Modern Gretsch Guitars

Intonation…

1

Hi everybody,

From my Google search I can see this is a well discussed issue. But I thought I'd make a new post in an attempt to address my frustrations.

I recently had my 6118 updated to add a Bigsby and a Tru-Arc. I also had the guitar pleked (amazing process). I contemplated pinning the bridge but on the advice of the chap who carried out the work (the excellent Charlie Chandler) I decided against it.

The guitar was set up beautifully and for a few day played like a dream. Then I started to get intonations problems on the G string, in particular the 3rd fret. It's only by a small amount but its enough to make playing the fretted string against the open ones hard on the ears.

I took the guitar back to Charlie today and he fiddled with the set up and got it bang on but by the time I got it home it had slipped again.

I've tried fiddling around with it myself but it's like hurding cats. All other strings are perfect but the G eludes me.

Just looking for some advice please, I'm in the studio on Tuesday and need to get this sorted before then and with this weekend being a bank holiday in england I am able to seek Charlies or other pro help.

Thanks in advance Alan.

P.S the bridge is in the correct place.

2

What bridge, I have an aluminum Tru-Arc on mine and it is spot on?

3

You have a problem that may be exacerbated by a number of issues. Firstly the G string suffers most from this problem, I find commonly, because with a fixed tangent bridge like the Tru-Arc all intonation is a compromise and the G string has less actual tension when tuned then the others (1/2 step down) and therefore when fingered (3rd fret makes sense as you get away from the nut), it resists less and is often unintentionally fretted harder (depending upon action height) or bent sharp.

Secondly the lower tension and larger diameter means that with some set it fails to stretch out at the same time and rate as the other strings. Without working on the guitar myself my best remote advise is to ensure that you have pulled it hard to stretch it. I will often leave that string tuned to match the tension of the others for a day or so ensure I have got it stretched.

Since you indicate other strings are not a problem I would not worry that the bridge moved or that intonation is wrong but more likely that action height and fingering pressure and very good ear on your part lead it to be fingered and heard sharp. Soft fingers, lower action, compensated nut are all solutions depending upon the player.

At any rate I'm sure you read most of these things already. I feel a little helpless without checking all the variables in person. I do hope you can get a good studio session out of it. Best of luck.

4

Do you know how to set the intonation? You need a tuner. Tune the low open E then play the same E on the 12th fret. If it is flat, slide the bridge forward, toward the neck. If it is flat, slide the bridge back towards the bout. Do the same thing with the high E. If you're playing with really light strings and the bridge moves when you play, you'll have to reset the intonation every time the bridge moves. With a bar bridge the intonation, especially on the G, will never be perfect but it should be close enough for rock 'n roll. Wound G strings tend to be more noticeably out of intonation.

6

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

7

You have a problem that may be exacerbated by a number of issues. Firstly the G string suffers most from this problem, I find commonly, because with a fixed tangent bridge like the Tru-Arc all intonation is a compromise and the G string has less actual tension when tuned then the others (1/2 step down) and therefore when fingered (3rd fret makes sense as you get away from the nut), it resists less and is often unintentionally fretted harder (depending upon action height) or bent sharp.

Secondly the lower tension and larger diameter means that with some set it fails to stretch out at the same time and rate as the other strings. Without working on the guitar myself my best remote advise is to ensure that you have pulled it hard to stretch it. I will often leave that string tuned to match the tension of the others for a day or so ensure I have got it stretched.

Since you indicate other strings are not a problem I would not worry that the bridge moved or that intonation is wrong but more likely that action height and fingering pressure and very good ear on your part lead it to be fingered and heard sharp. Soft fingers, lower action, compensated nut are all solutions depending upon the player.

At any rate I'm sure you read most of these things already. I feel a little helpless without checking all the variables in person. I do hope you can get a good studio session out of it. Best of luck.

– Sean Ryans

You have a problem that may be exacerbated by a number of issues. Firstly the G string suffers most from this problem, I find commonly, because with a fixed tangent bridge like the Tru-Arc all intonation is a compromise and the G string has less actual tension when tuned then the others (1/2 step down) and therefore when fingered (3rd fret makes sense as you get away from the nut), it resists less and is often unintentionally fretted harder (depending upon action height) or bent sharp.

