Gretsch Amps

Variety Amp Very Cool eh?

1

Surfing the web and I saw this for sale at Capsule Music just down the road in Toronto. Can ever recall seeing these anywhere for sale. Cool except for the price.

Road trip? Maybe.

2

That is COOL!

3

They were the top of the line model for the Gretsch amplifiers built by Victoria Amplifiers. That one depicted in the photo is the limited edition model celebrating Gretsch's 125th Anniversary in 2008. There weren't a lot of Variety amplifiers made and even fewer of them made in that white tolex finish. That white finish makes the amp look like a million dollars in my eyes.

Proteus has one of the Variety amps as does Redrocker or FF909 (I can't remember which of them). They reportedly have an improved tremolo system as compared to the Executive and Playboy models. However, the con is that they are much larger and heavier than the other two models.

Perhaps one of them or someone else owning one will weigh in here.

4

Somewhat heavier and larger, I'd say. Not quite "much."

It's a fabulous amp. Hear it here:

Mine could be for sale.

5

You are correct that it is only somewhat heavier. The Variety checked in at 60 pounds whereas the Executive weighed only 50 pounds. (In stock configurations.)

7

Just looked up that amp at Capsule and while lovely, isn't exactly being given away! Exchange rate that favors the US dollar or no that's a pretty penny!....but the white tolex sure is pretty.

It certainly is bigger and heavier than the Exec but I haven't heard of it having an improved tremolo, unless by that it means that the whup-whup isn't present, which is fixable.

The Variety is twice the wattage of the Exec so my question is, does that make it considered the top-of-the-line over the Exec? To me, this makes it different and more suited to playing in an environment where more output is required, but I always thought of the two amps as more or less equal top-of-the-line models. The other major difference of course is the Varity's 3x10" vs 1x15".

8

They reportedly have an improved tremolo system as compared to the Executive and Playboy models.

That's entirely a matter of taste - it mostly has different tremolo : the Variety has the two-tube tremolo found in the larger brownface Fender amps of the early sixties. (in some of those amps it's three tube trem, even!). It sounds somewhat in between a phaser, a univibe, and tremolo - not your usual opto or bias trem. Sweet effect, but not what most people think of as tremolo. (people have started calling it "harmonic vibrato" for some reason in the last decade)

9

Windsordave, thought you would chime in on this one. I agree that it's expensive even if negotiate for less, you most likely have the 13% tax on top.

At the end of the day, the Gretsch (Victoria) brand amps (due to low production), are few and far between on the market and therefore semi collectible which the wattage is moot. Besides most bar type musician only need 20 watts or so.

I still would like to have it but, unfortunately, this one is well out of my price range.

oooh, forgot to check my Lottery ticket

10

Very cool clip Tim. I live in the country at the top of a canyon, and I sometimes play on my back deck and enjoy the natural reverb.

But not in the snow. You had to be freezing your ass off.

11

Not to mention your fingers! I can barely play keyboards in the cold, let alone guitar.

12

it mostly has different tremolo

Just so. At the time I got it, I was badly smitten by its swirling warble, and, knowing it was available in this amp, would have nothing else. Each amp in this series has a graphic and script logo silkscreened on the control face - the Playboy a martini glass (with the word "Playboy"), the Executive a prop airplane and "Executive," and the Variety a reclining noir dame with "Variety" above the pic and "Maggie" in smaller script below.

"Maggie" may have been someone's girlfriend or a nickname for the idealized dame, but I've always taken it as a reference to Magnatone - as in amps, and very specifically those amps' signature vibrato, which the Variety's resembles.

So I guess the short version is that Execs have volume-throbbing tremolo, and the Variety has something else.

Setting aside the trem/vib preference, I'd just as soon have the Executive.


But not in the snow. You had to be freezing your ass off.

Oddly, it wasn't so bad. It was a very still day, and not terribly cold (high 20s). A one-take wonder I'm not, but I think conditions did motivate me to deliver an acceptable performance within 15-20 minutes.

If I wanted to play that song now I'd have to learn it from the video. Once I have a song decently enough recorded to suit me, I seem to lose - not interest in it, exactly - but an ongoing relationship. I tend to forget them. Songs I haven't recorded, I can still remember.

13

Windsordave, thought you would chime in on this one. I agree that it's expensive even if negotiate for less, you most likely have the 13% tax on top.

At the end of the day, the Gretsch (Victoria) brand amps (due to low production), are few and far between on the market and therefore semi collectible which the wattage is moot. Besides most bar type musician only need 20 watts or so.

I still would like to have it but, unfortunately, this one is well out of my price range.

oooh, forgot to check my Lottery ticket

– Hogman

Pricey lil' bugger! When I got my Exec awhile back it was mint and not far from Toronto and I paid less than half the asking price for this one....and no tax either.

Costly to be sure but the question is, would someone be will to pay this much for a terrific hand-wired, and pretty, amp, compared to today's boutique offerings?

Has anyone any personal experience in A/B-ing these two amps, from a clean tone only standpoint?

14

Has anyone any personal experience in A/B-ing these two amps, from a clean tone only standpoint?

Yep.

15

More pics of the Albino Variety.

3,800.00 CDN, 3,000.00 US? That's a lot for sparkly tolex.












