Gretsch Duo Jet tuning instability?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by Jaredt771, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Jaredt771

    Jaredt771 Member

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    Location:
    Moultrie, Georgia
    Hey all, been a lurker of TGP for quite some time but haven't posted much. I am having some tuning instability issues with my Gretsch Duo Jet that my wife bought me for Christmas. I took it to a local shop and had it set up for 11's and they intonated everything, checked the Bigsby, etc. and made sure it was all good. That was only a week ago, with brand new strings that don't have a ton of playing life on them, and the guitar will seriously just not stay in tune. The high E string will "pop" in and out of tune at times and the G string absolutely will not stay in tune for more than about 5 minutes. I have tried intonating the guitar, based on instructions from the included Gretsch instruction manual. Does anyone have any suggestions for what I can do? I will provide pictures when I get home from work today, but I am kind of at a loss for what to do. I have very limited experience in guitar maintenance as well, which is why I took it to a shop to have the new setup done.

    Any help at all will be greatly appreciated, thanks!
     
  2. KGWagner

    KGWagner Member

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    Nov 28, 2009
    Location:
    Metro Detroit Area
    New strings and a Bigsby, and there's a tuning stability problem? Welcome to new strings and a Bigsby!

    New strings need to be stretched out a bit before they'll behave themselves. If you don't reef on them at installation time, it'll take some time for it to happen naturally. As for the Bigsby, some are better than others. Gretsch uses a variation of the traditional B7 on that guitar, so I'm not sure what you've got for bearings on the rotating string anchor; could be ball bearings or a bushing. Ball bearing-equipped units have a more reliable return to neutral. In any event, on a new unit they shouldn't need lubrication yet, but at some point they will. Maybe do that now? Something really light, like sewing machine oil.

    If you don't have locking tuners on it yet, they're a good investment. Also, the nut might need some attention. If you took it to the music store for setup rather than a professional guitar wrangler, keep in mind that they have varying degrees of competence in their back rooms. Some are great, others... not so much. There often isn't enough money to keep good talent interested for long.
     
  3. robdean

    robdean Member

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    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    London, UK
    Newly fitted unwound strings may slip on the tuner post, and need a bit of stretching anyway to settle them in.
    Tune up. Place thumb and second finger in different places on a string and with a slow twist of the wrist put some extra tension on the string. A new string which has not been stretched will go moderately flat the first few times you do that. If it goes very flat or doesn't become more stable in holding tune when stretched repeatedly, it's likely slipping. In which case, if there is enough loose end, wrap that end half-way round the post again, put the end back through the post hole and pull a right angle against the post where it emerges. Then it should settle down once the tension works through.

    One other thing to consider is whether you have a floating bridge that is slipping: intonating the saddles is no remedy if the whole assembly is moving about! If the intonation goes significantly out along with the tuning, that'd be a sign. A bit of violin rosin under the bridge will usually fix that, so long as the base of the bridge is well fitted to the shape of the top of the guitar (rosin will only have an effect where there is contact between the surfaces!)

    Oh, and check the strings run in straight lines through the Bigsby. If they describe a bit of a side-to-side zig-zag they will be slowly slipping straight under tension and drifting flat as they go.

    If the above is OK and it's use of the Bigsby that causes problems, I'd check there are not needlessly many string windings at the posts and that the nut is not binding: if the slots are not tight, it might still be worth putting some lube in the slot (Nut Sauce or whatever).

    I really love locking tuners, but they seem to me to bring the biggest tuning stability benefits to folks who tend to do a poor job of stringing on regular posts :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
  4. JohnLutz

    JohnLutz Supporting Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2005
    Big bends nut sauce.
     

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