My New Gretsch

Discussion in 'New Member Intros' started by John Rowley, Oct 17, 2021.

  1. John Rowley

    John Rowley Newbie

    Oct 17, 2021
    I was recently tempted to take a really lovely 5422 TG electromatic in a part ex and I have grown to love the neck and the sound I get from the guitar. My concern is that If I even look at the Bigsby the tuning goes on vacation! I'd love to gig the guitar but it's simply unusable. When i use the tremelo I can hear clicking and creaking sounds. Is this normal? This past week Ive discovered that there is a whole industry based on trying to keep these guitars in tune. Is it worth the effort or should I just bin the Bigsby and get a hard tailpiece? I really like the guitar but dont want to have to tune up between each song.
    Thanks john

    Attached Files:

  2. Groutsch

    Groutsch Synchromatic

    Jun 9, 2018
    Maryland, US
    Welcome, John. Beautiful guitar! A Bigsby is meant to add a subtle vibrato, not for deep bends or dive-bombing, so that could be part of the problem. Otherwise, tuning problems with a Bigsby are usually caused by grabby nut slots. You could try lubricating the slots with a pencil's graphite. If you still have trouble, you could file them. Good luck!
  3. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Welcome to the forum, John!
  4. Archtops

    Archtops Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2021
    Welcome aboard John!
    Make sure the strings are wound correctly and that they are properly stretched if you haven’t done so.
    This is an obvious so I’m sure you’ve done this already. Good luck!
  5. Jeff67

    Jeff67 Country Gent

    Nov 3, 2019
    Crockett, Texas
  6. juks

    juks Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
  7. BrianW

    BrianW Country Gent

    Oct 21, 2014
    Vancouver Island
    First, welcome to the forum sir!

    I have a 5422, and the neck shape suits my hands as well. It has been modded quite a bit but the most noticeable change to tuning stability was installing a Zero Glide zero fret. That took care of all the usual grab at the nut. I could literally deck the bigsby and it would come right back to pitch. Fwiw, I also put an ABM roller bridge on it (before the zero fret) but that was more for intonation than tuning stability.

    Where is the creaking and clicking coming from? That isn't normal in my experience, and sounds like it could be the source of your tuning issues.

    Good luck chasing it down, a 5422 is a great instrument in the opinion of this non-pro :D

    section2 likes this.
  8. Gregor

    Gregor Country Gent

    Welcome to GT John. You have a nice guitar there. There are a lot of folks on here with great ideas on how to work with a Bigsby. You already see a couple. Also check YouTube. Where you're getting sounds when moving it, I'd take the strings off and see if the Bigsby moves freely on its own. It should not hang up anywhere. Checking the nut has already been mentioned and a search on this site under "Bigsby" will give you plenty of info. Best of luck.
  9. JC higgy

    JC higgy Gretschified

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Welcome to GT John!

    I never considered myself lucky but in the 33 years I've been playing Gretsch guitars I've never had a problem with tuning stability from the Bigsby!

    Good luck getting it sorted ,it's worth it, imo.
  10. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Welcome friend
  11. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Oct 18, 2015
    Welcome here. If you are willing to invest some time, you will get that guitar pretty tuning stable. Don`t worry.
  12. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Welcome! That's a beautiful guutar you've got there.

    With a few simple steps, you'll be able to get your 5422 to stay in tune, even with heavy Bigsby use.

    First, make sure that the nut is properly cut and lubed. Most Bigsby tuning problems start and end there. If the nut slots are too narrow or too deep, the strings will bind there and won't return to pitch properly when you let go of the Bigsby. Nut work is delicate, so I'd recommend taking it to a good guitar tech for this job unless you've got experience and a proper set of nut files. An experienced tech will probably be able to sort it out without much trouble.

    When that's done, you can keep the slots lubricated with some nut sauce or even a bit of pencil graphite.

    Next, do the same thing with the bridge. Take a look to ensure that the slots are free of burrs and that the strings aren't binding there.

    Lastly, use a good locking wrap on your tuners when you string up your guitar.

    Those three steps should cure any tuning problems. I have Bigsbys on all of my Gretsches, and they all stay in tune even with aggressive Bigsbying.

    As for the creaking sound: try tightening the nut on the bolt that keeps the handle on the Bigsby. You can see the nut in this picture on the underside of the handle, partially covered by the spring.


    I had a creaky Bigsby once, and tightening that nut fixed it right up.
    Gregor and BrianW like this.
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