Modern Gretsch Guitars

5120 vs 6120 LTV

1

A few years back a young fiddler I know asked me to play lead guitar in a honky-tonk country band he was putting together. Most of the time I’ve used a TV equipped 5120 with a Tru-Arc as an alternative to the Teles used by so many country players.

Awhile ago I found a low priced 6120 LTV that I figured would be my top choice for this band. To my surprise, I don’t feel at all comfortable with the 6120. I kept taking it to gigs and wondering why. I finally realized the difference between the new Gretsch and every other guitar I own—I’m always aware of the presence of the frets on the 6120.

Over the weekend I used the 5120 for a long bar gig. It played like butter compared to the 6120. Passages that are a struggle on the 6120 were a snap on the cheaper axe. I suppose I could have my repair guy work the frets over on the 6120, but it crossed my mind that the new guitar should just go away. Has anyone else had this experience, or is it just me?

2

My 6120 LTV is the nicest, smoothest playing guitar I have owned, so... dunno what to tell you. Are the 5120 frets a different size?

3

If you already have a guitar that plays and sounds the way you like, why spend time and money working over another one to make it resemble the first?

I have quite a few relatively inexpensive guitars that play and sound great, so I feel no need to buy more expensive guitars of a similar style, let alone ones that need work or modifications to play or sound more like the cheap ones.

If the 6120 isn't making you happy, pass it on and find something that does.

4

Call yourself lucky as you have 1) a guitar that seems to suit you fine and 2) > $1,500 on hand soon if you sell the 6120.

On a more technical side it might be interesting to find out what makes the difference to you. The 5120s have a different neck size and shape. Could be this. If it's the frets I don't really think the work is of lower quality on the 6120 until someone messed it up. Again you might just prefer the bigger ones on the Electromatic compared to the smaller vintage size. As Parabar says: Pass it on! Keeping a 6120 LTV as an inferior backup guitar is not right.

5

I agree with Sascha and Parabar.

6

Everyone is confirming my current feelings about the orange Gretsch situation. It’s been hard for me to get it through my head that I just wasn’t going to bond with the 6120 LTV. It seems like GDP members who own one of these rate it as among the best Fitler-equipped 6120s of all time.

Before I put it up for sale I’ll work on the action a bit and see if it gets any better. It’s such a nice instrument that I hate to give up on it without making a few more tweaks. My Martin D-28 needs 9 or 10 new frets, so that takes care of my fretting budget. Maybe someone here will take the LTV off my hands if I can’t get it playing the way I like.

7

Interesting, I just sold the last of my high end Gretsch guitars. Happy with the cheaper models and the guitar that gets played the most is an Eastwood Twin Tone.

I figure I lack some of the musicians sensibilities as I often can't appreciate why a 3k guitar is any better than a cheap model. And often find lower end models easier to play. Blasphemy, I know!

The most important thing with a guitar is how it plays. Apart from the colour of course.

8

Everyone is confirming my current feelings about the orange Gretsch situation. It’s been hard for me to get it through my head that I just wasn’t going to bond with the 6120 LTV. It seems like GDP members who own one of these rate it as among the best Fitler-equipped 6120s of all time.

Before I put it up for sale I’ll work on the action a bit and see if it gets any better. It’s such a nice instrument that I hate to give up on it without making a few more tweaks. My Martin D-28 needs 9 or 10 new frets, so that takes care of my fretting budget. Maybe someone here will take the LTV off my hands if I can’t get it playing the way I like.

– Viper

I am one of those who rates the 59LTV very highly. It has small frets. I don't mind them, but people with that complaint seem to be satisfied with the Setzer models (paging JimmyR...). If you're looking for the sound, with maybe a more modern fret-feel, see if you can get your hands on one of them. Playing a Setzer will at least show you what your LTV would be like with bigger frets. If that's still inferior to the 5120 in your estimation, then ditch the 6120.

9

I can't comprehend your issue with the 6120, as you haven't given us any differences between the 6120 & the 5120 necks. Frets are only one thing that could make you uncomfortable. Do you have a profile to take the profiles of both necks at say the 1st, 5th, 9th & 11th or 12th frets? Is there a different thickness of the necks? What's the fretboard radius on both guitars? Is the neck width different along its length? I suspect one or more of these factors is making the most prominent difference and really bothering you.

I'm different than most folks in wanting super low frets and action. I won't thank you for medium jumbos folks are in love with. I want a thin neck, a flatter fingerboard & wider neck. Perhaps you're the same but in reverse. If you eliminate the other factors being an issue between both your guitars and conclude it's the frets, just change 'em out and keep your beautiful guitar.

10

I've never played a 5120 so I'm useless on that comparison but I can compare the 6120 to a multitude of other guitars I own and I'd say that the neck has a quite a thin profile compared to a lot of my guitars and that makes it easier to wrap my thumb over for some fingerstyle basslines that require those voicings.

My 6120 is setup as low as my strats and to do that I did have to buy a correctly radiused Compton bridge. Obviously the bridge doesn't have to be that brand but having an unradiused bridge obvious raises the outer strings relative to the inner strings due to simple geometry.

So I do like the action of the 6120 and it compares very favourably to my high end Strats and is thinner in profile than my Gibsons, Matons and Godins. For an archtop I'd say it's remarkably low in terms of action.

11

I felt the same way when I sold my 2010 Setzer HotRod and got my 2015 5420 FSR. The 5420 felt much better in my hands due different fretboard radius I think. Also liked the Tone Post responding more than what I ve got from Trestle Bracing.

