Modern Gretsch Guitars

Strings Go out of tune after bends

1

Hey guys, I have a 2016 Duo Jet, setup by Joe Carducci himself. He cut the nut slots, etc during this setup. One issue I've had is that after bending strings they go out of tune.

My theory is the the nut slots are the proper depth, but they don't follow the angle toward their pegs. Would this cause out of tune after bends? I also hear the dreaded "plink" at times, which implies binding. Joe set it up last year and said they were smooth over the nut after he set it up. So I'm just puzzled.

I always have trouble changing strings on this guitar because you have to get them under the bigsby (pre-curl them), and I'm wondering if it's possible to mess up a string change and cause this?

2

If this is happening after a string change, how tight are the windings at the posts? (You probably considered that already, just my first thought.)

3

I think it's still the nut. After Joe set it up did you change string gauge?

4

Pop the strings out of the nut add graphite stick the strings back in.

I thought you were the person that has had so many issues in the past. I clicked on your previous posts.

I strongly suggest that you take your guitar to your local guitar fix it up person, the person in charge of all the fix my guitar up(s) in your state and have him fix up your guitar. Seasonal changes require some guitar maintenance.

EDIT: If the strings are exiting 90° off the bar then it isn't from changing strings, unless as asked above have you changed gauge?

Has this been an ongoing issue or something new?

5

Important things:

  • proper stringing on the tuners (max. 3 windings)
  • nut sauce or other lubrication on the nut slots
  • correct slotted bridge posts.

You need to pull the strings a bit a few times after restringing before you tune them. And like Curt mentions above, do you've changed string gauge?

6

I think it's still the nut. After Joe set it up did you change string gauge?

– Charlie Vegas

No, I didn't change the gauge, but I must admit it I'm not super experienced in changing strings on a Gretsh -- I always dread it because I have a hard time bending the strings around the Bigsby. So I wonder if it was something with the way I strung it. Someone above mentioned string windings around the tuning pegs. For that, I measured the standard 1.5 tuning peg length past the peg I'm winding onto, so there isn't excess. I'm not great at wrapping the string around the pegs, though, so it's possible it's slipping up there. But what makes me think ti is something else is the plinking/pinging noise when tuning up (not always, but here and there it happens). I could bring it to my authorized gretsch dealer up the road and have them restring it and see if it still happens. That would at least eliminate my string winding as a problem.

Do you guys have tips on re-stringing around the Bigsby? I did the pre-bend, but the strings seemed to not want to stay on the Bigsby's post even with that. They'd pop off and seemed to want to pull to one side.

Joe put graphite in the nut. I can see it. So also, I have a traditional bar bridge, and Joe pinned it for me. The saddle slots are a bit off angle because of how the bridge went on for intonation purposes. Something I was wondering is since the string isn't sitting at a perfect angle in those saddle slots, could that be causing this? This ISN'T my guitar, but it explains what I mean:

Since the bridge is angled, you can see the strings aren't in a perfectly straight line in the saddle slots. Would this cause problems?

7

I thought you were the person that has had so many issues in the past. I clicked on your previous posts.

Just for the record, those issues were not my fault. Joe inspected that guitar and agreed it was a disaster. The fretboard on it ski jumped and required planing, and it had all kinds of other problems (wiring/humming, high frets, etc). That's why he took that one back and replaced it with a brand new one right off the factory line and did the setup himself on this one before even shipping it to me. It first went to him for inspection.

For the most part, this one has been great. This is the one issue with it that I've had. I never spoke up about it because I don't do a lot of bends on that guitar and just tried to ignore it, but lately I have been bending more, and it's become annoying to retune after each bend.

8

Do the strings go sharp or flat after a bend?

9

As for holding the strings on the Bigsby pins while you are stringing up your guitar, there are some videos on YouTube that show how to do this. Look for "Restringing a Gretsch" or "Restringing a Bigsby".

