5420 tuning issue

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by cqscqs, Oct 24, 2020.

  1. cqscqs

    cqscqs Gretschie

    269
    Dec 8, 2013
    midwest
    I know this is an issue that has been discussed, but I was looking for any suggestions, thanks in advance. 2017 5420. I like this guitar so much I put TV Jones in (classic and classic plus), plus a soft spring.

    When I got it (used) there was an intonation problem. It had a non-original cheap bridge on it, and my luthier suspected problems with the nut. So he installed an Earvana nut. I took the bar bridge from my 6122-59 (I have a Tru Arc on that guitar and love it), and put it on the 5420. Great if not perfect intonation now.

    But, if I bend a string, particularly the (non-wound) G, it goes flat. If I push the whammy, even down 1/2 step, most strings come back sharp.

    I know, most common is caught at the nut, but my luthier, whom I trust, doesn't feel that is the case. He suggested String Butler, etc.., but I don't want to do that. I'd sell this guitar, and might (with full disclosure on the issues of course) but I really like the neck and fret size. Suggestions welcome. PS I tried the over/under string tie trick as well. These are the original tuners....
    62523891329__00C41F31-0892-4E3B-9153-54510B910454.jpeg 62523889014__5B90CD9B-80BA-40C3-A8CD-D0DADBE5DFC7.jpeg 62523885732__25AE2D66-CBE1-46DB-B1EF-447ABEF55062.jpeg
     
  2. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    My money is on that nut

    2C94C820-7156-43B9-9FC7-DD6D70C78478.jpeg

    Here is what I did to solve that problem on my 5420, it is perfect now.....Zero fret

    CBCEA9A8-B2A9-49B4-B63E-3AEEBA87407C.jpeg
     
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  3. Tadhg

    Tadhg Gretschie

    279
    Aug 8, 2019
    Qld - Australia
    The String Butler just makes the strings stay straight beyond the nut. So it may well work on that nut, because your tech hasn't cut any angle into the nut. There's a clear friction point at the back of the nut. Adding a String Butler - or the NutBuster (some on here have one - I think it's a better solution) - would likely solve the issue if for no other reason than the fact you'd have straight string pull through the straight-cut nut.

    The nut, if cut correctly, should have angle somewhat towards the tuning peg. Not necessarily all the way to the tuning head, but part of it, to spread the friction from a singular point on the nut to two points.
    If Radd showed a top view of his nut behind his zero fret, I'd expect you'd find that it guides the strings towards the tuning head as I've described.
     
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  4. cqscqs

    cqscqs Gretschie

    269
    Dec 8, 2013
    midwest
    Thanks Radd and Tadhg. Zero fret- is that tough to install? I see the string butler is about 1/3 the cost of the nutbuster... if I go in and file the back of those string slots to create less of an angle do I risk ruining that nut?
     
  5. FiveAces

    FiveAces Gretschie

    113
    Mar 1, 2009
    San Jose, CA
    In all probability the Zero Fret fixed the problem because it is a "nut+fret" assembly, so it was the better cut nut and not the zero fret itself that improved the tuning. So I'd say file a little angle on your existing nut to help direct the string more towards the associated tuner and you problem will go away. Worse case senario you screw it up and change the nut anyway! Weather you just get a new nut or a Zero Fret is optional.

    (Just a disclaimer: I think the Zero fret option is a great addition but I'm just pointing out the specific probably for the improvement.)
     
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  6. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    I don’t really agree. The nut behind the zero fret is not necessarily cut better, it serves a slightly different purpose than a regular nut. It just guides the string to the tuner, the string really has far less tension contact with the nut on the bottom. The slots therefore only touch the sides of the string for the most part and the tolerances can be greater than a regular nut without developing that dreaded sitar ping from nut slots that are to wide.

    I agree with the need to angle the nut slots toward the tuners, especially on a traditional nut.
     
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  7. Mellowcat

    Mellowcat Electromatic

    76
    Aug 22, 2013
    VA
    I bend strings behind the nut to check for tuning issues there. If a string remains sharp after bending behind the nut, then it is probably hanging up in the slot. If you don't have any issues with the nut, then there's a problem at the other end. Don't sell it if you love it. You can get it sorted out. Here's a video about working on a wonky nut. It gets especially good around 1:35.
     
  8. Gregor

    Gregor Synchromatic

    645
    Oct 17, 2018
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I would agree that your problem is the nut. The G string appears to be buried in the slot with no flare/funneling on the tuner side. My recommendation would be to take it back to your luthier and explain the situation. If this option isn't available, I would try to reshape the slot ( StewMac has several videos on this including the one posted above. Barring that, as Radd says install a ZeroFret( with the optional stainless fret...you can get them from StewMac). That's what I finally did and it works a treat. It's easy to do. Google is your friend here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
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  9. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
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  10. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    Yep, looks nutty to me too.

