reporting!

The stock bridge also rattled on my 5120. You may want to check out a Tru-Arc Serpentune. It's a compensated saddle bar bridge designed similar to a Bigsby bridge but thicker and better sounding.

– BuddyHollywood

Actually I'm already in love with it and I haven't even finished with the final set up. It's already very playable indeed even by my preferences and being realistic, I can't really expect to improve that much further to get it close to perfect for me.

It's a while since I knocked out a bit of Stray Cat's style Rockabilly but I did tonight while I was playing with it. The guitar also sounds gorgeous with a bit of tremolo pedal when playing country...it really is a very nice guitar with a very versatile sound. I was playing a bit of the old Ramrod's Riders in the Sky while trying out the Bigsby as my other half came into my music room and she was smiling at me with my new toy.

A cousin of mine actually has a 6 series Gretsch and he had a 5120 before he got his 6 and he swears by the 5 so it's all looking good, so much so that if I can get the bridge rattle sorted and it intonated perfectly I might set about a bit of recording with it over the coming weekend.

30

I don't know if it's a known fault but the bridge sounds somewhat 'buzzy' at times. jasperthecat

Tony, the little intonation adjustment screws on the saddle pieces, of the "Adjust - O - Matic bridge, can back out and rattle. Try snugging the offending adjustment screw/s back down CW, to eliminate the rattling. If the screw/s continues to vibrate loose, clear fingernail polish can be dabbled on the threads before re-snugging the screw/s back down. I know some guys who will use the very lowest strength "Loctite 222" (purple) thread tightener, to tack the screw/s down, in the same manner. This rattling is a well known issue with the Tune - O - Matic (Gibson) and the Adjust - O - Matic (Gretsch) style bridges, that has irritated guitarists for decades. I'm very happy that your "wall hanger" is turning out to be an actual player. I think that these dear Ladies chose well, when selecting the new home for their dearly departed loved ones cherished guitar. I can sense the excitement, love and appreciation in your posts. Congratulations, I think you have a lovely guitar.

– Wade H

Wade I'm so pleased the rattling wasn't just my imagination. I absolutely hate issues like this as it gets on my nerves until I find the source and solve it. I'll see if I can resolve it first without replacing the bridge as I'd prefer to keep the guitar original, but if not then it may be that a bridge change is the solution but only after I've exhausted all other avenues like in your suggestions.

If it's just the screws working loose and causing the rattle I'm sure I can sort that.

When I brought the guitar home, I really did think it was a wall hanger as the neck wouldn't have been out of place in an archery competition, it was so bowed. I even tried to explain it to my other half that the only reason I'd bought it was to hang on the wall...puzzled looks followed I'm afraid but she doesn't mind what I spend my money on thank goodness.:)

Obviously someone had tried to adjust it previously as the area around the end of the truss rod tip under the cover plate showed signs of scuffing and they must have wound it so far the wrong way that it wouldn't go back. I spent about an hour at the lady's home trying to get it right for her and it just wouldn't straighten. I seriously didn't think I'd ever get it to go back to it's correct shape hence my idea that it was just a good looking wall hanger that I should buy.

If I'm honest I feel a little guilty now as I genuinely thought it wasn't salvageable and I suspect others who'd tried it out felt the same but now with three days working on it, it's really a nice playing guitar. If I thought she would accept it, I'd offer her a bit more but I know she wouldn't accept it as I tried doing that before I left.

All she and her daughter wanted was for the guitar to go to someone who would appreciate it and they thought I was that person and even asked if I would update them from time to time as to how I'm getting on with it! They even said they weren't bothered if I sold it but as I said, I wasn't buying it to resell. They only wanted someone to love it like her late husband did and of that they can be assured it will be. I certainly won't sell it that's for sure, especially now that I've got the action somewhere like what I want.

My quest for a nice hollow body guitar is now at an end!

31

If it's just the screws working loose and causing the rattle I'm sure I can sort that.

Tony, Google : "rattling sounds from a TOM Bridge". You'll find all sorts of resources to help you eliminate the problem. TOM is the acronym for Tune - O - Matic. It's and age old issue, usually with a very simple solution. I think that it will be an easy task to fix it, using the age old clear fingernail polish trick (or the purple Loctite). If you decide to use the Loctite, don't use any color but purple. Purple is designed for screws that need occasional adjustment.

My 39 year old Gibson Les Paul used to bug the bejeebies out of me, until I stumbled upon this easy fix. I'm the original owner of this guitar. They came out of the Gibson Kalamazoo shop, with a piece of spring retaining wire, pinned across the row of adjustment screws, unsuccessfully attempting to prevent the buzzing. My 2019 Gibson Les Paul, doesn't have the retaining wire. They have tightened up the tolerances, so that the adjustment screws are held tightly in place at the screw head. I can only imagine, that in time, they will succumb to wear, and begin to rattle as well.

