Roller bridge to replace tune o matic?

iBloke

Former Member
I absolutely love being a Gretsch owner, and I'm pretty much over the moon happy with my new Electromatic.

But the one and only thing that bothers me is the slight tuning instability the B50 Bigsby causes/bridge combination causes.

I've narrowed the main part of the problem to the string not sliding smoothly over the stock tune o matic bridge.

I've tried various lubricants which improved things but still not 100%

Will a less "sticky" bridge drop straight in without having to change the mounting holes? :confused:
 

TV the Wired Turtle

Gretschified
Jul 25, 2009
14,446
Sandy Eggo
if the slots are cut well in the saddle of the tune o matic and nut, you'll have less of a problem. I personally blame the licensed B50. It uses nylon bushings instead of a roller bearing and they dont return back to zero point too well. Even if you are set on a different bridge for gawdz sake please get a compton or tru-arc before using a rollerskate. :)
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,474
Tucson
if the slots are cut well in the saddle of the tune o matic and nut, you'll have less of a problem. I personally blame the licensed B50. It uses nylon bushings instead of a roller bearing and they dont return back to zero point too well. Even if you are set on a different bridge for gawdz sake please get a compton or tru-arc before using a rollerskate. :)

Muchos agreed! I would troubleshoot in this order.

  1. Check for binding at the nut.
  2. In any event, do not use a roller bridge, they reek.
  3. Get a good solid bridge like a Compton or Tru-Arc
  4. Buy a USA made Bigsby and know the joy of needle bearings.
  5. Learn to lock-back your strings and use less than one turn around the machine-head capstan if at all possible.
Last but not least; remove the term roller bridge from your inner lexicon. They reek!
 

TV the Wired Turtle

Gretschified
Jul 25, 2009
14,446
Sandy Eggo
just say no to the rollerskate

0907trweb_108_z%2B2009_goodguys_show_columbus_ohio%2Broller_skate_car.jpg
 

audept

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Dec 1, 2010
29,142
Sydney, Australia
Roller bridge = massive FAIL. I had one, it was the worst tone-sucker of all the Gretsch bridges I ever had (and there were some pretty poor other contenders!)
 

Staggerlee

Country Gent
Jul 19, 2012
1,374
Twin Cities
I got a Schaller roller bridge for the exact same reason. Tuning was just as bad as with the Compton and the TOM. My Bigsby is original, not licensed and still couldn't stay in tune. Its not gone and replaced with a G tailpiece and its the best decision I ever made.
 

BorderRadio

Country Gent
Mar 6, 2014
3,476
Phoenix, AZ
I purchased a Wilkinson roller bridge for my Pro Jet I modified with a B70, and it helped a little with the string break angle, but the tone was changed, and not for the better. If I didn't part ways with the jet entirely I'd probably go the Tru-arc/Compton route.
 

iBloke

Former Member
if the slots are cut well in the saddle of the tune o matic and nut, you'll have less of a problem. I personally blame the licensed B50. It uses nylon bushings instead of a roller bearing and they dont return back to zero point too well. Even if you are set on a different bridge for gawdz sake please get a compton or tru-arc before using a rollerskate.
Yep slots are cut well but I think due to the string angle it still creates a sticking point. (I'm a reasonably competent engineer)

Muchos agreed! I would troubleshoot in this order.

  1. Check for binding at the nut.
  2. In any event, do not use a roller bridge, they reek.
  3. Get a good solid bridge like a Compton or Tru-Arc
  4. Buy a USA made Bigsby and know the joy of needle bearings.
  5. Learn to lock-back your strings and use less than one turn around the machine-head capstan if at all possible.
Last but not least; remove the term roller bridge from your inner lexicon. They reek!
No binding at the nut.
Thanks for the heads up on roller bridges. I love this joint for that kind of experienced info :)
I've seen a few threads here about Crompton bridges. I'll research that further..
My B50 got disassembled an hour ago and all pivot points were lubed with "weasel fat"
62E0E470-E9B0-4825-AC82-74EB2C471526_zpsy7ejke7j.jpg

This has made a significant improvement so far. Gotta love silicone!

just say no to the rollerskate

0907trweb_108_z%2B2009_goodguys_show_columbus_ohio%2Broller_skate_car.jpg
Ok. I will say "No!" :D

Roller bridge = massive FAIL. I had one, it was the worst tone-sucker of all the Gretsch bridges I ever had (and there were some pretty poor other contenders!)
Thank you for your first hand feedback. I truly appreciate advice like this from you blokes. This is a great place to educate a Gretsch newb like me!

I purchased a Wilkinson roller bridge for my Pro Jet I modified with a B70, and it helped a little with the string break angle, but the tone was changed, and not for the better. If I didn't part ways with the jet entirely I'd probably go the Tru-arc/Compton route.
My trusty old Yamaha "Strat" has a wilkinson bridge on it and has proved to be the most stable guitar I've ever owned.
I look forward to the same kind of tuning stability on my Gretsch.
 

Bill

Country Gent
Oct 16, 2012
2,704
Cambs, UK
Don't the Jets have that wacky in-built angle that makes a Compton hard/impossible to intonate?
I have a roller on my Peerless, it's fine. Tone is fine and bright & clear, sustain is fine, in fact better than my Gretsches. StewMac do an all-brass one if you like that material. Way too dark for me. The Wilkinson one I have now has good mass, no rattles or other problems. Has small grub screws that lock it to the bridge posts; that may also help with energy transfer.
 

thunder58

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 23, 2010
26,335
tappan ny
The combo on my 5120 is a Bigsby b6c and a Gretsch Rocking Bar Bridge . Great combonation . Had a roller once to ; the key word here is 'once'
 

Axis39

Country Gent
Jun 2, 2008
1,619
Beaumont, CA
I use 10's on both my Gretsches. Both have Bigsbys, one is an import model.

I have a roller TOM style bridge on the import and it's worked well for seven years or so.... Although, I think it's finally developing a rattle. I don't know if it sucks tone, but if know the Bigsby is smoother with it there. I am also less worried about strings breaking.

I have a Space Control on the other....


As soon as money gets better I'll be chasing down a pair of Comptons...
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,476
Monkey Island
I hated roller saddles ever since finding them on my industrial sized tremelo apparatus in the '80s. To test my unbiasedness I tried the Wilkinson and a Schaller rollerbridge and I still hate them. They're a solution to a problem that shouldn't be there in the first place.
 
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TeeDub

Synchromatic
Jun 21, 2011
626
Colorado
A Compton worked great on my 5120 with its B60 Bigsby. Because of the shallow angle break at the bridge, most of the tuning issues existed at the nut on that guitar.

My Pro Jet with its B50 is a different animal. The sharp angle break at the bridge was the source of most of the tuning issues. I found a Wilkinson roller bridge to be a great solution. I do not perceive any change in tone, intonation is good and it does stay in tune better.
 
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Setzerhotrod

Country Gent
Oct 26, 2011
1,590
Anchorage Alaska
When I was going throug the development stages for my tuning stabilizer on my Pro Jet, I installed a locking nut with fine tuners (fender) and a Wilkensen roller bridge. It still went flat/sharp with Bigsby use. That's how I figured out that the tuning issues had to do with the break angle. I never got around to removing the roller bridge because to me, it didn't really make that much difference.
 


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