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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Cappuccino Tech: Gretsch mandolin (65* d) RE: Tech: Gretsch mandolin 23 Aug 17

Thank you all.    Marcia, I was 'seduced' by the mandolin first because of the name, which still has a reputation here for guitars, but then because the tone was clearly way superior to anything else in the shop. Yes, I'd love a Gibson or a Martin – but on my pension that is just not going to happen! The Gretsch mandolins are apparently made in China, or, I now understand 'were', because I'm told the factory there has closed down.

The problem with the Gretsch tailpiece is, I now find, a 'known problem'.   On a mandolin discussion forum, I find one user saying "The tailpiece on the Gretsch mandolins was designed by Satan to taunt mankind. It is by far the worst tailpiece on the planet."   I am not alone!

On previous cheaper mandolins I have had, the top of the tailpiece clicks off to let you get at the hook. (Didn't Fender electric guitars use to have something similar?)   The Gretsch one doesn't - you have eight tiny, badly-positioned and small hooks set inconveniently right next to the strap holder, under a fixed cover.   You have to hook the string in place, then bend the string through something in excess of ninety degrees, and feed the rest of the string under this cover… you have clearance of perhaps two or three millimetres, and you can't see where it's going, so of course it either ends up passing under another string, or the loop slips off the hook.   

At this point it is helpful to have four hands, although the capo technique has been referred to (and one chap used a magnet to keep the string in place).

Other users say they have almost thrown the thing out of the window, or they simply live with old strings until changing one becomes essential. I think I shall clamp the blasted thing in place on a workbench next time I do this… which may not be for many years.

Many thanks, all the best from rural Norfolk, UK
- Cappuccino

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