Plays Tight (DGT)

BlueSkies

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Jan 4, 2021
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Ok, I don't post much if at all, but have a question for the PRS aficionados. I have a stunning Private Stock DGT (just a thing go beauty), but it plays so tight...if that makes sense. I typically keep the DGT at standard pitch with 9-42s, but it plays like it has 12 or 13s on it. I've had the guitar for about a year and am trying hard to love my DGT. However, when I compare the playability (correct word?) to my Gibson Historics and Customs, it is just so much tighter.

Please don't misunderstand me, this is not a PRS versus Gibson post, but for me the most accurate comparison (similar scale length, radius, etc.). Build wise, there is NO comparison. The fit, finish and detail of the PRS is unparalleled...truly stunning. But, why does my PRS play so much tighter than my Lesters? It's almost as if I'm fighting against the guitar, whereas playing the Lesters, there is a sense of ease in playing, bending, vibrato, transitions, etc.

Has anyone else experienced this? Does it make sense? I may tweak the trem springs to see if I can lower the feeling of tightness, although I shouldn't have to. String gauge is already pretty low and honestly I should be able to easily have 10s on there due to scale length. Have tried 10s and the tightness just increases.

Thanks all, just wanted to share and see if the PRS crowd had any input. Will keep plowing away on the PRS...maybe is just need to be broken in more ;)
 

Going Modal

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BlueSkies

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Going Modal - You nailed it. "Stiff or hard" is dead on. I used "tight," but your discretion is more accurate. I feel like the DGT is pretty dialed in, but will go through the guitar and re-do the setup. Appreciate the input. I thought I was losing my objectivity on the DGT since I've been playing Gibson's for so long. But, I feel like I can remain object with regard to playability and I know the feedback I am getting from the DGT is real.
 

21Hemispheres12

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By tight I’m assuming you mean it’s difficult to do bends? I’m really surprised as the DGT has some pretty big fret wire and I’d think it would be really slinky with 9s. I’m wonder if your neck might be too straight which would cause it to be difficult to get under the strings to bend. You could also try going down to three springs in the trem.
 

ruger9

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Jan 30, 2014
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I just got one a little while ago, and mine played perfectly out of the box. It's a TAD stiffer than my others, but my others are Fenders 25.5" scale with 10s or 10-52 on them. The DGT has 11s. Interestingly, I saw Grissom say recently he has switched to 10.5's...
 

Proteus

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Going Modal has it exactly right about the relationship between neck relief and string height as they affect the perceived stiffness of the feel. Very small differences in relief can make all the difference.

I note from PRS's site that the DGT ships with 11-49 gauge strings. I'll assume you've already taken this into account, but for the sake of a thorough examination of the geometry and physics involved, I hope you've adjusted tremolo tension when you've gone to lighter strings - especially all the way to 9s. If the springs are still pulling the bridge as they must to counteract the tension of 11s, they'll be pulling the 9s WAAAY too much. That would create excessive tension for sure. I like my PRSeses with the body of the tremolo sitting parallel to the top - that's my target when adjusting the springs after changing gauge.

I also have this observation: virtually all my many SEs are more sensitive to climactic variation than my S2 and Core guitars. They're frequently out of tune when I unbag them (it being the wet season in Indiana, usually sharp), and they need a slight touch to the truss rod more often than most of my other guitars. I don't hold this against them - the adjustments are slight and easy, and the guitars are worth the maintenance. (Also, I kinda assume the truss rod cover has only one screw rather than the typical three because we're intended to get easy access when we need it.)

But here's where I'm going with that. My Core is simply built heavier. Thicker body, feels meatier and more massive. Not necessarily heavier, just something about concentrated mass. And it seems never to go out of tune. Putting all that circumstantial evidence together in a way I hope might fool a jury, I surmise that the SEs are less stable because they're built lighter, and are more prone to flex. That flexing may contribute to a softer feel, as well as to the need for more frequent tweaking. On the Core, with their rigid, more unitary build, vice versa.

Finally, the DGT does have a longer scale length than your Gibsons. It may be only 1/4" - but if smallish differences didn't matter, no one would build guitars at different scale lengths. Surely you've already taken that into consideration.

My intuitive sense of things, based on way too many years with way too many guitars, is that, with any given string gauge, the 25" scale with a tremolo whose springs are properly adjusted for gauge will feel similarly stiff (or limber) to a 24.5-.75" scale with a stoptail. Nother words, the slight give of the tremolo compensates for the longer scale length.

