Modern Gretsch Guitars

I never wanted a Jet… until today. (Colin James)

1

So... I've never been the biggest Filtertron fan, even tho I love the tones Brian Setzer gets with them. And the Hot Rod/6120 has always felt kind of big for me (I'm a tele player primarily).

But I love Colin James' Little Big Band stuff, great guitar tones, and the tones he's getting in his living room with this Duo Jet and Magnatone Reissue amp (wish I knew which one it was was), sound like candy to my ears!

2

I think those LBB records are great! I love the look of the Isana (?) guitar. Thanks for posting this, I want to check out some other episodes.

The only amp I see in the video is a modern-day Supro.

3

I think those LBB records are great! I love the look of the Isana (?) guitar. Thanks for posting this, I want to check out some other episodes.

The only amp I see in the video is a modern-day Supro.

– Jeff H

Yes- my bad- I wrote "Magnatone" but I MEANT Supro, lol. I recognized it from it's "denim" tolex covering, I just typed the wrong name LOL.

4

Great, thanks for sharing that.

4 minutes in before I noticed the dog.

5

Those would be the ceramic pre-FMIC pickups if it's from 1998. I have those in a 1967 Country Gent that once had Gibsons. I'm intrigued by all of the more authentic versions that have come out since then, but I've never felt that the ceramics fell short. They're clear and articulate, with plenty of low end that never threatens to become overwhelming.

6

Great, thanks for sharing that.

4 minutes in before I noticed the dog.

– Jimbodiddley

That just made me like the guy even more. TWO dogs, btw!

7

Those would be the ceramic pre-FMIC pickups if it's from 1998. I have those in a 1967 Country Gent that once had Gibsons. I'm intrigued by all of the more authentic versions that have come out since then, but I've never felt that the ceramics fell short. They're clear and articulate, with plenty of low end that never threatens to become overwhelming.

– seadevil

Yeah, most people poo-poo the ceramics, but it's all a FORMULA: the wood + bridge type + pickups... each guitar is uniquely it's own, to some degree.

It sounds fantastic to me! I've never GASsed for a Jet until today. I notice the current versions have steel stud bridges, not the wooden arch top type like on that late 90's model of his...

8

I've got an '96 Red Sparkle Jet and love it. It's actually one of my lighter guitars, sounds great (even though I did upgrade to High Sensitive Filtertrons at some point).

9

Yeah, most people poo-poo the ceramics, but it's all a FORMULA: the wood + bridge type + pickups... each guitar is uniquely it's own, to some degree.

It sounds fantastic to me! I've never GASsed for a Jet until today. I notice the current versions have steel stud bridges, not the wooden arch top type like on that late 90's model of his...

– ruger9

The guitar in your post is a Players Edition w/ a low neck set, fixed bridge, and B7 The Vintage Select has a floating bridge and a B3.

10

I notice the current versions have steel stud bridges, not the wooden arch top type like on that late 90's model of his...

In the current, line, Players Edition and Electromatic Jets have the stud-mounted bridge - and also a lower-angle neck set to go with it, to LesPaulverize the Jet format.

Vintage Select Jets have the original higher neck set with floating bridges on wood bases.

In the 15 years I've been paying attention, the great bulk of pro-series Jets have had the more vintage-faithful build with floating bridges. But at the moment, Gretsch marketing concentrates more on the gibsonized guitars, and relegates the original configuration to the back pages - which is an ominous sign.

I have nothing against Jets intended to work pretty much like Les Pauls - but with Gretsch pickups. The feel, playability, and stability of the stud-mount-bridge/low-neck-angle design will speak for itself, especially to players much more familiar with Gibson and its endless legion of imitators. It's a design that has been so successful for so long, and had such an influence on the market, that it's virtually the industry standard for solidbody set-neck guitars.

No reason Jets shouldn't be scrambled into that territory as rock guitars with Gretschified tone. (That was rationale for the Roc Jet 40 years ago, and Gretsch has revisited it periodically since.)

I would halfway like a Jet Paul - especially now that there's a Player's Edition with Dynasonics - but the fundamental difference in architecture between the gibsonny build and the original floating bridge/higher neck set makes the original a substantially different guitar. The rounded old-school tone in the video owes something to the note attack and decay of that design.

The traditional design will always be the archetypal Jet to me. If the Gretsch line mutates to the point where floating-bridge designs are no longer available, it will be a sure sign the brand has betrayed its heritage - and jumped the shark.