Secondly the lower tension and larger diameter means that with some set it fails to stretch out at the same time and rate as the other strings. Without working on the guitar myself my best remote advise is to ensure that you have pulled it hard to stretch it. I will often leave that string tuned to match the tension of the others for a day or so ensure I have got it stretched.

Since you indicate other strings are not a problem I would not worry that the bridge moved or that intonation is wrong but more likely that action height and fingering pressure and very good ear on your part lead it to be fingered and heard sharp. Soft fingers, lower action, compensated nut are all solutions depending upon the player.

At any rate I'm sure you read most of these things already. I feel a little helpless without checking all the variables in person. I do hope you can get a good studio session out of it. Best of luck.

– Sean R.

That all makes sense and concisely explained, thank you for your response.

I'll stretch out the string see what happens there.

Excuse my ignorance but when you say you tune the string to match the tension, what exactly do you mean by this?

It's also one of those things where I need to walk away from it, I'm winding myself up about it. It may not be as bad as I think.

The action is pretty low but maybe I'll lower it as a last resort.

8

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

– Big_Burly

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

– Big_Burly

how can I identify if this is the problem?

9

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

– Big_Burly

how can I identify if this is the problem?

– AlancomA HillAlancomAH

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

– Big_Burly

how can I identify if this is the problem?

– Alan Hill

Push it down behind the nut. Bend it up a tone on the fretboard. if you hear any clicks or pings doing this, it's most likely that it's binding at the nut.

10

"I also had the guitar pleked (amazing process). I contemplated pinning the bridge but on the advice of the chap who carried out the work (the excellent Charlie Chandler) I decided against it."

I think these are great choices.

You haven't reported the strings that you're using. A large diameter plain g string causes one set of problems. A small diameter wound g string causes others.

Since your problems tend to show up on open chords, I'd guess that there's some problem with the nut. Since it was plekked, I'd guess the height was exactly right. However, if it was a bit too narrow, this could cause some problem with a wound string. If there's not enough relief on the head side, it might cause trouble with a plain g string. After all the plain g string has the largest core diameter.

I think there's some possibilities to get you fixed up in the short term by finessing the string gage/windings.

What are you using now?

Lee

11

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

– Big_Burly

how can I identify if this is the problem?

– Alan Hill

Push it down behind the nut. Bend it up a tone on the fretboard. if you hear any clicks or pings doing this, it's most likely that it's binding at the nut.

– Sandy

Another possibility is that your G-string may be binding in the nut slot.

– Big_Burly

how can I identify if this is the problem?

– Alan Hill

Push it down behind the nut. Bend it up a tone on the fretboard. if you hear any clicks or pings doing this, it's most likely that it's binding at the nut.

– Sandy

I did this and not licks or pings.

12

"I also had the guitar pleked (amazing process). I contemplated pinning the bridge but on the advice of the chap who carried out the work (the excellent Charlie Chandler) I decided against it."

I think these are great choices.

You haven't reported the strings that you're using. A large diameter plain g string causes one set of problems. A small diameter wound g string causes others.

Since your problems tend to show up on open chords, I'd guess that there's some problem with the nut. Since it was plekked, I'd guess the height was exactly right. However, if it was a bit too narrow, this could cause some problem with a wound string. If there's not enough relief on the head side, it might cause trouble with a plain g string. After all the plain g string has the largest core diameter.

I think there's some possibilities to get you fixed up in the short term by finessing the string gage/windings.

What are you using now?

Lee

– Lee Erickson

"I also had the guitar pleked (amazing process). I contemplated pinning the bridge but on the advice of the chap who carried out the work (the excellent Charlie Chandler) I decided against it."

I think these are great choices.

You haven't reported the strings that you're using. A large diameter plain g string causes one set of problems. A small diameter wound g string causes others.

Since your problems tend to show up on open chords, I'd guess that there's some problem with the nut. Since it was plekked, I'd guess the height was exactly right. However, if it was a bit too narrow, this could cause some problem with a wound string. If there's not enough relief on the head side, it might cause trouble with a plain g string. After all the plain g string has the largest core diameter.

