Modern Gretsch Guitars

Current Broadkasters vs 6620: Eagle eyes invited to find spec diffe…

1

So we're on the same page(s), I'm comparing the specs of:

G6609TFM,
G6609TG,
and G6620TFM.

I believe all three guitars, two Broadkasters and one Nashville (comprising 5 different colors, about which more in a mo), are 16" x 1.75" all-maple doublecuts with spruce centerblocks, 24.6" scale, ebony fretboards with Neoclassic markers and medium jumbo frets, tension-bar string-through Bigsbys, locking Gotoh tuners and stud-mounted AdjustaMatic bridges.

Differences? All I can find is that the Broadkasters have Full'Tron pickups and the Nashville has Filter'Trons; the TFM Broadkasters have chrome/nickel hardware, and the others have gold.

So the only functional difference is in pickups.

6609TFM seems to denote "Broadkaster, Tremolo, Flame Maple." That model number is available in two colors, the lovely burgundy stain (though the website pic does it no justice) and the more traditional dark cherry stain. Both of these have nickel hardware.

6609TG may mean "Broadkaster, Gold (hardware)". Also available in two solid colors (under which, yeah, flame in the maple would be wasted), Cadillac green and vintage white - both with gold hardware.

6620TFM is apparently "Nashville, Tremolo, Flame Maple"...and it just comes in screamin' flamed Gretsch orange.


So OK, is that it? Are those the similarities and differences?

I guess it's a little confusing. Broadkaster is presented as the new premium center-block series - but we still have centerblocks in other lines as well. So Broadkaster gets this new "6609" designation...

...and maybe the "66" in "6620" (for the centerblock Nashville doublecut) represents its 16"-centerblocked cousinship with the Broadkaster, and the "20" is what ties it to the Nashville line.

But, other than pickups, they're the same guitar, no?

The 6120DC was always a kind of odd duck in the line, and I guess this 6620 is meant to continue the heritage of a thinline doublecut "6120," while transitioning "Broadkaster" to mean "centerblock." (Which is what it means now, apparently, along with "Broad'Tron," at least for the moment - as the Broadkaster line includes not only the 16" doublecuts, but 14" Jr singlecuts.)

But why do they want to confuse me? Or am I missing something else?

Also...again with the occasional Gretsch nomenclatural weirdness of sometimes coming up with a new model number for a guitar that's different only in finish options - in this case, distinguishing between "flame maple" and "gold-hardware" but solid-color Broadkasters... And then there are two color choices among each of those pairs of fraternal twins.

So don't we really just have one new guitar here - a 16" doublecut centerblock thinline at 24.6" scale? (With two different pickup options ... but we frequently get different pickups on guitars within a single model line.)

I don't object to any of this model-number miasma - I'm just trying to be sure I know what the varying specs are across these three listings. I might want one.


Also, I can't find anywhere in the specifications where body width is specifically specified. (And aren't specifications specifically for specificity?) Specifically, I'd like to verify that Broadkasters are 16" guitars...

Because if they're 17", seems like they have more in common with Gents than with the 6120 doublecut/6620 (which in its doublecutness has as much in common with Gents as in its 16"-ness it shares genes with the 6120).

2

I sure hope that the "T" in these suffixes doesn't relate to "tremolo"... since the proper term is "vibrato" (unless it's a Fender trem). Since the Bigsby brand is currently in the Gretsch family it would seem that FMIC would appreciate the difference, and use correct vernacular.

3

In Gretsch model nomenclature (at least in the FMIC era) I think "T" has always meant the Tremolo version, Ed.

Bigsby may now be part of the Gretsch family, but Gretsch in turn is now part of the Fender family. When Bigsby's proper use of "vibrato" comes up against Leo Fender's historical bass-ackwards confusion of the two terms - in a company bearing Leo's name - I think Leo wins.

(Ainit? A Strat has a "tremolo," and Fender amps have "vibrato" - and both are counter to the dictionary definitions?)

5

I would have bought at least one of these if they didn't have the excruciatingly hateful tension bar Bigsby.

6

au, I've had success on most tension-bar Bigsby guitars (not Gretsch, yet...) in stringing OVER the bar. String tension is less, but that hasn't hurt the guitars in question for my purposes (results will vary depending on the player, I'm sure). All have kept sufficient tension to keep strings in place, and no resultant rattling.

