Modern Gretsch Guitars

I kinda’ pulled the plug. (hELLLLp, eChO) ++longer+++>

1

I returned the green 6420 (but I have it on layaway.) Did you ever buy the same guitar twice? 1. The rounded neck profile is good, but wish it were thicker. 2. Intonation was good. I didn't have to mess with the saddles. 3. First hollow body, 1st Bigsby? The Bigsby felt like a natural stick shift on a well loved on a personally driven car. Howl, pull, and feedback was controlled like I spent a lifetime of hours on the guitar.

Here is where it get sticky & my intent is not to step on anyone's toes. I'm older, with some definite hearing loss. My right ear hears like, if you would cup your hand loosly over yours. There's some ringing but I din't notice it. The upshot is that it's able to discern harmonics really well.

The 3-Volume knob configuration on the guitar was put there to aid the tearing of all the remaining hair from my head. I went pickup adjustment in hyper-drive, and in the end, I just dimed everything but the guitar's tone knob. (I really was not happy with what I heard.)

I wasn't happy (& I didn't know,) Gretsch was under the wing of FMIC. My opinion, still distilling "Quite frankly, I still am;) The pickups on this Korean Guitar are in the same grade/ballpark as stock pickups on a Standard Stratocaster or Telecaster. (A made in Mexico version.) Ceramic bar magnets on the underside.

Where I'm now? I cannot find an Artist Model or Pro Line anywhere for comparison. I don't want to gut the 5420's electronics, spend a few days of surgery & put the thing back together, not be happy & start the process over again.

In the past/personal experience, all "order online" guitars have been a huge disappointment & a royal PITA. I know you will me vote off the island if I say I ordered a Takada Guitar that isn't a Gretsch.

The above was posted in a plea of help, kind of thing. (If you can't see a bit of entwined humor, I hope it sinks in Later. Thank You. 12Bars Rock On

2

"The 3-Volume knob configuration on the guitar was put there to aid the tearing of all the remaining hair from my head."

Funny.

And I sometimes feel the same way.

3

Sounds like the honeymoon effect. I'm thinking once you get used to the quirky Gretschyness of it you'll full heartedly fall in love.

4

I won't vote you off the island over the ceramic pickup issue! I agree with you. If I ever bought a 5422 which is one of my favorite Gretsch guitars the first thing I would likely do is replace the pickups and electronics.

Did you get an Elitist Casino?

5

Opinions are just opinions, we know what they're like, and of course you're entitled to yours.

But this...

I wasn't happy (& I didn't know,) Gretsch was under the wing of FMIC. My opinion, still distilling "Quite frankly, I still am;)

... is a pretty baffling statement, followed up by what seems to be a knock on the pickups Fender opts to put on some guitars. (A mystifying complaint, because you can find Fenders with a wide range of pickups - depending on which line you buy from, and what you can spend.)

But in pretty much everyones' opinions (and there it is again), FMIC has been a stellar steward of Gretsch, its heritage, and its future. Any skeptical discussions about the topic are 10-15 years old by now. One of the FIRST things FMIC did when "taking over" the line was to re-spec nearly every feature of all standing models to bring them closer to vintage practice, and away from the modernizing that obtained during Fred's management of the line from 1990 to 2002. (For example, among the first things that happened was returning Filter'Trons to AlNiCo instead of ceramic magnets.)

Since then, with few exceptions, FMIC has earned high marks from pretty much all players and reviewers for the spec and build of both the Terada-made Japanese guitars and the Korean (and Chinese) Electromatics. They've won over the great majority of naysayers, I believe. Most folks seem to think it's been the longest run of consistent high quality Gretsch electric guitars have enjoyed in their long history.

Now you seem to be judging it negatively based on short experience with a single model - while admitting it's your first hollowbody and first Bigbsy. Man. There's a lot to get used to there!

Do the blacktop Filter'Trons have ceramic magnets? I've had them on several guitars and didn't know. Am I not supposed to like ceramic magnets? Do we maybe, just possibly pay obsessive attention to that one pickup characteristic to the exclusion of all others?

Not that I'm defending blacktops. If you don't like them, you don't like them. No harm no foul. While I think they're perfectly serviceable pickups, I'm still coming to terms with their distinctive tone, and I don't suppose they come at the top of my list of favorite Filter'Trons.

But do remember we are discussing a mid-price Gretsch, not a so-called "pro line" instrument. I find modern Electromatics perfectly "professional" in quality and functionality - and the Korean build exemplary. But in the end they're made in Korea because that lets FMIC bring them in at a lower price than the high-priced spread. It shouldn't' be surprising that they don't boast the premium-est of components.