My quest for a nice hollow body guitar is now at an end!

Cheers! Play her in good health!

32

If it's just the screws working loose and causing the rattle I'm sure I can sort that.

Tony, Google : "rattling sounds from a TOM Bridge". You'll find all sorts of resources to help you eliminate the problem. TOM is the acronym for Tune - O - Matic. It's and age old issue, usually with a very simple solution. I think that it will be an easy task to fix it, using the age old clear fingernail polish trick (or the purple Loctite). If you decide to use the Loctite, don't use any color but purple. Purple is designed for screws that need occasional adjustment.

My 39 year old Gibson Les Paul used to bug the bejeebies out of me, until I stumbled upon this easy fix. I'm the original owner of this guitar. They came out of the Gibson Kalamazoo shop, with a piece of spring retaining wire, pinned across the row of adjustment screws, unsuccessfully attempting to prevent the buzzing. My 2019 Gibson Les Paul, doesn't have the retaining wire. They have tightened up the tolerances, so that the adjustment screws are held tightly in place at the screw head. I can only imagine, that in time, they will succumb to wear, and begin to rattle as well.

My quest for a nice hollow body guitar is now at an end!

Cheers! Play her in good health!

– Wade H

Thanks Wade...will follow your advice. The rattling isn't terrible but I know it's there and if there is a fault I have just got to sort it.

I have just recently bought a replacement Tune o matic bridge for one of my other guitars ...it is a reliced bridge which looks like it was etched with some kind of acid to give the whole bridge a string mount an aged look but the acid weakened the bridge string slots and it made it rattle. I'm fitting that this weekend so I'll look over the one on the Gretsch atr the same time.

I already had to renew the adjustable posts as the acid effect corroded the threads and made them extremely difficult adjust.

33

I'm the same way Tony, I can't stand the intonation being off, or having superfluous buzzing or rattling, on any of my guitars. I think a lot of guitarists are the same way, especially after they become experienced players. I also like very low action. My only Gretsch guitar is a 5422TG, it's a full hollow body, with double cut upper bouts and gold plated hardware. I have the action set ridiculously low, with 10 - 46 strings. Mine is a 2018 model with a pinned bridge, they started pinning the bridges in (IIRC) 2015. The studs that have the height adjustment wheels, go all the way through the bridge base, through the top of the guitar, and into the bracing. The pins completely immobilize the bridge, and I believe that they help to transfer the string vibration into the top of the guitar (as an added bonus).

It's nice meeting you Tony, I hope I didn't prattle on with information that you already knew. If so, then I beg your pardonI've been chasing down rattling bridge pieces for 45 years, and hopefully picked up a few tricks to eliminate it. I didn't offer any advice, that any one of the real experts on this site, could have have offered. I'm fairly new to the Gretsch line, just over one year now. We have wealth of knowledge, from world class experts in everything you could want to know about Gretsch guitars, on this site. I read far more than I contribute. I'm often left in awe, reading the posts of other contributers.

34

I'm the same way Tony, I can't stand the intonation being off, or having superfluous buzzing or rattling, on any of my guitars. I think a lot of guitarists are the same way, especially after they become experienced players. I also like very low action. My only Gretsch guitar is a 5422TG, it's a full hollow body, with double cut upper bouts and gold plated hardware. I have the action set ridiculously low, with 10 - 46 strings. Mine is a 2018 model with a pinned bridge, they started pinning the bridges in (IIRC) 2015. The studs that have the height adjustment wheels, go all the way through the bridge base, through the top of the guitar, and into the bracing. The pins completely immobilize the bridge, and I believe that they help to transfer the string vibration into the top of the guitar (as an added bonus).

It's nice meeting you Tony, I hope I didn't prattle on with information that you already knew. If so, then I beg your pardonI've been chasing down rattling bridge pieces for 45 years, and hopefully picked up a few tricks to eliminate it. I didn't offer any advice, that any one of the real experts on this site, could have have offered. I'm fairly new to the Gretsch line, just over one year now. We have wealth of knowledge, from world class experts in everything you could want to know about Gretsch guitars, on this site. I read far more than I contribute. I'm often left in awe, reading the posts of other contributers.

– Wade H

Don't worry Wade you weren't prattling on. Actually I'd rather people did prattle han say nothing and no one prattles more than me. You gave good advice which I welcome.

