Modern Gretsch Guitars

Tuning stability?

26

I’m gonna test drive it for awhile with the Tunamatic on it to see if there is a difference. Thanks Tim for the offer on the “rock steady” version, I may take you up on it.

27

It's the nut...get a tiny file & open the slots up. FWIW, I'm using .0095" strings and I have no tuning problems.

– Billy Zoom

I’ll give this a try... thanks Billy.

28

Ok.... here is a basic question; When the nut is to blame for tuning issues are the strings generally flat or sharp?

29

I'm not a fan of floating bridges necessarily but I've come to deal with it on my Duo Jet. The best way I've found to keep my guitar in tune is to remove the Bigsby. I know that's Gretsch blasphemy but it was either that or drill holes in the guitar's top to secure the bridge.

30

I'm not a fan of floating bridges necessarily but I've come to deal with it on my Duo Jet. The best way I've found to keep my guitar in tune is to remove the Bigsby. I know that's Gretsch blasphemy but it was either that or drill holes in the guitar's top to secure the bridge.

– BuddyHollywood

The base on my guitar is pinned from the factory, I’ve thought of screwing it down to the top as Billy does.

I think I could pull the pins from the top and (using the same holes) screw the bridge down. No harm no foul to the guitar top.

31

Is it possible that the bridge bottom binds on the base's thumb wheels?

Maybe polishing and/or lubing the contact points would help?

32

I guess it’s possible

33

It does seem to be staying in tune with the original Tunamatic on it. I don’t mind having to tune the guitar, I play the sh%t out of it, but then so do a lot of other players and I don’t see them having to tune after every song. The Rev comes to mind.
My guitar is almost always flat when it needs tuning. It is very rare that it is sharp. My understanding with a string binding at the nut is the string goes sharp.

34

It does seem to be staying in tune with the original Tunamatic on it. I don’t mind having to tune the guitar, I play the sh%t out of it, but then so do a lot of other players and I don’t see them having to tune after every song. The Rev comes to mind.
My guitar is almost always flat when it needs tuning. It is very rare that it is sharp. My understanding with a string binding at the nut is the string goes sharp.

– Hipbone

No, if the strings are binding at the nut hard strumming and string bending will make it flat

35

Strings go sharp if binding at the nut after you use the Bigsby. If no wigglage then usually strings go flat from playing - but not always!

Mr Tubs is right - sometimes the tuners are quite loosely attached with the nut. They have a locating pin on the back which locates in a hole drilled into the headstock hidden by the tuner. So before tightening the nut which hold the tuner to the headstock I always make sure to turn the tuner in the direction it would be pulled by the string so that there is nowhere for it to move.

My guess is that it's the nut which causes the majority of your problems. Often it makes little difference how much you lube it, you still need to get some nut files onto it to work those slots.

37

I change strings once or twice a month depending on how often I gig.

38

Try changing the spring. An ongoing flat issue with a new guitar was the result of a soft spring. Not real technical but we checked a few springs until we found one that was noticeably more stiff and it solved the problem.

39

Just to echo what others have said. It has always been the nut that has caused any tuning issues for me. I use 10's exclusively and do not have any tuning issues even with heavy Bigsby use.

40

Try changing the spring. An ongoing flat issue with a new guitar was the result of a soft spring. Not real technical but we checked a few springs until we found one that was noticeably more stiff and it solved the problem.

– Curt Wilson

This makes a lot of sense.

41

My spring might be “creepy”?

43

Tim,

While I appreciate the time and effort that you put into your observations I came to the conclusion about 10 years ago that had modern materials been available at the time, Paul Bigbsy would never have needed to allow his aluminum bridge to rock.

I had terrible trouble with a Historic Les Paul and its' factory installed Bigsby B7 with the wound strings "grabbing" the bridge saddles until the Tone Pros bridge with Tusq Teflon saddles came along. Never had a problem on that guitar since then. The bridge is rock solid, being screwed to the anchor posts, and the Teflon just lets the strings glide.

