Modern Gretsch Guitars

Getting used to tiny frets…

1

My new Gretsch arrived yesterday. It's a 2010 '55 6121 RI - the one with the leather belt around the rim and the G-Brand! It's in fab condition and feels great. The neck is thinner than I was expecting but it's fine, I don't stress over that stuff unless it feels awful, and it doesn't. It's taking me some time to adjust to Dynas and I'm not sure if I ever will! Maybe some Dearmond mount Filter'trons are in my future...

But the thing which I'm really not sure about is the tiny vintage style frets. I have been spoilt by playing Gibsons or an SSLVO. Man, these frets are TINY! I'm even wondering if it's worth getting the guitar refretted... We don't have a plethora of experienced luthiers where I live though. And it ain't cheap.

I never even thought about vintage frets when I bought it. Oh well, I'll just see if I can get used to them.

2

Back when I played old Fenders they didn't bother me. But then after using medium jumbos, I Can't go back. Had a number of old Gretsches refretted for that reason. The super low profile frets on that Rick 660/12 I had for a short time... also a drag. Gibson uses larger frets, mostly, which I prefer. You always lose money when you sell a guitar you had refretted even tho it's a better player.

3

It's taking me some time to adjust to Dynas and I'm not sure if I ever will!

You might want/need better Dynasonics. If you have access to a friend or tech who can rewind pickups for not too much money, start out by having the stock bridge pickup wound hotter. I've had that done once, and it makes for a better balanced set, brought it closer to what I was used to from vintage DeArmonds, and smoothed out the harshness of the stock lead pickup some.

4

I just put a T-Armond in the bridge of my 6120DE. I left the neck Gretsch Dyna on the guitar; I like it. After shimming the pickups with a few of TV's foam spacers, I am much happier with the balance between the two pickups. I should disclose that I prefer single coil pickups in general, though.

As for frets, give them a bit more time. If you can't bond, but love everything else about the guitar, I'd do a refret, myself.

Good luck!

5

Jimmy, you are so used to bigger frets that you're almost answering the question for yourself- if this instrument is a keeper, a refret seems essential. You'll always be fighting this instrument if you don't.

Does this guitar have fret nibs? It's worth considering, if you're going to all the trouble and expense of a refret to have the nibs shaved flat and fretting over the binding to liberate the full playable width of the fretboard.

I always think that the lower a neck pickup can be set, the more forgiving a spiky bridge pickup becomes when set to match. Instinctively, we are drawn to boosting case height and in consequence, volume. This is at the expense of a definite soft sweetness which can be found at a lower height. Entirely the opposite approach for Filtertrons.

Again, you might find you're fighting a losing battle. Walter's suggestion of a macho rewind for the bridge pickup is solid. Otherwise, it's hand in wallet time yet again for T'Armonds, Seymours or even a vintage pair. Your idea of Dyna-cased Filters might be the best of all.

Good luck with the instrument, hope it works out for you.

6

An alternative consideration-

Embrace the differences in feel and sound that this guitar has from your usual preference and explore the new avenues these offer.

It might be an interesting journey.

7

An alternative consideration-

Embrace the differences in feel and sound that this guitar has from your usual preference and explore the new avenues these offer.

It might be an interesting journey.

– ade

+1!

A recent thread you (Jimmy) opened sounds like this comes at the right time. Leave the old paths, get new perspectives. Don't try to make the guitar like your other ones.

And if you do not bond at all with the 6121 there will always be someone here taking that off your hands gladly.

8

Wise words guys! And Sascha, you make an excellent point. I'm not rushing into anything, don't worry!

I already had some TV Jones risers - they arrived the day before the guitar. So the pickups are quite close to the strings and I don't actually notice too much difference in output between them. I notice that they are a bit like Fender pickups in that the poles pull on the strings, so I may decide to lower them a little soon. I really like the neck pickup. It gives me some lovely Duane tones. The bridge pickup is what takes some getting used to - I've been playing P90s on a hollow body mostly recently and in comparison the Dyna in the smaller body sounds, well, weird. With some dirt it's so different from a P90 I'm at a bit of a loss. BTW the body is nice and lightweight.

I'll post some pics soon.

9

congrats on getting a "new to you" guitar.

10

My 2014 Gretsch 6120DSW also has the narrow frets, and like you I wasn't sure about them at first. I now find them to be just fine, and in fact promote faster playing due to their lower crown height and narrower width. No problem with fretting out or buzzing either. They may have slightly less sustain than a fatter fret, but then a hollowbody guitar is not a sustain monster anyhow. So try them first before deciding on a refret.

11

I have a 2007 6120 DSV, its a 47 relic version, not sure if this was standard on that model, overall it has a vintage look and has thinner frets to my 6119T players edition,I bought it used and apparently it was plected fingerboard wise and with the True Arc bridge its a very low light feel, using 10s to 49 on it and had SD dynasonics on it and sounds great, bass pickup is so deep and Bridge kicks through so sharp.

12

Well I had a good decent play on it tonight and I'm feeling a lot better about the tiny frets (and thanks for the congrats!) Just before the guitar arrived I had cut my finger - the middle finger on my left hand. Even though the cut wasn't directly affecting my playing the bandaid I had on it must have affected me. Now the bandage is removed it all seems a lot easier.

