New 5122- review


It got a G5122 a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t want to post about it right away in the new guitar excitement mode. I wanted to set it up and make adjustments and to see what it could do… First off, for context, I have had five Pro Series Gretsch’s before. So I know what they do.

6120 Jr: 2003 6120 Hot Rod: 2003 6120 LSB: 2005 6122 CC: 2005 6128T Duo Jet: 2005

I learned a lot about Gretsch’s from them. My first Bigsby’s, Filtertrons, etc… Nothing else sounded like them. And they inspired me to further my rockabilly playing skills. As much as I enjoyed them, I sold them all.

I since have bought a few other guitars with Bigsby’s. I changed pickups. Added coil cuts… And ultimately found other guitars that would do overdriven tones more to my liking and still get twangy with the coil cutting. Thus, they worked better in my cover band environment.

But I always thought I’d get another Gretsch someday. I had heard the good stuff about the Electro’s. And I have had good luck with other “cheaper” guitars like Epiphone’s, Yamaha, Ibanez, etc…

The G5122 seemed like the ticket since I wanted a hollow body. And I liked the idea of a “normal” neck heal as compared to the Country Classic; the improved fret access vs. a 6120; and the standard humbucker routes. So you can put any number of pickups in it. It seemed the 5122 could be the missing link for me after some customization.

My impressions: I left it stock for the first week. It set up real nice. The tones were pretty darn good. Keep in mind that I wasn’t expecting to get a poor-man’s Filterton-toned Gretsch necessarily. I wanted to give it a chance on its own merits.

The pickups: I messed with pickup and pole piece height a lot. I did get it more to my liking. The individual pickups sounded pretty good. But the 2-pickup tones just weren’t cutting it – muddy rockabilly. Raising the pole pieces did make it brighter but at the cost of harshness. Also, the Gretschbuckers didn’t have much sustain.

So then I decided to put in my often preferred pickup combo of a GFS Fat PAT (actually a bridge pickup) for the neck position and an Ibanez INF2 for the bridge position. These are pickups with nice clarity which is surprising considering that they are about 14 and 16 ohms respectively. One of the upsides the high output is that there is a lot of pickup left when in single mode.

One of the benefits to most hollow-bodies is that the wiring harness can be pulled out intact – everything. So it’s pretty easy to put it back stock. Of course that means you have to make one for the new pickups. For the new harness I decided to alter the layout. The master volume became the neck pickup volume. The 2 pots on top became tone controls for each pickup and they are push/pull’s for individual pickup coil cutting. The bottom pot is the bridge pickup volume. So ultimately, I traded a master volume to achieve individual pickup tone control. I used Orange drop .22 caps and a Swithccraft jack. The pots I believe are Alpha’s.

The result, wow! Now I have the Gretsch that has enough of the Gretsch sound for me. But it is happy playing any kind of music. In humbucker mode, it’s kind of like a cross between a Gretsch and a Gibson hollow-body and has way more twang than with the stock pu’s. And sustain for days. Single coil mode brings out the brightness a lot. So I use tone controls to tame the highs a bit. Serious twang there. And the combo’s of one pu in HB and the other in single are fine too.

In summary, it does not nail the FT Gretsch tones. I suspect that’s what most Electro buyers hope for. I had other ideas. It is an amazing guitar on its own merits. I got just what I hoped I would get.


Nice to see another 5122 around. If I'd known you were interested, I would have traded you my custom modified version for a 6120. :)


Congrats, Ric.

My only Gretsch is a G5122 with TV Jones classics and a TruArc. It's not the same as a pro line, but it's a great guitar. Welcome to the club...


Bravo to you sir for knowing what and where you want to go. You picked a good subject to experiment upon. There's something about a Gretsch that just comes through no matter what you do to it. I really like those 5122's. They have a real George vibe too. :)


HNMGD! (Happy New Modified Guitar Day!)


I'm not a big fan of overwound pickups, but I always wondered how they would do with a coil split/cut.

Thanks for the review!


We all have that sound in our heads that we chase and it sounds like you found yours. I'm happy for you.


I thought long and hard about a 5122 for some of the same reasons that you mentioned before I bought my 6120DC. Not sure that your pickup selection would do it for me but ... that's kind of your point ... you wanted what was best for you, not anyone else. Congratulations on finding it.

You are probably going to be the source of a lot of confusion with a long-time and much-respected member here, Ric12string. Welcome.



I have had my best luck coil cutting hot pickups. In my 5122 case, the single coils are 7 and 8 ohms respectively. So there is enough signal there to push your amp and whatever else you may have in front of it. "Typical" PAF HB's coil cut pretty well as but I will more likely want to use my clean booster with them. In my experience, low-output pickups (like the GFS Memphis 4-5 ohm) just are worth coil cutting.

Most people can relate to the fact that coil cutting brightens the tone of a pickup. I’m no technical wiz but, what you are doing is changing the spread magnetic field from about 1.5" to 0.75” on a PAF-style pickup. The narrower field seems to brighten tone all things equal. But equally important to me is that you also are moving the magnetic field either farther forward or backward depending on which coil you cut. So on a Gibson-type guitar, I will always cut the back coil of the neck pickup – keep it under the harmonic. But the bridge pickup depends on what I’m after. Cutting the bridge pu forward coil and running both pu’s (outside coils hot) will give you sort of a Telecaster or Dyna Duo Jet tones. But moving the bridge pickup magnetic field farther forward (cut the back coil), both pu’s on gets you closer to a “Gretsch” sound. Ever notice how far forward the bridge pickups on Gretsch FT guitars are compared to Gibson’s? ‘About 2.0” vs. 1.5” respectively from the center of bridge pickup to the bridge at the high E. That has a lot to do with the bridge and combo pickup tones.

Talking tones is only as good as the audience's points of reference. For example, I understand that it's not really logical that some 14 and 16 ohm pickups would have more clarity than the 7 and 8 ohm ones (Gretschbuckers in this case) all things equal. What I really should do is make some recordings. Maybe get a video camera. ‘Ever see vids from Greg’s Guitars on Youtube? Awesome…


That's a really interesting point about the relative bridge pickup positions.

I love the production value and the guitars in Gregor Hildens videos, but find that he tends to sound the same regardless of the guitar. Nice, though...

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