After putting a bend in the ball end of the string and then placing the ball over the Bigsby pin, stuff something behind the Bigsby to hold the string on the Bigsby as you deal with the string at the tuner. Gretsch actually made a "string buddy" which was a wedged piece of foam that you could slide under the Bigsby to hold the string in place. But, most anything will work. Trying shoving an old t-shirt behind the Bigsby. Another trick is to use a capo to hold the string in place on the fretboard with a modest amount of tension, leaving you the ability to focus your attention on sliding the string through the tuning peg and winding it up to tension.

Of course, with the new Player's Edition models and their "string-through" Bigsbys, this is no longer an issue as you slide the string through the Bigsby's bar and the ball holds the string in place on the Bigsby as you deal with the business end of things.

11

If you bend them in the opposite direction, they'll go back in tune.

Newton's Law...or was it Cole's Law...and Potato Salad...

12

It's the nut. Put some powdered graphite in the slots. If that doesn''t fix it, file the slots wider and angled towards the tuner post.

13

It's the nut. Put some powdered graphite in the slots. If that doesn''t fix it, file the slots wider and angled towards the tuner post.

– Billy Zoom

This. This site should automatically post this answer whenever anyone asks about tuning problems.

14

Good suggestion Bob as the nut is 99% of the time, the issue. Most of the guitars I have I've changed out the nut for couple of reasons. I always replace them with bone and always have the slots angled towards their respective tuner. In most cases this angling is only required for the inboard 4 slots as both E slots usually line up with their tuner*. Gretsch hasn't angled slots on their guitars as my '41 Synchro, '76 Super Axe, '98 6120, [former] '64 Gent, '71 Super Chet [that I changed out] didn't/doesn't have them. The purpose of this exercise is to have the break point for the string be at the front of the nut, rather than at the rear, where it can interfere with tuning.

* My 6120 being a pre-FMIC guitar, does not have the original size headstock; it's a bit wider. As a result, the E string slots do not line up with their tuners and so the new nut, when I get around to replacing it, will have to be angled for all 6 strings.

The pinging issue indicates your nut slots are too tight for their string....period. Graphite material or no, your nut needs the slots wide enough for the string to move freely through it. Changing your string gauges or type of winding on them may require dressing the slots. I use nothing on my slots - almost said nuts! - for lubrication and have no issues with tuning and/or pinging.

15

When you put new strings on be sure to stretch them one at a time. Grab it at the 12th fret and give it a few pulls. Check the tuning and tune it again and again until it stays in tune after a few stretches. Do this on every string one at a time. When they all stay in tune your problems should be gone.

16

I have to ask the question, doesn't everyone know to stretch new strings till they stay in tune??

17

I had a pre-FMIC Duane Eddy - my guitar guy warned me that even with the graphite, bone-ish nut and Sperzels that I stuck on it the extreme/wide headstock was going to be hard to keep in tune. It ended up being okay but YMMV.

I've got one of Earlwine's books and he recommends graphite AND dressing the nut with a guitar string. If you've followed all the tips above and the guitar STILL doesn't stay in tune then cut it loose.

A guitar that won't stay in tune at all is useless. A guitar that detunes after minor action is an annoyance. Keep that in mind.

19

An approach sometimes voiced on the other forum is that the string should only touch the nut right were it meets the fingerboard. Also, the nut should be cut with a square file. The idea is to put all the pressure on two points, one at the bottom of the string and one at the side. While this reduces the area across which the string might bind, it puts all the pressure in that small area. To me, this would defeat the purpose. I had my guy do the exact opposite on my Pro Jet. He curved the slots gradually in the direction of the tuning machines. It worked! And he's the third guy to work on the darned nut. Either way the string should not be angled where it exits the nut in the direction of the tuners. Not only should there be no pinging, but the pitch should change gradually when you turn the tuners' pegs. If it doesn't change, and then it changes abruptly, the string is still binding at the nut.

20

Question about angling the slots (none of my guitars do that): No angle means the strings take a bend toward the tuning pegs "after" the nut (on the tuner side.) Angling the slots mean they bend at the edge of the nut on the fretboard side. In either case they need to take a bend. Is there a difference? (No opinion, just wondering.)

Fredo - if anything, the curved slots seem to make sense. (Is it literally a curved slot, or is the slot "opened up" to flare out on the tuner side?)

