Modern Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch with three pickups.

1

I've had seven Gretches over the last 40 years. My most recent is the first generation G5622T, with cat's eyes and three pickups. It is easily one of the most versatile guitars that I've ever played, and that involves 60+ years of playing. Having several books covering the history of the brand, I know that there have been a dozen different three pickup models over the years, none in current production. So, I have to wonder if people just don't get it, or haven't tried, or simply prefer the two pickup models. I think the last option is the most probable, but since Fender has had a certain amount of success with three pickup models, why hasn't Gretch persued the idea?

2

I for one don't like 3 pups because I play fingerstyle and simply the center pup interferes with my thumbpick….I need the open space beneath the strings. To me, I can't imagine 3 pups giving me the sound I want that two pups can't. Chet experimented with everything and he never found the need to have 3 pups to get the sound he wanted and I'm the same.

3

Everyone says who needs 3 pickups.. .but somehow Strats always get a pass on this.

4

I like three pickups. Can you get the out-of-phase quacking tone with only two?

While I haven't tried a three-pickup 5622, I probably am not driven to do so simply because I already have a three-pickup Strat. (And a four-pickup DiPinto Galaxie 4.) So, I already can get that quacking tone.

5

I like having three.

I also have the 5622T, with a slight re-wire to give me all 7 pickup combinations. Yep, those guitars versatile.

"They" also ask who needs four pickups, but my first electric had four, and I still have a couple four-bangers. Four is good. (Five would be too many. Unless they would fit.)

In truth, any solidbody with three pickups sounds Stratty. (Even with P90s...maybe not so much with 'buckers, but that's an abomination anyway.)

But on anything hollow, the tone fattens up enough to remind you of a Strat - but not be a Strat. These Gretsch hollows exhibit that principle, but the original 3-pupper (so far as I know), the deep full-hollow Gibson ES-5, displays it even more so. You mix/match/blend the pickups on that guitar in interesting ways, and if you know how a Strat sounds, you can kinda hear that quality in the 1-2 and 2-3 mixes. But it doesn't have the same focus nor near the same bite as a Strat, and in truth the mixed positions can get muddy sounding. Lose coherence.

It even happens with the HiloTrons on the T-Rose Triple, and a little more so with the 5622. They're certainly usable tones - especially with some EQ - but they remind exactly no one of a sound that should be coming out of a Gretsch.

And I suspect that's why 3-pup Gretschs have never quite caught on. Those mixed positions somehow compromise the unique clarity and chime associated with Gretsch. You and I can use those tones, but it's not what most guys want out of a Gretsch.

I reckon.

6

Everyone says who needs 3 pickups.. .but somehow Strats always get a pass on this.

– DCBirdMan
  1. There's always an exception to the rule.

  2. Somebody's always got to be different.

7

As far as finger picking is involved, that's the style I usually use. The pickups sound best (to me) when thay have been lowered away from the strings, and so far that has not been a problem. I might mention that I've gotten famaliar with this pickup configuration since I also have 9 Strats and two Nashville (3 pickups) Telecasters. But, I can certainly see how some players might be concerned. And, the "quack" is there with the added capability of playing with the pickup volumes to eleviate any muddiness.

8

I think three pickup guitars interesting but don’t own any other than a cheap Strat clone. The Gretsch 5622T and Epiphone Riviera P-93 Custom are both on my radar, but no rush. The Tenny above looks cool. One thing holding me back is the thought that if three pickups were better, most guitars would probably have them.

9

Please don't get me wrong. I completely agree with Baba Joe, and I'm not in any way suggesting that three pickups are any better than two. Just different.

10

This 3 pickup guitar works really well for my solo fingerstyle jazz gigs with this rig.

11

This 3 pickup guitar works really well for my solo fingerstyle jazz gigs with this rig.

– Yavapai

Looks like a decently wide neck on that Rick... its a 3xxx? model?

12

Is the Music Man a 110 RD Fifty? Great little amp. I'll never willingly part with mine.

13

Has anyone else seen the new streamliner model G2627T? It's like a new version of the 3 pickup 5622 with 3 Broadtrons instead of Superhilos, with cats-eyes, and block neck inlays instead of thumbnails.

14

Hmm. From a quick look at lots of WTH head-scratching and speculation in forums - and websites - the 2627 would at first appear to be an FSR for Guitar Center, rather than a catalog Gretsch model. But an outfit called Music&Arts, based in Bethesda MD and apparently focused more on traditional school music programs than on combo, also shows the model on their site. I wonder if they’re associated with GC.

The guitar looks a great mod platform (three Broadtrons sure wouldn’t work for me), and the price is great. It does have enough cues to tell it from the Electromatic original - different fret markers, pickups and rings, black knobs and one more of them - but it’s close enough in appearance to confuse a lot of apparent Gretschheads in forums, so I can’t help but feel it kinda de-values the Electromatic.

Or shoot, maybe it flatters it. In any case, someone at GC apparently thinks a Gretsch triple should be a thing.

15

Apart from maybe Jimmy Wilsey and Johnny Marr I can't think of a tune which uses the "in-between" settings on a Strat which really does it for me. I have a Strat and never use the middle pickup. It's always either neck or bridge.

Funny thing is that I love Gretsch bridge pickups for their clucky sound, but don't like Strats for that sound. I think it's to do with the way that the Filter'tron reacts to picking. It bites in a different way to a Strat. There's a crispness that a Strat doesn't have.

The only other guitar I have had with three pickups was a Gibson ES-5. Never cared for the middle pickup blends in that either. I hardly ever use both pickups on at the same time on any guitar. It's almost always either neck or bridge. I'm starting to use the in-between setting on my 6120 a little but it's rare. I only ever used it on gigs for when we covered Buddy Holly or did Blue Moon of Kentucky!

