Modern Gretsch Guitars

6120 Eddie Cochran

1

About 6 years ago a local guitar shop started carring the Gretsch line of guitars. He had them all, Falcons, Setzers, RHH, DE, Clubs, Jets, everything. Over time, I bought a 6122-59 and a Gretsch amp there, along with a few other pieces. Unfortunately, he had to start liquidating and closed down the business and brought in some guitars that he had to sell off. The SSLVO, Country Clubs and White Falcons were on the rack. However I asked him about the Eddie Cochran and he said that, in his opinion, this was the best guitar as far a tone and playability that Gretsch has and he wouldn't sell it. So... fast forward. I see a a EC for sale so the first step is let's see what the crew at the Gretsch Pages have to say.

I could not see allot of postings, however, maybe I'm not using the the search field right.

Any comments on this guitar?

Thanks

3

Not 100% sure about the DSW but the Cochran has the 9.5“ radius fingerboard and the body does not have a soundpost, just - what Gretsch calls it - Parallel Bracing. It makes the guitar very resonant acoustically. If you tend to switch between something like Rock‘n‘Roll and a more jazzy vibe this might be perfect for you. It doesn’t look too shabby either.

I know I sometimes miss mine.

4

he said that, in his opinion, this was the best guitar as far a tone and playability that Gretsch has and he wouldn't sell it.

An EC is a fine guitar, but like others, it is the sum of its parts (plus whatever magic mojo happens when those parts are combined).

Given a 16" x 2.something" maple body (as in all 6120s), a 24.6" scale length (ditto), what distinguishes the EC from others comes down to a couple structural details, a couple hardware choices, and cosmetics.

The structural details: as Sascha mentions, bracing and fingerboard radius. The EC is apparently wide-open with parallel braces under the top (for maximum acoustic resonance, not necessarily focus or sustain). Other 6120s have sound-posts in addition (for better focus and acoustic coupling of top and back) or trestle bracing (maximum rigidity for focus, punch, sustain, feedback resistance).

And most 6120s have 12" radius fingerboards, making the EC's 9.5 an outlier. It's also a rosewood board, as it emulates a pre-1958 guitar. (From '58 on, when 6120s got Filter'Trons, I believe they transitioned to an ebony board.)

Frets can also differ among 6120 models.

None of these features makes the guitar inherently more desirable, or easier to play. They're all matters of personal taste - how you want the guitar to behave acoustically, and what's comfortable to you.

Hardware choices. First among these are the pickups. Pre-1958 guitars (and modern models based on them) have Dynasonics - which are surface-mounted (requiring a higher neck set) and have a particular tone. '58 and later (and derivatives) have Filter'Trons, which mount differently and have their own tone.

I mention how the pickups mount because that can bear on how easily you could swap pickups - or what pickups you could use for the swap - if it turns out you don't like your original choice.

That situation is complicated on the EC because Eddie changed his neck Dynasonic out for a P-90 - which requires holes in the body outside the usual mounting perimeter of either Dynasonics or Filter'Trons, so if you wanted to replace that pickup, you're left with a couple small holes. That might matter, it might not.

In any case, clearly a Dynasonic 6120 and a Filter'Tron 6120 have a different fundamental tone - and you'd have to know which you preferred. The EC has its unique configuration with the P-90 - warmer, fatter, woofier, woolier at the neck than a Dynasonic. If I'd been Eddie and just had to stick a P-90 on my guitar, I'd've put it at the bridge where more fat might really be needed, so the EC model is clearly not for me.

On the other hand, I personally like both Filter'Trons and Dynasonics. I have nothing against P-90s - I quite like them - but I've never felt the need to put them on a Gretsch, as the brand's own pickups seem to me an essential part of the overall recipe that makes a Gretsch a Gretsch.

The other major hardware choice is the bridge - but that's so easily changed it's not something I'd worry about when buying a Gretsch.

A guy might have opinions about the particular Bigsby handle on this guitar, or the appearance of the unit itself - but again, easily swapped out. (Personally I like a more rigid handle, so the EC's would suit me. But that's just one guy's opinion.)

Which leaves cosmetics. I'm not a fan of the western motif (except for the steer skull on the headstock), and particularly dislike the brand. But many guys like all that, and that's fine. They don't change the tone of the guitar. And I'm with Eddie in liking the transparent pickguard (I took the paint off my DSW's) - but now we're down to trivialities.

The point of all of which is...there's no one best "guitar for tone and playability" in the Gretsch catalog. It's down to personal preferences all down the line - whether you like the combination of features on a particular model. To over-simplify it, the EC is a wide-open jazz/jump blues guitar in the neck position, a classic mid-50s bright and spiky hollowbody at the bridge, with a compact neck profile perhaps ideal for smaller hands - and it looks cowboy. That's all very consistent with the music EC grew up listening to and playing before he had his rock & roll revelation and discovered his own unique innovative style.

But it may or may not be what you consider ideal in a Gretsch.

The truest part of your store-owner's preference is "in his opinion", because that's where we are here.

I don't think anyone could (or would) say categorically that the EC model is any "better" or more desirable than any other pro-line 6120. It's certainly as good as any.

IF...it's what you want in appearance, tone, and acoustic response.