11

I guess my point was, the '96 RED SPARKLE has the wood/floating bridge, while the current RED SPARKLE has the studs. There is no Vintage Select red sparkle... looks like they do have a silver one tho.

Personally, I dig the wood floater more. More vintagey. Less Gibsony. I also dig the red sparkle WAY more than the silver... to me, the silver looks too washed out. Just personal preference. I did see a GREEN sparkle on Reverb, 2003, wood base

https://reverb.com/item/352...

12

My 2011 DSV Duo Jet is THE guitar for me but putting myself in a new Gretsch player's shoes and knowing how I think, I believe if I wanted to buy a Gretsch Jet today and had no experience with my Duo Jet or my previous 5120 with floating bridges I would be shopping for a Player's Edition with a fixed bridge. If I had no experience with floating bridges I wouldn't even think about or even know about the neck angle differences.

13

I guess my point was, the '96 RED SPARKLE has the wood/floating bridge, while the current RED SPARKLE has the studs.

Ah, OK. I guess in the direct context ("I've never GASsed for a Jet until today. I notice the current versions have steel stud bridges, not the wooden arch top type"), I thought of Jets in general, not specifically red sparkle. In any case, now it's all spelled out for any innocents who stumble through and wonder.

I also dig the red sparkle WAY more than the silver

Well, the silver sparkle comes into its own under stage lights, particularly vari-colored stage lights. I mean...all the sparkles love light, and create their own spectra in response to it. But silver, as a blank slate, is a bit more chameleonic.

But under every other condition, I would prefer red sparkle too - so much so that I'm always thinking of having Curt squirt the top of my silver.

The green really doesn't work for me at all. Too cartoony. Can't help but think of the Lucky Charms leprechaun for some reason, cavorting on St Paddy's day.

14

Yeah, it would be better if it was ANTIFREEZE green... but the red just says "WOW!"

15

The owner before me put a stud mounted Graphtech tune-o-matic onto my RSJ - it's played so well and stayed in tune so well that I've never considered putting a floating bridge back on it. My other Gretsches float, not this one. So mine is an early hybrid. LOL

16

Yes- my bad- I wrote "Magnatone" but I MEANT Supro, lol. I recognized it from it's "denim" tolex covering, I just typed the wrong name LOL.

– ruger9

Not trying to be snarky - I genuinely wanted to see what amp he used. The Supro's have many models that appear similar.

I didn't notice the dog until he picked up his head and then promptly went back to sleep.

17

I can't remember exactly when I bought it, but I've had a very recent VS '59 Duo Jet for around a year now. Loved it from the moment it arrived and adding a Serpentune bridge only made it better. I now have a small collection (6) of really good guitars and the Duo Jet is the one which gets played by far the most.

I've tried a few Jets over the years, including a pre-Fender Jet, a couple of Power Jets and a beautiful Jet from Rocky with a red flame maple top. The pre-Fender I had was a shocker. Sounded like mud. The 2000s Jets were better, but it hasn't been until the VS '59 that a Jet has really stuck with me. It's by far the most hollowed-out Jet I've seen and has the broadest sound. It's the best playing too. The honeymoon has been long with this one and doesn't look like fading any time soon.

The Players Edition Jets can be fab too. Different to play and hear but valid, usable guitars with a strong personality and extremely usable sounds. If I could afford to I'd get a PE Jet in that bourbon stain - I played one and it was a great guitar. But the VS is just amazing. And it comes stock with all the good stuff - all you "need" is a Tru-arc or similar better bridge.

18

Jimmy,

Interesting about the pre-Fender Jets sounding like "mud", because that late 90's model in the video would be pre-Fender, and it does sound "thick" indeed (one mans mud is another man's fat, one man's jangle is another mans icepick), much thicker than what is usually considered "That Great Gretsch Sound". He even described the tone as "round"- again not something I usually hear with Gretsches, which usually have terms such as "clear", "bright", "jangly", "twangy" and even "cutting" used to describe them. THAT Jet is warm, fat, and smooth... the anti-Gretsch!

19

I got to spend some time with Colin and The Little Big Band during their tour in the 90's

20

Ruger you make an interesting point...I can't imagine anyone thinking of my Jet is being ice-picky but who knows?

Jets are an interesting guitar because they kinda don't sound how you think they would. And if done poorly they can sound really bad! It's hard to make a Tele sound awful - not impossible but really, it's usually going to sound alright. But Jets can sound dull and dark if you're not careful, particularly the Filter'tron versions. But when done right they can sound so good. The hollower the better it would seem.

