Modern Gretsch Guitars

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

26

I've been in a slump as well! And I too, especially with this cooler weather (see below), have started bringing out the old big band/jump blues stuff.... it's good to change it up once in awhile!

Cooler weather: trying to keep a long story short, I grew up listening to WWII big band (my father was in WWII) all winter long as a kid... for whatever reason we listened to Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Nat Cole, etc... all winter. And especially with Brian Setzer's Xmas Xtravaganza tours adding to the whole thing, the winter is really when I bring out the big band, jump blues, jazzy blues, etc... I hadn't listened to Colin James Little Big Band since last winter (or Brian Setzer Orchestra for that matter), and that's what I've been listening to since seeing this video.

27

I hate to feed your GAS - I did love his neck tone so I tried to approximate and came pretty close. If I was a good player and tried a few more amps I could probably get closer - but I'm pretty lazy (which also explains why I'm not a good player).

Mine weighs ~8lbs 13 oz, which I don't consider extremely heavy (my '94 Jet weighs 9lbs 3oz and is HEAVY). Pre-FMIC jets aren't all dogs, they're just harder to find these days - the kings at Fender tend to make a lighter product.

28

Well I played both my Les Paul and Jet today and was feeling pretty good afterwards! I hear you about the neck profile - at first the skinny neck did actually annoy me about the Jet, but now I have got used to it and don't even notice. Still, the Les Paul's neck is pretty much perfection. One thing which has impressed me is that the new Jet has a similar extremely low action to the LP and that is unusual. I normally don't like very low actions but I have no complaints about either guitar - no tone-suck from overly low strings.

Before you go hunting for an older, pre-Fender Jet Ruger at least try the new VS '59. It will be easier to find, Rocky often has them on ridiculously good deals, and I'd be gob-smacked if you didn't like it. Just because somebody gets a killer sound out of an older one doesn't mean it will sound like that when you play it. I bought a Johnny Marr Jaguar and even though he sounds so good on one it just didn't suit me at all.

29

Well I played both my Les Paul and Jet today and was feeling pretty good afterwards! I hear you about the neck profile - at first the skinny neck did actually annoy me about the Jet, but now I have got used to it and don't even notice. Still, the Les Paul's neck is pretty much perfection. One thing which has impressed me is that the new Jet has a similar extremely low action to the LP and that is unusual. I normally don't like very low actions but I have no complaints about either guitar - no tone-suck from overly low strings.

Before you go hunting for an older, pre-Fender Jet Ruger at least try the new VS '59. It will be easier to find, Rocky often has them on ridiculously good deals, and I'd be gob-smacked if you didn't like it. Just because somebody gets a killer sound out of an older one doesn't mean it will sound like that when you play it. I bought a Johnny Marr Jaguar and even though he sounds so good on one it just didn't suit me at all.

– JimmyR

the VS '59 doesn't come in RED Sparkle

30

Oh pick pick pick!

31

Well before I can grab a Jet, I'm going to keep practicing "the Ruger material" and happy so far with my last 2+ days....not temptation at all to hit the way familiar blues licks to fall back on.

Man I want that Jet Colin is playing!

32

I wonder how much, if any, difference the wood bridge of the VS model makes tonally from the metal studs of the standard model? I think the wood saddle LOOKS COOLER, but I wonder if there's much tonal difference (plugged in, of course)?

33

The stud holes are small, you could always retrofit it as floating anyway.

I myself like the Gretsch-V Bigsbys though.

34

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...

– ruger9

Dammit, that green sparkle sold. Now I "need" a pre-FMIC jet, solid, heavy and described exactly what Proteus elaborated on. I want Colin's Jet. Soooo.... I will then want one identical to it.

I'm in that crazy "GAS-fueled "f-it" and buying the damn thing" mode. This will shortly turn into an obsession but I want one. I love that neck tone!!!

My search is now starting but wonder how, where, how much? Let me know if you see one!

35

I'm pretty interested to see what you come up with - it wasnt't ever a very popular version of the Jet.

I checked the "sold" listings on reverb and it says that someone paid $2200 for a 1995 Red Sparkle Jet - which I find REALLY hard to believe.

36

I'm pretty interested to see what you come up with - it wasnt't ever a very popular version of the Jet.