If you're wondering if the pickups or wiring are standing between you and complete Gretsch satisfaction, I'd say the answer is "it's likely." I can appreciate you don't want to spring for replacement pickups and a wiring harness more to your liking...and run the chance you still won't completely like the guitar. But lookit - you specifically praise a lot of things about the guitar, so much so that you've bought it twice. I can promise you any of TV Jones' pickups will sound dramatically different from the blacktops. I'm pretty sure a swap would transform the guitar in your ears.

Though I'm a bit confused about your hearing loss and how it helps you discern harmonics. I can buy that a particular pattern of frequency loss might skew how you perceive the spectrum of any particular pickup/bridge/string combination - that you might be more sensitive to some harmonics and less to others, and that could shape your sonic taste. In that case, it might be hard to predict how swapping to another particular pickup set would affect what you hear.

On the other hand, if you had your audiologist's chart of your response, you could consult with TV Jones - who surely knows the spectral response of all his pickups - and maybe figure out which of his winds would dovetail most sweetly with your ears.

And WHILE you were at it - should you want to invest further in this Gretsch hollerbody experiment - you should replace the wiring harness as well. Again, TV could spec pots with a different taper that would allow you less maddening adjustability. (With the caveat that a Gretsch wiring harness simply doesn't work like a Gibson harness. If you want a more Gibson-esque harness, TV or several other resources could help get you there.)


And WHY can't you find a pro-line guitar to try? No dealers close by? Don't want to travel?

Before buying Gretsch pro-lines I made the effort to travel to a number of stores (as far as 4 hours away) in order to try a lot of guitars. It was worth the time and effort to me, as it gave me invaluable insight into which pickups, features, models most appealed.

Another approach is to attend one of the GDP "Roundups", where dozens of players bring gobs of Gretschs for casual jamming and more structured performances, and where the hungry ear has the chance to soak up every possible Gretsch variety. No one minds if you play their guitars, either, so you could get some hands-on. Consider this an invitation.

Finally, with the liberal return policies of virtually all online Gretsch dealers, there's minimal risk in ordering a guitar your research leads you to believe will suit you, trying it in the comfort and convenience of your own signal chain - then returning for refund if it doesn't suit. It might cost something in shipping, time, and hassle - but these are expensive toys, and it's worth some investment to feel confident you've chosen well.

6

Opinions are just opinions, we know what they're like, and of course you're entitled to yours.

But this...

I wasn't happy (& I didn't know,) Gretsch was under the wing of FMIC. My opinion, still distilling "Quite frankly, I still am;)

... is a pretty baffling statement, followed up by what seems to be a knock on the pickups Fender opts to put on some guitars. (A mystifying complaint, because you can find Fenders with a wide range of pickups - depending on which line you buy from, and what you can spend.)

But in pretty much everyones' opinions (and there it is again), FMIC has been a stellar steward of Gretsch, its heritage, and its future. Any skeptical discussions about the topic are 10-15 years old by now. One of the FIRST things FMIC did when "taking over" the line was to re-spec nearly every feature of all standing models to bring them closer to vintage practice, and away from the modernizing that obtained during Fred's management of the line from 1990 to 2002. (For example, among the first things that happened was returning Filter'Trons to AlNiCo instead of ceramic magnets.)

Since then, with few exceptions, FMIC has earned high marks from pretty much all players and reviewers for the spec and build of both the Terada-made Japanese guitars and the Korean (and Chinese) Electromatics. They've won over the great majority of naysayers, I believe. Most folks seem to think it's been the longest run of consistent high quality Gretsch electric guitars have enjoyed in their long history.

Now you seem to be judging it negatively based on short experience with a single model - while admitting it's your first hollowbody and first Bigbsy. Man. There's a lot to get used to there!

Do the blacktop Filter'Trons have ceramic magnets? I've had them on several guitars and didn't know. Am I not supposed to like ceramic magnets? Do we maybe, just possibly pay obsessive attention to that one pickup characteristic to the exclusion of all others?

Not that I'm defending blacktops. If you don't like them, you don't like them. No harm no foul. While I think they're perfectly serviceable pickups, I'm still coming to terms with their distinctive tone, and I don't suppose they come at the top of my list of favorite Filter'Trons.

But do remember we are discussing a mid-price Gretsch, not a so-called "pro line" instrument. I find modern Electromatics perfectly "professional" in quality and functionality - and the Korean build exemplary. But in the end they're made in Korea because that lets FMIC bring them in at a lower price than the high-priced spread. It shouldn't' be surprising that they don't boast the premium-est of components.

