Tuning stability on Gretsch 6118

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by UnderTheGroove, Jan 27, 2006.


  1. UnderTheGroove

    UnderTheGroove Supporting Member

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    I got a Gretsch 6118 about 9 months ago. I really like the tone and the way it feels (not to mention how cool it looks), but the tuning isn't as stable as I would like. I realize that it may not ever be as stable as my fixed bridge guitars, but I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for improvement. Would new tuners help? If so, does anyone know if there is a set that is a drop in replacement? If I'm going to replace them, I would most likely get locking tuners. I've also heard about pinning the bridge so that it doesn't shift around. What are the pros and cons of having that done?
     
  2. Stringrazor

    Stringrazor Member

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    You may want to checkout http://gretschpages.com/ . I believe the consensus on pinning the bridge over there is DON'T DO IT as it devalues your axe. You could try thin doublestick tape under the bridge. It may provide just enough friction to help, at the risk of damaging the finish under the bridge (still better than pinning IMHO).

    I have 2 floating bridge guitars, a '67 Guild Starfire III (my first quality guitar) and a 2000 Gretsch 6120ssu (Setzer signature). I've gigged with both and found the tuning stability to be fine as long as the Bigsby wasn't used violently (it sounds best for subtle effects anyway). The Gretsch did come with locking tuners and a graphite nut which I'm sure helps. I also use Big Bends Nut Sauce on the nut and bridge to help it stay in tune with Bigsby use.
     
  3. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    I've got a Setzer 6120 as well. It comes with a graphite nut and locking tuners, which are helpful.

    I pinned the bridge, less for tuning stability than for consistent intonation. I'm not sure it helps or hurts value, since it's a common mod, and I don't much care about value compared to a good consistent sound.

    Other things I do for this and my other Bigsbyfied guitars:

    - Switch to 11-48 strings (big help on tuning stability - and a BIG improvement in sound!)
    - lube up the string slots at the nut and at the bridge.
    - easy does it on the whammy arm use!

    Kiwi
     
  4. UnderTheGroove

    UnderTheGroove Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. I think I will start off by installing locking tuners and see how it goes from there.
     
  5. Robert Parker

    Robert Parker Supporting Member

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    I would change the tuners last, not first. Having had many Bigsby-equiped guitars, I would be surprised if you could not attain tuning stability after trying the methods suggested by Kiwi and Stingrazor.

    Personally, I like to use double-sided tape to keep the bridge steady and apply big bends nut sauce with every string change. Also, it's very important to string the guitar correctly, using the "locking loop" method. If you do these things, and if the Bigsby has been installed correctly, there is no reason you would have to make a radical change like replacing the tuners.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. UnderTheGroove

    UnderTheGroove Supporting Member

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    I should clarify that the 6118 does not have a bigsby, so that is not a concern. I have been using a locking loop on the strings, so I don't think that is contributing to the problem. This hasn't been a big enough problem that I feel like I need to jump at a solution. This guitar just doesn't seem quite as stable as my others - including my DeArmond X-155 which also has a floating bridge. Maybe I will take it in to my guitar tech and have him look it over before I make any changes. It might just be in need of a setup.
     
  7. bobgoblin

    bobgoblin Supporting Member

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    i used to have a 6118 (although i added a bigsby straight away), & here are some of the things i did to make it more stable:

    used heavier strings (12-56)
    installed a strip of fine sandpaper facing UP underneath the floating bridge (a little water soluble glue works wonders)
    lubricated the nut slots (also, i got the slots filed for the string gauges i used)
    finally, & this was more for re-stringing, i installed grover locking tuners. they were a direct replacement, BUT, they changed the angle of the string from nut to string post & altered the tone of the guitar. i do NOT recommend these. if ya gotta do it, go w/some sperzels, they don't drop in w/o modification, but the staggered post height is much better (IMHO). good luck!
     
  8. reverber8

    reverber8 Member

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    I've got a 6120DSW last year and the only time I've had tuning problems was with aggressive use of the Bigsby. Looks like I'm in good company in always applying some Big Bends Nut Sauce when changing string. I would suggest giving that a shot for starters.
     
  9. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Apologies in advance for sounding like a broken record, but ...

    I was flat out AMAZED at how well a Strat will stay in tune when the bridge is set up correctly. Turns out there are several 'correct' ways, use whichever one suits your style, but what I'm sayin' is ....

    Have your guitar set up by a pro who knows what they're doing 1 time. Ask around town, find somebody who's really good. I have used Jim Foote at South Bay Musicworks with great success, but there's a lot of good folke in LA.

    Not to beat a dead horse, but guitars rarely come from the makers with a good set up on them. Plus, even if it DID leave the factory with a good set up, they shift a lot during shipping. PRS is probably the exception to this rule; they're usually pretty good.

    As Kiwi, RobertParker, Stringrazor and yourself mentioned, your axe might just need one (a setup, that is - GRIN) they all also had excellent suggestions re; string guages, nut lube, etc.

    My pal Pete bought a Brian Setzer 6120. I had never played one I liked before, but after he set it up (he's good, but up in Santa Barbara) I loved it. The tuning was solid - not an issue at all.

    I'd do all that before I'd replace the tuners - too invasive, maybe not necessary.

    Dana
     
  10. UnderTheGroove

    UnderTheGroove Supporting Member

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    Thanks everybody. I'll take it in for a setup and go from there.
     

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