If that works for me on a given guitar, and I intend to keep it that way...I remove the roller to get rid of the eyesore.

So I don't know. It's not fatal. I played a 335 for years, a couple decades before I discovered Gretsch. A Gretsch 335 would fall to hand quite naturally.

7

Tension bar Bigsbys have given me nothing but trouble.......and heart-attack inducing tension. These are devices of the devil. I will not touch any guitar with one of these satanic devices installed.

8

In Gretsch model nomenclature (at least in the FMIC era) I think "T" has always meant the Tremolo version, Ed.

Bigsby may now be part of the Gretsch family, but Gretsch in turn is now part of the Fender family. When Bigsby's proper use of "vibrato" comes up against Leo Fender's historical bass-ackwards confusion of the two terms - in a company bearing Leo's name - I think Leo wins.

(Ainit? A Strat has a "tremolo," and Fender amps have "vibrato" - and both are counter to the dictionary definitions?)

– Proteus

I get it... it's just a sad revision of the proud Bigsby history. We'll slowly lose more of it as Fender hashes and rehashes the Gretsch line. Mixing features and inadvertently (or uncaringly) applying the wrong model year designation. Nice guitars... but lacking soul and legacy.

And as far as family goes... Bigsby is an adopted son of the Gretsch brand, while the deal with FMIC is more of an arranged marriage of convenience. If Fred doesn't mind the misnomer of the flagship Bigsby product then I guess I shouldn't either.

9

Ed, I just did a spot-check of copy on the Gretsch site, and I don't find anyplace where the Bigsby is referred to as a tremolo - it's always either "vibrato" or just "Bigsby" (honored as a noun, as it were). Note I didn't read all the copy for every guitar, but it appears they have it right where it matters.

The "T" in the model numbers is pretty secretly coded - if indeed I'm right that "tremolo" is what it means (though I think that's been consistent in the 12 years or so I've been paying attention). I doubt if that's confusing any shoppers, and don't know how severely FMIC should be taken to task for it. I don't think it means they've forgotten Gretsch's heritage!

(I also note that's devilish hard to make a running change in a model number; I wish I'd used "SS" as a prefix for my stainless steel bridges, rather than "ST" - because now I'd like to use "ST" for "SerpenTune." But if I change it, it will foster confusion. If every "T" in a Gretsch model number suddenly became a "V"...what a mess.)


Ed sed:

We'll slowly lose more of it as Fender hashes and rehashes the Gretsch line.

I've been a solid (if not entirely uncritical) proponent of Gretsch evolution during the FMIC era, and a staunch advocate for nearly every aspect of their stewardship of the heritage. I think the reissues have been as close to the mark as we can reasonably expect (certainly closer than during the FG era), and most changes have been a matter either of codifying some particular configuration that was more fluid in the vintage era, or of modernizing reasonably for production, quality consistency, or player-friendliness.

But I have some sympathy for your sentiment here. With the proliferation of the centerblocks through the line, more and more pinned and/or stud-mounted bridges and tension-bar Bigsbys, and even the demotion of the mud switch for a streamlined (and more conventional) wiring harnesses, I think the brand has gone as far as it should in diversifying the line.

While the Baldwin redesigns and experiments of the 70s are now acknowledged not all to have been as horrible as popularly thought, say a decade ago, most also acknowledge that the era was far from a golden era for the brand. It wasn't just because of slipping quality. It was also because in diversifying for a market that had changed, Gretsch lost the unique identity which emerged from its unique (and, yeah, idiosyncratic) designs, construction, and hardware.

I'd hate to see that happen again. I get that Gretsch is making a full-charge run at as much of the traditionally Gibson market as the brand can get...but I wouldn't want that to come at the expense of turning floating-bridge chambered Jets with modest-output pickups into hot-pup fixed-bridge Les Pauls with a funny-shaped body, and supplanting hollowbody thinline Gents and T-Roses with centerblock Gretsch-shaped 335s (again with stud-mounted bridges and hotter pickups).