Another thing - when I changed the strings to put my regular EB 10-52 on, I had planned to install my SS Tru-arc Serpentune. But alas it won't fit on the Bigsby bridge base. The aluminium Bigsby bridge is on a wooden base but the studs are too close together for the Serpentune to fit. Guess I'm up for fitting another wooden base.

Happy new years everyone!

13

I grew up on big frets between Gibson and Ibanez guitars, but when I got an EVH Wolfgang with vintage frets, I fell in love after a while. I really like feeling the fretboard a bit and also like the lower likelihood of squeezing the note sharp.

14

The Dynasonic pickups in my 6130 Roundup Knotty Pine needed the poles adjusted before I was happy with them. There is a diagram on the pole height adjustments somewhere here on th GDP. A search of the forum should find it. I too like big frets so it took me awhile to adjust to the thin Vintage style frets. Give it some time and I think you will adjust to them as I did.

15

Heres my 2 Canadian pennies...(which arent made anymore btw). I really like the small" vintage" size of frets. When I got my 6120DS,with its small frets,I knew right away why I thought Rickenbackers were so wonderfully easy to play --- narrow,small frets. For instance,playing a lot of quick chord changes or comping on the narrow frets really ups my chances of actually hitting those chords cleanly. Now I am keen to try a Telecaster with the same small frets---jumbo size just seems like you have to work harder.Big frets might be better for shredding though....

16

I'll throw some odd duck into the soup.

I believe optimum fretting is achieved by starting with tall Bass wire on the first few frets and decreasing the size as you head for frets in the 20s which SHOULD be small fret wire.

The frets are close together and benefit from little skinny wire.

In the future, my multiscale instruments will be standard with this feature.

Just sayin'
17

I only like low, nicely crowned frets. I too like the feeling of being in contact with the fingerboard, but most importantly, as I've discussed around here previously, a low fret doesn't create the pulling a note sharp effect a tall fret does. With less distance for the string to travel - when depressed lower than the fret, till it hits the fingerboard - the less sharp the string is capable of creating.

My vintage frets aren't "small" or "tiny" as far as physical size is concerned; they're actually quite wide, but are short at .035". The width is .102". By comparison, the width on my '98 6120 is .083". Chet's personal Super Axe I have is .107". My Gibson CG is .097". Those frets started out life at around .090" high! and I had them taken down to just under .050" and they're still somewhat bumpy when moving along the strings. At some point I'll have them replaced with the same wire I had Nicole put on the SC.

18

I re fretted my Squier vintage w medium jumbo frets. Afterwards I bought my Gretsch 6129 w vintage frets. I never noticed a difference. Except for my Fender strat, all my guitars w medium jumbos. I can't imagine doing such a major change to my Gretsch. AllModCons, I think you have a point. The Gretsch is indeed very easy to play.

19

Windsordave: "My vintage frets aren't "small" or "tiny" as far as physical size is concerned; they're actually quite wide, but are short at .035". The width is .102"."

Match here. When I get a guitar refretted I have them use Dunlop 6130 wire which is wide and flat. I like the feel of a heftier wire but not the height which gives me intonation problems. The shop I use (Gary Brawer in SF) PLEK's all their refrets, so I have them take the frets down a bit extra.

As someone above said, it also makes sense to use smaller wire farther up the fingerboard. This is especially true with a 24 fret guitar (not my preference but some come that way). When I had my L-6S refretted, I had them use smaller wire above the 17th fret and it makes moving around up there much easier.

20

Just in case anyone is wondering what thin "vintage" frets look like, here is the fretboard of my Gretsch 6120DSW.

21

Here's a pic of my Super Chet's neck following the refret. You'll note that the frets extend across the binding to the outer edge. The originals while narrower than these but about the same height and deeply grooved, did extend beyond the edge of the ebony a bit but had the tang intact and were installed at the factory prior to installation of the binding, which was hammered into the ends of the frets. Over time this produced cracks in the binding at every fret end which is now arrested and not an issue. These frets in this pic are .035" tall and .102" wide and a dream to play.

22

Well I'm making headway with this guitar. When I first got it I had a bandage on my left hand middle finger which hampered me more thanI realised, and now my finger is healed the guitar definitely feels easier to play. It's still not a patch on y 225 for playability, but I suspect that it would also feel easier to play if the bridge pickup was more like what I'm used to.

Today I lowered the pole pieces a fair bit, so some are level with the top of the bobbin or black cover bit. I have a pretty even string response with some tweaking. The pickups are very close to the strings! But at least I don't have too much Stratitis up the neck. I'm so used to Filter'trons and right now P90s, so feel like I have to play harder with the Dynas. I'm starting to a better tone but it's still a foreign land to me. I really like the twanginess, but the lack of distinctive mids is hard to take.

Just for a change, I suspect Walter my be right. A higher output bridge pickup would probably reduce the extreme treble harshness I have right now. I am starting to "get" the sound, but think that a bit more grunt in the pickup may just smooth the highs and add some mids which are desperately needed.

23

I switched to TV JONES T-Armonds in all of my Dynaguitars and will never go back.They have the more midrange, you're searching for ;)

24

Voodooholly I was wondering about those pickups. I think they may be the answer.


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