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NGD plus Gretsch Questions

adauria

Member
Messages
532
Hi folks,

I've been eyeing hollowbody Gretsches with Bigsbys for a bit. When I saw that GC was knocking $100 off the Electromatic G5420T in white, the temptation was just too much to bear! What a sweet new addition to the stable (and my first Gretsch):



It plays quite well (might need a little raise of the action), and sounds amazing! It's really got a different tone from the rest of my guitars (LP Studio, Amer Std Strat, Amer Std Tele, G&L Ascari, and Ibanez AS-120). It's inspiring me to get to my rockabilly and travis picking game up a bit too. Cool stuff.

Since this is my first Gretsch, I do have a couple of questions that I'm sure someone here can help with:

1) Yep, it's a pain to keep in tune with the Bigsby. I'll try some new strings, nut sauce, and, if that doesn't do it, get a new bone nut that's expertly cut. Any other tips on helping these guys stay in tune? Note that this 2016 model has a pinned bridge.

2) The portion of strings behind the bridge resonate like crazy, which is noticeable primarily when unplugged. I was going to cut some thicker leather or felt or something and weave it through the strings over there. Any other ideas/tips for dampening those high pitched vibrations?

3) Oddly, the Gretsch site claims the 5420 comes strung with 11s, while the various online retailers claim that it's strung with 10s. Does anyone know the real scoop on the factory gauges?

4) I was under the impression that the 2016s had a treble bleed circuit. If so, it's not particularly effective. Anything less than 10 on the master volume or pickup volumes and the high end evaporates. It's not a huge issue as I'll likely just keep it dimed. Is there anyway to confirm that a treble bleed circuit is present or not? I sure can't figure how to work inside that body.

Thanks!

-Andrew
 

markophonic

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
665
I recently picked up a 2016 Aspen Green 5420. It came setup with 10's. It does have a treble bleed on the master volume. There is barely any sweep on the bridge/neck volume pots...I've read on the Gretsch forums that it is inherent with the master volume wiring setup.

I really like the Blacktop pickups...they will handle dirt well if you want to get really raunchy with it.

I put a TruArc Serpentune bridge on it and that is a huge improvement over the adjust-o-matic. http://www.truarcbridgeworks.com/

It is a compensated bar type bridge that works much better with the Bigsby.

I haven't tried 11's on this yet.

For some reason I play this more than the SSLVO setzer 6120 I had! That was just too nice and for the amount of money I paid for it I didn't want to beat it up.

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bluesbreaker59

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,739
Get a Tru Arc bridge. String with D'Addario 11's and stretch them in when you put 'em on. Pickups: TV Jones whatever you want. Treble bleed circuit take it to a tech and have them put in full size pots and good wire when they put in your TV Jones pickups. After you've done all this... All of life's mysteries will become clear
 

adauria

Member
Messages
532
Thanks for the info. That's a sweet one in Aspen Green! I am definitely considering the bridge upgrade, either the TruArc or the Compton. Gonna slow roll it and see how it takes to some nut sauce and maybe a new nut first, but bridge after that.

The part I'm confused about is that the Gretsch website claims they use 11s, but MF, Sweetwater and others claim it comes shipped with 10s. Very strange...

I also see it's supposed to have the treble bleed if it's 2016, but my ears don't hear it, either on the master volume or pickup volumes.

-Andrew
 

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,290
Re tuning, get a pro setup from someone who knows what they are doing, and use good stringing technique. That's all that should be needed - works for my gretsches (and LPs with bigsbys).
 

Joe L

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,368
I believe my 2016 5420 came with 10s. I put Thomastick Flatwound 11s, as well as a Compton chambered aluminum bridge on it. I have no tuning problems. Not necessary , but I also installed TV Jones Classics which are a bit cleaner and more of a refined tone than the Blacktops, which are not bad pick ups.
 

Serenity

Member
Messages
3,504
I didn't know the 2016 G5420T came in white. I've only seen Blue, Green, Orange, and a dealer special in Black. For some reason your image isn't working for me. 2016 model has thumb nail inlays and doesn't have Electromatic written on the headstock. I don't think the older model has the treble bleed circuit.
 

Joe L

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,368
I didn't know the 2016 G5420T came in white. I've only seen Blue, Green, Orange, and a dealer special in Black. For some reason your image isn't working for me. 2016 model has thumb nail inlays and doesn't have Electromatic written on the headstock. I don't think the older model has the treble bleed circuit.
I think the White ones pre 2015 with the humpback inlays as well as the older un bound headstock with Electromatic on it. I could be wrong, but this is what I remember when I started looking at these.
 