If you're wondering if the pickups or wiring are standing between you and complete Gretsch satisfaction, I'd say the answer is "it's likely." I can appreciate you don't want to spring for replacement pickups and a wiring harness more to your liking...and run the chance you still won't completely like the guitar. But lookit - you specifically praise a lot of things about the guitar, so much so that you've bought it twice. I can promise you any of TV Jones' pickups will sound dramatically different from the blacktops. I'm pretty sure a swap would transform the guitar in your ears.

Though I'm a bit confused about your hearing loss and how it helps you discern harmonics. I can buy that a particular pattern of frequency loss might skew how you perceive the spectrum of any particular pickup/bridge/string combination - that you might be more sensitive to some harmonics and less to others, and that could shape your sonic taste. In that case, it might be hard to predict how swapping to another particular pickup set would affect what you hear.

On the other hand, if you had your audiologist's chart of your response, you could consult with TV Jones - who surely knows the spectral response of all his pickups - and maybe figure out which of his winds would dovetail most sweetly with your ears.

And WHILE you were at it - should you want to invest further in this Gretsch hollerbody experiment - you should replace the wiring harness as well. Again, TV could spec pots with a different taper that would allow you less maddening adjustability. (With the caveat that a Gretsch wiring harness simply doesn't work like a Gibson harness. If you want a more Gibson-esque harness, TV or several other resources could help get you there.)


And WHY can't you find a pro-line guitar to try? No dealers close by? Don't want to travel?

Before buying Gretsch pro-lines I made the effort to travel to a number of stores (as far as 4 hours away) in order to try a lot of guitars. It was worth the time and effort to me, as it gave me invaluable insight into which pickups, features, models most appealed.

Another approach is to attend one of the GDP "Roundups", where dozens of players bring gobs of Gretschs for casual jamming and more structured performances, and where the hungry ear has the chance to soak up every possible Gretsch variety. No one minds if you play their guitars, either, so you could get some hands-on. Consider this an invitation.

Finally, with the liberal return policies of virtually all online Gretsch dealers, there's minimal risk in ordering a guitar your research leads you to believe will suit you, trying it in the comfort and convenience of your own signal chain - then returning for refund if it doesn't suit. It might cost something in shipping, time, and hassle - but these are expensive toys, and it's worth some investment to feel confident you've chosen well.

– Proteus

That's some sage advice right there. So glad that you are back on the GDP again, my friend, so that Gretsch newbs can get the real information distilled to them in a friendly and easily digested bit of prose.

Life is good, ain'it?

7

Life is good, ain'it?

It's always a good choice to maintain so.

8

Opinions are just opinions, we know what they're like, and of course you're entitled to yours.

But this...

I wasn't happy (& I didn't know,) Gretsch was under the wing of FMIC. My opinion, still distilling "Quite frankly, I still am;)

... is a pretty baffling statement, followed up by what seems to be a knock on the pickups Fender opts to put on some guitars. (A mystifying complaint, because you can find Fenders with a wide range of pickups - depending on which line you buy from, and what you can spend.)

But in pretty much everyones' opinions (and there it is again), FMIC has been a stellar steward of Gretsch, its heritage, and its future. Any skeptical discussions about the topic are 10-15 years old by now. One of the FIRST things FMIC did when "taking over" the line was to re-spec nearly every feature of all standing models to bring them closer to vintage practice, and away from the modernizing that obtained during Fred's management of the line from 1990 to 2002. (For example, among the first things that happened was returning Filter'Trons to AlNiCo instead of ceramic magnets.)

Since then, with few exceptions, FMIC has earned high marks from pretty much all players and reviewers for the spec and build of both the Terada-made Japanese guitars and the Korean (and Chinese) Electromatics. They've won over the great majority of naysayers, I believe. Most folks seem to think it's been the longest run of consistent high quality Gretsch electric guitars have enjoyed in their long history.

Now you seem to be judging it negatively based on short experience with a single model - while admitting it's your first hollowbody and first Bigbsy. Man. There's a lot to get used to there!

Do the blacktop Filter'Trons have ceramic magnets? I've had them on several guitars and didn't know. Am I not supposed to like ceramic magnets? Do we maybe, just possibly pay obsessive attention to that one pickup characteristic to the exclusion of all others?

Not that I'm defending blacktops. If you don't like them, you don't like them. No harm no foul. While I think they're perfectly serviceable pickups, I'm still coming to terms with their distinctive tone, and I don't suppose they come at the top of my list of favorite Filter'Trons.

But do remember we are discussing a mid-price Gretsch, not a so-called "pro line" instrument. I find modern Electromatics perfectly "professional" in quality and functionality - and the Korean build exemplary. But in the end they're made in Korea because that lets FMIC bring them in at a lower price than the high-priced spread. It shouldn't' be surprising that they don't boast the premium-est of components.