I also have mixed feelings about Gretsch getting more deeply into the fetish for highly figured woods. There have always been a couple flamey models in the modern line - and in the vintage era there was always the occasional lucky piece that got an extraordinary piece of wood. But the rest of the industry has gone ga-ga for high figure (thank you, PRS cartoonery), and I've come to appreciate that one part of Gretsch culture that's less flamboyant than the norm.

Gretsch has plenty of flamboyance already with chrome embossed knobs, sparkle binding, bright colors and two-tones, dressy pickups and rings, switches and hardware...add in highly figured wood and it's like a carnival. You don't know what to look at. Yep, I know fancy woods are popular in the market. We already have us some flame; watch out for birdseye, burl, quilt, and spalt... I guess it's harmless enough buyer entertainment, and as Harley Earl said about fins on Cadillacs, "an extra visual receipt for the buyer's money."

There's certainly room for all these things - and I think that so far it's all been done as Gretschily as possible - but I worry about pervasive marketing specifically aimed at the high-gain rock segment of the market. Descriptions like this (from the Broadkaster page):

Full’Tron™ pickups deliver full-spectrum sonic range with a growl unlike any other pickup, in addition to classic Gretsch chime, balance and brilliance with a dash of extra-mid concentration for powering through overdriven and distorted passages at full volume.

...almost read like code for "Gretsch: it's not your weird uncle's country finger-pickin' British invasion guitar anymore."

But it's probably not necessary to burnish Gretsch's rock bonafides: from Eddie and Duane to George and the British Invasion to hard-rockin' Angus and Pete and Randy to punk and the various revival and hyrbridized 'billies, Gretsch has historically had an important and visible position in whatever rock styles were shaking the stages of the day.

That the guitars were as different functionally and tonally as they were visually - that they threatened to feed back and could be a wild ride that took some skill to manage - were always part of both the charm and the point.

Making the guitars completely high-gain safe, endlessly sustaining, and utterly feedback resistant might make them tractable for triple-gain rockers, but it also feels a little like putting automatic transmissions and traction control in racing cars. It makes them safer, easier for amateurs to drive, and probably ultimately faster for the pros - but it also kinda degrades the direct relationship between car and driver, and takes some of the sweat, heart, and finesse out of racing.

On the other hand, this marketing thrust into the heart of Gibson rock territory may be less capitulation than it is the camel's nose under the tentflap: a few concessions to get a hearing, under which the guitars remain distinctly enough Gretsch to both preserve the sonic heritage AND to attract new users to the brand, who will eventually discover the charms of the original, non-centerblock models.

The one or two reviews I've read here on the GDP of the Broadkaster, for instance, have not been from high-gain rockers but from guys with more traditional Gretsch taste and playing approaches - and I've heard nothing but praise for the Full'Tron as a completely Gretsch-sounding and feeling pickup (I haven't played one myself yet), and the Broadkaster as a completely satisfying all-Gretsch experience.

So maybe I worry too much. It's always weird to be part of a subculture that suddenly goes mainstream, and all the stuff you used to think was unique to a secret society suddenly has wider general acceptance. Then we subconsciously worry we're not special anymore.

As long as the traditional reissue models and features don't dwindle away (and the truncation of the Country Club line is admittedly worrisome), there's room for the centerblockers and the current outreach to gainier rockers. Go Gretsch go. (When we see active EMG humbuckers and a Floyd Rose, we'll know it's time to despair.)

Despite that note of peaceful coexistence, it's still jarring to me to see a Gretsch with a stud-mounted fixed bridge! Something about it doesn't feel right.

10

We'll slowly lose more of it as Fender hashes and rehashes the Gretsch line. (kc_eddie_b)

I think the brand has gone as far as it should in diversifying the line. (Proteus)

Having first fallen totally in love with Gretsch guitars around 1954 I have mixed feelings.... Given my age -- rapidly approaching 75% of a century -- I still cherish many of the models from "those days", even though the ONLY ones that featured Bigsbys were the two Chet Atkins models. And those two were my least favorite due to the western decorations. (Of course I've learned subsequently that I was in pretty good company with that regard.....)

But I DO really like many of the new models in the Gretsch fleet. Per Tim's comment, I have a Broadkaster Jr which I thoroughly enjoy. There are a couple of other GREAT ProLine pieces I've picked up in the last decade or so.