I love to learn and expand my knowledge and if I can help someone who may need to know something that I have knowledge of then I will. I can't say I like the idea of a floating bridge and it's a tedious job if all strings have to be removed but I've come across some older guitars with pinned bridges which were sometimes so very badly built that they could never adjust to be correctly intonated.

At least the Gretsch's bridge was quite easy to re-intonate with the aid of a straight edge. I found it quite simple today as I remember from years ago doing it on old guitars which didn't have a fixed bridge. Once I have the intonation set up precisely I'll simply make a wooden gauge to help accurately reposition the bass and treble side of the bridge should I ever need to remove all of the strings again. Then it's only the absolute fine tuning/intonation which will need attention.

Now that I've found my ideal hollow body all I need to find is a good Strat or even a Strat style guitar as I'm not a gear snob as I adore the obligatory Strat "quack" for country music. However, I have a very nice Telecaster which plays really well and which I bought quite cheaply three years ago because it had a wiring issue due to someone messing up the wiring while fitting a pair of Tex Mex pups.

Recently I've been on a mission to sort out my guitars and only sorted the wiring issue on the Tele the other week. I'm now thinking that instead of buying another guitar in the form of a Strat, I'll convert the Telecaster to a "Nashville" model which has the three pups like a strat. Quite an easy and cheap solution. I can even fit a Bigsby to complete the job.

I have a "Vintage" brand SG copy and it's a great playing machine and although it's brilliant for heavy rock, I love playing country with it particularly with its access to the high end of the fretboard. I've just recently dressed and leveled the frets on it and now it's virtually perfect but it has the Tune o matic bridge issue I mentioned so I'll replace it this weekend as I already have the part.

I also have a Squire Telecaster Custom which I bought last year ...I've only recently dressed and levelled the frets, shimmed the neck and with it's P90s, it's a very versatile guitar to play and is probably my favourite guitar when I just want to a jam.

I have an EJ200 which covers my acoustic needs so having now got the perfect hollow body in the form of the Gretsch all I need is the Strat sound and I have all of my guitar needs covered and I can get on and enjoy a bit of recording as I have all I need in that department.

35

Just an update and a request for info at the end of the post!

I decided to leave the 5120's neck to settle and relax naturally for a further few weeks in order to lose any residual curvature tendency that may have been left as a result of the guitar's previous treatment, helped by wall mounting it with a Hercules guitar bracket and I've finally started playing it a fair amount over the past few days and it's really coming along very nicely.

Indeed, so much so that after a final check over and a little fine tuning/adjustment/tweaking this weekend, it will be fully set up for me to play permanently as the action is now very close to perfection for me. I've gone through the guitar carefully and there isn't a sign of wear or use...it's just like it's factory fresh. If I'd bought it brand new it wouldn't have looked any better. I only have one issue which is in regard to the recommended pickup height or the height at which they leave factory.

Obviously pickup height and the resulting sound they issue will always be subjective as well as arbitrary but I don't know the full history of the guitar so I might as well start over from scratch with regard to pup heights.

At the moment they look perhaps a tad low and sound maybe slightly too toppy. I absolutely love the crispness that Gretsch guitars give, especially for the music I like to play but I prefer a slightly more balanced output across the bass to treble aspect of each pup and an optimum pup height would be a good place from which to finely adjust their heights for best performance for me. I know that I will no doubt get the right settings for the sounds I want eventually but knowing a starting point will always make it easier.

So if anyone has this information or any advice on getting the most from the 5120's pups then I'd very much appreciate it.

Cheers folks and have a nice day

36

Body of pickup closer to strings for more body in the tone, polepiece higher for more crispness. Compromise between those parameters to taste.

In all your detailed posts about this guitar, have you mentioned what pickups are in it?

It matters.

38

Do they look like this?

– Ric12string

Thanks for the reply and the image to identify the pups.

Yes, I would say they are the same pickup and are the original stock pups which do not appear to have been swapped out. However, although not knowing much about the nuances of the Gretsch, based on my experience of other guitars, I suspect that there has been some adjustment with regard to pup height at some point.

I fully understand how the adjustment of pups work. I have three Fender guitars for instance and having three different types of pups, they each have specific factory pup height settings/recommendations to get a basic optimum from which to fine tune to personal taste. The idea being that the wrong pickup or pole height can introduce unwanted/undesirable string oscillations if incorrectly adjusted which is why I asked.

I could raise the bass end of the pup to give increased bass response which is what I feel is lacking slightly but if it's set up from the wrong height initially, it still won't get the best from the pups. If there is no specific pup height for each model which would surprise me, then it's a case of try it and see until I get the sound I want but easier if I know I'm already starting in the ballpark.


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