Modern Gretsch Guitars

5120 vs 6120 LTV


I'm sorry, all this talk about nibs and all I can think of is "Good Morning Starshine."


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.

– RCgold

Ooh, that's going to make Windsordave go crazy. It's news to me that Gibson doesn't still do this. I bet they do on at least some models. And Gretsch Custom Shop definitely does, and I suspect many other high-end guitars have fret nibs. Personally, I don't find them better or worse functionally, and they're gone anyway the first time you get a refret unless you have a luthier willing to preserve the nibs and trim the frets perfectly to fit them between the binding (they're out there, I've done it). But I do find that type of fret treatment a classy touch.


Not a fan of the binding nibs here. They make part of the fretboard unusable (that's valuable real estate for vibrato on the two e strings), and form a crack that your strings can get stuck in.


My 2018 Les Paul classic had binding nibs, it didnt change anything but I prefer just having the whole fret there, why not?


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

Any guitar that I gig with gets the fret ends addressed, and with that, I like the fingerboard edges rolled. I live in Utah and with our dry climate, guitars develop fret sprout more often than not, so I am totally familiar with the feel of rough fret ends, and getting that fixed totally improves the guitar.


Sorry folks but I need an explanation of what this statement means, as it's very confusing to me. I have no picture of what this describes. And what is "binding nibs??"

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.

To me, for guitars with the neck bound, frets ends have two installation styles and two finished styles, two of which I consider correct and the other two less so.

Where discussions or arguments go adrift on this subject, I believe is rooted in the description of what precisely constitutes the definition of the term "fretboard." My definition is that the fretboard is the entire playing surface of a guitar's neck, which includes the binding when present. For a guitar without a binding, there's no confusion, however on guitars with binding, the definition is the same for everyone.....but it should be!! The fretboard, by definition, is the playing surface of the neck, not just the wooden portion. So with that in mind and agreed too, let's proceed.

Scenario #1 (incorrect IMO) - the fret ends at the inner edge of the binding where it meets the wood. This eliminates using the binding as part of the fretboard so the neck's playable width is considerably compromised, narrower than it could be and the nut slots have to be cut more inboard bringing the space between string correspondingly closer together.

Scenario #2 (correct IMO) - the fret's tang is cut off so that it extends over and across the width of the binding, ending at [or just inboard of] the outer edge of the binding. This allows the binding's width to be added to the width of the wooden portion of the fretboard, which in turn allows a significant [in particular for us fingerstyle players] increase in string spacing.

Now, let's regard how the ends of the frets are finished which can appear in either of the above two scenarios. On my '64 Country Gent, not only did the frets not have the tang cut off, the binding was installed after the frets!!! the binding being hammered on over the fret ends that extended a little bit past the ebony board. Adding to narrowing the fingerboard's useable width, the ends had a very shallow chamfer to them requiring the strings to be even further inboard so they wouldn't get pushed off the fingerboard when playing!

The second scenario, which I have had my luthier provide when changing out frets, is to have the ends which extend to the outer edge of and across the top of the binding, have the sharp corner merely rounded off, not chamfered at all. This gives me the ability to set the slot for the low E much closer to the outer edge of the binding than you'll see on any guitar from the factory. The high E is closer to the edge to but not to the extent of the low E. I use my left hand thumb constantly for playing fingerstyle and don't want to have to pronate my wrist to 'catch' the low E while playing. That's a personal requirement but the point is, fret installation and finishing of the ends can be a real mixed bag of features.

Years ago when I had that Gent, when I refretted it, which BTW already had a horridly narrow 1.5" neck at the zero fret!, I gained about 3/16" of playable neck space. The new nut was then cut to space out the strings to take advantage of a fretboard - ebony + binding - that now could be fully utilized.

Register Sign in to join the conversation