16

Well come on...Mark Knopler? David Gilmour? Beck?

Sometimes a 1-2 or 2-3 tone is just right for the material at hand. I couldn’t use a Strat without the middle. The Strat bridge pup rarely lights me up - for two Fender singles, I’d way rather have a Tele, JM, or even Jag or Mustang (and I do).

And leaving aside the two in-between positions, a Strat middle by itself is glorious - warm, bright, juicy, throaty, just fat enough. For lead, it’s everything the bridge isn’t, and it’s often just the right weight and edge for a rhythm part that lays in and propels without getting in the way.

I just wouldn’t see the point of a Strat without the middle pup.

I’m surprised you rarely use the 2-pickup blend on most guitars. For me, the complex frequency combing that happens when combining electromagnetic “ears” at two different places on the string is often the most interesting and attractive tone. It’s where the guitar really comes alive and shows its personality - often a more sparkling, distinctive tone than either of the other pickups alone.

I’m not surprised you had no use for the 1-2 and 2-3 combos on the ES-5. I have a decent clone, and find those positions - when blended at full volume - are uselessly muddled and inarticulate. BUT! When I just blend in a little of the middle with either of the others, it’s some kind of magic. Somehow it brightens and focuses them. Totally counterintuitive, at least to me, but it works. Conversely, if I run the middle at full volume and mix just a little of one or both of the others in, it’s a great tone. Whoever decided to put three volume controls on that model instead of switches knew what they were doing.

17

I just don't like the in-between settings on Strats any more. I started guitar after hearing Sultans of Swing but that sound was done to death and now drives me crazy. I almost don't mind when Dave Gilmour uses it but then I'm not a huge Floyd fan. And having once been a fan of Jeff Beck find that now I can't bear his "weedley-weedley-wee" stunt guitar. He just doesn't sound musical any more. Impressive skills sure - but not particularly moving or musical. And as for Strat in-between sounds don't get me started on Sweet Home Alabama!

I understand your point "I just wouldn’t see the point of a Strat without the middle pup." And I agree! Doesn't mean I have to use the middle pickup though. I love Strat bridge pickups - call me crazy!

And I do like it when the bridge pickup is not right on the bridge. There are some great sounds when the bridge pickup has some breathing space between it and the bridge.

18

I hate strat middle tone by itself, but love the I between... really it was Skynyrd that first caught my attention (as they did with everyone), but SRV's col shot absolutely had to have that tone

K

19

Rocky at Streetsoundsnyc has a bunch of 3 pickup Custom Shop Gretsch. At the other end of the Gretsch line I just got the G2627T Streamliner at a good price and will check it out when it arrives next week. I have never been a Strat guy (only own one - and will probably sell it) but I do like 3 pickups. My favorite is my PRS Swamp Ash Special which has been modified with a 6-way toggle.

20

I like the in between sound of the Strat, I'd say it's THE unique selling point of it. The Strat's configuration leaves a bit of room to pick around the middle pickup. On other three pickup guitars this can be a bit of a problem.

That said I really liked the Patrick Stump CVT.

And it's still in production. Link

21

Might be something Gretsch could possibly look at with their Players Edition models with the Broad'Trons. It'd certainly be something to compete with a three pickup Les Paul Custom...

22

I forgot about the Stump model but in the past have thought about either getting one and maybe adding a Bigsby or else adding a third pickup to my Corvette. Just not sure if I want a solid body 3 pickup guitar plus the location of the toggle switch is not optimal imo.

This G2627T is interesting. Thanks Twom, I was not aware of them. Not sure if I prefer it over the G5622T with the Superhilos, but it’s now on the radar.

Streamliner Juniors make great modding platforms. I could see switching out the pickups here (perhaps even mixing them up ala Rocky, Cbell and Stephen Stern) and having a fun guitar. Cost would of course be a factor here and the guitar would probably become a keeper, but I don’t think that I would modify the G5622T except for maybe Proteus’s mods.

You got me thinking.

23

DC, it's a standard 3 piece Ric neck glued in to the (on this guitar hollow) body right back to the bridge. 1 5/8" nut width with a lacquered Chechen (Caribbean rosewood) fingerboard and a 10" radius. I use my thumb on a lot of chord shapes and the neck size and shape is perfect for that.

Like all 3 pickup Rics, the neck and middle pickups are permanently wired in series. Of course, with the pickup switch in the middle position the front pair and bridge volume levels can be "blended" with the ubiquitous Ric 5th knob "blend control."

Tim, yes, that's a 1981 Music Man 110RD Fifty. I bought it used 10 years ago and I've used it a lot since it fits so easily into a car trunk. It's a tad heavy due to the optional factory fitted Electro-Voice speaker with its' monstrous magnet but other lightweight speakers I've tried just don't get that "twang." It came with the original Sylvania 6L6 tubes but they were way past their best. I've tried others but discovered last year that these Russian Tung-Sol 5881s sound really good in this amp. Apex matching really does keep the noise floor way down too.

https://www.tubesandmore.co...

Oh, another couple of things. if you use channel 2 much, a 5751 tube works better than the stock 12AX7 as the limiter. The cheap Danelectro trem pedal velcroed to the top just adds a nice shimmer to either channel.

24

You had me at triple pickup and Cat's eye!

My favorite guitar from my Gibson period was a '73 SG Custom. I used whatever blends they offered, although I don't think all three were ever on at the same time. Man, that was a monster.

Love the Stump-O-Matic, as well. If I was going to go for a CVT, that'd be the one.

25

DC,

"Looks like a decently wide neck on that Rick... it's a 3xxx? model?"

It's a 350V63. Essentially a "John Lennon" 325C64 without a trem but, more importantly, with a regular 24¾" scale neck not the short scale 21" neck of the 325 series.


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