The quality control throughout the FMIC is (IMO) clearly better than any I've experienced in my 6 decades+ of guitaring. It has been superior to other brands I've experienced including Gibson and Martin. The ONLY issue I've had with any current Gretsch guitars in some minor tuning stability with my Broadkaster Jr.

It has been clear that the corporate strategy is to target Gibson. I personally have no problem with that. I just wish & hope that Gretsch will continue to maintain and offer guitars modeled after those from the golden era......

11

I just want to know why we're getting rid of the mudswitch on Filter'tron guitars, again. The early FMIC era was the second great heyday of the mudswitch, in which most Filter'tron guitars--those not otherwise specced--defaulted to the vintage-correct configuration. Now we're swinging the other way.

Arguments of "well they scare off potential new customers who may not be versed in Gretsch history" I think don't give enough credit to these potential new customers. Many guitar players do not use the tone controls on their guitars, and those who do, IMO, will not be afraid of a mud switch.

I don't want a tone pot on a Filter'tron guitar, especially not one that's hidden, forgotten, an afterthought, underneath the Bigsby handle. I want my tone control to stand proudly erect on the upper bout, where I may use it at my leisure.

Rant over.

12

I wonder why they went with over sized f holes on the 6620 and not the other two.

13

Ah, there are some of the sharp eyes I was hoping for. I hadn't noticed that.

Yup, shonuff. I like the smaller f-holes better. I also note now that the Broadkasters don't have a pickguard, and the 6620 does. Another point for the Broadkaster.

BUT the Broadkasters have the headstock plate, which I've never liked, and the 6620 has the understated, remember-our-roots horseshoe, which I DO like.

14

People that are looking at some of the modern changes Gretsch are doing as pandering to the Gibson crowd are not feeling what I'm feeling. I love the changes that Gretsch is doing with the Players Edition guitars. They don't make my Anniversary sound anymore like a Gibson. And the ML bracing makes the feedback I get at higher volumes more musical to me than a top and back vibrating out of sync. And really, who loves the mud switch??? I sold a really good ES330, to buy my Gretsch. And no Gibbo sounds like a Filtertron Gretsch!

15

I also note now that the Broadkasters don't have a pickguard, and the 6620 does. Another point for the Broadkaster. (Proteus)

Yes the 6609TFM does NOT have a pick guard. However the 6609TG DOES have a pick guard..... This same inconsistency exists among the two Broadkster JR models: the 6659TFM does not have a pick guard, the 6659TG DOES have a pick guard.

16

People that are looking at some of the modern changes Gretsch are doing as pandering to the Gibson crowd are not feeling what I'm feeling. I love the changes that Gretsch is doing with the Players Edition guitars. They don't make my Anniversary sound anymore like a Gibson. And the ML bracing makes the feedback I get at higher volumes more musical to me than a top and back vibrating out of sync. And really, who loves the mud switch??? I sold a really good ES330, to buy my Gretsch. And no Gibbo sounds like a Filtertron Gretsch!

– Daniel Weldon

I love the mud switch.

I don't view its removal as pandering to the Gibson crowd, but removing an important feature of a guitar that I love.

17

sez Daniel Weldon:

I love the changes that Gretsch is doing with the Players Edition guitars. They don't make my Anniversary sound anymore like a Gibson. And the ML bracing makes the feedback I get at higher volumes more musical to me than a top and back vibrating out of sync. And really, who loves the mud switch??? I sold a really good ES330, to buy my Gretsch. And no Gibbo sounds like a Filtertron Gretsch!


Excellent. That corresponds to other reviews we've had, all positive - though I, at least, wasn't questioning the changes to the Players Edition models. Gretsch has historically experimented with bracing, and I'm good with ML and even trestles in appropriate models.

Certainly Gretsch's pickups are major, essential, and fundamental ingredients in the tonal recipe, and they - along with body build - are the heart of the characteristic tone and response.

String-through the Bigsby is pretty trivial in terms of changing the character of the guitar; unless it makes a difference in tone or response (and I can't imagine how it would), it's nothing but a rational convenience. I don't have trouble stringing the good ol' Bigsby, and doing so does feel like a secret handshake to get in the clubhouse - but I've done a zillion of them, and I remember how it could be a hassle at first. If making it easier to re-string removes a barrier to purchase, I'm good with that.