El Phaco

Member
Messages
1,073
Thanks for the info. That's a sweet one in Aspen Green! I am definitely considering the bridge upgrade, either the TruArc or the Compton. Gonna slow roll it and see how it takes to some nut sauce and maybe a new nut first, but bridge after that.
As your guitar comes with a pinned bridge, i'm not sure a TruArc or Compton would be good, as it'll be impossible to set the intonation.
 

fishman919

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
383
As your guitar comes with a pinned bridge, i'm not sure a TruArc or Compton would be good, as it'll be impossible to set the intonation.
The aluminum Compton bridge on my 5420 made the guitar slightly brighter and more resonant. It had the same effect on my old Duo Jet. I haven't noticed any intonation problems.
 

El Phaco

Member
Messages
1,073
With a floating bridge, i'd go with a TruArc without an hesitation, but with a pinned one, i don't like the idea to lose the ability to set the intonation. If you change the gauge, or even the brand of your strings, settings can be pretty different.
 

Mooneyes68

Active Member
Messages
87
Andrew,

Congrats and welcome to the Gretsch club! I occasionally gig a 2016 5420 (Fairlane Blue) and I've been really impressed with it after a couple of simple mods. I have 13 proline Gretsch's to compare it to, and the revised 5420T Electomatic is nipping at the heels of some of the proline guitars, IMO.

I have to respectfully disagree with the TruArc recommendations. I tried TruArc bridges and found them only marginally better then a stock bar bridge. Intonation was only slightly improved and the difference in tone was negligible when plugged in (I had aluminum, stainless and brass). I appreciate the gentleman who makes them and his passion, but I just didn't notice that much improvement considering the cost of the bridge. People rave, but I'm just not seeing (or hearing) it. My recommendation would be a good old fashioned Gotoh tune-o-matic. It's a couple of steps up quality-wise from the stock bridge on your guitar and the saddles can be cut/shaped to the radius of your fretboard. Won't break the bank either. You might as well have perfect intonation, you won't get there with a bar bridge, stock or aftermarket. And don't worry about the tone....it's still plenty Gretsch-y. Just listen to Brain Setzer, patron saint of Gretsch-dom ;)

The stock nut is a Graph Tech Tusq XL which is a really good nut for use with vibratos. I wouldn't be quick to replace it if it's cut and slotted correctly.

I ended up with TV Jones Classics (I put them in all my Gretsch guitars...they just sound *right* to me), but the stock Blacktops are alnico and wound in the 4K range, actually not far off spec wise from the TV Jones. If you like the stock pickups and aren't chasing exact Setzer/Harrison/Stills tones, I wouldn't bother upgrading. Blacktops are plenty Gretsch-y.

What I did find to be the weak spot with the 5420 are the tuners. They did slip a bit with Bigsby use. I added Sperzel locking tuners and that fixed the problem. The guitar is gig worthy and holds tune well.

Oh...... I'm pretty sure they ship with D'Addario 10's.
 

El Phaco

Member
Messages
1,073
Put a TonePro Bridge on my 6120 SSL Flame Tiger to solve the rattle problem. Great piece of gear.
 

AdmiralB

Member
Messages
3,060
I've got a couple Duo Jets (Silver Jet, and one of the 'DCM' cherry metallic they did in 2012). I also had a recent Anniversary, a Duane Eddy, and a Billy Duffy Falcon.

The Duffy, Anni, and the DCM have/had pinned bridges. I pinned the bridge on the Silver Jet too (all recent Gretsch bridge bases are drilled for pinning, you just have to take the plunge and drill the body.

The Duffy, Anni, and DCM came with TOM-style bridges (metric). The Duane Eddy came with a Tru-Arc (not compensated), and the Silver Jet had a Space Control. I bought a couple Serpentune Tru-Arcs, and I didn't have any problems with intonation on the pinned guitars. This bridge was the only one I used on the Duffy that didn't rattle at least a little - the Falcon had a really shallow angle over the bridge.

But I went back to TOMs on the Jets, although I'm using Gotoh's metric ABR-style - the workmanship on the stockers caused some rattling, and the Gotoh is pretty tight. It's also pretty inexpensive, and it looks right.
 

