Modern Gretsch Guitars

G5420T, Expectations/Help? (long)

1

I have kicked the tires on Korean model Gretch Guitars more than a couple times in the last few years & finally brought one home. It's that "funny green, color." My 1st car was a 64' Chevelle & under all the rust it was "Sea/Surf Foam Green, " similar green.

The strings were over stretched & shot. I also noticed they were bottoming out on the nut. (Soft plastic & I replaced all with minimal effort.)

It's hard to dial in & get a good clean sound. I generally set my amp(s) at 6 and dial back on the guitar volume. (For starters, I'm using a DRRI, an old Music Man, HD, or a 70's something, Champ)

I'm getting the best sound with the guitar dimed and the amp turned down. Would the guitar behave better with 250K pot for the master volume? While I'm scratching my head, I'm also contemplating throwing on a set of 11's in phosphor bronze.

What am I doing wrong?

2

Congrats, first off. These are really great guitars. The playabilty is outstanding. I have fallen in love with the Blacktop Filter-Trons, they just need to be very close to the strings. Sorry to hear about the dead strings. She must have been hanging on the wall for some time at your store. The Aspen green is a great color. I'm a bit surprised to hear that your having problems dialing in a good sound. It has a treble bleed circuit built in and should sound relatively the same regardless the volume. I'd take it back to the store and have them do a proper set up. That sounds like all you may need. I'd mention the dead strings, as well. They may throw in a free set.

3

First of all, welcome!

Lots of folks here use 11s. Gretsches seem to like them. Bronze strings are usually used on acoustics. Try stainless or nickel instead. Look into threads on restringing Bigsbys---they can be tricky if you're not familiar with these. As with many new guitars, yours may need some tweaking to get to the point where they sound the best. Enjoy!

4

Welcome, 12Bars . . . what do you mean, when you say that the strings were "bottoming out on the nut"?

5

The guitar is a 2013 model, and included a case. (A GC trade in or purchase.) I do not brag, but I can do a better setup than those guys. The old nut's string height was dangerously low & was soft plastic. I had a Tusk pre-cut laying around and have the proper tools. It was an easy fit. The issues may be related to the treble bleed circuit, asI am only getting a decent sound with the knobs cranked up. (Sorry for the reply.....I'm tapping on a tablet.

6

A friend bought one around the same age as yours and is now experiencing some problems with the wiring harness. Aside from that, an excellent guitar.

7

I wanted something for howl & feedback, say Gary Clark Jr. It's the perfect ticket, however, I can't dial in clean.

8

I don't know enough about the treble bleed circuit, to answer that. Anyone else?

9

I don't know enough about the treble bleed circuit, to answer that. Anyone else?

– Suprdave

As usual, I am completely unhelpful. But I wanted to welcome you, 12Bars. I'm in central NJ so a neighbor. And, coincidentally, your screen name is an answer to "What did you do for the Memorial Day weekend?"

10

I'm not sure a 2013 would have the treble bleed circuit which is supposed to keep tone clean even when volume is rolled off. If it has the earlier non-bleed circuit, when you dial down the volume it definitely gets darker in tone - which would impede your getting a crisp clean tone.

The topic of relative amp vs guitar volume settings came up here several months ago, and it seems like about 60-70% of the Gretsch-playing population here keep their guitars cranked pretty much wide open (or from 90% on the dial to wide open), and control overall volume at the amp. The rest open the amp up as you do and dial the guitar back to the level they want.

To generalize a bit, most of those who follow your practice are trying to optimize their overdriven tone, and more or less accept how the guitar sounds when they turn it down but leave the amp up. Those who crank the guitar and control volume at the amp tend to be optimizing their clean tone, and are likely to use pedals for dirt (if they play dirty at all).

You may have to re-think your priorities with this guitar. But the FIRST thing is to make sure you have the current wiring harness with the treble bleed on the master volume.

FilterTrons of every sort are relatively low-output pickups, and so are VERY sensitive to pickup height. I think the prevailing recommendation is to have the polepieces about 3/16" under the strings. As usual, raising individual polepieces brightens the tone and output for that string - and lowering them darkens tone and lowers output. You'll want to play with those settings.

I can't imagine Phosphor Bronze strings on an electric.

11

Proteus may be right about the treble bleed circuit. Karolyn's is last years model and I'm not sure which year they started putting that in there.

12

I can still sit down & examine the guitar. The build, craftsmanship makes it a beautiful piece of art. The cream colored binding, brushed aluminum tailpiece and the hot rod paint/clear coat make this thing the prettiest guitar in the house. (& my collection is in double digits.)

"I can't imagine Phosphor Bronze strings on an electric."

Um.....Isn't it an acoustic guitar equipped with electronic pickups? It does resonate quite well, especially with the synthetic bone nut, but it isn't near anything resembling "pretty," acoustically. That's how I got the phosphor bronze idea.

Proteus pretty much summed up my issue. Let's say all the guitar knobs had numbers on them. When I turn anything down from say "8," I get a muffled mess of non-tone. This leads me into the $1000, question, which I'm sure some of you have been there. The dollar figure I paid for the guitar/case was a fair price. With what I am discussing leads me to say, "Do I have to buy something higher up in the food chain to make me happy?"

I had a few hours of quiet time. Now I can go back & hammer again. (I forgot to say, "Neil Young is one of my Musical God's.)

I have the pickups near factory spec, & I've raised several of the middle poles somewhat resembling a Strat or Tele. Should I go higher?

