Modern Gretsch Guitars

6120DE question (Humpback inlays)


Hello everyone, I just got a nice orange 6120DE a few days ago and it's an amazing guitar, but I had a couple of questions regarding the inlays. Are they supposed to sit slightly proud of the fretboard? They're only very slightly sticking up, but you can definitely feel it when playing, especially barre chords. A weird concern, but it's been kind of bugging me.


hmmm, I have 4 pro lines and none of them have that issue


Not "supposed" to, no. Sounds to me like the guitar's been in a dry environment, and the fingerboard wood has shrunk a bit more than the inlays (which I dont believe will shrink at all).

Be sure to keep it in a properly humidified environment (most people say around 50%, but it's frequent and rapid changes which do more damage than any particular RH). (Like, you don't want 0% or 100% RH.)

Wait a few days, see if it doesn't level out.


Yep. What Proteus said.

And I think that those inlays are technically referred to as "humpblock" inlays. They were in contrast with merely the "block" inlays that were to be found on the prior years' models.


I figured it was probably the humidity situation. One inlay sticking up is a mistake, but almost all of them are slightly proud so it's gotta be the wood. I'll throw a humidifier in the case and put some oil on it in a few days.


I've been taking a closer look at the inlays, and it actually appears that the inlays are lower than the wood, not sticking up. Would this not rule out humidity? It's a 2014 model, I've never had this problem with a pro line gretsch before (or any other guitar) but I'm not sure how to fix this besides maybe getting it sanded level, which would suck on what is basically a brand new $3k guitar.


If you have been maintaining the guitar in a very dry environment, it seems to me that it is possible that the wood has shrunk allowing the inlay to drop and pull away from the sides of the fretboard.

The acid test would be to get a humidifier so that the relative humidity is increased and maintained at an acceptable level.


I actually just got it a few days ago, it was used but is in pretty much new condition. No idea how the previous owner treated it, but it's a 2014 model. I have several other gretsch guitars and not one has had any humidity issues in the past, I don't think it's my current environment.

I took the strings off to put some oil on the fretboard and discovered something rather strange. Some of the wood between the frets (even a few inlays) is perfectly flush and there's no discernible difference when running my finger over the transition from the inlay to the wood. On all of the problem inlays, the wood around the inlay is VERY rough when compared to the smooth finish on the other frets. It almost feels like it wasn't sanded.


That wouldn't cause the inlays to be lower than the fretboard though, would it?


It doesn't appear to be consistent. Some of the inlays have flush corners, but lowered/heightened sides. I'm not sure how Gretsch puts them in at the factory, but if they sand or scrape down the inlay after placing it in the slot, I can see how the inlay might be lower/higher if not enough work was done.

I should make clear, I'm not trying to rag on gretsch, they're by far my favorite guitars (maybe teles too) and every Japanese one I've had has been exceptional. I have a 2016 player's edition 6119 that is perfect.


Nope, sir, not hearing you rag a bit. You are rightfully wondering what is going on with this guitar that would cause that to occur.

As noted above, it seems that relative humidity where the guitar has been stored might have something to do with this. Allow the guitar to adapt to your particular circumstances (after making certain that the relative humidity in your environment is conducive for this guitar) and then see whether anything changes.


Well, I've kept it in the case with a humidifier for about a week, with no change. The rough wood around the inlays kept bugging me; why were some of the frets (well, the wood surrounding them) completely smooth while all the problem frets felt rather unfinished? So in a fit of desperation, I took some 600 grit to the inlays and the surrounding wood. It worked perfectly, the guitar is flawless now. So if anyone runs into a similar issue, this was a perfect solution.


Perfecting a guitar is sometimes a team operation, only achieved gradually.

If only they weren't made of natural materials by durn humans.


So glad to hear that you’re happy with your guitar now.


As Ric12string points out the humpback is a whale. An easy way to distinguish a humpback from other whales and inlays is the length of the fins. The humpback has fins approaching 1/3 of its body length. Hump block inlays have much smaller fins and may not be discernible, especially after sanding.


Glad this got worked out. I think this is a first, for us.

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