Modern Gretsch Guitars

Roller Sadle Bridges

1

Hi Anyone using or tried a adjustable roller saddle bridge on a modern Gretsch 6120 6119 with a Bigsby and opinions regarding sound, intonation and how they do with a Bigsby stability wise.

2

Had a couple many years ago.

I threw them away after buying my first Tru-Arc.

Simple is better IMO. Better tone with zero tuning/Bigsby issues.

3

The earliest modern Gretsches came equipped with these and most considered them a tone-suck. The one on my 6120 worked fine and I preferred the sound better than your average tuna bridge, but a Bigsby or Serpentune bridge would do better.

4

a well made roller saddle bridge can work on a guitar with a tension bar Bigsby (B5, B50, B7, B70, B12), but on a Bigsby with a single roller they're not great. There's usually not enough downward pressure on the bridge saddles to make the roller saddles roll at all. And that makes for a complicated bridge with a high parts count that you don't really need.

They look like a great idea on paper, but in practice 90% of the tuning problems you encounter with a Bigsby are related to the guitar's nut. (if your bridge sadldle is pinned or otherwise secured, that is)

5

I have a factory installed one on my silver falcon(preFender modern) and it has never caused me concern, so when I bought my ProJet, I purchased one from Black Rider to replace the tunomatic bridge that came stock, and it works great too. Intonation seemed fine out of the box. I think both guitars sound great, but some people just seem to hate them. I do agree with WB about it being more the nut than the bridge 90% of the time. But I am no luthier....or perfectionist..........or expert.........or.......

6

The first Gretsch anything I purchased - off of Ebay - was one of those mighty square brass roller-bridges from pre-FMIC days, which (I found later) were widely and passionately detested by true Gretschites.

But what did I know? My plunge in to the Gretsch black (orange?) hole had yet to begin, and I thought it was durn cool. I still have it; it's on my Carlo Robelli ES-500, where it was a significant tonal improvement over the cheesemetal Tunarattle that came on the Carlo. (Which does have a tension-bar Bigsboid.)

Interesting observation, Walter, that roller bridges work ok with tension-bars. I think that does fit my observations as well (though I hadn't thought of it). While I sell a competing design (with exactly NO moving parts, unless the bridge itself counts, and it doesn't really move much) - and agree that roller-saddle bridges aren't always a good answer - I don't hate them as much as others seem to.

The concept has really been around for a very long time, and executed in various ways, with varying degrees of design excellence, material quality, and manufacturing precision. I remember thinking that Schaller makes good ones (quality material, strict part tolerance), and maybe Gotoh. I haven't kept up with who all makes them, but I tend to trust those builders - and Hipshot.

But my bias (which pre-dated the whole Tru-Arc thing) has been for the simplest mechanical device which adequately does the job. More parts mean more things to rattle, break, require maintenance, etc. I once counted bridge parts. A solid bar bridge has...one part. A Space Control, 9 (counting the end pillars). Adjustamatic or Tunamatic: 13, 14, or 19 (depending on how the screws are secured). SynchroSonic, 19. A roller-saddle bridge, around 25. Floyd Rose/Kahler locktrems...I lost count in the 90s.

If opting to try a roller-saddle bridge (and of COURSE you should try a Tru-Arc first), stay away from the cheapest you can find.

That said, I have nameless who-knows-whats that came on Korean guitars, and they seem to work well. (As it happens, those guitars have tension-bar Bigsboids.)

So I don't hate them. I think they're just rarely the best solution.

And yes. It's (almost) always the nut.

7

I think the roller bridge on my 99 6119 was the ABS model? Feel free to correct me. In theory they seem like a good idea.

Id taken my guitar to 3 different guitar guys over several years trying to discover the source of my tone/sustain suck, mystery buzzes and assorted riff raff. Then I found this site. Throw it in the trash they said.

That was the first step in me finally loving my Gretsch and ridding myself of all the rattle and buzz and tone suck

8

If you do want a roller bridge, those early modern Gretsch ones were the best IMHO. However, I did notice that mine wasn't really doing what it was supposed to do: if you Bigby'd, the whole bridge would rock on its posts, rather than "rolling". Bigsby sounded perfectly fine on it.

