Modern Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch replacement for ES-335

1

Hoping for some help with a guitar search.

Long story short:

I got a G6120LTV-1959 about 5 months ago and it is by far my favorite electric I've owned in terms of sound and fit and finish. I got it mostly to play in my country side project, where it excels - the perfect guitar for that.

My main (alt country/rock) project I used to play mostly telecasters, but the last year I've been playing a recent 1958 reissue ES-335. I've always struggled a bit with the sound, and a while back I replaced the stock pickups with Lollartrons, which were an improvement.

Last night I took the G6120 to main band practice, and as it had done the first time I did this a while back, the sound just blew the 335 away.

I love the way the strings feel on the Gretsch (I wonder if this is due to the extra string length for the Bigsby?) I can dig in and it's just... there.

Additionally, the fit and finish on the Gretsch is just miles beyond the Gibson - finish is nicer, seems much thinner and less plasticized feeling.

So... this has me thinking the 335 is maybe not really the guitar for me. Has a great size and look, plays fairly well, but... this has me looking for another Gretsch as a replacement.

First question will be, 'Why don't you just play the 6120 in that band?'

Couple things:

Upper fret access isn't ideal on the 6120. I don't spend a ton of time up there, but I have songs where I'm playing high lead parts while singing, and the less in my way, the better.

Body depth sorta gets in the way of the type of playing I'm doing.

So, wishlist: 1. Prefer semi hollow of some sort. Not necessarily center block, though.

  1. Not tiny (les pauls look small on me). Duo Jet might not be size wise what I'd prefer, but... I dunno, some nice models.

  2. Bigsby

  3. Better upper fret access than the 6120.

  4. Lacquer (this seems to be where the current lineup lets me down - I don't think it really affects sound, but it makes a big difference to me in feel vs. poly)

  5. TV Jones filtertrons would be very nice - love the pickups in the 6120. I'm not averse to TV Jones D'Armond style, though. To me, pickups are generally less important than the feel of the strings and the attack of the guitar itself.

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!

2

Sounds like the specs for a Country Gent, or perhaps one of the older doublecut 6120's. The double cutaways and thinner body will give you the better upper fret access you're seeking, There's also the newer 6620 Player's Edition, which has a centerblock, but if you're set on lacquer, an older model might be the way to go.

3

As is often the case, a compromise of features may be in order, those affecting play being foremost in importance. The first Gretsches that comes to mind are in the family of Double Cuts, the Country Gent, the 6122T (no mute), being the top model, which if you're like most of us, never use. The body depth is shallower than the 6120 which you want and most importantly, they have superior upper fret access. Most I believe don't have a lacquer finish or TV's - the compromise I spoke of - but the better access seems the most important feature for performing, no? And the double cuts are the larger size body you prefer as well.

4

I hear Panthers are amazing. I thought Gretsch discontinued them but they are still on the website. These are not finished in nitrocellulose though.

5

I'd get a used Panther,the red one i played a few years ago was outstanding,i only wish i could've brought it home. The lacquer thing wouldn't bother me though,this guitar is a class act.

You also have the new Player's Edition Broadkaster 6609,with or with out Bigsby.

6

Decades ago, a '79 335 became my main guitar, and remained so for years. When I strayed from it, it was often for other center-block semis, usually with humbuckers. When at long last I discovered Gretsch about 13 years ago, like you, I found a tone and response that worked uniquely well for the style of playing I had already evolved - and which helped me refine and continue that evolution.

But because of the years of comfort with double-cut centerblock guitars, I gravitated toward the doublecuts of early 60s type, i.e. the Country Gent and the 6120DC. Then I discovered Dynasonics, which are like the voice I was always looking for. The dream guitar for me then became a doublecut 25.5" scale with Dynas...which doesn't really exist. (I have one, but that's another whole story.)

None of these guitars, however, have the centerblock - and I do still appreciate the sort of compression, control, and composure a centerblock can provide. It turns out I don't appreciate it so much that it's a necessity for me in a Gretsch. Personally, I found a Jet provides the perfect note envelope, resonance, and response for me - and I can't find a guitar whose tone I like better, or which sounds more like me, than a Jet with Dynasonics. (I also love my Country Club with Dynasonics - a big full empty hollowbody, and not at all what we're discussing for your purposes - the custom doublecut Dynasonic Gent, and my plain ol' 62-reissue Gent. All for different reasons.)

