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G5438T Pro Jet mods

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by Fjrabon, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    So, absolutely loving my gold top 5438T so far. Honestly I'm completely happy with it how it is. So, yeah, of course that means I'm considering doing some mods... because I'm insane.

    But nothing really to majorly change the tone. No desire whatsoever to change the pickups. The mods I'm considering are a
    1) a vibramate to make restringing easier: Vibramate String Spoiler For Bigsby Vibratos, Stainless Steel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055E88FA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Ri0WybRAAACSV

    2) rolling saddles for the bridge: TUNE-O-MATIC ROLLER SADDLE BRIDGE - CHROME https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006X0TDMM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_km0WybK0AEQT7 (some guy said this one fit his corvette perfectly, so I assume that means it's fit the Pro jet?)

    3) a nut that doesn't catch as much

    4) pots (or whatever it takes) so that the cut on the knobs isn't as abrupt.

    None of these are super major issues, and I'd be fine with it how it is, but they address the only slight nits I have with the guitar as is off the shelf. Sometimes it gets a string hung when using the bigsby causing it to get slightly out of tune. It's a little annoying to re-string. And the pots are very abrupt with their cut, going from almost no effect to completely off with maybe a quarter turn (and the rest of the knobs turning radius does nothing). I don't use the bigsby a whole lot and 90% of the time I play with all the controls wide open. But they are things I'll eventually want to fix.

    Any thoughts here? And product recs? Especially interested in what pots people are using or what even fixes that issue. Anybody use or have opinions on the vibramate? It's easily removable and pretty cheap, so no real worries if it sucks. Any recs on rolling bridges or nuts?
     
  2. wabash slim

    wabash slim Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Nut filing and some Nut Sauce (or graphite---pencil lead) will fix that problem. I use a capo and an eraser when restringing mine, so, no issues there. The pot issue is due to the audio taper that's used. Linear taper pots will correct that. I went with a Tru Arc bridge as I'm not a fan of rollers. Hope your issues work out.
     
  3. HotRodDan

    HotRodDan Gretschie

    110
    Dec 22, 2015
    NYC
    I replaced the nut on mine after I noticed the stock one actually sheds depending on how hard I bend strings. Gonna order a Compton for it. I only replaced the master volume with a cts with a treble bleed as I don't use the other controls.
     
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  5. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Be warned, that die-cast roller bridges usually are tone suckers. The only roller bridge I use is the ABM 2400, but that became extremely expensive since I got it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  6. Fredo

    Fredo Synchromatic

    561
    Jan 18, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    Reverend soft touch. http://store.reverendguitars.com/product/soft-touch-spring/ I never had a problem with stock springs, until I tried a soft touch. I had to shorten the one I put in my Pro Jet though. So now one end is flat but the other end ends with the tip of the spring. I tried to bend it but couldn't. In principle, if the string rotates, I'll be out of tune. That hasn't happened yet.

    A nice alternative to the stock bridge is a Tru Arc Serpentune. It's a compensated rocking bar bridge that is specifically made for newer Pro Jets. For me, intonation is nearly perfect. The Serpentune isn't listed here http://www.truarcbridgeworks.com/ but all you need is the email address.
     
  7. wildeman

    wildeman Friend of Fred

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    Let us know about the string spoiler, B5's are sorta a pain at string change time but you get used to it.
     
  8. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    I'm fairly confused on this now. From years of doing pro audio my understanding has always been that audio pots will give the smooth transition, and linear pots are more "all or nothing" when it comes to audio signals and looking over various threads here on the topic, I've seen both positions stated confidently now, with no definitive ability to figure out which is correct.

    I've seen where a few people did complete 100% electronics replacements (other than the blacktops) and this solved the issue and they were using audio taper pots. But it's hard to know exactly which part of that chain really solved it.

    I'm a little leery of doing a complete electronics replacement, but maybe. I've only ever soldered in making XLR cables. So, basically I know how to do it, but am not particularly artful.

    Definitely leaning towards the Serpentune bridge. Any opinions on material for that? Leaning towards stainless for tone and aesthetics.

    Also, FWIW I'll be playing Ernie Ball Power 11 M Steel strings.

    Probably put in a serpentune bridge order this week. Then when the next string change time comes around, just go ahead and install the vibramate, serpentune and bone nut all one go. The electronics issue is less pressing, so I can wait to really wrap my head around what is going on there. It really does sound amazing with all the knobs wide open, and the fulldrive and picking dynamics give me "enough" control to "get by."

    Rest of the chain is: Pro Jet -> Fulltone Fulldrive2 MOSFET -> Burgera V5 -> 1X12 extension cabinet... if that at all matters for any of the considerations here.
     
    blueruins likes this.
  9. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Stainless is probably the most neutral, while brass makes the tone a bit warmer and aluminium a bit colder.