9

BAND NAME!

Buzz Rattle & the Tone Suckers

10

Thanks for the feedback and consensus seems quite consistent generally not worth trying . I have a 6120 DSV with a Tru Arc and as with the 6120DE model its great" also have a 6119T Players Edition with a stock bar bridge and overall its pretty good, brass with a nickel coating I think and will stick with them as said simple and no rates etc. Thanks.

11

Well, here's an off the wall observation: doesn't The Rev. (JIm Heath) use roller bridges? If so, I wonder what make they are? Anyone know?

12

He didn’t when I saw him. Can’t be sure it was an ADJUSTAmatic, might’ve been a TUNAmatic. But it was a standard matic of some variety.

13

He didn’t when I saw him. Can’t be sure it was an ADJUSTAmatic, might’ve been a TUNAmatic. But it was a standard matic of some variety.

– Proteus

I see - I think on some YouTube clips his Sig. model does have a roller on it - maybe he was just trying them out.

14

Well, this was 10 years ago - on one guitar. But I saw it real close as Jason (a Gretsch artist relations guy at the time) was setting it up. We were all sitting around a picnic table at a venue outside Austin.

15

Are you guys referring to the Gretsch Space Control bridges?

16

That was my question, too. Except for Proteus' mention of the big rectangular roller beastie that came on models like the 6022CV and Crimson Flyer, I'm not aware of a stock roller bridge on a Gretsch. The Space Control bridges (where the saddles are nuts that move laterally on the bridge to control the string spacing, hence the name) are much more common as standard equipment on Gretsches than a roller bridge, and I like those almost as little as I like the Melitta/Stinkrosonic bridges.

I have a number of guitars with actual roller bridges, the way Walter described them, all my Bigsbified Reverends have them, all are tension-bar Bigsbys, and all of them work pretty well.

Mysteriously, the rocking bar bridges seem to get pretty durn close to correct intonation just by fidgeting with the bridge base position and angle. So if you've got one of those, keep it or invest in a Tru Arc. But a Space Control is a step backward, and a roller bridge on a non-tension-bar Bigsby is unnecessary.

17

giffenf, I have a pre-FMIC Silver Jet which has a roller bridge on it. The rollers are pretty inobtrusive and the bridge almost looks like a standard Tuna-matic.

19

I bought the "suck" bridge and replaced a Space Control on my '57 jet RI with it. I like it a lot better.

20

I use a ToneProse roller bridge on my Gretsch 6120 and Gibson ES-335 . Intonation can be set correctly and no issues with rattling or tone sucking. I would try several types bridge's and see what you like best?

Good luck!

UD (Uncle Don)

21

I've tried a few - Wilkinsons...Schallers...(Gulp!) Golden Age...

The only one which worked was the Schaller, and it had the wrong radius for the fingerboard. It still rattled and buzzed though. I ended up taking it off, and buying a new Gotoh Tune-O-Matic bridge (the one without the wire keeper). I still had tuning problems, so carefully raked the nut back with a file, so that the strings only drag across a small surface area. This has worked quite well, so all of my guitars that didn't have their nut raked back have since had it done. Tuning problems are now minimal, and are mainly climatically induced.

Would I recommend a roller bridge? Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to experiment. What doesn't work for someone else, might work for you.

22

This is the Schaller roller bridge that came standard on my Starfire V. It's a nice enough bridge and I never saw a need to change it.

23

The Schaller is probably best described as the lovechild of a Space Control, and a Tune-O-Matic bridge. I will admit that mine was fitted to a '69 Double Annie, which was probably made on a Monday or a Friday. She just plain didn't like that bridge though.

24

I’m no engineer but I had the ABS roller bridge and ditched it for a Tru Arc. On another Gretsch I had a TOM and ditched it for the same.

I’m convinced fewer parts equals better sound transfer not to mention the improvement of tone and action.


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