G5420LH Won't Stay In Tune

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by area3productions, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. area3productions

    area3productions Newbie

    Jan 25, 2020
    Wondering if anyone has any tips my G5420LH just won't stay in tune. I bought the guitar in February 2016 but has been mainly kept in storage and only been taken out a few times until I started using it again this year.

    I've tried new strings to no avail, The G string is the worst going flat after one minute of playing.

    I did have to reattach the metal part of the bridge that sits on the top of the wood and pins and just left it as is with no adjustment. The cog closest to the E string is around 0.4cm above the wood while the cog closest the high E string is about 0.3cm above the wood. Could this be the source of the problem and it just needs readjusting?

    Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Sorry if the is newbie question, I'm new here.
    thunder58 likes this.
  2. Limuz

    Limuz Gretschie

    Sep 8, 2012
    Your strings might be binding at the nut. Quick DIY way to try and fix it is some graphite power. Scrape it off the tip of a pencil into the nut slot and put that string back in. Might help!
    Stefan likes this.
  3. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Make sure you use “locking winds” on the pegs. There are several methods. Google this.

    Usually a 10 or 11 gauge will work adequately on a Bigsby. 9s are too flimsy, a heavier gauge require the nut slots to be widened.

    Use a dry lube like a soft pencil and run it through the slots.

    The Height difference here is of no concern. The low E has a wider amplitude when struck, so needs more height.

    Is the bridge base stable and not moving with trem use?
    Checked for saddle burrs?

    Welcome to Gretschville!

    If you feel uncomfortable working on your guitars bring it to a tech.
    Stefan likes this.
  4. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Welcome to the forum friend . Is this your first guitar with a Bigsby . The Bigsby ( some will disagree ) are not really made for " dive bombing "
    G5422T, Stefan and Robbie like this.
  5. larryb

    larryb Gretschified

    Oct 29, 2012
    Greenville, SC
    Ricochet likes this.
  6. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    Suggest you take the guitar to a Tech and ensure the string slots in the nut are cut and shaped properly.

    After the string slots are cut properly, lube in the nut slots and proper winding as has been suggested are very important.
    larryb likes this.
  7. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Everything that‘s said above! And:
    New strings must be stretched before they‘ll stay in tune!
    Robbie and G5422T like this.
  8. area3productions

    area3productions Newbie

    Jan 25, 2020
    Thanks guys for all the responses, I'll try them out on the weekend.

    Follow up question what would you recommend for "bridge height" on the G5420? I mean by the two cogs on top of the bridge how much space should be between them and the wood?
  9. larryb

    larryb Gretschified

    Oct 29, 2012
    Greenville, SC
    5420LH? The guitar is backwards; that's the problem:eek::oops::p;)
  10. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    The wheels set the bridge height, which will determine the action= height of strings to the fretboard.

    This is part personal preference. But broadly speaking, not so low the frets start buzzing, not so high playing becomes uncomfortable.
    I’d start with getting it as low as possible, until it just starts buzzing and then adjust the height till notes ring loud, with clarity and buzz free. This is best done in conjunction with a truss rod adjustment.
    new6659 and G5422T like this.
  11. TSims1

    TSims1 Gretschified

    Jun 18, 2013
    Tuners can matter. String wrap can matter. Proper nut dress matters. Bridge saddles can matter. String gauge can matter. Lubricant can matter. Trem unit alignment can matter. And sometimes even when you’ve addressed all of that........certain guitars STILL don’t wanna stay in tune! Welcome to Bigsby’s!! Lol
    Robbie, Gregor and Stefan like this.
  12. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    A good starting point is 2.5mm for the low E and 2mm for the high E at the 12th fret (distance between string and fret crown). Then check out, how low you can go without string buzz.
  13. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Welcome @area3productions Lefty Mate, :)

    First : post pictures of your guitar ! Moreover if that's a Lefty one... ;)

    Your G5420LH doesn't stay in tune for now. I mean that it is a completely curable issue (do not listen to @larryb ! :p;)) if you do - or have done if you're not confident enough - what is needed for.

    A G5420TLH can stay perfectly in tune - trust me !

    I had one - that I should have never sold, but it was for adverse necessity :( :

    I still have my G6119LH and wouldn't part with it :

    And I recently bought a G5420TLH-FBL which is awaiting setup when I'll have time to do it quietly :

    The G5420 Aspen Green, the g6119LH are flawless tuning stability and the G5420 Fairlane Blue will be also.

    Here's what I do (like many members also on G-T) :

    1 - I replace the nut with a TUSQ-XL PQL-6060-L0 (Lefty) that I set to correct height and size by the bottom and don't touch at the slots that are factory premium. I just lightly groove a string fall path at the headstock side of the nut to ease the travel of the strings to the tuners. For this, I use Mitchell abrasive cords.


    2 - I use a roller bridge or a rocking bar bridge instead of the stock tunomatic-like bridge.

    3 - I tin each string braid at the anchoring (bullet) side to avoid any slipping.

    4 - I clamp the strings at the tuning posts (the plain ones, and sometimes the D one) to avoid slipping there. I wind from 2 to 5 turns depending on string size. I never use locking tuners.

    5 - my strings are 10-52 standard sets from Ernie Ball or Dean Markley. My action is 1.75mm hi-E and 2.00mm lo-E at the 12th fret (distance from fret top to understring).

    After 3-4 days of gentle playing, your strings will be stabilized and you should not experience any tuning issue anymore while using your bigsby - even outrageously and all the time like me...

    new6659, larryb and Aymara like this.
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