I think you should be able to get the guitar to feel the way you prefer.

Extra-double super-finally, there are always lower-tension string sets.
 
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Gtrbldr

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May 21, 2021
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Well, I think the difference might be fixed bridge Vs tremolo.

Spring tension does not matter, if the bridge floats properly, spring tension is right. If it is too high, the bridge sits against the body. With more springs (but proper tension) it will play more like a fixed bridge. That means fretting less easy than with a floating bridge, however bending will be easier.

When do you experience this stiffness? With fretting the note or bending?
 

Russ73

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OP sometimes when the neck is perfectly straight is can cause stiffness...otherwise just go down to 8.5s...I had to do that with one of my Miras....the slinky 8.5s feel great btw...
 

BlueSkies

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All - Thanks for the detailed responses. I'll take some time and re-do the setup from scratch, factoring in all your comments. Been tinkering with guitars for 30+ years, so not afraid to get in there and am well aquatinted with with doing detailed setups.

Gtrbldr - You asked when do I experience the stiffness...fretting or bending. Yes and yes. Essentially, all around. It just plays stiff and tight (if that makes sense). Far stiffer than any of my Les Pauls. But, as many stated, it likely just needs another more detailed and nuanced setup.
 

ruger9

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Jan 30, 2014
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OP sometimes when the neck is perfectly straight is can cause stiffness...otherwise just go down to 8.5s...I had to do that with one of my Miras....the slinky 8.5s feel great btw...
Yes. I'm not sure if my neck was perfectly straight out of the box, but I could tell it did not have the relief I am used to. So I loosened the truss rod 1/4 turn the first day. Other than that, it played perfectly out of the box.
 

fstrat76

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Apr 3, 2018
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I had the exact same issue with my 2019 DGT. I use NYXL 10-46's. I did a usual string change and setup/check and then when playing it, it was unusually stiff. Not sure if it was caused by the weather/humidity affecting the truss action, but it was still difficult to fret and bend - stiff.

Next string change, I decided to try NYXL 9-42, and remove a spring from the trem, and do another full setup. I thought the 9s and trem was too flabby/slinky for my tastes.

So next change, I added the spring back, went back to 10s, and did a full setup, and now it sure seems back to normal and plays great. I think part of it was the truss action and re-adjusting the balance of the trem unit per spec.

Definitely give it a full setup. Would be curious if your issue gets resolved.
 

ViggoP

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Apr 13, 2020
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You can make a Les Paul feel super slinky by setting it up with a low string break angle over the bridge, either by setting the tailpiece high or by ”top wrapping” the strings around the tailpiece. Since it is a hardtail design, string bending is slightly easier on a Les Paul. On a tremolo equipped guitar the bridge will dive slightly when bending, forcing you to bend the string a tiny bit farther to reach the same pitch. This can sometimes make tremolo bridged guitars feel stiffer than hardtails.
You could try blocking the bridge on your DGT to see if that helps. Also check the relationship between the bridge and the tailpiece of your Les Pauls.
 

Glide-bpm

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You can make a Les Paul feel super slinky by setting it up with a low string break angle over the bridge, either by setting the tailpiece high or by ”top wrapping” the strings around the tailpiece. Since it is a hardtail design, string bending is slightly easier on a Les Paul. On a tremolo equipped guitar the bridge will dive slightly when bending, forcing you to bend the string a tiny bit farther to reach the same pitch. This can sometimes make tremolo bridged guitars feel stiffer than hardtails.
You could try blocking the bridge on your DGT to see if that helps. Also check the relationship between the bridge and the tailpiece of your Les Pauls.
Bridge dive is one of many reasons every tremolo guitar I'm going to keep is retrofitted with an Arming Adjuster/Trem-Endus trem stabilizer immediately! After installing about 40-50 over the years I can have one done in about 30 minutes including tuning the Tremolo springs tighter to stop bending dive, and the backspring on the stabilizer set where I can Drop D with no tuning problems, and to also tolerate one of the high 3 strings popping. When I'm done, tuning stability is rock solid with just a hair more tremolo tension in both directions. I can still give it an up down shimmery vibrato.

If I want a blocked trem drive only, I just about fully compress the backspring completely on the stabilizer, and voila...
 
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