16

I seem to recall that those pristine white amplifiers show blood splatters quite badly though. Something of a drawback, I suppose. Eh, Proteus?

17

That's between you and Phil Hartman, I suspect.

18

These amps cry out to be used with a white coily cord.

19

Has anyone any personal experience in A/B-ing these two amps, from a clean tone only standpoint?

Yep.

– Proteus

So Tim, how do the 3x10"'s sound compared to the single 15", settings the same and with the same guitar?

20

I don't know that I can answer that with complete assurance based on the same guitar, same settings, same day.

But I have played through both amps enough to have a sense of their differences, specifically for clean tone, from my perspective. And this playing has included like models with identical or close specs, if not the very same guitar. (IE, spruce-top Dyna Country Club, Dyna Jet, FilterTron 6120.)

My impressions: while both have that spacious 3D boutique depth thing, and both have more than enough low end (so that on the Variety, at least, I need rarely run it above a third of the dial), there's a difference in emphasis and my sense of what the amps want to do. Whether this is down to the Fender models they were based on and tweaked from (the tweed Bassman for the Variety if above seller's description is accurate - and I don't know what for the Exec) - or simply the speaker complement, I don't know. Certainly the speakers could go a good way toward explaining it.

I get more sense of midrange push from the 3-10 Variety, like it wants to be cranked; its extra power over the Variety is not so much for more clean headroom as to push it into a gnarlier ballsier breakup. From the 1-15 Exec I sense more plush lush headroom, detail that's more simply present (like in a high-end component stereo system) than pushed with empahsis. When it verges toward breakup, it's in a sort of smoother, sweeter way. More like it sings and the Variety stings. I think the Variety is more aggressive and punchier, the Exec more enveloping.

The Exec is probably the fingerpicker's amp.

21

The Exec is probably the fingerpicker's amp. -- Proteus

There ya go, Windsordave. You're welcome!

22

Proteus has one of the Variety amps as does Redrocker or FF909 (I can't remember which of them).

Yes, I also have a Variety . Great amp with that special tremolo, as Proteus and Walter have described. Pretty sure that the white 125th Anniversary limited editions went for US $3k new. I first played one at a music store in San Rafael... couldn't believe the sound or the price. I later found mine (non-white) at Street Sounds. Shameless self-promotion: mine's currently for sale on Reverb.

Always loved that clip, Tim. Great tone and great playing, in a snowy setting no less.

23

Here is a little quirk aboout the Executime of which you may not be aware of. Zero out the bass, treble, and mids and set the volume to say 3 o'clock. Guess what no volume, until you turn up the the tone controls. Weird eh?

24

Whether this is down to the Fender models they were based on and tweaked from (the tweed Bassman for the Variety if above seller's description is accurate - and I don't know what for the Exec) - or simply the speaker complement, I don't know.

The Variety is a 3X10/fancy cab version of Victoria's "Golden Melody" combo. Pretty much the classic late 50's tweed bassman, with brownface tremolo and blackface Fender amp reverb added.

The Executive is a 6V6 power tube amp, and a slightly tweaked Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb circuit. It corresponds with Victoria's Victoriette amps. The tweaks include a bias vary trem on a preamp tube like in a Fender Vibro champ, and I think it might have the Victorilux/Victoriette phase inverter too - which corresponds with a Princeton Reverbs's.

No big mysteries about these amps, they're well built variations on classic, proven Fender themes, mashups of classic Fender amp circuits if you will. And if you can live without the Gretsch badge and/or price tag, you can still get these amps from Victoria.

25

I don't know that I can answer that with complete assurance based on the same guitar, same settings, same day.

But I have played through both amps enough to have a sense of their differences, specifically for clean tone, from my perspective. And this playing has included like models with identical or close specs, if not the very same guitar. (IE, spruce-top Dyna Country Club, Dyna Jet, FilterTron 6120.)

My impressions: while both have that spacious 3D boutique depth thing, and both have more than enough low end (so that on the Variety, at least, I need rarely run it above a third of the dial), there's a difference in emphasis and my sense of what the amps want to do. Whether this is down to the Fender models they were based on and tweaked from (the tweed Bassman for the Variety if above seller's description is accurate - and I don't know what for the Exec) - or simply the speaker complement, I don't know. Certainly the speakers could go a good way toward explaining it.

I get more sense of midrange push from the 3-10 Variety, like it wants to be cranked; its extra power over the Variety is not so much for more clean headroom as to push it into a gnarlier ballsier breakup. From the 1-15 Exec I sense more plush lush headroom, detail that's more simply present (like in a high-end component stereo system) than pushed with empahsis. When it verges toward breakup, it's in a sort of smoother, sweeter way. More like it sings and the Variety stings. I think the Variety is more aggressive and punchier, the Exec more enveloping.

The Exec is probably the fingerpicker's amp.

– Proteus

Thanks Tim that's perfect! You've given us the essence of each amp, their personalities as it were, and that's what I was after. Comparing specs doesn't answer the question whereas describing what each amp can deliver or as you so aptly put it, "wants to be" is where the value of opinion lies.

I had the feeling the Variety was more suited to giddy-up than the Exec and you confirmed that. Me thinks the Variety might require a roadie for leaving the house. The Exec is the limit of what I want to have to lug out the door!


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