As for the tone switch, yes...some people DO love it. I like it, specifically because it makes it easy and convenient to get to three very different voicings. (The cap value of the darkest setting could usefully be changed on some models, and it would suit me better.) I also get along fine with a rotary tone knob, and agree/admit that it makes sense to more players out of the box.

Also - maybe more than the functionality, and regardless what exactly they do - I've grown accustomed to having two switches in the upper shoulder. That looks quintessentially Gretschy to me. It reminds me of Jimmie Webster and galloping-gimmicks featuritis, and connects me to the history. It makes being an owner-operator of the guitar as a technological device more fun. So I don't object to the more conventional wiring harness - I just think the mud switch has proven itself, and shouldn't be abandoned.

Same with the pinned bridge, I guess; there's no question that new users are freaked out by the floater, and plenty of old hands prefer less mobility as well. As long as bridges are pinned in the correct, customary and consistent location, OK. They're a convenience.

But! Part of the Gretsch experience has always been learning about the brand's different approach to these things, adapting to them, employing them. Change too many small details, whittle a little here and a little there, and run the risk of shaving away part of the brand's uniqueness.

I don't think the Players Editions have done that. I think they're great, usable, slightly modernized but still fully Gretschy implementations of original models.

Centerblocks and stud-mounted bridges, though, obviously go further to revise the Gretsch tonal recipe.

They create a definite change in string response, not just feedback resistance - more compression in the attack, more sustain, less air and body resonance (than in a hollowbody). It's a different envelope for the note, maybe, more than a different tone, but it's real. There have been Gretsch models in the past which flirted in this direction, but it's probably safe to say this response has not been something Gretsch is known for.

Anyone and everyone can and do make thinline plankers, from various combinations of maple and maple and maple and a little mahogany and maybe some spruce. Gretsch's 24.6" scale length isn't different enough from Gibson (and everyone else) to make much tonal difference. Fingerboard and nut materials are universal; it's hard to argue that fret marker material or size affect tone.

That kinda leaves the pickups as the one remaining major unique ingredient, and we have to hope they're enough to sonically set the Gretsch planker apart from the other kids.

I get that the shape of the headstock, the name on it, subtle cues in the shape of the guitar, and other cosmetic attributes would be sufficient to differentiate a Gretsch from other guitars - but only superficially. Once a guy swaps out the FilterTrons for some variety of full-on humbuckers (or, more ominously, some Gretsch 'tron-to-be that's built similarly and wound as hot), the cosmetics are all that's left.

Sure, OK, I have no problems with a guy modding his Gretsch in that way; if he wants it to look like a Gretsch but sound like something else, that's his prerogative, and just another indication that Gretsch has become so cool that guys want to adopt the look. But I think it would be a slippery slope for the factory to offer series of guitars which are superficially Gretsch in appearance - but not recognizably so in tone and playing response.

In such a scenario, the competition moves from the arena of the essential personality and character of the guitar to a domain where quality, playability, fashion, and price become the important considerations. There's no doubt that Terada and Gretsch's Korean and Chinese manufacturers can make high-quality great-playing guitars in every price range - so we got that. And at the moment, thanks to its history, skillful marketing - and the cachet of a "lifestyle" brand - Gretsch is riding a wave of visibility and acceptance in the market, so we got fashion going for us. That could change (as it has in the past); saturation itself could lead to a backlash. And it's not an attractive proposition to be left competing on price alone.

Gretsch's long-time catchphrase - "that Great Gretsch Sound" - sums up the brand's ultimate value proposition. Somehow, across the three main series of pickups and several unique body builds, there is a common thread in the sound of our guitars. It comes through a wide array of genres and playing approaches. It's hard to describe, exactly, but we know it when we hear it - and I'd like to think Gretsch's popularity has grown because others know it too. That family of great sounds is born directly of those body builds and those pickups, and while it's (almost) always accompanied by a unique Gretsch look (in cosmetics, color, and appointments) - it's distinct from appearance.

If Gretsch ever got to a place where it had only the look - and had abandoned or diluted everything that contributed to the sound - I think it would be in a weaker place in the market and, in any case, would have lost my interest in the instruments themselves.

