Modern Gretsch Guitars

String Bending / bad guitar again?

1

hey guys.

I have had some bad luck with duo jets (this is my 3rd one). I recently sent mine in to Joe Carducci to have him look it over because of buzz/playability problems. Turns out it had developed a back bow. He fixed it.

Okay.

When I bend strings, the guitar goes out of tune each time. Why would this be?

Also, shouldn't a string bend on a shorter scale like a duo jet be easier than on a longer scale? My fender Jazzmaster is much easier to bend on, even though both guitars have .10s on them. Why would this be? Why does the Gretsch feel so much stiffer and resistant when bending?

Intonation is off, especially on the G string above the 15th fret. It goes sharp both by ear and on the tuner.

Joe pinned the bridge last year when sending me this guitar. So I am locked into this bridge position.

I'm so frustrated. This is my third duo jet. All have had issues.

I'm curious to hear any suggestions. I love the way this guitar sounds through my distortion pedals. It's like nothing else. But, what a nightmare of a guitar in every regard. And I don't think it's anything to do with me. I have sent these to Gretsch and they confirmed issues and tried/claimed to fix them. I also have a Jazzmaster that I have never had a single problem with in years. Bends are easy, intonation perfect, etc.

Out of frustration I want to sell it, but I know I will never get a distorted tone like this from any other guitar. I just wish the thing would play right. It's so darn stiff feeling, iffy intonation, and goes out of tune with any aggressive play.

2

Double check to see if the neck is not bowed.

3

What kind of bridge is it? Is the intonation ok at the 12th fret, but not the 15th?

4

What kind of bridge is it? Is the intonation ok at the 12th fret, but not the 15th?

– NJBob

Exactly. 12th is on, 15th goes sharp.

It's a rocking bar bridge.

Weird thing is, before I sent it in to Joe the intonation was acceptable. He even replaced the rosewood base for me, yet now the intonation is off and worse. So, I feel bad complaining to them, and feel like I'm in a pickle.

I also notice that if I play the guitar acoustically or clean through my amp, I can hear the intonation problem easily, yet if I go through my distortion pedals, the notes sound on. So, if I have no options, this will be my "distortion guitar"...I'm just wondering what you all would do in this situation.

Since the bridge is pinned, I can't even fit on the original synchrosonic bridge (awful bridge, but it does allow fine tuning of intonation).

The other problem is the bends feel so stiff. Any ideas why this would be? The strings are D'Addario .10s. It's not a radical string. I use the same on my Jazzmaster and the bends are fluid.

5

You can always unpin the bridge and put an Embie on it.

6

You can always unpin the bridge and put an Embie on it.

– Hipbone

Is that right?

What's the process of unpinning it? There are screws/pins in the body so how does one go about removing them and filling the spaces?

See, we agreed to pin it because I bend a lot, and the bends were either moving the bridge or the bend would cause the string to slip out of the synchrosonic bridge's saddle slots. Joe and I had a long talk about that and agreed to pin it given my playing style.

7

So how many cents off are you and specifically where?

8

Also, you’re complaining about string tension yet the bridge moves? How many steps are you bending?

9

So how many cents off are you and specifically where?

– Curt Wilson

It's about +10 to 13 cents on the G string. It jumps around a bit so hard to say exactly.

But the note does sound different by ear.

The G string is the worst offender.

The other strings are about +5 to 7 cents, and they sound off to me, but might be acceptable to some people.

10

It's about +10 to 13 cents on the G string. It jumps around a bit so hard to say exactly.

But the note does sound different by ear.

The G string is the worst offender.

The other strings are about +5 to 7 cents, and they sound off to me, but might be acceptable to some people.

– gmascis

Please take a video and post it.

11

Is that right?

What's the process of unpinning it? There are screws/pins in the body so how does one go about removing them and filling the spaces?

See, we agreed to pin it because I bend a lot, and the bends were either moving the bridge or the bend would cause the string to slip out of the synchrosonic bridge's saddle slots. Joe and I had a long talk about that and agreed to pin it given my playing style.

– gmascis

Just put an Embie on and pin it using the same pins in the top of the guitar. Shouldn't be too difficult. I would take the pins out and put an Embiematic bridge in it, get it intonated mark its position with tape. Then take the bridge off and see if the pins will line up with the new bridge, they should. With some careful measuring and a sharpie mark on the top of the pins that will transfer onto the new bridge bass you will know where to drill for the pins to fit. I would imagine a small pair of vise grips is all you need to turn the bridge pins out and then back in. Note: you would keep the pins in the top of the guitar and drill a new base to match their position.

12

Please take a video and post it.

– Curt Wilson

Okay. That might take a few days because I don't do the smart phone thing, and I'm doing other things on the weekend, but I will do it next week hopefully when I can get my GF to film it.

What is also frustrating is after a bend I have to re-tune. It slips out of tune after a bend or two.

I always thought .10s should feel like .09s on a shorter scale guitar, but these actually feel stiffer to bend than my 25.5" Jazzmaster. It's crazy.