I checked the "sold" listings on reverb and it says that someone paid $2200 for a 1995 Red Sparkle Jet - which I find REALLY hard to believe.

– Devil's Tool

Yup. I couldn't lust after an $800 (or about that) Hendrix Strat from Sweetwater. Nope, that would be way too easy so instead I plunge the desire into a fairly tough-to-find Gretsch that was made during the company's slow years equipped with ceramic pickups with apparently not an abundance made where the body will be really solid vs. weight-relieved.

Or -

I could just get drunk, buy a pound of jumbo shrimp cocktail and a Michael Kelly guitar with a P90 in the neck.

37

I have one of those!

A very oddball prototype, supposedly, for a model that didn’t make it to production. It’s a 14” body too-deep semi (like 2.75” or so) with a single sorta-Florentine cutaway, Les Paul scale, maple over mahogany (I think). It’s heavier than you expect. Two P90s. I keep flats on it, and it doesn’t sound like anything else I have.

The area guitar dealer (when we had one) kept trying to trade me out of it because it sounds so cool. I’m keeping it, though.


I think a stud-mounted bridge and a floating wood base do sound different. My half-baked theory is that mounting on two steel posts directly in the body couples the energy of the strings to the body in a different way, with more focus on the fundamental and most consonant overtones, and creates more mechanical sustain.

I theorize that the wood base spreads the energy of the string and transmits it to the top from a wider surface area; since the waves have propagated through the wood, the top of the guitar is “reading” more complex patterns, with more nodes, combing, and interference patterns - the same notes arriving at various locations on the base at different times. I think this produces a more harmonically complex tone, with more enharmonic overtones, which rob each other of some energy, for a bit less mechanical sustain, but more of an acoustic sort of resonance.

Both designs absolutely have their virtues, purpose, and place. Ideally, a feller has guitars with both.

While a traditional floating-bridge Dyna Jet is absolutely my voice, and I wouldn’t be without it, I’m kinda intrigued by the PE Jet with stud-mounted Dynas. I don’t have Dynas in any build but floating, and I’m curious.

38

Well I had a player's edition Jet with Broad'trons or whatever they were and now have the '59 VS Jet. Both were/are black so the colour is not a factor in the tone. The pickups were obviously different but both very good and extremely usable. In some ways they are very different guitars but both sound identifiably Gretsch.

You can hear the differences between the guitars acoustically. The construction is significantly different because on the Player the neck is nowhere near as high off the body. It's almost as low as a Les Paul - not quite; the fingerboard doesn't sit right on the body on the highest frets, but close. That's why the bridge is connected directly to the body via studs. There's no room for a wooden base. So the sound is more sustainy, slightly more compressed and less percussive than the old style Jet. But it doesn't sound like a Les Paul because the body construction is so different. It's closer to a Les Paul than the '59 Jet but still not a Les Paul.

Both guitars are really well balanced between pickups. Both have three equally usable tones with the three-way switch. The '59 Jet has brighter pickups but a darker overall acoustic tone, so they balance out. The Player is a brighter sound acoustically so the bigger pickups probably help it from becoming too jangly. They are beautifully voiced though, so still have plenty of twang compared to a PAF.

I guess it's the more old-school construction of the VS '59 Jet which gives it a slightly more semi-acoustic sound - less compressed and more percussive - which attracts me to it. It is not a million miles away from playing a 6120. In fact it sounds a lot like my SSLVO, but with more emphasis on the fundamental so a slightly simpler sound.

If funds ever allow I would love to get another Player's Jet. It feels a bit more rugged than the '59 and would make an outstanding gigging guitar. I suspect that if more players actually tried one they might be surprised - it's not just versatile but a beautiful sound, and one that would work with lots of time-based FX.

40

I have one of those!

A very oddball prototype, supposedly, for a model that didn’t make it to production. It’s a 14” body too-deep semi (like 2.75” or so) with a single sorta-Florentine cutaway, Les Paul scale, maple over mahogany (I think). It’s heavier than you expect. Two P90s. I keep flats on it, and it doesn’t sound like anything else I have.

The area guitar dealer (when we had one) kept trying to trade me out of it because it sounds so cool. I’m keeping it, though.