I play'em because they sound like nothing else. The looks are just something I've learned to appreciate as going along with that tone. Others have different perspectives, I know, and there may be a whole world of players out there who crave the look but don't care about the tone.

I guess FMIC-Gretsch can cater to both those groups - as long as the original build-and-pickup combinations are still there to perpetuate and sustain the legacy.

I hope the centerblockers are still All Gretsch in tone, if with a different response envelope. I think it's crucial to keep the Gretsch DNA while making a run at the market. I don't think the Gretsch custodians at FMIC have any intention of abandoning or so diluting Gretsch character that the meaning of the brand is lost. I don't accuse them of having gone too far in that direction "yet" or "already." We're seeing diversification, no doubt, and some realignment of model offerings (some of which make me a bit nervous).

But if anything, FMIC's handling of its own core Fender models provides grounds for continued confidence (if in a roundabout and convoluted way). Fender is nothing if not prolific in spinning out endless variations on its crown jewels: there are so many versions at multiple price points of Teles, Strats, JMs, Jags, and P&JBasses that it takes full-time scholarship to keep up with them. That can be confusing, and it's easy to mock. And FMIC has expanded the tonal options in some versions of those instruments well beyond their original palette. But among all those options there are also always models which can be considered reissues - as well as rationally but modestly modernized "standard" versions. We can certainly still buy instruments which remain as faithful as reasonably possible to the original recipes - and their tone.

One hopes there will always be hollowbody and chambered Gretschs, with Dynasonics and FilterTrons and HiloTrons, incorporating the essential specs, in the iconic and indispensable Gretsch model lines.

18

RE: Mud switches and other traditional Gretsch odd controls and features . . .

The guys in my band, who are decidedly Beatles hacks, are afraid to play my HiLo Tenny because of the Mud and Standby switches. I have patiently explained what they are for and how they function if one choses to engage with them, but they act like they are potential detonator switches that will somehow disrupt the space/time continuum . . . it's a very odd thing to witness. (The irony here is that each of the members of my band own guitars with such features as the Rickenbacker Blend Knob and the Gibson Varitone.)

Clearly this the target audience to whom the new-fangled Gretsches are aimed . . . and there is nothing wrong with that, provided there remain plenty-o-models featuring traditional Gretsch weirdness, that we all love so dearly.

19

Same with the pinned bridge, I guess; there's no question that new users are freaked out by the floater, and plenty of old hands prefer less mobility as well. As long as bridges are pinned in the correct, customary and consistent location, OK. They're a convenience.

But! Part of the Gretsch experience has always been learning about the brand's different approach to these things, adapting to them, employing them. Change too many small details, whittle a little here and a little there, and run the risk of shaving away part of the brand's uniqueness. -- Proteus

I hope that Gretsch never entirely eliminates the floating bridge. It is one of the quirks that I love so much about the brand. Okay, pin the bridges on the 5420, 5422, and the 56** series of guitars. The buyers who play those guitars are perhaps more likely to be younger players, and players who don't/won't take the time to learn about some of the Gretsch quirks. But, on the Professional Series, I really wish that they would be left to float.

Yeah, yeah, I know ...

20

with the pinned bridges all you have to do is remove the set-screw if it bugs you, a one minute ordeal at best. I can see people missing the mud switch aesthetic, and I can also see changing the value of the caps to make them more useable, but I like having a continually variable tone control so for me that was a big step in the right direction, because I can still get the "great gretsch sound" but have a little more control in the tailoring of the tone. That said after a few months with my new player edition I might change out pots and caps if I think it needs it, and remove any no load and treble bleed features as I don't generally like those things in my guitars. I am finding the classic back up the neck pickup a bit and slip into the middle position tone is a little harder to get to. But I have a lot of amplifiers to plug into before I make that call, from smaller Valco type to big black-faced Fenders. I have a DuoJet with one mod (Tru-arc titanium), so I got my classic "Great Gretsch Sound" nut covered. Any I never would want a hollow with center-block guitar as to me they just don't get want I want to hear. But I think the smaller body Anniversary player's edition with the ML bracing was a gift from the modern Gretsch gods as now when the volume comes up the guitar can sing without compromise. And any mod that makes a guitar more use-able, in the end, is something I love. I can say my players editions is head and shoulders above my old Anniversary in use-ability, without compromising Gretsch tone. That's why I wouldn't just recommend these mods to the lower level electromatics. Come to think of it, these mods, to me, make the guitar more "professional". As in, I'm going out to make some more money with my Gretsch this week, instead of having to take out any other guitar. And I do play guitar for a living. (of course this is all opinionated rambling, but isn't that what forums are for).