21

Question about angling the slots (none of my guitars do that): No angle means the strings take a bend toward the tuning pegs "after" the nut (on the tuner side.) Angling the slots mean they bend at the edge of the nut on the fretboard side. In either case they need to take a bend. Is there a difference? (No opinion, just wondering.)

Fredo - if anything, the curved slots seem to make sense. (Is it literally a curved slot, or is the slot "opened up" to flare out on the tuner side?)

– nielDa

The side of the slot that the string runs along is curved. The other side is straight so, yes, the slots open up on the tuner side.

22

"Is there a difference? (No opinion, just wondering.)" - nielDa

You would get an acute angle at the fretboard side of the nut.

23

Question about angling the slots (none of my guitars do that): No angle means the strings take a bend toward the tuning pegs "after" the nut (on the tuner side.) Angling the slots mean they bend at the edge of the nut on the fretboard side. In either case they need to take a bend. Is there a difference? (No opinion, just wondering.)

Fredo - if anything, the curved slots seem to make sense. (Is it literally a curved slot, or is the slot "opened up" to flare out on the tuner side?)

– nielDa

Your conclusions are correct, in that angling the slots, be it only the inside 4 which always require angling towards their respective tuners or all 6, as in the case of my '98 6120 which has a wider headstock. As has been explained, angling assures that the break point for the string is firmly at the front of the nut - where the fretboard begins. I should preface that this reasoning is for a guitar that does NOT have a zero fret. The breakpoint for those guitars is the zero fret not the nut & scale length is also set from the top of the zero fret.

The reason you want the break point to be at the front of the nut is that that's where the scale length begins. From the front edge to the top of the 12th fret is [designed to be!] precisely one half of the guitar's scale length. If the break point is at the rear of the nut or any point within the length of the nut, that effectively muddies where the scale begins and affects tuning.

For my money, I want the slots' shape to match not only the shape of the string where it touches the nut on the angled side, and particularly the bottom. Overall, the slot needs to be ever so slightly wider than the string so the string can slide in the slot and not offer sliding resistance for string bending and/or Bigsby use.

24

I agree that it's most likely the nut.. .the pinging is a big sign that the slots are pinching the string or there is some unevenness on the bottom of the slot itself...but without looking at it you will get tons of opinions until you take it to a quality tech who knows what they're doing.... take it to someone who knows how to file the slots.Personally , in your case ,I'd put a TUSQ XL on it and have someone do it right. I file all my own and there are a few tricks that a good luthier or set up tech will understand. These TUSQ nuts will need some fitting and filing but they are well worth it in my opinion. Also make sure when you change strings your using at least 10 gauge on that Gretsch and you stretch them along the fretboard several times after you install them. Stick with a good set of strings like Daddario...I've had great tuning stability with Daddario over every other brand I tried ..plus your neck will be accustomed over time with that particular tension...check your bridge for proper intonation angle on a fresh set of strings and check for any burs in the bridge slots.. String height over 17th fret should be 5/64 bass side -4/64 on the treble side. Give or take..ball park so you don't fret out in upper register..relief .008 to .010 depending on what you like...I go for about .008...also if you take it make them check for high frets, poorly set neck , warped or twisted neck..I check this with every instrument I plan to buy....take it to someone who can independently give you an opinion..if it's poorly constructed call Joe Carducci and get rid of it. Personally , I think it just needs a good setup and nut attention.

25

Interesting Dave, and it makes total sense to me. I'm thinking of investing in a set of nut files and making my own nuts from bone as I have not been satisfied with the artificial material that Gretsch uses on most nuts, in spite of claims that the Tusk (Graphtec) is best for tuning stability. The brass on my 6120DS and the bone on my 6118T both work well, although I believe that angled slots could improve things. My new 6118 with the delrin nut has not performed well, nor did the Falcon with the Tusk nut when I owned it. I have worked on these nuts a few times with fine sandpaper and oil, but they still don't seem to work well with the Bigsby as far as tuning stability.

Could you or anyone else suggest a reasonably priced set of nut files? Also, is there any difference in performance between bleached and unbleached bone?


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