21

Ruger of course is naturally being Ruger and posts something that makes me hungry to "hear the music" and now want the guitar!!! Sweet buddy and thanks for posting.

Additional points to Ruger and JimmyR about the "character" of the Jets. I do want one as, while I do love my LP & LP clones, I like the tone of the Jets and the perfect decay of the notes. Sometimes I just don't want the endless sustain but a guitar that naturally has the right amount of decay.

22

well I have an incredible Les Paul which has ridiculous sustain that I can compare to the Jet. And the Les Paul wins that race!

I find myself swapping between the Jet and LP a lot these days. I love both of them, but the Jet definitely gets a lot more playing time. Part of that I suspect is because I know a lot of rockabilly kinda music and the Jet obviously lends it self to that. There is a similarity in the midrange with the guitars which I love, but the Jet has more "air" to the sound - with a little reverb and a hint of dirt you can loads of beautiful, almost Fender tones but there's always more chunk to it. The '59 Jet will do RHH but also some of those glorious Paul Pigat kinda sounds. Better twangy bass string definition than a Les Paul and it seems to maintain the fat trebles better than the LP in some ways.

Having played/owned a few different versions over the years the best one for me by far is the VS '59. It has everything good about the others and more. I guess it's not for everyone, but for me it's as good as it gets.

23

well I have an incredible Les Paul which has ridiculous sustain that I can compare to the Jet. And the Les Paul wins that race!

I find myself swapping between the Jet and LP a lot these days. I love both of them, but the Jet definitely gets a lot more playing time. Part of that I suspect is because I know a lot of rockabilly kinda music and the Jet obviously lends it self to that. There is a similarity in the midrange with the guitars which I love, but the Jet has more "air" to the sound - with a little reverb and a hint of dirt you can loads of beautiful, almost Fender tones but there's always more chunk to it. The '59 Jet will do RHH but also some of those glorious Paul Pigat kinda sounds. Better twangy bass string definition than a Les Paul and it seems to maintain the fat trebles better than the LP in some ways.

Having played/owned a few different versions over the years the best one for me by far is the VS '59. It has everything good about the others and more. I guess it's not for everyone, but for me it's as good as it gets.

– JimmyR

You nailed it Jimmy....the Jet has more "air". Even though I more of a Strat player, where the narrow at the nut profile really bothers me, even the Jet has more "air" vs. the Strat.

A great deal of the love of my LPs is the neck profile....especially the Louisville slugger neck on my '14 LP Traditional which is #1 for me many times and love the '59 reissues. My Edwards delivers the P90 goodness and the Tokai is really versatile

Simply put, I get it....why Ruger posted this, the difference the Jet makes, and everything mentioned in between. I really want one and T-Armonds would really light a fire but there is something special to Colin's in this thread.

24

"but there is something special to Colin's in this thread."

Right? I mean, I hear it differently than I have heard and thought of the Jets for years... in the video, it does not have "That Great Gretsch Sound", but it also doesn't sound like a Les Paul... it's hard to describe... I wonder if it doesn't "sound like a Jet" like most Jets I've heard because it was one of the pre-Fender ones? (which get poo-poo'ed pretty badly around here, and sometimes for good reason). That jet really does sound like an "airy, clear, Les Paul".

Actually- the T-Armond comment is right on: I loved them in my Thinline Cabronita (I still have them on the bench, they will likely be going back into that guitar), and also Colin's neck pickup (which is of course a Filtertron), has this big, FAT, round, clear sound I do NOT associate with Filtertrons, but with the T-Armond.

Here is a perfect example of what I'm talking about... and it's a tele! Big, FAT, round, clear:

25

Hey Ruger- Great point that describes exactly why that Jet playing really had me at "Oh yeah, I can definitely use one of these"! It's neither a Filter-equipped sound or LP but it is damn good. Now I have big time GAS for this sound.......it is crazy how I recognized it for being different and hooked in immediately.

Even better is that I was in a playing "slump".....not for lack of focus but was just not close to the bullseye for the last few weeks. Your post and this thread seems to have injected a new life in my playing. I'm also proud to say I played along w/ some '40s big band, improved some solo work where the song was recorded with either a single brass or wood instrument and I didn't once fall back into the the comfort zone of the style of blues I mostly play.

I also kept on thinking how it would've sounded with that Jet.... Very cool!!


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