I think there's some possibilities to get you fixed up in the short term by finessing the string gage/windings.

What are you using now?

Lee

– Lee Erickson (aka rvwinkle)

I'm using D'addario's XL nickel wound 11-52.

13

Not all tuners are created equal and that can lead to frustrations in achieving good intonation.

Several years ago I had maddening intonation problems with several Gretsches - some with Tunamatic others equipped with Rocking Bar Bridges. Set it one day and a week later its off again. And this was with guitars that had properly adjusted neck relief, a properly dressed & lubricated nut and 11 gauge strings. Just like the original post in this thread.

At the time I was using one of the decent LED type tuners and was becoming less satisfied the guitars' basic tuning. Things never sounded quite right and there was way too much time tweaking strings of a guitar that the Korg DT-7 was showing to be in tune. Not having a particularly good ear figured into this too.

After researching the problem, looking at the rigs pros were using and setting some money aside I took the plunge and bought Peterson Strobo FLIP, and with that my the era of hit or miss tuning was over! Simply put, start with new strings (preferably 11s or larger) and then use Chromatic setting to postion the bridge tuning at the 12th fret. Then switch the the Guitar Temprament and leave it there. Your reward is a guitar that sounds great up and down the neck. It's just that simple.

In looking back it's pretty easy to see what had gone wrong in the beginning. The old style LED tuners are not accurate enough to do the job. The little green light comes on plus or minus 3 cents. So you're starting with a guitar that's not quite in tune to begin with and then setting intonation with a device that can compound the original error. Voila - the recipe for some interesting and varied sonic indigestion.

With strobe tuners the accuracy is 1/10 of a cent. It's why the people who repair instruments for a living use them.

Of course there are other factors to be considered but this is the point I wanted to make in the space available.

14

"I'm using D'addario's XL nickel wound 11-52."

Are you using D'Addario EXL116 set with the 0.018"d plain g-string?

IMHO opinion that's pushing the intonation a bit. The main worry for me is that the plain g-string doesn't settle in the nut right.

For emergency correction, I'd recommend the D'Addario EJ21 or EXL115w sets. These both have wound g-strings.

If you really like unwound g-strings, you will a need little more relief behind the g-string nut slot. You might make the intonation work by setting the bridge to the A and B strings. But it's possible that a Bigbsy or Adjustomatic bridge might be required to get it right.

Lee

15

Amazing. I've had the same problem with the G on my Strat. I noticed it after I restrung it....3 restringings in a row now so I wouldn't doubt if it has to do with the its position at the nut. I use D'As also an .012 guage tuned down a half step. It appears not to happen on my other gits with normal tuning.

16

Yeah, for third fret problems check the nut. My experience is that the G string nut slots in particular are often cut too high, causing the string to go sharp until you get higher up the neck. Take your time and be patient with filing. Get Dan Erlewine's book "Guitar Player's Repair Guide." it will give you great step by step guidance.

I have band practice in a few minutes, otherwise, I'd outline the procedure.

17

I meant that I tune G up a half tone (match it to B at the 5th fret). Lower action does mean less possibility of fingers putting the note sharp but you will cause other issues if set too low. A good set up may need to be revisited but I usually hold the guitar until I'm sure it has held a neck adjustment ( a day or two at stable temperature and humidity).

As others mentioned if the G string measured a higher than normal action height at the first fret it worsens the problem and would make it easier to sharpen when fretting a note. However, nut binding does not affect intonation directly it would cause problems holding tune (not an intonation problem directly) or problems tuning in general (note jumps when tuning or goes flat while playing).

18

Play the 12th fret harmonic and then the fretted 12th fret, and compare them on a tuner.

19

Use a Tunematic bridge , set the relief at .008, invest in and use a Peterson tuner , have the nut check and use 10s or 11 gauge strings for the guitar especially a Gretsch. With these you'll have the intonation issue under control. Maintain the guitar with proper setups/adjustments every 4-6 months. A bar bridge will not be able to intonate as well as an adjustable bridge but can get you close.

20

I tend to like bar bridges, and find that my ham-fisted technique causes more intonation trouble than the bridges.

And I find it consistently weird that in 99.4% of applications (going by returns), Tru-Arcs provide "just fine" intonation – and in a few cases, don't.