Waxhead

Member
Messages
6,217
As your guitar comes with a pinned bridge, i'm not sure a TruArc or Compton would be good, as it'll be impossible to set the intonation.
hey suggest you read up on compensating bar bridges.
Compton and Tru-arc bridges work just as great on either pinned or unpinned bridges.
I got one of each on both pinned & unpinned bridges :)

Over on Gretsch Talk forum of course most of the guys have got either Compton or Tru-arc cos almost everyone there agrees they are a big upgrade for all Gretsch guitars.
 

adauria

Member
Messages
532
Wow! Thanks for the great info folks.

I can't figure how to embed a link from Google Drive, but you can see it here:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-yuaGPiD-hgNld4aXVrTHFrMlk

Definitely a 2016 model, as the serial number validates (starts with KS1606).

I am very pleased with the pickups - they sound great. I have no intention of replacing them.

As for the bridge, clearly there are different opinions here (who would have guessed :)). I'm going to keep that as option, but not jump on it immediately. There isn't any rattle issue, at least not as far as I can hear plugged in (unplugged is a little different, but who cares). The sounds I'm getting are from strings vibrating behind the bridge, and again not much when plugged in. A piece of craft foam seemed to solve the problem (at the expensive of the looks... but oh well).

The only issue is the ability to stay in tune with vibrato use. I am going to try tackling it progressively - new strings/nut sauce. Failing that, I'll go for a pro setup (probably going to do that at some point anyway). I generally do my own setups except nut work, but I suspect that might be what it needs. I love the idea of locking tuners too... just makes string changes so much better. Maybe I'll shoot for that as a next option. Bridge replacement might be more of a last resort, as I hate the idea of not being able to adjust intonation without unpinning the bridge (which I am loathe to do).

Thanks again folks!

-Andrew
 

Waxhead

Member
Messages
6,217
Wow! Thanks for the great info folks.

I can't figure how to embed a link from Google Drive, but you can see it here:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-yuaGPiD-hgNld4aXVrTHFrMlk

Definitely a 2016 model, as the serial number validates (starts with KS1606).

I am very pleased with the pickups - they sound great. I have no intention of replacing them.

As for the bridge, clearly there are different opinions here (who would have guessed :)). I'm going to keep that as option, but not jump on it immediately. There isn't any rattle issue, at least not as far as I can hear plugged in (unplugged is a little different, but who cares). The sounds I'm getting are from strings vibrating behind the bridge, and again not much when plugged in. A piece of craft foam seemed to solve the problem (at the expensive of the looks... but oh well).

The only issue is the ability to stay in tune with vibrato use. I am going to try tackling it progressively - new strings/nut sauce. Failing that, I'll go for a pro setup (probably going to do that at some point anyway). I generally do my own setups except nut work, but I suspect that might be what it needs. I love the idea of locking tuners too... just makes string changes so much better. Maybe I'll shoot for that as a next option. Bridge replacement might be more of a last resort, as I hate the idea of not being able to adjust intonation without unpinning the bridge (which I am loathe to do).

Thanks again folks!

-Andrew
Congrats Andrew.
Wise decision just playing the guitar as is for a good while and decide on any upgrades later.

Replacement bar bridge is not strictly necessary unless you have some issue with the stock Adjusto-matic bridge.
A few people have reported some rattling but never on mine.
Tru-Arc or Compton will deliver a significant tone improvement of course plus permanently set intonation.
But the 54 series gretsch sound fantastic stock.

A pro setup will resolve any tuning stability issues with bigsby use - most likely a nut glide issue.
I've made lots of upgrades to my 5422 (including sperzel locking tuners) none of which were necessary but have improved it to almost gretsch proline standard for a few $100.

If you do consider upgrades I suggest you become member of Gretsch-Talk & ask Qs there.

http://www.gretsch-talk.com/forums/electromatic-gretsch-forum.23/

You'll get far better advice there from good guys who know what they're talking about.
There's loads of threads there from Electromatic owners considering or doing upgrades
 
Last edited:

Serenity

Member
Messages
3,504
I haven't felt the need to upgrade anything on mine. I like the stock pups, and i've had no problems with the bridge. Sorry to hear you're having tuning stability issues, a good setup should sort it. I can't throw mine out of tune even with extreme bigsby abuse.
And BTW, just after i posted about not seeing a 2016 in white someone posted a NGD thread with pics of one. Looks classy.
 






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