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Gretsch Boxcar round neck question.

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Jan 20, 2022 - 6:48:41 AM
3 posts since 1/20/2022

Hi everyone. I'm new to the site (though I've been lurking) and also new to playing the resonator.
I've been a guitarist (electric) for most of my life but because of progressive hearing-loss, I was advised to basically 'hang up my rock 'n roll shoes' in order to avoid further damage. So, I decided that now is a great time to find an alternative (as opposed to not playing at all) and
since I've always been fascinated by resonators and am a fan of the Delta blues (Son House, anyone?), I picked up a Gretsch Boxcar round neck and fell in love! It's hardly left my hands ever since I purchased it!

My question: can I change string gauge to 0.11 or 0.12? without damaging the guitar? Will I need to make modifications?
Thanks for any suggestions you guys may have and I look forward to being an official member of this site.

Jan 20, 2022 - 8:02:43 AM

223 posts since 1/3/2011

verfrank wrote;

My question: can I change string gauge to 0.11 or 0.12? without damaging the guitar? Will I need to make modifications?


Many of the better manufacturers slot the bridge and nut with gauge files that match the size of the strings they recommend. For example, I use a set of 6 gauged files that match the D'addario EJ42 string set.  Depending on whether you are going to a lower or higher gauge the string will be too big or too small to fit the slot. The associated problems might be the string jumping out of the slot, or developing an irritating buzz. You may experience a loss of volume/tone/sustain also. 

Or not. You may get lucky and experience no problems whatsoever.

Anyway, welcome aboard...

Jan 20, 2022 - 11:58:06 AM

3964 posts since 7/27/2008

Did you buy this guitar used?

Both the round and squareneck versions since hitting the market a bunch of years ago have become ubiquitous in guitar stores that are Fender dealers (Gretsch is still owned by that family but Fender handles the manufacturing in Asia, and the distribution in North America). 

When I've come across this model I have noticed the color coded ball ends of the strings from D'Addario.

I went to the website to check out the specs - they are equipped with EJ-16 Lights. The guages are .012 - .053, so if there is something lighter on the guitar, they are not the factory strings. 

Jan 20, 2022 - 12:55:43 PM

3 posts since 1/20/2022

Thanks for the replies so far... I did buy the guitar used and it appears as if the strings are not the original ones (no color-coded ball ends). They are very light though I don't have the means to check the gauge. Would it be safe to change them out with a set of D'Addario EJ17 (.013-.056) or are the EJ16's as heavy as the neck can handle?
Thanks again.

Jan 20, 2022 - 1:03:09 PM

159 posts since 11/9/2018

It has a truss rod that strengthens the neck. 13's should be fine. I had a round neck boxcar for a while and I ran that gauge with no problem. It really needs 13's to drive the cone.

Jan 20, 2022 - 2:06:58 PM

3964 posts since 7/27/2008

I don't see any reason why you couldn't put 13s on there.

When you buy a new Martin dreadnought like a D-18 or a D-28, they come from the factory with 13s. 

The great Mark O'Connor has returned to guitar after giving it up for decades to concentrate almost exclusively on violin/fiddle. Last April he  released his guitar album "Markology II." The featured guitar is his 1945 Martin Herringbone D-28. We're talking a 77 year old guitar, and Martin built them lighter in those days. Between the age and quality of the wood, combined with the lighter build - that's why those classic Martins sound so good.

 I don't know all the string gauges, but he stated awhile back on his Facebook page that uses "heavy" with a .014 first string. The tip of my left index finger begins to hurt just thinking about it. wink

So a modern Gretsch resonator made from laminate/plywood - 13s are no big deal. 

Edited by - MarkinSonoma on 01/20/2022 14:12:12

Jan 21, 2022 - 6:07:53 AM
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3 posts since 1/20/2022

Thanks very much for all the replies. I just knew that signing on to this forum would pay off! I'll start by re-stringing with .12's (since that's what was on the guitar originally) and will go up to .13 if need be. Since I'm using a fairly heavy brass Rockslide, the latter is a real possibility. Thanks again to all!

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