All THAT said, the real purpose of this post is to pass along Paul Yandell's solution to perfect 3rd-string intonation with a bar bridge.

That's just a little piece of metal stock at the front edge of the nut's G-slot, at the same height as the bottom of the string groove. He experimented till he found the right size, then superglued it to the front of the nut.

Paul was fanatic about both tone and tuning.

21

That little piece of info and the pic is pure gold. Thanks so much for posting, Tim.

22

Proteus- great to hear from you.

23

Protty! Hi there! (are you back?)

I've got this g problem with both my Gretsches. It's not related to the Tru Arc bridge, so I found. It's just that the other strings sing more in tune so the foul g seems to stand out even more. The other bridges I have, never sound as alive as the Tru Arc. So I'm not going back. But they may mask the g problem more because more strings are slightly out of tune when I use them. Bleh!

I bought a very precise Turbo Tuner. That helps for a session or so. I try to compromise between fret 5 and 17. Since a guitar isn't really perfect, it can never be 100%. But if I don't tune carefully the Gretsches are way off. My $40 campfire guitar tunes easier.

Thin strings are next to impossible for beginners. Only careful fretter can keep them in tune. I over stretch them when fretting. But 11 isn't thin at all.

I must confes I play out of tune mostly, because the precision tuning proces irritates me even more.

Maybe an Earvana nut may help?

24

"I'm using D'addario's XL nickel wound 11-52."

Are you using D'Addario EXL116 set with the 0.018"d plain g-string?

IMHO opinion that's pushing the intonation a bit. The main worry for me is that the plain g-string doesn't settle in the nut right.

For emergency correction, I'd recommend the D'Addario EJ21 or EXL115w sets. These both have wound g-strings.

If you really like unwound g-strings, you will a need little more relief behind the g-string nut slot. You might make the intonation work by setting the bridge to the A and B strings. But it's possible that a Bigbsy or Adjustomatic bridge might be required to get it right.

Lee

– Lee Erickson

"I'm using D'addario's XL nickel wound 11-52."

Are you using D'Addario EXL116 set with the 0.018"d plain g-string?

IMHO opinion that's pushing the intonation a bit. The main worry for me is that the plain g-string doesn't settle in the nut right.

For emergency correction, I'd recommend the D'Addario EJ21 or EXL115w sets. These both have wound g-strings.

If you really like unwound g-strings, you will a need little more relief behind the g-string nut slot. You might make the intonation work by setting the bridge to the A and B strings. But it's possible that a Bigbsy or Adjustomatic bridge might be required to get it right.

Lee

– Lee Erickson (aka rvwinkle)

I am using those strings.

Maybe the EJ21's may be worth a shot but it's getting hold of them during the holiday period.

I've never tried un-wound strings, so I'll give them a bash.

Thanks for your advice.

25

I tend to like bar bridges, and find that my ham-fisted technique causes more intonation trouble than the bridges.

And I find it consistently weird that in 99.4% of applications (going by returns), Tru-Arcs provide "just fine" intonation – and in a few cases, don't.


All THAT said, the real purpose of this post is to pass along Paul Yandell's solution to perfect 3rd-string intonation with a bar bridge.

That's just a little piece of metal stock at the front edge of the nut's G-slot, at the same height as the bottom of the string groove. He experimented till he found the right size, then superglued it to the front of the nut.

Paul was fanatic about both tone and tuning.

– Proteus

I tend to like bar bridges, and find that my ham-fisted technique causes more intonation trouble than the bridges.

And I find it consistently weird that in 99.4% of applications (going by returns), Tru-Arcs provide "just fine" intonation – and in a few cases, don't.


All THAT said, the real purpose of this post is to pass along Paul Yandell's solution to perfect 3rd-string intonation with a bar bridge.

That's just a little piece of metal stock at the front edge of the nut's G-slot, at the same height as the bottom of the string groove. He experimented till he found the right size, then superglued it to the front of the nut.

Paul was fanatic about both tone and tuning.

– Proteus

The Tru-Arc isn't the culprit here at all, that bridge has sonically made one hell of an improvement.

After reading all the advice here I think it's a problem with the nut.


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