Modern Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch weirdness. In this case: The 6120-60 model. It drives me cr…

1

I recently bought a 1993 6120-60. It has some issues but I can live with that so far and I rarely played a Gretsch without any. Very often if the built quality was perfect it sounded boring. On the other hand I played some others with minor flaws that sounded great. Although I love what I call 'character' the inconsistence drives me crazy.

Back to the 6120-60. Ed's book says they were introduced in 1992 but I never saw a '93 serial. So I guess mine is a quite early one. The book also says besides some non-exact features it's got the 2.5" body. Mine has the regular 2.75. I can't tell how many plys the body has; I'll post a pic. Fingerboard radius should be 12". Nope, a perfect 9.5" which suits me great. Only downside: All my Tru-Arcs are 12" and I'd like to put one of those on.

The guitar has no kerfing inside. Which brings me to the biggest issue: It came all the way from Japan (that's a long way to Europe with some major climate distinctions) and has got weird hairline cracks in the finish along the whole (!) body binding. Nothing in the sensitive neck heel area or the neck. I can't get this in a photo but you can see it up-close and feel it. Should I worry?

Then it's got the neck hump issue around the frets where the neck meets the body. I hope I can set that up to make it playable without any obstacles.

So far that might not sound very mouth-watering. But apart from looking classy and having a great neck size and shape (round and not as thin as many others) it simply sounds fantastic, both unplugged and amplified. The stock ceramic Filters are in no way muddy or anything as you sometimes hear. They are clear, transparent with enough meat in the midrange, sparkling highs and tight lows.

I have a pair of original 1959 Filtertrons I was planning to put in but I'm not so sure now.

If this guitar was built well my guitar world would be perfect for a while. But it ain't. This drives me crazy.

2

Is this 5 or 3 ply?

3

See the finish issue on the right near the binding? It's both sides of the binding and goes around the body almost completely. Should I worry?

4

Why do some pre-FMIC Gretsch finishes stay snow white and others like this yellow a lot over the years? (Btw, the strings are loosened, so the Bigsby handle is in a weird angle.)

5

Nice - but not ridiculously perfect - flamed maple headstock veneer. Very 3D.

7

Is this 5 or 3 ply?

– sascha

5 ply. Can't see much of an issue with the binding. Love the random flame on the headstock. Looks like a good guitar.

8

I'm sorry I don't know the answers to any of your questions, but that's a fine looking guitar! My 6120 has a similar flame maple headstock veneer.

I've heard a lot about neck humps, but I've never seen one. Is it possible to take a picture illustrating this, so I know what to look out for in the future?

9

That's , what happened to the binding of my 90s 6120.5 ply and stiff as iron.It was my first Gretsch and ruined through a refret, done by an idiot, who ruined the fretboard with super glue.Since then, I don't love the guitar like before

10

Is this just discolouring, Holly? Can you send me the pic via email?

11

I'm sorry I don't know the answers to any of your questions, but that's a fine looking guitar! My 6120 has a similar flame maple headstock veneer.

I've heard a lot about neck humps, but I've never seen one. Is it possible to take a picture illustrating this, so I know what to look out for in the future?

– Otter

Thanks, Otter. I'll try to capture this in a photo.

12

The No kerfing was because the tops and sides were so thick they didn't need kerfing, there was enough glueing surface as it was.

I've never heard the ceramic filters described as muddy - harsh is what you hear most often, and what's typical for a pickup that was originally designed around an alnico magnet but has a ceramic instead. And from what I remember, the ceramic 'trons were brasher, harder sounding than a proper alnico one. Which is something a lot of rock guys, including two of my friends like about them. Not so great for sparkling, chimey, lively clean tones.

The Neck hump doesn't surprize me, it's a typical hollowbody thing, and from what I've seen fairly typical for Japanese made Gretsches.

13

The No kerfing was because the tops and sides were so thick they didn't need kerfing, there was enough glueing surface as it was.

I've never heard the ceramic filters described as muddy - harsh is what you hear most often, and what's typical for a pickup that was originally designed around an alnico magnet but has a ceramic instead. And from what I remember, the ceramic 'trons were brasher, harder sounding than a proper alnico one. Which is something a lot of rock guys, including two of my friends like about them. Not so great for sparkling, chimey, lively clean tones.

The Neck hump doesn't surprize me, it's a typical hollowbody thing, and from what I've seen fairly typical for Japanese made Gretsches.