If you're wondering if the pickups or wiring are standing between you and complete Gretsch satisfaction, I'd say the answer is "it's likely." I can appreciate you don't want to spring for replacement pickups and a wiring harness more to your liking...and run the chance you still won't completely like the guitar. But lookit - you specifically praise a lot of things about the guitar, so much so that you've bought it twice. I can promise you any of TV Jones' pickups will sound dramatically different from the blacktops. I'm pretty sure a swap would transform the guitar in your ears.

Though I'm a bit confused about your hearing loss and how it helps you discern harmonics. I can buy that a particular pattern of frequency loss might skew how you perceive the spectrum of any particular pickup/bridge/string combination - that you might be more sensitive to some harmonics and less to others, and that could shape your sonic taste. In that case, it might be hard to predict how swapping to another particular pickup set would affect what you hear.

On the other hand, if you had your audiologist's chart of your response, you could consult with TV Jones - who surely knows the spectral response of all his pickups - and maybe figure out which of his winds would dovetail most sweetly with your ears.

And WHILE you were at it - should you want to invest further in this Gretsch hollerbody experiment - you should replace the wiring harness as well. Again, TV could spec pots with a different taper that would allow you less maddening adjustability. (With the caveat that a Gretsch wiring harness simply doesn't work like a Gibson harness. If you want a more Gibson-esque harness, TV or several other resources could help get you there.)


And WHY can't you find a pro-line guitar to try? No dealers close by? Don't want to travel?

Before buying Gretsch pro-lines I made the effort to travel to a number of stores (as far as 4 hours away) in order to try a lot of guitars. It was worth the time and effort to me, as it gave me invaluable insight into which pickups, features, models most appealed.

Another approach is to attend one of the GDP "Roundups", where dozens of players bring gobs of Gretschs for casual jamming and more structured performances, and where the hungry ear has the chance to soak up every possible Gretsch variety. No one minds if you play their guitars, either, so you could get some hands-on. Consider this an invitation.

Finally, with the liberal return policies of virtually all online Gretsch dealers, there's minimal risk in ordering a guitar your research leads you to believe will suit you, trying it in the comfort and convenience of your own signal chain - then returning for refund if it doesn't suit. It might cost something in shipping, time, and hassle - but these are expensive toys, and it's worth some investment to feel confident you've chosen well.

– Proteus

The statement about ceramic magnets not making for good pickups doesn't resonate with me. Some of the best sounding Gibson pickups for clean tones are the old tarbacks which are wound to about the same dc resistance as a good PAF but use ceramic magnets.

All the clean fingerpicked parts and steel like bends in this song of mine are with the tarbacks in my L5s... https://soundcloud.com/dani...

9

Once again....."Thank You." I've been enjoying pretty much all my short list keepers & not racking my brain over something silly. I am one of those weird guys who cycle through 6V6/12ax7/EL's, want not & can honestly hear differences of amp tone, break up, gain, etc.

Buddy either rooted through my PC or is in the biz somehow. Most likely I'll pay the shipping charge & tip the salesman. My other idea was just putting a pair of cream colored soap bars on the Korean Greenie

There isn't a pro series Gretsch within 100 miles, new or used, last time I tried. I also feel bad/guilty about returning anything.

Again, Thank You

10

MY experience with the modern Gretschs(and I generally have older ones) is that the pickups sound really quite good. Particularly the blacktop ones. Maybe a little crisper souding than the old ones. I have a 72 Deluxe Chet. but still good. I think the pickup magnet (and speaker magnet) thing is mostly marketing. Gauss is Gauss. What matters is the strength of the magnet and likely it's placement rather than it's composition. Follow the science, not the hype. Most importantly Enjoy your guitar.

11

Proteus has said all that needs to be or can be said.

Once again -- hats off to you, Tim!

12

There isn't a pro series Gretsch within 100 miles, new or used, last time I tried. I also feel bad/guilty about returning anything.

Ah, but you shouldn't. You could be forthright about your situation with any of the great dealers here on the GDP (Rocky's Street Sounds, Shanghai) or folks like Cream City Music, Wildwood Music, or Sweetwater. Don't order frivolously or abuse the privilege, but I suspect any of them would ship a guitar you're pretty sure you'll like if it lives up to its billing and your research - and accept a return within a reasonable period if you don't bond.

13

I changed the Blacktop Filtertrons in my Country Gent for a pair of Entwistle Nashvilles, and the difference was like night and day. At last, I have a guitar that I want to play. They may sound better in a solid body, which I keep promising to get around to, but in the Gent, terrible.

I also have a pair of Chinese Gretsch cheapbuckers that I put on a Hofner Committee, and they sound great, which surprised me.


Register Sign in to join the conversation