I think a stud-mounted bridge and a floating wood base do sound different. My half-baked theory is that mounting on two steel posts directly in the body couples the energy of the strings to the body in a different way, with more focus on the fundamental and most consonant overtones, and creates more mechanical sustain.

I theorize that the wood base spreads the energy of the string and transmits it to the top from a wider surface area; since the waves have propagated through the wood, the top of the guitar is “reading” more complex patterns, with more nodes, combing, and interference patterns - the same notes arriving at various locations on the base at different times. I think this produces a more harmonically complex tone, with more enharmonic overtones, which rob each other of some energy, for a bit less mechanical sustain, but more of an acoustic sort of resonance.

Both designs absolutely have their virtues, purpose, and place. Ideally, a feller has guitars with both.

While a traditional floating-bridge Dyna Jet is absolutely my voice, and I wouldn’t be without it, I’m kinda intrigued by the PE Jet with stud-mounted Dynas. I don’t have Dynas in any build but floating, and I’m curious.

– Proteus

This makes sense to me, and would lend me to believe the wood base better for old-school tones, like swing, jump blues, even archtop-approaching tones....

...whereas the metal stud version would be better for rocking out ala Malcom Young, rock, blues rock, etc.

The "thunk" a wood base adds is more of an old-school sound to my ears. Which is why I would want that version... I love the old-school tones. (altho, to be fair, I've heard those tones come out of a Tokai Les Paul in the hands of Junior Watson too, soooo.....)

42

So, reading up on the Baldwin-era guitars (when I get interested in a new piece of gear, I go into research mode LOL), regarding the Filtertrons of that era... from what I have been able to gather, they not only had ceramic magnets (which we've discussed in this thread), but were also would hotter (I saw a number of around 8K???), which would not only give them more output, but also more mids as a matter of course... which would help explain what I am hearing on the video: more of an "old-school" (P90-ish) tone out of that Jet, as apposed to the jangly "That Great Gretsch Sound!" you usually hear of Filtertrons played clean.

I can kind of get the same tone with my Hot Rod, with the tone switch in the "less dark" position, which of course cuts that top end Gretsch jangle out. Also, with my Cabronita Thinline that has the Rio Grande BBQ Buckers (I started a thread on those earlier), which ARE wound hotter, and are therefore rounder, especially in the trebles, than standard Filtertrons.... DC resistance isn't the tell-all of pickup tone of course, but by comparison:

Setzer Sigs in my Hot Rod: 6.3K bridge, 4.5 neck

BBQ Tron in Cabronita: 10.8K bridge, 8.4K neck

I love deep-diving into this stuff. I finally realized the QUICK (and only REAL) way to "find out" is to PLAY IT. But I still love looking at all the specs, to see WHY things sound the way they do...

43

not to rehash the obvious, but how you adjust the neck pickup can radically alter its sound. backing the polepieces down into the shell or lowering the pickup can change the bass/treble tone balance...my PAFoid guitars have the neck pickup backed down so far they're almost below the mounting rings which makes them less "woofy" in the mids/lows.

44

So, reading up on the Baldwin-era guitars (when I get interested in a new piece of gear, I go into research mode LOL), regarding the Filtertrons of that era... from what I have been able to gather, they not only had ceramic magnets (which we've discussed in this thread), but were also would hotter (I saw a number of around 8K???), which would not only give them more output, but also more mids as a matter of course... which would help explain what I am hearing on the video: more of an "old-school" (P90-ish) tone out of that Jet, as apposed to the jangly "That Great Gretsch Sound!" you usually hear of Filtertrons played clean.

I can kind of get the same tone with my Hot Rod, with the tone switch in the "less dark" position, which of course cuts that top end Gretsch jangle out. Also, with my Cabronita Thinline that has the Rio Grande BBQ Buckers (I started a thread on those earlier), which ARE wound hotter, and are therefore rounder, especially in the trebles, than standard Filtertrons.... DC resistance isn't the tell-all of pickup tone of course, but by comparison:

Setzer Sigs in my Hot Rod: 6.3K bridge, 4.5 neck

BBQ Tron in Cabronita: 10.8K bridge, 8.4K neck

I love deep-diving into this stuff. I finally realized the QUICK (and only REAL) way to "find out" is to PLAY IT. But I still love looking at all the specs, to see WHY things sound the way they do...