13

I can still sit down & examine the guitar. The build, craftsmanship makes it a beautiful piece of art. The cream colored binding, brushed aluminum tailpiece and the hot rod paint/clear coat make this thing the prettiest guitar in the house. (& my collection is in double digits.)

"I can't imagine Phosphor Bronze strings on an electric."

Um.....Isn't it an acoustic guitar equipped with electronic pickups? It does resonate quite well, especially with the synthetic bone nut, but it isn't near anything resembling "pretty," acoustically. That's how I got the phosphor bronze idea.

Proteus pretty much summed up my issue. Let's say all the guitar knobs had numbers on them. When I turn anything down from say "8," I get a muffled mess of non-tone. This leads me into the $1000, question, which I'm sure some of you have been there. The dollar figure I paid for the guitar/case was a fair price. With what I am discussing leads me to say, "Do I have to buy something higher up in the food chain to make me happy?"

I had a few hours of quiet time. Now I can go back & hammer again. (I forgot to say, "Neil Young is one of my Musical God's.)

I have the pickups near factory spec, & I've raised several of the middle poles somewhat resembling a Strat or Tele. Should I go higher?

– 12Bars

A 5420 is absolutely not an acoustic guitar equipped with electronic pickups. It is a hollow bodied electric guitar with magnetic pickups like most all other electrics. Since bronze is not a magnetic metal, it is of little use for this application --- there needs to be steel involved to create the necessary magnetic field. A true acoustic guitar with electronic pickups (there are many models out there) might indeed benefit from bronze strings, but that would require a piezo or other type of pickup that does not depend on magnetic fields.

14

Those guitars are great but I found the pickups to be vary narrow and anemic.

I can check the ohms tomorrow but that’s just one small part of it. I stuck a classic in the bridge and a supertron in the neck and it rocks.

15

When I turn anything down from say "8," I get a muffled mess of non-tone.

Sure sign of non-treble-bleed master volume. The behavior you report is "normal" for such a circuit, typical of Gretschs of any price and of all eras which DON'T have treble bleed (or perhaps a lower-loading 250k master volume pot) - and the immediate workaround is to turn the amp down and the guitar up till you get where you want to be for a clean tone.

Spending up for a "pro-line" guitar is a fine thing to do, and I don't want to slow you down if you're looking for a rational cover for what you want to do already. But if you don't have the treble bleed circuit on the master volume, you'll get very similar performance from a pro-line as well. (You may have a great / better clean tone with whichever flavor pickup you get in the pro-line, but it's turned-down behavior will send you back to dark and muddy.)

Many of the current versions of most pro-lines do have the treble bleed circuit. (Particularly the Players' Series.) But it's no major deal to put it in your guitar - and then, as far as this volume structure arrangement is concerned, it will work just as well as one of the more expensive Gretschs.

Ultimately, though, you'll have to learn the ways of this new instrument. I'm guessing from your posts that this may be your first Gretsch and maybe your first hollowbody electric. Both are different beasts - that's why you wanted it - and the relationship between guitar, pickup, and amp that governs the behavior of the guitars you're most familiar with will simply be different with this guitar.

The DRRI (assuming it's not an ice-pick model) and the old Music Man should be spectacular with a Gretsch.

I guess it's also worth asking what gauge strings you have on the guitar. (Assuming it's not the P-Bronze.)

16

Or yeah, as Curt says - if you can't get happy with the Blacktops (not everyone does), an upgrade to pickups is indicated. You don't have to spend all the way up to a pro-line.

Unless you want to, and there are any number of other reasons that might be the case!

17

We have the same model and year. Yeah it’s annoying you turn down the master volume and everything goes to muffled land.

But I like it. It gives me another tonal option. I did try the treble bleed mod on my other Gretsch, an SSLVO and after a couple of months, went back to its stock wiring.

Put your pickups within the reco specs, install 11g strings, point your master volume to 8 and adjust your preferred “rhythm” tone. I usually back off the neck volume a bit.

Max the master volume when a solo is needed. And welcome!

18

Many "Thank You's" to all.

Yes, it is my 1st hollow body electric, & I figured you guys could point me in the right direction. With the guitar dialed in "above sea level," as discussed, it sounds wonderful through my MM & DRRI. Both amps are stock with exception that all have 100%, "antique" old school tubes. I would love dragging that 70lb monster onto my back yard & blow all the dust that surrounds. (No wonder, I'm somewhat deaf.)

(I was hoping someone would chime in.... a 250k master volume pot might work better.)

Could you imagine walking or riding a bicycle to work knowing that your job was plumbing all the wiring on 500 of these things for the next 12 hour shift?

Sorry. I'll behave & will be back possibly with even more stupid questions. Thanks Again.

19

To get any decent sounds from the Black top Filter-Trons, they have to raised up quite high. Your issue sounds more like what Proteus has hit upon, though.

20

4.38 neck and 4.5 bridge.

If anyone needs them make me an offer.

21

I raised the pickups & it helped the volume issue somewhat, however I lost a lot of harmonics. (I'm in the camp that tone is achieved from the entire mass of parts, not just electronics.) I like NYxl's on my other guitars. I have a set of d'addario plain 10's installed now. I might try 11's or heavy bottom 10's. What strings will give the loudest & most intense " Screech," while rubbing my left hand down the neck? So far, so good. (Learning curve.)

22

I have had great luck with Elixir optiweb strings. I tried the NYXLs and was not happy with them on my Tenny or my Firebird. They were fine on my LP though. My nephew swears by the Optiwebs on his 5420t. It may be apples and oranges though since his guitar is a 2017.
Good luck.

23

No trebel bleed on the 2013 model 5420. The treble bleed was introduced to the 5420’s in 2016...


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