Modern Gretsch Guitars

Scattered review thoughts on 6112 and 6118-LIV

1

So it rains all day today, you thus suffer with my inspiration to post.

Moved out some unused equipment in the late winter and actually did not have a few too many guitars - so had to fix that.

Bought a mint used 6112 Center block junior and recently a mint used 6118 Players in Lotus Ivory.

In no sensible order, thoughts on each from nearly useful, to irresponsible aesthetic and quirkiness rants:

  • The 6112 looks better than any tacky painted guitar I have ever seen. The Jag Tan looked decidedly unfortunate with the olive-ish gold on the 125th Anniversary, but is absolutely perfect with the copper on this beast. Add nickel and ebony and it is as if the generally quirky slightly tacky Gretsch look has been perfected. Pure opinion of course.

  • General setup on the 6112:

  • I widened the string spacing at the nut about 1.5 mm. The fret ends are nicely finished and I could add this space wth no falling off the ends on the high E, so I took the free extra real estate.

  • Added a treble bleed to the Master

  • Changed the deep mud cap to something far less. I forget what I used but something like .0069 to .0082. This combines with the shallow mud cap to give very useful tone adjustments for me.

  • 1" Bigby Spring vs. the stock 7/8"

  • Took off the strap locks and used Gotoh oversized buttons. They work great. Also moved the upper button to the back of the heel. In playing position, this is far better balanced - about the same position as the rim mounted button would be on a 14th fret neck joint. This guitar has a 16th fret joint.

  • Filled the holes in the bridge base and re-drilled to improve the pinned location. Terada missed by a surprising amount on this one. Very easy fix to get the ABR-1 bridge well centered along the various saddles.

  • Contoured the base and tapered the post holes on the ABR-1 to allow it to rock. This makes for absurdly stable tuning.

  • The frets are a medium width but medium-jumbo height. Plays great, but I can imagine someone who did very fast runs up and down the neck might want a normal medium/jumbo for a shallower feel to the rise in the fret when moving vertically. I tend to find chords, partial barre chords, notes, and double stops all within a few frets at most (plus a "fast run" for me means I need to go pee) so these frets are just fine.

Anyway, a very limited amount of hollow body character, but great standard f-tron sounds in a very small guitar - very happy with it.

REALLY wish Gretsch would go to the better Grover Sta-tites vs. the stamped frame / no-bearing design. These work fine, but the others are fantastic.


And the 6118 LIV Player's Ed.

  • The ivory is slightly green. Looks fine, but more like a normal "Ivory" would have been superb without the green cast. Probably an accurate historic color or something.

  • Working from top to bottom:

  • The tuners are Gotoh lockers. I see no value whatsoever in locking tuners, but these work just fine, so no objection either.

  • Put in a new Tusq nut to widen the string spacing about 1.5 mm. Just my preference.

  • The neck is the same as the 6112 carve. It is actually slightly shallower.

  • Tossed the straplocks in favor of Gotoh oversized buttons.

  • The rocking bar bridge is nickel plated brass. 12" radius. Rocks and sounds great.

  • The factory pinned position is absolutely perfect for my 11 to 50 (wound G) strings. This bridge could definitely be filed to make a plain G setup work extremely well also. I understand the serpen"tune" concept very well, but plain-old bar bridges can be adjusted with some careful file work to do the same thing.

  • The Bigby came with a nearly 1 1/8" spring. That is very very long. I switched to a 1" and all is well.

  • The neck position and angle combine to make the middle strings (D and G) a full 1" above the body top as they leave the bridge heading nut-ward. This is fairly high. For example, to set the bridge PU, I need to be pretty much at the end of the mounting screw threads. Also if you go much higher you would begin to see the bottom of the PU cover. It all works great, but is getting toward the upper limit of a reasonable tolerance in my opinion.

  • The treble bleed Master works fine. The tone pot taper, and no-load feature are not so great. I will switch to a normal pot at some point. I feel like a jerk having a paper-in-oil cap in a guitar. Plus Gretsch seems to have installed the cap with long leads so it intensionally shows through the bottom of the f-hole. I bent it back out of sight. The cap is fine, so is a tiny ceramic one.

  • The LP style jack plate seems excessive, but does no harm.

  • I see no reason for the string-through Bigsby. It works, but in the end is no easier than the traditnal pins when you consider everything involved in a quick string change. The strings exit the shaft at a very sharp angle, so I counter-sunk the exit holes a bit to ease this. The shaft is brass. Bigsby calls it a "shaft" thus I use this awkward word.

  • Same medium width but medium-jumbo height frets. Fine by me, others may find a wider fret to be faster/smoother. I am neither fast nor smooth, so I does not matter to me.

  • THIS THNG SOUNDS GREAT.

  • GREAT

  • No really, Great.

  • I wonder if knocking another 1/4" off the body depth would have worked just as well. But as it is this body and the "ML" bracing sound superb. Can not be happier with the sound. Lots of character, decent feedback resistance, very responsive to different picks and right hand technique.

  • Wish the ivory was less green. I suppose it makes it more of an Anniversary model though to be green.

It sounds like I am dumping on some of the Player's Ed. Features. But I love the sound of this guitar, so am very happy with it.

I suppose my ideal mix would be to leave out the jack plate, no-load tone pot, silly P-i-O cap, string through Bigsby, and locking tuners. But these are harmless and are well worth it to get the body depth and ML bracing sound. Plus the new-ish bar bridge is ideal in my opinion. And none of the Player's Ed. Features I complain about do any harm really. Most would likely find them beneficial - so it is my quirkiness rather than any sort of problem.

So there you have it. Long, scattered, etc.

Chris

2

Very detailed reviews, excellent! This is exactly the kind of talk we need around here. All you're missing are some photos as detailed as your words

I have to agree about the locking tuners and goofy caps. I've been tempted to try the string-thru Bigsby "shaft" for a long time, but it seems like most people who have them aren't very fond of them. I like that the no-load tone pot gives you the "no-load" sound you would have with a mud switch, but I'd probably rather have the mud switch. I don't understand why more guitars don't have mud switches.

But yeah, seriously, pictures.

3

They look remarkably like the guitars do on the Gretsch site, so hard to bring much new there.

4

Aye, the '18 does seem to have a greenish pallor to it. It is sharp looking though, and classically Gretsch, even if that is a new color. They do pastels right, and I prefer the Ivory to the pinkish color on the right. I'll bet the thinner body is nice too, as that is my only complaint about my 6120, though something I didn't complain about when I was 20 pounds lighter.

5

The photos look identical on my screen, but I'll take your word for it.

I do think a true thinline 6118-size guitar, with trestle or ML bracing, would be my ideal guitar, belly or not. I guess ye olde 6120N would have been close, but boy was that thing ugly.

6

I tweaked the pic to better match the image on my iPad screen to the guitars in person. Your screen may of course be different.

The 6112 is not pinkish in person, and the 6118 is decidedly greenish.

7

Good review. Both guitars are winners. We saw the 6112 at the Philadelphia guitar show last year. Pics don't do it justice. Congrats.


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