– ruger9

Nice Ruger. As I was thinking of the "why" and "how" of the tone of the jet in the video, I knew it was due to the mids and guessed the output fairly close to your research. It is why I love my '14 LP Traditional so much....almost P90-ish but a voice all itself.

I love sustain but the LP gives more than I want for this music and it definitely makes a difference.

I did see the Jets on research you mentioned but they are still semi-hollow. Isn't the one in the video solid mahogany? I think Devil's Tool mentioned his was around 9 lbs. so I can't believe there is any weight relief there.

Great read Ruger....Thanks!!

Proteus..... The Michael Kelly I referenced is a Tele clone. I like the Fralin in the neck and love the wider neck profile vs. a Fender Tele. I really do like it but Ruger has redirected my GAS!!! https://www.michaelkellygui...

45

The Michael Kelly I referenced is a Tele clone.

Ah. Let me save you 1,000.00. This guitar is both much better-looking in person than in the pics - a darker and richer CAR. It has a beefier-than-Fender neck - not to mention fatter frets - and pretty serviceable P90s, came decently set up, with nice fretwork, and plays very well too. I've had mine for over a year and still feel like I stole it. WAY better guitar than this money.

(All I've done is put a pearloid guard on mine in place of the generic unbound white.)

https://www.rondomusic.com/...

46

"I did see the Jets on research you mentioned but they are still semi-hollow. Isn't the one in the video solid mahogany? I think Devil's Tool mentioned his was around 9 lbs. so I can't believe there is any weight relief there."

From what I have gathered, the Baldwin Jets are semi-hollow... but heavier than the FMIC (and vintage) Jets, because "less wood was removed", "likely a cost-cutting measure".... as was the swap to ceramic magnets in the pickups. That's what I've been able to find so far.

Related, back when I researched telecaster thinlines, it turns out a big reason the model was invented was because CBS was getting heavy chunks of wood (because they were cheaper), and they didn't want their telecasters to weigh as much as a Les Paul, so the thinline model was born... it was at least partially a weight-relief effort. So it wouldn't surprise me if Baldwin was removing less wood, if that meant less labor, and therefore cost-cutting.

Totally get what you're saying about "too much sustain" for that old school tone. It's got kind of a "thunk" to it that does not sustain.... solidbodies can be made to do it, but it's much easier with a semi-hollow/hollow.... and I'm thinking the wood bridge also helps quite a bit...

47

the thinline Tele story may be one of the happiest accidents in the history of electric guitar.

48

I can't vouch for the 90's Jets for sure, but the vintage Jets, tho called solidbodies (in comparison to the hollowbodies 6120 etc), were most definitely chambered.

Good read, with pics: https://www.thegearpage.net...

49

well well well... look what followed me home today... (it's not a Jet. And it's not the tele either LOL)

Found a used Supro Tremoverb at the local GC, so I had to go play it. It's definitely go the old-school, mid-forward, rounded treble tone. I love my PRRI, but it can't do that. The PRRI is gorgeous for clean tones- my favorite- the mid-scooped nature of the blackface circuit helps with that.

But the Supro, I guess, would be like a Princeton Reverb, but:
-less treble.
-same amount of bass.
-more mids... I don't know if that maybe makes the Supro sound like the brown/blonde era Fender amps (I've never owned one, so I can't compare.)

But... it's sitting right next to my PRRI (with 12" Alnico cream), so many comparisons will be made in the coming weeks! This thing is smaller than a PRRI, but heavier... makes me wonder if it's got big iron... it SOUNDS like it has big iron!

50

The Michael Kelly I referenced is a Tele clone.

Ah. Let me save you 1,000.00. This guitar is both much better-looking in person than in the pics - a darker and richer CAR. It has a beefier-than-Fender neck - not to mention fatter frets - and pretty serviceable P90s, came decently set up, with nice fretwork, and plays very well too. I've had mine for over a year and still feel like I stole it. WAY better guitar than this money.

(All I've done is put a pearloid guard on mine in place of the generic unbound white.)

https://www.rondomusic.com/...

– Proteus

I second this.


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