Anyway, if you already have a keeper then keep it and don't Invest too much money in a guitar to make it feel good. That feeling should be there out of the box regardless its price tag.

I think driving a Ferrari isnt a gain in comfort when you are driving a VW normally... Lame comparison I know but you get it what I mean...

Save some money and buy an amp!

12

I have, and have had, many high end guitars. Both vintage and new Gretsch, Takamines, Gibsons, ect. I purchased a Douglas Tele a few years ago to take apart for a project I was going to do, the darn thing plays as well as any of the others! It is an older Douglas that I paid 50 dollars for and I would NOT part with it.

13

I've owned a 5120 for several years. While I like the Guitar I have never liked the Pickups. I know I could upgrade the Pickups & probably should. I've thought about it but just never got around to it. My concern was are Pickups enough? What about better wiring, Pots, Bigsby, Bridge, Tuners etc. How far would I gave to go & how much would I have to spend to make it a great Guitar? Are just adding new Pickups enough?

I've played almost all the newer Gretsch Pro Series & IMO all of them have superior sounding Pickups & are great playing Guitars. For me.

I finally settled on a new George Harrison Duo Jet with Dyna Sonic Pickups. Great looking, playing & sounding Guitar.

Personally if I had both of the OP's Guitars I wouldn't sell either one. As I'd end up regretting selling the 6120 even though the 5120 is a great Player. The 6120's are Fab Guitars!

Lucky

14

A suggestion, perhaps:

Only play the 6120 for a couple weeks, so you aren't going back and forth. Give yourself a chance to get used to the different fret size, etc. * Then compare again, and see which you prefer. There is a lot to be said for just being accustomed to a guitar that you have spent a lot of time playing (e.g. your 5120) that might make it easy to overlook improvements in the other guitar. In the end maybe you end up liking your old guitar better anyway...

*This is assuming the 6120 is actually set up well.

15

Every guitar is a unique instrument. You may have gotten a gem of a 5120.

16

My 6120 LTV is the nicest, smoothest playing guitar I have owned, so... dunno what to tell you. Are the 5120 frets a different size?

– BobL

Me too. It's for sale here (and on Reverb) but not because it doesn't play nicely. I just much prefer Dyna style pups. The LTV is a better guitar.

17

A quick comparison between the 6120 and an old Guild CE100, a Gretsch G400JV, a Martin HD-28, the 5120, and my Tele revealed an interesting difference between all those guitars and the 6120. Without exception the other guitars have had the ends of the frets nicely rounded off and polished. The ends of the frets on the 6120 terminate abruptly at an angle not very far from perpendicular to the fret board. It almost looks as if someone forgot to pay attention to the ends of the frets. They border on being sharp, giving the entire finger board a sort of “notchy” feel.

I’ll show it to my repair guy and see what he says. The shape of the neck is fine—no complaints there. Nitro finish feels better than poly under my hands, and that was at least part of the reason for making this purchase. If the fret ends get smoothed down a bit, this may be a keeper. In the meantime, I have other guitars that need to be played.

Thanks, everyone, for all the responses.

18

A quick comparison between the 6120 and an old Guild CE100, a Gretsch G400JV, a Martin HD-28, the 5120, and my Tele revealed an interesting difference between all those guitars and the 6120. Without exception the other guitars have had the ends of the frets nicely rounded off and polished. The ends of the frets on the 6120 terminate abruptly at an angle not very far from perpendicular to the fret board. It almost looks as if someone forgot to pay attention to the ends of the frets. They border on being sharp, giving the entire finger board a sort of “notchy” feel.

I’ll show it to my repair guy and see what he says. The shape of the neck is fine—no complaints there. Nitro finish feels better than poly under my hands, and that was at least part of the reason for making this purchase. If the fret ends get smoothed down a bit, this may be a keeper. In the meantime, I have other guitars that need to be played.

Thanks, everyone, for all the responses.

– Viper

It's odd about the frets and I was going to suggest taking it to a Luthier to check out so glad you are going to do that.

If it turns out the frets are not finished properly that's an extremely easy fix for a guitar tech - so it might be a keeper yet!

Wouldn't take long to file them properly!

19

Unless the Frets have been filed wrong by someone finishing them to be smooth & perfect is a simple & quick job. I'm surprised a recent 6120 has this issue?

20

Best binding on a neck that I have ever seen, too bad this is still not done. Anyone know why it is not practiced today? The binding runs to the top of the frets and is exactly the same height. My 48 Gretsch with cats eyes.

21

Gibson was binding their necks this way up until just a few years ago. They call them "nibs".

22

Unless the Frets have been filed wrong by someone finishing them to be smooth & perfect is a simple & quick job. I'm surprised a recent 6120 has this issue?

– lucky

Yeah, I’m surprised too. It appears to me that my 6120 slipped through quality control without the frets being finished.

23

Gibson was binding their necks this way up until just a few years ago. They call them "nibs".

– BuddyHollywood

What makes you say Gibson stopped doing this? They still do to this day AFAIK, don't they?

24

What makes you say Gibson stopped doing this? They still do to this day AFAIK, don't they?

– sascha

I believe they stopped when they changed things up in 2015. I just checked out some pictures of 2018 Les Paul Standards and they appear to have nibs again. I stand corrected!

25

What makes you say Gibson stopped doing this? They still do to this day AFAIK, don't they?

– sascha

This is the Gibson I traded off last year, it didn't have the nib binding, very large frets and bar chording up the neck was uncomfortable.


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