Is it the fret wire?

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by Handley, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Handley

    Handley Electromatic

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fresno, CA
    Hey everyone.

    The short version is, "Why does my Gretsch fretboard feel so different than the fretboard on my Strat?" For more details read on...

    Gretsch: 6120 RHH. (ebony fret board, medium jumbo frets?), Compton SS bridge

    Strat: Eric Johnson model, stock maple neck, medium jumbo frets

    Even with the same gauge strings, neck relief, and action very similar it feels like I have to muscle around the Gretsch much more than the Strat.

    I'd heard a bunch about Gretsch's having small "vintage" fret wire and thought that was the issue and was about to have a refret done on my Gretsch. I decided to double check and I'm reading on some forums and reviews that the RHH has the same medium jumbo wire as my EJ Strat. If that's true then (other than the obvious reason it's a hollow body Gretsch) can anyone enlighten me on the reason why the two fretboards feel so different?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
  3. GuitarMojo

    GuitarMojo Gretschie

    Oct 19, 2011
    Honesdale, PA
    My guess is finish. My Gretsch has the best factory fretwork I've ever seen.
  4. GuitarMojo

    GuitarMojo Gretschie

    Oct 19, 2011
    Honesdale, PA
    Plus, Ebony is smoother than rosewood or maple...
  5. ReverberatingDream

    ReverberatingDream Gretschie

    May 14, 2011
    Hardtail strat? If so, you aren't having to fight the tremolo tension. Just my guess.
  6. Handley

    Handley Electromatic

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fresno, CA
    Fret board radius is 12" on both (though I think the strat is really a compound radius).

    Both have a Nitro Cellulose Lacquer finish on the neck

    It is a hardtail strat so it could be the Bigsby but it's not just on single note bends that I feel it, it's also just the basic chords etc.

    Anyone know if the slight difference in scale length would do it?

    I'm back to thinking it might be the frets. The Gretsch fret job is very nice. I'm just trying to figure out if it really is the frets before I take it into a shop. I also play a Jumbo acoustic guitar (Taylor 615ce) with 0.13's on it. Both electrics have 0.11's and when it comes to feel the Gretsch seems to be in between the strat and the acoustic.

    On another note. This is my first archtop, so if I'm just a pansy who's wimpy fingers are used to little strat necks someone please just tell me to grow a pair and deal with it.
  7. Country Gent

    Apr 30, 2009

    Seriously, Gretsch necks feel just wonderful, once you get used to them. I'd sure try a lot of other things, before I had someone rip the frets out. For instance, lower the bridge (a bit), and/or try lighter gauge strings.

    Me, I like 11s on my Gretsches. So, obviously, I'm BETTER than you...

  8. Handley

    Handley Electromatic

    Jun 22, 2011
    Fresno, CA
    nice. I'm sure I still have a ways to go. But you've got a few years on me so I've got some time.;)
  9. workknot

    workknot Country Gent

    Feb 15, 2009
    Brainerd, Minnesota
    It could also be the strings are to high off the neck at the nut. I have mine set so when the strings are depressed at the 3rd fret, there is only about enough room at the first fret between the bottom of the string and top of the first fret for a piece of typing paper to slide under. This can really effect the pressure it takes to fret your strings.
    Of course the bridge height also comes into play.
  10. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    Neck profile can change the geometry of the hand and make a big difference in the perceived pressure to depress strings.
  11. Lz_69

    Lz_69 Gretschie

    Aug 6, 2009
    BC, Canada
    One that gets kind of overlooked by most people with difficult to play guitars is the nut action and it's can make a guitar harder to play if string slots are not cut deep enough in nut(or cause buzzing if cut too deep).

    Basically the nut action is the few thousands of an inch gap above the first fret that prevents the string from touching the fret when vibrating.

    Here's a little more info on it and there's also a little tutorial on how to check for yourself. If you do find it too high I would just take it into shop and get them tune the nut up a bit.
  12. damacleod

    damacleod Gretschie

    Jan 19, 2012
    Wirral, UK
    My guess would be that the different feel is primarily caused by the scale difference and the profile of the neck. Also don't forget, the radically different body shapes will put the neck in a totally different place in relation to your left hand and forearm, which is bound to make it feel somewhat different.
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