    Maybe check the sound samples of Compton Bridges.
     
    Fjrabon likes this.
  10. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    Cool, thanks. Yeah, heard a few YouTube vids but I'm always skeptical of their ability to convey subtle tonal differences. I definitely don't want to lose any sustain and the serpentune website says stainless has the most sustain. I'm also quite happy with the jet's tone with the EB11 Msteel strings. Really has an open snap with quick, solid bass that I love. Great definition. So I guess that also pushes me toward stainless. And then add in it being consistent with the rest of the hardware and I guess it's an easy choice.
     
  11. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    The construction of a bridge definitely can have a huge impact on sustain, but the metal choice ... I doubt, that there would be huge differences.

    On my Panther I have an ABM 2400 roller bridge, which is CNC-cut from bell brass, perfectly machined, and on my Falcon an aluminium True-Arc bar bridge and both have similar resonance and sustain. The tone though is totally different.
     
  12. wabash slim

    wabash slim Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Linear taper pots are just that---linear. Audio taper pots work on a curve. Consider them similar to the difference between A and C weighting on a sound level meter.
     
  13. Lizardkinged

    Lizardkinged Friend of Fred

    Age:
    30
    Oct 5, 2009
    Michigan
    I wouldn't bother with the string-spoiler.
     
    Aymara likes this.
  14. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    Aren't virtually all medium to high end guitars audio pots in the volume knob? The high end Gretsches are. My understanding has always been that the entire reason audio pots exist is because the relationship between output and resistance in a passive circuit isn't linear but rather a log relationship?
     
  15. wabash slim

    wabash slim Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Which one works the best for you is what you should go with. Theory is one thing; practice is another. I usually leave the controls alone myself and let my pick attack vary the volume. YMMV.
     
    Fjrabon likes this.
  16. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    Yeah, I definitely agree. I do however use the master volume as a way to coax out an additional channel. Like I said, it's not a huge deal, and I'm happy with the guitar as is. But to be clear "as is" right now is basically a non functional volume control for playing. I can set it very carefully between songs, but using it during playing is near impossible right now. It's essentially an on-off switch while playing.

    The good thing is that with the fulldrive, I can use it for most of what I'd otherwise try to use a volume control for. Which is why I can wait as long as need be to fix this. But it'd be nice to have a functioning volume control.
     
  17. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    Any experience with it?

    I have it now. Good news is that it just clips back out of it hurts tone. If it doesn't hurt tone it makes string changes as easy as on a gretsch archtop. I'm more or less committed to at least trying it out next string change. It's an easy return if I don't like it (or just keep it, it's pretty cheap).
     
  18. Lizardkinged

    Lizardkinged Friend of Fred

    Age:
    30
    Oct 5, 2009
    Michigan
    It's unnecessary. I've never had enough trouble stringing a Bigsby to justify the cost. It's easier to simply bend the ball end of the string into a hook around the tip of my thumb, which makes it easier to put the ball end on the peg and keeps it wrapped around the peg-roller. The harder part of a tension-bar bigsby is not scratching the top when going under the tension bar.
     
  19. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    To update the wiring issue, it wasn't a pot. One of the wires was bad. Took it to GC just to have them check since it was still under warranty. They replaced the wire (said it was easier than filing a warranty claim with Gretsch/Fender) and bam, fully functional volume control again. Took like 15 minutes while I jammed on a Tiesco Del Ray Tulip that was cool but they wanted way too much money for ($200, I've seen these for $50).

    Essentially whatever was wrong with the wire meant that the signal would only fully pass through if getting near full power. Weird, never had that exact issue with a wire before. Even though this was an issue with the master volume, it impacted the other volume knobs as well, since any volume cut anywhere in the chain could cause it.

    The tech at GC did say that the internal electronics are the place they cut corners on the electromatics, so he wasn't surprised, though this particular issue was new for him. Weirdly it didn't impact tone at all, just amplitude and no crackling, just full signal or off.
     
  20. Henry

    Henry Friend of Fred

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Glad you got that fixed. Sounds like your GC has some good folk there.
     
    Fjrabon likes this.
  21. Fjrabon

    Fjrabon Gretschie

    301
    Mar 7, 2017
    Atlanta
    yeah, was awesome and way easier than expected. Also I think they're worried with a nearby GC opening up literally today that they better up their game on service or people will drive out to Kennesaw and they'll be out of jobs. I've noticed the service has been substantially better the last few months.

    Also, side note, Tru-Arc Stainless ES-2 Bridge order has been placed. Anybody have a specific part number or preferably link to a nut they've had good results with? Want to do the bridge, nut and vibramate all in one shot. Would prefer not to go full on grpahite for aesthetic reasons. Playing .11s if that matters to your rec.