13

Can I ask you guys an honest question: are duo jets not meant for heavy bending/harder music?

Before buying I researched this, and most people said you can play anything on one. I'm just having a really hard time doing that. The first one I had was the best. It was made in the JD factory. I wish I never sold that one. Both JT's I've had have had massive problems. The last one had a "ski jump" around the 14th fret. This one had a back bow, fret buzz, intonation problems, and a weird "tight" feeling on bends.

I'm not rich, so any change I make will hurt. I splurged on this guitar, and now I fear a massive loss, or just accepting playing an instrument that's highly flawed. But at this price point, I don't think it should be flawed.

I know some have questioned how I have had so many lemons and wanted to blame me, but Joe threw the last one out and replaced it entirely, and he saw the issues on this one as well. It's not me. I know a decent amount about guitars and know when one is right or not.

14

I think some pics are in order. You should be able to play that thing hard and have it stay in tune.

15

if it's on at 12, but off at 15 it could be a fret problem. Would wound v. Plain G make a difference? If you tune it at the 15th, how many cents flat is it open and at 12?

16

if it's on at 12, but off at 15 it could be a fret problem. Would wound v. Plain G make a difference? If you tune it at the 15th, how many cents flat is it open and at 12?

– NJBob

Let me check.

Edit: it's jumping around a bit, between -8 and -13 cents.

17

The most frustrating part is that doing just one bend makes me have to re-tune. The string goes flat after 1 bend. I was just futzing around with it while checking the cents, did a bend, and sure enough, flat.

They are new strings, so that could be part of the problem, but I stretched them pretty well, and I had this issue on the old strings before sending it in to Joe last week.

I don't get it. Why would strings go flat after just one bend?

Also, can anyone explain why the strings would feel so tight/resistant on bends? Shorter scale should feel more slinky.

18

Got an iPhone, crank out a quick vid.

19

Got an iPhone, crank out a quick vid.

– Curt Wilson

My phone is from 2006, and I have zero intention of upgrading due to privacy issues on "smart" phones.

I will try to have my GF shoot a video, though, next week.

20

No offense-- I remember your thread regarding the prior Duo Jets... but I think the guitar gods are trying to tell you to stick with the Jazzmaster.

The geometry of the Duo Jet apparently doesn't work for your style of play.

21

Cool deal, looking forward to seeing what the issues are and hopefully coming up with a solution.

22

No offense-- I remember your thread regarding the prior Duo Jets... but I think the guitar gods are trying to tell you to stick with the Jazzmaster.

The geometry of the Duo Jet apparently doesn't work for your style of play.

– Tartan Phantom

Agree. I'm just not sure what to do at this point. I wrote Gretsch to ask my options.

For the record, Joe confirmed issues each time, one time the guitar was so bad (ski jump at the 14th) they had to replace the entire guitar... so it's not me or any unrealistic expectation. I simply expect no buzz, normal bending tension that stays in tune, and good intonation...

Joe sent this one back as being okay, and I just don't see it that way, so this is the first time there's been any disagreement. On top of that, FedEx dented my hard case, and the guitar has a scratch on the back that wasn't there (no clue how that happened). So shipping it to AZ (I'm a State over in CA) actually hurt in that regard.

23

Suggestion:

Saylor Custom Guitars makes chambered/semi-hollow Jazzmaster bodies at great prices, which should respond similarly to the DuoJet body. Build one with a Warmoth neck (or have it built for you), and put in TV Jones T-Armond pups in P-90 mount.

Then you get the geometry (and bridge/vibrato hardware) you're comfortable with and you should have the Jet/Dyna tone you like.

24

So many things could cause these fairly basic issues you are having. To me it sounds like a badly cut nut, plus a bar bridge. Also possibly old/bad strings. I find most new guitars, Gretsch Jets included, have the nut cut a little higher than ideal and especially on the plain strings cut too tight. I have a bunch of nut files from Stewmac which I use to gently lower and free-up the nut slots which improves feel and tuning immensely. But I would not recommend that you try this unless you know how to do it. That's what luthiers are for. Once you get the string height at the nut right the guitar should feel very slinky indeed. Getting the nut slots filed properly is more important than lubrication IMO.

In my experience Fender do a great job at the nut, while Gibson and Gretsch are usually too high.

Old strings wear unevenly and can cause lots of the problems you mention. A straight bar bridge will never intonate perfectly but is usually fine for cowboy chords. A serpentune Truarc will get your intonation as close to perfect as can be demanded. I use a TOM myself and generally have no intonation issues except with old strings.

25

Suggestion:

Saylor Custom Guitars makes chambered/semi-hollow Jazzmaster bodies at great prices, which should respond similarly to the DuoJet body. Build one with a Warmoth neck (or have it built for you), and put in TV Jones T-Armond pups in P-90 mount.

Then you get the geometry (and bridge/vibrato hardware) you're comfortable with and you should have the Jet/Dyna tone you like.

– Proteus

That's great, thanks. I'll look into that.


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