21

this is all opinionated rambling, but isn't that what forums are for

I've always thought so!

22

My centerblock Falcon is a Rock Machine! Wasn't so sure I'd be a fan, till I got it. Basically the same guitar except for color and appointments.

23
I found this thread a very interesting perspective, all the more valuable coming from long time Gretsch players. I happened by, flagged by a search link, while researching my 1st Gretsch purchase, and registered after reading this one thread. Thanks to those who took time to contribute here. I can only add, that sales descriptions I read state the Broadkaster and Nashville are both 16" at the lower bout, (the Broadcaster Jr being 14"). I also read that the Country Gent is 17", supporting my impression that Gretsch is offering some real distinctions across models, not just re-hashed versions, with superficial differences, of a couple of otherwise similar bodies. It seems to me that FMIC/Gretsch are making a solid effort to establish a strong market position for the brand, and giving players choices is a key element in accomplishing that goal. I can get behind that, especially when it means the vintage models will continue on, as advancements are made and offered alongside. To me, it represents the survival of the soul of a brand...something dear to all who love hand built instruments and their history. I have a G6609TFM inbound, and can't wait to meet her in person...all the more so since reading how special Gretsch instruments are to you long time players. You are the foundation of the future of Gretsch.
24

And I never would want a hollow with center-block guitar as to me they just don't get want I want to hear. But I think the smaller body Anniversary player's edition with the ML bracing was a gift from the modern Gretsch gods as now when the volume comes up the guitar can sing without compromise.

Dan (Weldon), I missed this distinction when this thread was fresh - and it crystalizes my experience in a way I hadn't thought of. I have a centerblock Electromatic, and like it fine, have never even thought of moving it on. But it's not a guitar that compels me to play it. I don't know if it's because the centerblock note envelope isn't as complex and interesting to me, or just that the SuperHiLoTrons (while nice pickups) aren't either immortal Filter'Trons or holy Dynasonics. (And it certainly does sound like a Gretsch, as far as that goes.)

But I find the reponse and envelope of an identically sized Electromatic without centerblock more compelling, more "essentially" Gretschy. I think there's a different profile of combed spectra in the midrange by comparison to the planker - particularly with both pickups on - which just tickles more Gretschbones in my ear. It seems more open, chimier.

And it's not like I'm against centerblocks in general. A 335 was my main ride for years, and I have plenty of guitars incorporating that feature.

I think you may have hit on something, that the ML and even trestle bracing retain some subtle character which a full centerblock dials down a notch. I get your argument that it makes the guitar more tractable, more usable on stages, and thus lets Gretsch tone infiltrate musical contexts where it may not have gone so easily before.

I'm thinking that, for my own taste, my preferences correspond to yours.

Which doesn't mean, Dan Jones, that I don't think the centerblock isn't "fully Gretsch". I can appreciate how the characteristic response of a thinline centerblock is fully in keeping with a long-standing wing of the Gretsch school: Chet always wanted a smoother tone (for which I read "less percussive") and more sustain - things a centerblock provides. Historically, he never got completely what he wanted from Gretsch (though the closed-body Gent evolved from his requests, and became his best known instrumental voice). It was when he went to Gibson that he finally got a centerblock in his sig model. Did he like it better than his Gretsch? I don't know.

I guess my point is that thinking centerblock models are only for higher-gain players misses the point that some Gretsch players - who are very traditional Gretsch guys, and most definitley not high-volume rockers - have always wanted that configuration.

There's room for all.


McCann, welcome to the GDP. Sounds like you have some interesting perspectives coming into the Gretsch domain, and I look forward to your impressions of your incoming first Gretsch. (It doesn't matter how old you are, or how many guitars you've had, there's a special thrill when the first box arrives with "That Great Gretsch Sound" emblazoned on it in red ink. I say "first box" because there's likely to be more. If you get truly smitten, you'll want to hear all the shades and varieties.)

Make yourself at home.


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