Modern Gretsch Guitars

Tuning Problems Resolved - Broadkaster Jr.

1

My new Broadkaster Jr. arrived just over a year ago. I had posted a “road test” report here after a couple of weeks experience with it. In a nutshell – I love everything about the guitar….. EXCEPT that it would not stay in tune.

The only consistency in the tuning instability was that it would start sounding out of tune after about 15 minutes of playing time. It was different strings on different days. The plain strings were the most frequent culprits and they tended to go SHARP.

During the year I took it back to the dealer for checkups, tweaks/adjustments. Cleaned/filed nut slots, used Big Bends Nut Sauce, swapped bridges, changed strings (T.I. JS110’s) and Bigsby springs……. Nothing worked.

Finally – after what felt like endless searches on the internet – I found a potential solution. The core issue is the break angle of the strings on small-bodied guitars with B7 Bigsby tailpieces. The Broadkaster Jr. has a lot less real estate in the lower bout than full sized guitars. The distance between the bridge and the Bigsby roller bar is only about 1.5 inches which is about half of the distance on full sized guitars. This creates a sharp break angle – about 23 degrees compare to 10 to 12 degrees on other guitars.

I installed spacers under the front of the Bigsby. That solved the tuning problem but it also raised the Bigsby arm to an awkward level. So – back to more digging on Google Guitar Lutherie Research Institute, which led to the discovery of the BricksBiggsFix Bigsby Tuning Stabilizer. The details including “how to” instructions are here:

<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ig5PeUIlYZM" height="320" width="100%"></iframe>

This device has made a world of difference. The tuning instability problems with my Broadkaster Jr. are OVER. The guitar has been played from 1 to 2 hours every day and it now stays in tune!

I would have thought that many of the new Gretsch Jr. and Jet models equipped with B7 Bigsbys would have the same issue although there have been very few reports (none??) of problems on this and other websites. Whatever…… the problem with my guitar was very real and the BricksBiggsFix device fixed it.

3

The BZ models came with spacers under the Bigsby.

4

Thank you for reminding me about this. I'd never considered one of these before because I don't have problems keeping any of my Bigsby guitars in tune. Except one. My most favorite restore/rescue/refin/rejigger projects spends all its time in the case because it won't stay in tune if I use the Bigsby. I'd swear it used to, but it sure won't now. I'd given up on it because everything I and my guitar-tech friends have tried on it hasn't worked. But when reading about the issue of excessive break angle caused by the Bigs being too close to the bridge, I thought "I wonder how close the B5 on the Talmantron is to its bridge...," so I looked at a picture:

We may have found the problem. Will try one of these and report on the results.

5

Well, I hate to mention it as I like an involved solution as much as anyone else (and like to support those who come up with and maintain a cottage industry selling them)...but I often run strings OVER the damnable tension bar just to see how it works, and on most guitars I get away with it.

Just saying.

6

No argument there, whenever possible, I do the same (Reverend PA-1s can usually function fine that way), but I tried it with the Talmantron and it just wasn't happenin.'

7

Plunk plunk, I imagine.

8

I often run strings OVER the damnable tension bar just to see how it works, and on most guitars I get away with it. Proteus

Yep, I did that with another guitar a few years ago and it worked. Thought about it with my Broadkaster Jr. but the strings would have "barely touched" the bridge. I placed a StewMac straight edge from the top of the rear roller to the point where the strings cleared the end of the fret board and it actually looked there was a slight gap between the straight edge and the top of the bridge (the beautiful Tru-Arc Serpentune bridge, that is).

9

The BiggsFix may be the solution for the Bigsby on my Peavey T-60.

That bar should move.

10

I finally got home from Viva Las Vegas this afternoon, and my BiggsFix had finally arrived. I set about to installing it on the Talmantron, and after re-stringing it, I had my doubts, to put it mildly.

I discovered I needed to put new strings on, because the string balls don't fit between the Bricks bar and the original bar. It probably needed them anyway. Once completed, the high E string slipped off the edge of the Bricks bar and settled into the gutter between the bar and the other piece of metal that attaches to the Bigsby. And once on, there was hardly any break angle at all across the bridge. It didn't look promising. I figured the strings would go flying off the bridge saddles, and the strings wouldn't stay in tune any better, especially the high E string, since it was literally stuck in a rut.

But ya know what? IT WORKED!!! And here's evidence. The low E string, which used to end up sharp, or flat, or anything but in tune after some Bigsby whang-age, comes back to pitch! So far, I'm impressed. Oh, and I couldn't get the strings to pop off their saddles.

11

Glad it worked out for you, giffenf. I am still very happy with the results of my Broadkaster Jr. I now have NO tuning stability problems with the guitar.

I am surprised that we have not been hearing more about tuning problems with smaller body guitars with B7 (and similar) Bigsbys. Several of the more recent Gretsch models fit into this group but I'm not seeing complaints about tuning problems.


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