– WB

I was just surprised by the no kerfing but I've seen it on old Kays and Harmonys too. I have no problem with this guitar rather 'solidly' built as I also want to use it outside of my living room.

Re: the ceramic FTs I have read every possible sonical description over the years here on the GDP. I never understood the 'muddy' thing and it's never been near my own experience. As I do play somewhat rockier from time to time I'll see how I like them. Otherwise I still have the option to put the '59s in it.

14

Hump-ty dump-ty:

15

Interesting. So is it actually raised relative to the lower half of the fingerboard, or is the fingerboard extension sagging, giving the appearance of a hump?

16

From what I remember, the late 90's and early 2000's had quite a few "neck hump" issues back then. Lots of folks with the neck hump.

Not sure what FMIC changed, but very few neck hump issues with the FMIC guitars are reported.

FWIW, I've had, and have, several FMIC hollow bodies, and haven't had a neck hump issue at all.

17

Interesting. So is it actually raised relative to the lower half of the fingerboard, or is the fingerboard extension sagging, giving the appearance of a hump?

– Otter

Not so sure, sorry. I'd like to leave that to the experts.

18

Funny, I also have a '93 6120-60. But sorry, no humps, no cracks, no binding issues. I've also raised the pickups with foam inserts but it never occurred to me to look for 5 or 3 ply. This one is quite a bit lighter than a '91 6120 that I've always assumed is 5 ply. I also dropped a 12" Compton bridge on without it crossing my mind to check the radius, and it has worked like a charm.

Note a previous owner had apparently started a Setzer transition, and so I kept it going.

19

Funny, I also have a '93 6120-60. But sorry, no humps, no cracks, no binding issues. I've also raised the pickups with foam inserts but it never occurred to me to look for 5 or 3 ply. This one is quite a bit lighter than a '91 6120 that I've always assumed is 5 ply. I also dropped a 12" Compton bridge on without it crossing my mind to check the radius, and it has worked like a charm.

Note a previous owner had apparently started a Setzer transition, and so I kept it going.

– Daddy Dog

Cool guitar, isn't it? I see it's not in the database. May I ask what's the serial number of yours is? Mine is 93612060-559.

20

Sometimes having too much relief in the neck can create the appearance of a hump in the neck at the body, as the truss rod ends at about that point.

Generally, I'll tighten (or loosen) the truss rod to straighten the neck as much as possible and usually find that the 'neck hump' has disappeared.

I've yet to see a confirmed, undeniable 'neck hump' on a modern Gretsch guitar, although that doesn't mean in any way that they don't exist, just that I haven't seen one.

YMMV and all that.

21

The finish is normal for the thick-ish poly they were still using. The white near the binding is a bit of poly "shatter" as the wood wants to keep moving around. Nothing to worry about. Flame headstocks were pretty standard too.

As Walter noted above, the lack of "kerfing" (IIRC the technical term is kerfed lining) is something the early Terada models had due to their 7-ply sides and 5-ply tops. Some Annies made after '62-3 had this feature but with 3-ply tops (standard) and 5-ply sides. It makes for a quieter acoustic but speeds up and simplifies the manufacuring process considerably.

Yours looks to have the same tuners as the early versions, but the body shape and neck heel is more "vintage correct" as the early Terada's had the Baldwin shape. Is there a piece of wood running from top to back under the bridge? The idea was to keep the back vibrating in sync with the front and reduce feedback; it actually works. I remember that my '89 got better and opened up acoustically with time. I can see you've got the ceramic Filters; I remember when I dropped in the TVJones Classics I felt like I got a new -- and way better sounding -- guitar.

22

The white near the binding is a bit of poly "shatter" as the wood wants to keep moving around. Nothing to worry about.

I know it's hard to see in the pic but I'm not talking of discolouration but four actual hairline cracks alongside the body.

24

My browser isn't uploading the pic, but what I remember on mine is exactly as you describe in that the "cracking" follows the contour of the binding? I had my Terada for ten years, almost brand new, and it never worsened. Pic just uploaded: this is normal for a poly finish of that time -- 24 years old and still looking great. The neck hump you may have to live with until you do a refret and then can level the fretboard. Maybe you can just keep the frets level until then?

25

5 ply. Can't see much of an issue with the binding. Love the random flame on the headstock. Looks like a good guitar.

– built4speed

I magnified the photo and I see two similar thicknesses with a thin layer sandwiched between them, making a 3 not 5 play top, no? What am I missing?


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