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FDP Forum / The Gretsch Forum / Fianlly changed the strings on my 6120


Philadelphia, PA

Sep 20th, 2009 10:38 AM   Edit   Profile  

Well, I finally went ahead and changed the strings on my Eddie Cochran. They were way old but still sounded ok. But I decided they needed to go. Talk about a PIA. Really makes you appreciate your stratocaster! The strings kept slipping out of the posts on the bixsby. Here are a couple of tips I picked up: 1) you have to put the guitar on a table to change the strings. I'm used to cradling it next to my body but that definitely won't do. 2) cut the strings as short as you can get away with. 3) As your tightening the strings, pinch it up around the nut with your other hand. This keeps tension at the pin on the bridge while allowing you to tighten the tuner and helps keep the string from falling off the pin.

While I'm on the topic of strings, I'm trying out the Gretsch electromatic flatwounds (.012 through .052). They have a nice mellow sound and come with two G strings - one wound and one steel. Of course, I used the flatwound one. I like em. How often do you guys change your flatwounds? From my experience (don't have a lot of experience with flatwound strings), they seem to last much longer than regular strings. Do you have any other pointers for changing the strings on a Gretsch? I couldn't imagine doing this in a pinch if a string were to break during a gig. Way too much of a hassle. Well, hopefully I won't be needing to do this again for about another year anyway!

Doc Leon
Contributing Member

N.W. Ohio

Sep 20th, 2009 01:26 PM   Edit   Profile  

When I change the strings on my 6120, I pre-bend the string at the ball end to fit on the post, then slide a wedge of styrofoam under it to hold the string on the post till it's got enough tension to keep itself there. I also use Elixer Nanowebs (11-49) on mine. They last a good long time and sound good. Hope this helps next time.

Contributing Member

Chicago IL.

Sep 20th, 2009 02:06 PM   Edit   Profile  

"When I change the strings on my 6120, I pre-bend the string at the ball end to fit on the post, then slide a wedge of styrofoam under it to hold the string on the post till it's got enough tension to keep itself there. I also use Elixer Nanowebs (11-49) on mine. They last a good long time and sound good. Hope this helps next time."

Yup, this is what you have to do on Bigsby equipped guitars. Use a pair of needlenose plyers to bend the string at the ball end at a 90 degree angle. Then use the styrofoam to hold it in place as you tighten the string. If you take these steps, it'sjust as quick and easy to change strings as on any other guitar. By the way, this is also recommended on the Bigsby website.


Philadelphia, PA

Sep 20th, 2009 04:48 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the suggestions fellows. I'll definitely try that method the next time. Seems easy enough! One other thing I forgot to mention: definitely change your strings one-at-a time starting with the low E. This way,your bridge gets minimum movement. This can be important if you've found a sweet spot so far as your bridge's intonation goes.

Contributing Member

Chicago IL.

Sep 20th, 2009 05:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

"definitely change your strings one-at-a time starting with the low E."

That's true of any arch top guitar and it's how I always do it. However, I recently had my White Falcon set up by a Jazz guy who knows archtops. He makes tiny markings around the bridge on each side using an exacto knife. This may sound extreme, but it's only a tiny "L" on each side of the bridge that is unseen unless the bridge moves. This way, if the bridge ever moves, you know exactly where the correct bridge placement is. So my bridge positioning is set forever.

Contributing Member

Snohomish WA USA

Look at Them Beans!
Sep 21st, 2009 10:22 AM   Edit   Profile  

The more you change them the better you get at it. It really isn't that difficult following the ideas above, but repetition is quite helpful.

On my 6120 I use 13s and add a 28 unwound for the G. I really like that sound and it pulls bette than a wound. When using the 6120 regularly I change them at least every week.

My opinion is that the 6120 is so well worth that extra effort of string change as it always is an inspiring moment to open the case and have the 6120 waiting for you.



Sep 25th, 2009 02:30 PM   Edit   Profile  

another suggestion............instead of trying to wedge styrofoam or something else to hold the string end on the pin, just use a capo to hold the string in place as you tighten.