5

Aw shucks, I was just going to say all of that that Proteus said. Glad he beat me to it. And he is spot on correct all down the line.

6

I never considered one of these, but it looks mega cool. But is it a feedback machine? What's it like on stage?

K

7

I have a 2000 model that I bought new...uh, jeez, almost 20 years ago. Its pre FMIC so there will be a few differences when comparing it to what FMIC did to the guitar. But one thing that I think is the same is the pickups. Although somebody probably will know if they are made by a different manufacturer. I know the dynasonic is a de'armond. Not sure about the p90, I think Lollar makes the current p90's but not sure if they made them in 2000. Anyways, as far as the sound goes. I love that I can flip to the p90, roll back the tone and it gives me a great jazz sound. Then I can flip to the bridge dynasonic and it can sound like a Gretsch is supposed to sound. So in that regard its a highly versatile guitar. When I first bought it I used it as my main axe in a punk band (think social distortion style punk) and it was a rockin machine. I played it through a Fender Blues Hotrod DeVille 4x10. There were times I had a hard time taming the feedback (especially with the bridge pickup) but I didn't really know what I was doing back then. I just wanted to sound loud and mean. Just kept my fingers on the strings between songs. Ha! A couple years ago I started taking jazz seriously, kinda going for a Howard Roberts tone and I'm using the same guitar played through a Bill M modded Bues Jr. and it sounds great in my opinion. The cosmetics are personal choice, I love the western stuff. Like I said, I know the pre FMIC eddie model and the post 2004 model will be quite a bit different in build and looks, but just thinking about the pickups I thought I'd chime in with how versatile this guitar can be.

8

I agree with ProT and I was a bit surprised to see the new models launched for NAMM with P90's on them. I don't dislike them but they ain't Gretsch.

Tone is subjective. I love Stevie Ray Vaughn's and Duane Eddys and they're both good, just different.

9

I have a DSW, and I've been sorely tempted to do the EC conversion to get the best of both worlds. (EC with better radius (for me) and post...)

The only thing stopping me is drilling the dang holes for the dog-eared P-90. I found a spare pickguard that fits the DSW but lacks the signpost logo at either Black Rider or Angela's a while back, but I haven't stripped or re-cut it for the new pickup shape yet.

I have all the parts I need. Someday, I'm going to "cowboy up" (see what I did there?) and just do the deed.

10

Well, this sounds pretty great!!!

11

Is darrel playing his custom shop or a signature EC there?

12

I dunno, but it sounds fantastic.

K

13

He's playing the EC. His has a Falcon like headstock, I believe.

15

Darrel's is a '55 Custom Shop 6120 modded into an EC, just like Eddie done. I've tried one of the '55CS and it is the closest in construction to vintage -- no trestles or posts, and has the unkerfed linings just like vintage. Acoustically, it even sounded vintage.

16

I only ask because I know he's been using a stock EC aside from his Custom Shop.

17

I only ask because I know he's been using a stock EC aside from his Custom Shop.

– captainvideo

Not 100% sure if Darrel actually owns a regular EC. He's got the CS '55 RI (that was meant for Jeff Beck) he modded to Eddie specs and the 17" Falcon EC.

I saw Darrel using a stock MIJ model on promo tour but that was provided by Gretsch for that reason as he told me. Don't know if he returned it.

18

Not 100% sure if Darrel actually owns a regular EC. He's got the CS '55 RI (that was meant for Jeff Beck) he modded to Eddie specs and the 17" Falcon EC.

I saw Darrel using a stock MIJ model on promo tour but that was provided by Gretsch for that reason as he told me. Don't know if he returned it.

– sascha

He sounds fantastic on the MIJ EC.

19

Darrel says his EC CS has a "dainty" neck.

20

Firstly, thanks for all your comments. As usual, very informative in all aspects. The main reason for the post was that there was one that came for sale and I wanted to get opinions for the pickup configuration. Secondly, I like the thicker body and it has all the bells and whistles for a Gretsch.

I was (am) entertaining changing out the stock pickups for TVJ in the 6120 but which ones I'm not sure. I'm leaning towards T Armonds or Filtertron type combinations. This brings in to focus the EC with something I did not consider and totally out of the box for a Gretsch. They make T Armonds and P-90s with a Filtertron mount so I may not have to drill holes in the body.

I am sure that someone will say the the stock Filters a great and maybe it's just spending a bit more bonding time with the 6120 with different amps and settings. They are probably right.

Again thanks for your input.

21

Just to be that guy...

The stock Filters can be great, and maybe it's just spending a bit more time bonding with different amps and settings.

And strings maybe.

But there's a reason TV Jones sells a lot of pickups. Don't try to force yourself to terms with the stock Filters if you get them adjusted to spec and still don't get happy. No one will find fault if you mod away with some TVs. (Not that it should matter if they did.)

22

Guys...

Thanks me for posting this vid (and I hate you because now I have major gas):

23

And at the end of this one you can hear him leaning on the P-90 (which I think sounds great!).

Dang--I knew he was a great player...

But dang!

24

That clip was on of the reasons I decided to get a Classic 30.

25

That Peavy amp might make as much difference in tone as a pickup swap.


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