I have your aluminum Tru Arcs on my two 6120's with very tight bridge bases that, yes, must match the shape of the guitar's top but they float over the bridge slots really well with a fairly heavy touch of "Big Bends Nut Sauce."

Interestingly enough, the guitar with the zero fret (I have one of each) returns the Bigsby to pitch slightly better than the brass nut guitar even with liberal use of Big Bends at the nut.

44

Not sure if this is supposed to happen but upon removal of the aluminum Tru-Arc I noticed very clear indentations or prints left behind by the wound strings. Clearly the strings don’t glide over the slots. Not sure they are meant to?

45

That's inevitable. Aluminum is softer than the strings, and there's at least 30 lbs of pressure on each slot, all the time.

I don't expect that the strings will glide. If the strings glid-gloud-glided, there would be no need for the bridge to rock.

Yavapai, your experience with Big Bends nut sauce allowing the strings to actually move across the slots is new to me. I've never tried it. I'll give it a shot.

46

Hope it works for you Tim. It certainly did for me.

I recently returned to a set of flat wounds on an old 1959 Guild and I've been amazed with the results.

I haven't used flats since 1967 but either the material has changed or my hearing has deteriorated but they sound so much better than I remember.

I'm now guessing that flats with a Bigsby might be the ultimate solution!

47

I'm disappointed that you haven't found a solution yet.

I own a G6119SP which similar to yours in many ways. One main difference, is that this guitar was equipped with Gretsch bar bridge. I've never had any tuning stability problems with it. I use D'Adarrio jazz lights (EJ21). This set includes a wound g-string.

My suggestion is that you try a brass bar bridge. Gretsch or Tru-Arc.

With the gauge strings you are using it's in a totally gray area whether plain G-string will intonate properly on a straight bidge. However, I can assured you that a wound one will. D'Addario EXL115W.

Lee

48

I recently purchased a minty Gretsch 5422 at GC. It seemed to hold tune with the single roller Bigsby and fixed bridge OK. I got "set up" from their Tech with 10s and asked him to check out the nut (and lube) and bridge for any burrs or intonnation problems. Through a tube amp it sounded fantastic.

Several days after the strings had settled in when used the Bigsby (as intended) the D, G and B strings would always come back sharp, enough to require immediate re-tuning. I always play a barred Bb Minor as the "tell" after Bigsby dips. Anyway I had to take it back, and I was disappointed because nothing sounds like a Gretsch!

My theory is that the center strings just take too much of an angled turn as they exit the nut toward the tuners -maybe something even a new nut (more $) wouldn't fix. Anyway, last weekI got a Reverend Pete Anderson hollow body with the two roller Bigsby, which I was aware could be problematic. Got a GC set up from flats 11s to rounds 10s and intonnation and truss rod tweak for lighter gauge strings.

After string stretch in, the Bigsby (couple of inches dips and light flutters, ala John Cippolina) stays right in there, like I wanted the Gretsch to. The REV in natural satin came stock with the following: 1.locking tuners 2.black graphite nut 3.roller bridge 4.big metal plate around input jack 5.IMPORTANT - much narrower tuning head, hence much reduced D, G and B string angles to tuners = huge difference I did not have to pay after market for.

The stock P90s aren't quite Gretchy, but they do their jangle with good high string definition. I am not dissing Gretsch because they sound so unique. But I wish they came stock with the extras that make a Bigsby repeatably reliable.

Still missing those impeccable black Filtertrons.

Cheers

49

I played a gig last night with the Tune-O-Matic in place of the bar bridge...... It stayed In tune much better, I did have to tune several times in the night. Played for 3 and 1/2 hours.

.....but I didn’t have to tune after every song. At this point I’m really not sure what is going on? I still think my picking hand is “pushing” the bar bridge and it is not returning to normal.
I’ve given thought to getting a “String Butler”. Don’t like the look of them but if it works I’d be happy.

50

I’m serious, change the spring. It’s either the spring or your top is deflecting.

Some of the springs are able to hold when tied to pitch but when it’s compressed it doesn’t return to zero.


Register Sign in to join the conversation