Finaly I own a Gretsch!
Sep 25th, 2009 03:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

I change strings often. On the Setzers there are the locking tuners. That helps a lot. The pinned bridge is also handy. I bend the strings at the ball-end over my finger and get it straight through the tuner. I change the string by removing them all first. I clean the guitar and then restring the axe. My favo strings are Dean Markley Vintage nickel with the wound G. It makes the guitar sound better than ever. But the strings are not avalable all the time. At that moment I change to Elixirs but remove them as soon as I can get the Dean Markleys again.

Contributing Member

Brookfield, IL

Sep 28th, 2009 08:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

Either use foam or capo the string to a high point on the neck. Either or works decently.

Have someone who is good pin down that bridge if you are set on the string gauge/type for your guitars.

I like the Tomastik Blues Sliders 10 gauge strings - they are a little bit thicker than regular tens, but sound awesome.

Contributing Member

That chicken

is WRONG, baby.
Sep 29th, 2009 06:40 PM   Edit   Profile  

You wanna make it easy? Here's how:

Use a screwdriver with a smooth round shaft about 1/4" in diameter. A pen or pencil will work too. Any rod shape about 1/4" diameter.

Pinch the ball end of a string against the side of the rod with thumb and forefinger. Make sure the side of the ball (the hole in the ball--not the groove with the string) is against the rod. With the other hand, bend the wrapped portion around the rod, bringing the string around behind the ball. Done.

This puts a nice 180-degree J-bend in the wrap.

Slide the ball end under the Bigsby's anchor bar and slip the ball end over its pin (use the string for the "handle" to manipulate the ball, no fuss at all).

Holding mild tension on the string, bring the string over the bridge and to the tuner.


(This message was last edited by Peegoo at 06:43 PM, Sep 29th, 2009)


Philadelphia, PA

Sep 30th, 2009 06:12 PM   Edit   Profile  

thanks again so much for the great suggestions. I love the capo idea. Never even thought of that.

Wisdom Tusk


Help Stamp Out Quicksand!
Oct 7th, 2009 07:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

There is another solution to lessen the pain of changing strings on a Bigsby.
I just put one on my 6120.


Sorry if the address does not work.

Look at Rockinger.com
Left column click on "tremolos& acc.s"
click on "Bigsby"
6th item down.

(This message was last edited by Wisdom Tusk at 07:51 PM, Oct 7th, 2009)


Hawaii, USA

Perfect is the enemy of good enough
Nov 8th, 2012 02:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

One of the first things I was told about changing strings on a bigsby Gretsch was "find some foam", to tuck into the slot between the sring roller and the body to hold the ball end in place while you futz with everything else involved with stringing...


Hawaii, USA

Perfect is the enemy of good enough
Dec 5th, 2012 02:33 PM   Edit   Profile  

As an update, I just changed the strings on my Pro Jet last Saturday. I was dreading it, but I wanted to get the lousily strung Chinese D'Addario knock offs off the guitar.

I had never strung a Bigsby equipped git before. I found it very easy. I didm't use all the tricks, just the bend in the ball end of the string and a proper lube of the nut and saddles and my regular lock wrap on the tuning post.

I hear its a mark of honor among die hard Gretsch'ers to not use any "crutches", foam, capos, etc. to hold them on. I just did what I know and it came out fine.

Contributing Member

I am not a complete

idiot - I have several pieces missing!
Dec 8th, 2012 11:33 AM   Edit   Profile  

Styrofoam is too weak and can slip or crumble. Cut a wine cork diagonally resulting in two cork wedges. You only need one, but keep the spare in the case stash box. The cork stays in place beautifully under the Bigsby and holds the string in place. No bending, and the string changing tool is always with the guitar.

Contributing Member


Dec 8th, 2012 05:53 PM   Edit   Profile  

+1 The cork trick is all you need to know.



Jan 19th, 2013 11:34 PM   Edit   Profile  

I pre bend mine on a pencil. I wedge a rubber eraser under the post on the bigsby to keep the string in place while I wind it on to the tuner. An eraser is sturdier than lots of other things and it won't hurt the finish on the guitar. Cork sounds pretty good too, but I have not tried that.

+1 on replacing string at a time.

FDP Forum / The Gretsch Forum / Fianlly changed the strings on my 6120

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