    Strings shouldn't be buried in the nut, and proper clearance needs to be added for no binding.

    Hand made bone nut on my Phoenix. Zero tuning issues with .009's and either Soft Spring or factory 7/8" spring.

    20200713_170728.jpg 20200713_165826.jpg 20200709_155817.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  11. mrfixitmi

    mrfixitmi Country Gent

    Mar 20, 2010
    Michigan
    I would add a little relief on the nut between the tuners and the nut.
    The 5420 and 5120 series do not go out of tune after using the Bigsby, unless the strings are new, or there are concerns with the nut.

    The video that was posted is excellent and explains the mechanics of the relief.

    Radd's picture shows the ramp down, and this is what you would like to see.
    G5422T's picture also is a good illustration of back relief.

    If it were me, I would address the nut first, from my experience, the Bigsby requires a little more relief than what would be used on a Floyd Rose tremlo.
    You may also find that adding nut lube to not only the nut, but to the bridge will help.

    These are not impossible issues to fix, and I would not consider getting rid of the guitar for this concern.
     
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  12. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    @mrfixitmi is right on. I would say that almost every first time, Gretsch with a Bigsby, owner has tuning stability issues in the beginning.

    The common helpful hints are:

    well dressed nut

    Locking string wrap with bare minimum of wasps

    Lube the nut if necessary

    Generally avoid dive bombing, however a well set up Bigsby guitar can be dive bombed

    Some of us go to other extremes, not always necessary. My 5420 can be dive bombed. What I did:

    Locking tuners
    Zero Glide nut
    ABM 2400 roller bridge

    Many Gretsch owners achieve success with less extreme measures.

    The game is called..Friction Reduction..
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2020
  13. FiveAces

    FiveAces Gretschie

    113
    Mar 1, 2009
    San Jose, CA

    I stand corrected... the zero fret would basically "Lighten" the load on the nut as you mentioned, therefore improving it. I still would just get the nut slots cleaned up and slightly angled. It's something simple to learn to do and there are far too many guitars that work just fine without a zero fret. (I still like the zero fret as a good option).
     
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  14. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    That’s a good approach
     
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  15. Fasteddie42

    Fasteddie42 Gretschie

    112
    Sep 18, 2018
    tip of the mitt
    no one else seems to need a earvana nut for their g5420t's.
     
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  16. Cdb1961

    Cdb1961 Electromatic

    61
    May 5, 2018
    Orange Park, Fl
    I am very happy with my Zero fret... I like the sound and really enjoy the tuning stability
     
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  17. HypotenusLuvTriangle

    HypotenusLuvTriangle Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2010
    Whittier, Ca
    Another upvote for the Zer0 Fret from me. Its super easy to install. HOWEVER, I will disagree with @radd about the ZS-23. While the -23 has the correct 12" radius, the string spread is a little too large. The ZS-3, while at 16" radius, has string spacing that is an exact dead on match for the Electromatics. I haven't checked the prolines. Now, don't worry about the 16" radius, because the strings will flatten the fret down to 12" and the nut itself is only there to guide the strings to the machine heads. Even their website claims that 5" + or - radius won't matter.
     
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  18. cqscqs

    cqscqs Gretschie

    269
    Dec 8, 2013
    midwest
    Thanks everybody. I do like the guitar, and the playability. I am on the bubble as to try to fix this, putting more money in, or sell (with full disclosure) and move into a 6120, something I've always wanted. Great comments/suggestions/knowledge on this board, I am so appreciative.
     
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  19. Tadhg

    Tadhg Gretschie

    279
    Aug 8, 2019
    Qld - Australia
    If you can widen the angle at the back of the nut yourself (grab an old string the next size up from the one you're needing to adjust, or grab the same size and wrap it in sandpaper, then just run it through there at an angle), it's zero cost. If you can point out to your tech the feedback you've had from here (including photos of better cut nuts, like G5422T's photo), then he may be able to do it for very little cost.
    I don't see that correcting your current nut should be a high cost fix. Which is why it's the option I'd be chasing first, well before looking at a zero fret (that's a clear upgrade and a higher cost).
    That said, I think it's against forum rules - or at least the spirit of the forum - to say anything remotely negative about buying another guitar. :)
     
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  20. fsdphcorrigan

    fsdphcorrigan Electromatic

    76
    Aug 30, 2019
    Lake Oswego, Oregon
    I agree with others that the nut is not properly cut.
    One easy and inexpensive first step: Use a sharp pencil to lube the nut slots. If that doesn't solve the problem then consider modifying or replacing the nut.
     
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