Roller saddles and fugitive strings

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by RussMi, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. RussMi

    RussMi Electromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Seattle, WA
    Hi All,

    I am a brand new 6120 owner and new to the forum.
    I promise I searched for my issue before I posted.

    I have a 92 6120 with a Bigsby (no tension bar). The high E and B strings pop free from the saddles with anything but the most delicate plucks. Even doing pull-offs at the nut can pot the high E string free. No Suzie Q. No 20 Flight Rock. Maybe I could get away with the Bach Partita in D minor or some of the calmer stuff of Robert Fripp's... but I have other guitars for that stuff! I don't even think I could get away with Green Dolphin Street.

    I purchased a Golden Age Roller Bridge (thinking the roller saddles' grooves looked deeper) but it was even worse.

    I'm playing D'Darrio Light Top Heavy Bottoms (10 - 52) strings. I've cranked the string height up as much as I think is reasonable to try to squeak out any down-force that I can get. It doesn't make any difference.

    I've got an '82 Guild Starfire IV with the same strings, a roller bridge (with shallower grooves), and a Bigsby that has a tension bar and this never happens.

    I was so hoping to debut the Gretsch at a gig tonight but there's no way. It's unplayable in it's present state?

    Am I missing something in the setup process? What is the best solution?



    T Bone likes this.
  2. MotorCentaur

    MotorCentaur Gretschie

    May 11, 2016
    Gretsch usually recommends .011" - .049" string sets for the longer scale guitars. You could try that to start.
    The only other thing I can think of atm is that the neck/body geometry may be fairly flat, reducing tension/break angle across the bridge. There would be little to be done there short of a neck reset.
    Maybe try getting some jewelers files and deepening cleaning the grooves for the problem strings.
    I have an ABR 2400 roller bridge, I haven't had any problems with that on my Falcon.
    I'm sure others will be along with some other ideas too.
    Good luck sorting it out.:)
  3. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Can we get a side view? Bridge seems low from here. Worst case scenario you’re looking at a neck reset, for a ‘92 you say?
    Drifter and hcsterg like this.
  4. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    You want a bridge where the strings line-up with the pole pieces on the pickup.

    How well do the strings line-up?
    dmunson and MotorCentaur like this.
  5. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Side shot would help and I don’t care for roller bridges but I do like bar bridges with grooves for my chosen sized strings.
  6. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    The string alignment over the pole pieces in not very good judging from the photo. I think that the previous owner put a bad bridge on the guitar.
    I would take pole to pole measurments and go shopping for a bridge that matches those dimensions.
    Jeff67 likes this.
  7. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Looks more like a couple of strings are not in between the rollers where they belong.
    section2, Jeff67 and MotorCentaur like this.
  8. Sean McILwaine

    Sean McILwaine Synchromatic

    Dec 26, 2012
    London UK
    This might be a dumb question.... Is that the Golden Age Roller Bridge in the photo and is it on the right way? I've not seen or used one of those bridges but the photos in Stewmac's review pages submitted by users show the adjustment screws facing towards the neck / pickups not towards the Bigsby.
    thunder58 likes this.
  9. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Clever thinking. Looks like an old ABM bridge. Not sure the rollers account for string gauge.
    Bertotti likes this.
  10. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    .... good point !
  11. benjwri

    benjwri Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2011
    Central ON Can
    The Bigsby is not allowing for enough break angle.
    Drifter likes this.
  12. T Bone

    T Bone Country Gent

    Welcome! Hope you get this sorted, would be a shame to have a bad experience with your first 6120.

    Just off hand, how is the neck adjusted? How is the relief?
    hcsterg likes this.
  13. Highroller

    Highroller Synchromatic

    Jun 11, 2015
    Portland, OR
    Hard to tell from the photo, the angle distorts things, but how's your intonation on that? Bridge looks maybe a little close to the pup. Sliding it back a bit would increase that break angle, but obviously affect the intonation too. There's only one spot that's right, just want to make sure you're hitting it.

    Of course, you could swap it out for a Space Control and those babies will never pop out! LoL!

    ... and Welcome to the forum, btw!
  14. Jeff67

    Jeff67 Country Gent

    Nov 3, 2019
    Crockett, Texas
    Yeah, those look like they're off by a little over half the width of the pole pieces. The D and G look like they go over the pole pieces, but the high E and A, and the B and low E are definitely off the rollers. I think that bridge is on backwards, too. Loosen the strings, flop her around, and then see what we've got.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  15. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Country Gent

    Oct 17, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    The bridge in the picture is the fairly poorly designed preFMIC Gretsch roller bridge. I had one on my 97 Red Sparkle Jet and I found that it dampened the volume (and probably badly affected the tone) so I swapped it out right away.

    I did not notice any break angle problems with it but I swapped it out really quickly so I did not play on it much.

    Almost everything Gretsch is really quite brilliant but this bridge is not. Swap it out. I used a generic Gotoh adjustomatic at first and then used a Compton. Whatever, almost anything (except a cheap OEM adjustomatic) is going to be better than that bridge.

    In terms of the break angle, I would first try a bridge from one of your other guitars. The stud spacing is standard on the bridge base so it will fit just about anything, your Guild bridge or a Les Paul ABM or whatever. If your strings still pop out, you may need to raise the action.

    I don't play that hard (but it doesn't sound like you do either) but I never had a break angle problem with my preFMIC Red Sparkle Jet.
    RussMi likes this.
  16. Jeff67

    Jeff67 Country Gent

    Nov 3, 2019
    Crockett, Texas
    I had no idea what that bridge was- never seen on squared- off on the ends like that. One of my favorite things about GT is I learn something new almost every day!;)
    RussMi likes this.
  17. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    Honestly, take that bridge off, and throw it as far as you can.

    My '97 6120 had this bridge on it. A pre FMIC POS IMO.

    Went to a bar bridge, and never looked back.
    RussMi likes this.
  18. RussMi

    RussMi Electromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Seattle, WA
    Yes. it's a '92. The bridge seems to be stock. I can't imagine how anyone played it like this for so long, though.
    section2 and Ricochet like this.
  19. RussMi

    RussMi Electromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Seattle, WA
    This is largely what I'm expecting to hear from folks.
    If I go for a bar bridge, the Tru-Arc SerpenTune seems to be a popular choice right now. I suppose I'd go after that one.

    Also, are the bar bridges immune from the light down-force produced my this Bigsby that doesn't have a tensioner bar like the B7 that I have on my Guild Starfire IV?
    While I appreciate the merits of bar bridges, I love the tone that this 6120 produces as-is and I want to make sure I'll be resolving the string jumping issue.
  20. RussMi

    RussMi Electromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Seattle, WA
    They line up fine. Thanks.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.