So, because I got so happy with various Dynasonic Gretschs, my quest for the perfect Gretsch 335 became less desperate. But when that desire bubbles up again, I look at the centerblock models Gretsch has developed in the last few years, most of which I've played - and which absolutely answer the question "what does a Gretsch 335 sound like." I suppose that's similar to the question "what would a 335 with Filter'Trons sound like". But for me it's moot - the Gretsch, with its lighter centerblock and other construction details, still has (to my ear) a more distinct note articulation. And it's a modern Terada Gretsch, with all the detail and quality that implies.

And the "Gretsch 335" that most attracts me is this one: https://www.gretschguitars.....

To me, that's got it all. But the doublecut Broadkasters (and even the Broadkaster Jr, though the body size might be too small for you) also qualify. The Panthers and the doublecut Falcon with centerblock are also fine...it's just that 6620 and the Broadkasters appeal to me more. If my Gretsch 335 passion boils over again, that's where I'll be headed.

7

Try out a CVT (Corvette). Slim, light and good access to dusty frets.

Or better yet, a Spectra Sonic.

9

Try out a CVT (Corvette). Slim, light and good access to dusty frets.

Or better yet, a Spectra Sonic.

– NJBob

"Dusty frets." That's funny. I was recently playing my CVT and thought about how good the access is to higher register frets. Then I thought about how little time I spend there. Still, a really cool and underappreciated guitar.

10

Decades ago, a '79 335 became my main guitar, and remained so for years. When I strayed from it, it was often for other center-block semis, usually with humbuckers. When at long last I discovered Gretsch about 13 years ago, like you, I found a tone and response that worked uniquely well for the style of playing I had already evolved - and which helped me refine and continue that evolution.

But because of the years of comfort with double-cut centerblock guitars, I gravitated toward the doublecuts of early 60s type, i.e. the Country Gent and the 6120DC. Then I discovered Dynasonics, which are like the voice I was always looking for. The dream guitar for me then became a doublecut 25.5" scale with Dynas...which doesn't really exist. (I have one, but that's another whole story.)

None of these guitars, however, have the centerblock - and I do still appreciate the sort of compression, control, and composure a centerblock can provide. It turns out I don't appreciate it so much that it's a necessity for me in a Gretsch. Personally, I found a Jet provides the perfect note envelope, resonance, and response for me - and I can't find a guitar whose tone I like better, or which sounds more like me, than a Jet with Dynasonics. (I also love my Country Club with Dynasonics - a big full empty hollowbody, and not at all what we're discussing for your purposes - the custom doublecut Dynasonic Gent, and my plain ol' 62-reissue Gent. All for different reasons.)

So, because I got so happy with various Dynasonic Gretschs, my quest for the perfect Gretsch 335 became less desperate. But when that desire bubbles up again, I look at the centerblock models Gretsch has developed in the last few years, most of which I've played - and which absolutely answer the question "what does a Gretsch 335 sound like." I suppose that's similar to the question "what would a 335 with Filter'Trons sound like". But for me it's moot - the Gretsch, with its lighter centerblock and other construction details, still has (to my ear) a more distinct note articulation. And it's a modern Terada Gretsch, with all the detail and quality that implies.

And the "Gretsch 335" that most attracts me is this one: https://www.gretschguitars.....

To me, that's got it all. But the doublecut Broadkasters (and even the Broadkaster Jr, though the body size might be too small for you) also qualify. The Panthers and the doublecut Falcon with centerblock are also fine...it's just that 6620 and the Broadkasters appeal to me more. If my Gretsch 335 passion boils over again, that's where I'll be headed.

– Proteus

I agree with everything that Proteus said here. I have a 6120DC and it is a great guitar. But another option to replace a 335 other than a Gretsch would be a Westerly built Guild Starfire IV or V. Exquisitely made guitars that look superb usually with a high degree of flame maple. Mine sounds somewhat Gretschy as I replaced the Fender redesigned HGB-1 pickups with TV Jones Power'trons. A fantastic guitar.

11

What I don't see mentioned in any of the other comments here is trestle bracing. I believe it is the trestle bracing that truly makes the 6120LTV a 335 killer. It holds up great in high-volume settings, has a little more "air" than the Gibson, but a more focused sound than the soundpost model Gretschen.

Combine that with the TVJ Classics and you end up with something more sparkly and lively than a 335, but less woofy and resonant than a full hollow. It's the perfect in-between.

12

What I don't see mentioned in any of the other comments here is trestle bracing. I believe it is the trestle bracing that truly makes the 6120LTV a 335 killer. It holds up great in high-volume settings, has a little more "air" than the Gibson, but a more focused sound than the soundpost model Gretschen.

Combine that with the TVJ Classics and you end up with something more sparkly and lively than a 335, but less woofy and resonant than a full hollow. It's the perfect in-between.

– Otter

Agree, re: trestle bracing. I love my Phoenix, and I think the trestle bracing has a lot to do with it- just enough focus, just enough 'air'. I recently got a Panther- mainly because I needed something more 'comfortable' on stage and for the easier upper fret access. It definitely has a bit 'tighter' sound than the Phoenix, and for the most part I really like it- but the center-block (and shallower depth, too, I'm sure) makes it much harder to get controlled feedback out of it. The Phoenix is a dream in that department- kick on a compressor pedal and the feedback sings like a bowed cello and without getting out of control. I'm realizing what I really want is a double-cut Phoenix.... If I ever win the lottery I'll have the custom shop make one for me.

13

+2, or is it 3... for the G6620...and it has the string thru!!!!! Players Edition!

14

I'd go players edition broadkaster all the way! I'm gas'ing for the vintage white one with the tortoise guard

15

Thanks, all - the Broadkaster double cut is the one that has caught my eye the most, though I guess I'd need to play one to see how different the Gretsch center block acts compared to the Gibson one. Being spruce and chambered both sound like positives to my mind when I think of the sound I like. I agree with the comment that the trestle bracing on my G6120LTV is a big part of the magic - seems like the Gretsch center blocks are splitting the difference in a way between the trestle and something as full-on as a Gibson center block.

As noted, there will be compromises made somewhere. I guess if I could get into a thinner trestle braced box, that'd be ideal, but it seems that might be a non-starter.

My impression on the double cut 6120s was that the heel/body extend to the same place as the single cut, it's just the body is cut away on both sides, so you still run into a pretty dang thick chunk of guitar at the 14th fret. Am I wrong there?

Country Gent could be interesting, though I'd have to find one that isn't in that walnut stain - not a big fan of that.

6620 seems nice - is the main difference between that and the Broadkaster that the 6620 is a 17" body, and the Broadkaster is a 16" body? Seems that G6636T Falcon is very similar in nearly all respects to the Broadkaster.

Lots to look into.

16

This thread is giving me GAS.

17

Get a Panther. Here's mine:

18

Here's the guitar for you Bob. All the features you're looking for. Trestle bracing, wider neck (on the earlier ones) excellent upper fret access, lacquer finish, 17" body (but 2 3/4" deep), unique shape and pretty as can be: early Super Chet.

My, albeit 'fixed' up, '72 SC

19

I would suggest you try an electromatic 5422. Very well constructed (fully hollow, though), and an ideal platform for trying pickups if you wish to. Maybe a change for a "real" bigsby also.

20

I will agree with Dave that the Super and Deluxe Chets have amazing upper neck access, probably the best of all Gretsch's I've experienced. However they are not really trestle braced(sorry Dave) They do have the huge square top and back longitudinal braces but instead of the trestles they have a birch ply 1" by 6" by 2" block under the bridge that should be attached to both sets of braces. On mine and on Dave's as well it wasn't attached to the back braces. probably the effect is similar to trestles when properly attached though. basically a hollow body look with a solid body sound. Wicked upper neck access and beautiful guitars. Heavy though , about 9lbs.

21

I'd say to give your 6120 a bit of a longer term test drive. We humans are extremely adaptable you may ( and I mean may) that you've adapted to the thickness and upper fret access before you know it. Nothing to lose here except time. You've already found the sound and feel that you like. If that doesn't work out, there were plenty of great suggestions here.

22

You could also look into a 70's era 7660 Nashville,it has a good neck to body join for higher fret excess and isn't brown/walnut.

23

My 6120 isn't going anywhere, for sure - it's absolutely perfect in my country band. Usually at this point in the relationship, I'm finding things I wish a guitar had, and I am not doing that w/ the 6120 at all. Same way I feel about my K-Line Tele and my Bourgeois dreadnought... they just don't need to be anything else. Hoping for the 'rock' guitar that has that too...

The Super Chet seems like not really what I'm after with the thick body.

Looking at these recent models more, it seems there are several center block models that are almost identical except for a (very few) features - the CB double cut Falcon, the Broadkaster double cut, and the Panther... other than the headstock on the Falcon and one pickup difference, they seem to be only cosmetically different. Picking based on that, that Cadillac Green Broadkaster is pretty hard to beat. Ebony board and bound f-holes just seem right, and sparkle binding is a bit too flash for me to jump at the Falcon.

24

Check scale length on the 6620 vs Broadkasters. I think the 6620 is 24.6 and the Broads 25.5. That's an important consideration.

It's hard to go wrong with anything in Cad green, and the Broadkaster is especially elegant - but I have some Cadgreen, so I'm more afflicted by the bourbon stain.

25

6620, Broadkaster, Falcon DC CB and Panther all appear to be 24.6"


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