Modern Gretsch Guitars

Installed the new Ray Butts Full-Fidelity Filtertron last night…

101

What exactly is a Super Chet?

– Chris-O-Matic

A hideous Baldwin calamity

102

A hideous Baldwin calamity

– Otter

I'm not bitting. Me thinks you only wish your guitar was so well appointed! At least mine is nice, minus the ugly pickguard with all the controls and normal controls in it's stead. Mine's purrrrrty! Ask Toxophilte, he played it last evening and liked it - playing as well as looks.

103

Maybe not a bite, but at least a nibble.

Baldwin Gretsches I have played have all been better than I had been led to believe. In some ways they are better built than the originals, but that also means they can be a bit more substantial, ie heavy. I think the dislike comes in because (a) they are different from the preceding Gretsches which everyone famous played, and (b) they have some unfortunate 70s styling. Oh, and those I have played have sounded a bit thin compared to their 60s counterparts. Very nice to play though.

104

Another vote, I guess, for at least some of the Baldwin Gretsches. There really wasn't any electronic differences with the Gretsches designated the Baldwin era by virtue of the visual changes along with the Burn's Box truss rod. I don't like and have never heard of anyone who liked the looks of the oversized pickguard, and a lot of folks don't like the cheesy cheap knobs. The switch to BF pup covers never seems to be an issue but there's always been a mis-guided notion that the pups were changed as well and they weren't, at least in the early '70's...just the covers. The pups are exactly the same F'trons. I've played a few and they never seemed thin to me. I haven't played a late '70's model so perhaps there was a change in pups in the last few years before the company folded.

105

Though it's off topic I will say that Dave's super Chet is a very pretty and nice playing guitar. In fact I fancy one for myself . I like the vibrant deep colour, the trim and the lovely unique body shape. Very pretty and to me it fits in well with earlier Gretsch models in my opinion. Kind of makes up for the strange upper bout a lot of those Baldwin Gretschs ended up with.To me that's one of the biggest Baldwin era things that's amiss. One of the best thing about gretschs is the aesthetic and body shape is a huge part of that. In person I found the Super Chet a very covetable Guitar. Dave has his nicely tweaked to his own requirements and the pickups on Dave's are..

No ifs! No ands!
Just Butts!

106

For Fun Euro rockabilly on a Super Chet I'm kind of amazed that those little pots aren't falling off considering how he's playing it!

110

This is the nicest Super Chet I've seen. I especially like the way the gold works on the pickguard. From what I've heard once the controls go they are Super hard to repair.

111

That's a Walnut Super Chet. i prefer the red ones but that one looks classy and a reasonable price.

112

This is the nicest Super Chet I've seen. I especially like the way the gold works on the pickguard. From what I've heard once the controls go they are Super hard to repair.

– lx

This one isn't bad overall but it does have binding rot starting, lowering the price a bunch for me. This is a March '72 guitar, not a '73 as advertised - first number is month and second is year, 209th guitar made - in a rare orange finish - never seen one - rather than the most common Autumn Red, then Walnut, then a couple of sunbursts. It has the original F'tron gold pup covers too. Mine is early June '72 and has the BF covers by then.

You're right about the controls lx, which is why I gutted them. I have to like my SC as the best ever version of this model out there, but then I'm prejudiced right?, with the Butt's pups and the normal controls, and no binding rot. Much as I like all my guitars and play them all, this is my "you'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands" guitar in my collection. Wouldn't swap it for a mint original 6120.

Orange finish notwithstanding, with the touch of rot, $3K is high. Even Greg's SC which he's had for sale forever hasn't sold and it looks like it's in good shape. From my looking at these for sale the past several years, they tend to be advertised from low to high 2's, and I have to believe they sell more in the under $2.5K range, the earlier ones the highest.

113

Dave, I'll admit to not knowing much about the super Chet. What, in your opinion, makes it superior to a similarly-appointed Gent or 6120? Aesthetic differences aside, once you've changed the electronics, is it not just a Gent with a different shape?

114

I'll answer that if I may, having checked out Dave's and ignoring his mods) The first few years had a slightly wider fretboard(almost like a classical guitar) and they were short scale (like a 6120). It changed to the longer scale mid 70s (like the gent I believe) I think and went back to standard neck width. Also instead of trestles they had an interesting feature which was a wide multiply(probably about 12-15 plys!) 3/4 to 1" thick by about 3-4" wide by about 2.5" deep(body depth) wooden block attach to the top braces under the bridge. It is NOT attached to the back. On the back interestingly are a pair of shallower braces that follow the braces on the top. The 'block' floats about 1/8" above these braces. Not trestles but definitely something adding mass to the top probably to increase sustain and as a result probably also reduce feedback. I'm not sure why they would have back bracing unless they were worried about strength I did notice that the top which I thought was going to be thicker looked thin. Maybe the back braces are a strengthening feature. Sonically, as a result, the Super Chet will have a little of it's own thing going on.

Aside from that I think a lot of people choose Gretsch based on aesthetics as much as features. (I know I do!!!!) To me the Super Chet is quite stunning with it's cool body shape, lovely colour and unique trim. With gold v cut bisgy and a chet arm they look even cooler. I like the Deluxe Chet too which has less trim, more conventional controls but is otherwise the same.

115

Thank you for the detailed explanation. I'll stick with my 6120, but if I see a Super Chet in the wild I'll be sure to give it a good rodgering

116

Thank you for the detailed explanation. I'll stick with my 6120, but if I see a Super Chet in the wild I'll be sure to give it a good rodgering

– Otter

Charming! Well you're in good and plentiful company with your 6120. I used to covet the orange ones 25 years ago, but now they've become so ubiquitous. You can get the same sounds out of many models so it's good to know there's more than one choice for the open-minded.

117

Dave, I'll admit to not knowing much about the super Chet. What, in your opinion, makes it superior to a similarly-appointed Gent or 6120? Aesthetic differences aside, once you've changed the electronics, is it not just a Gent with a different shape?

– Otter

I'll add to Bernie's thoughts - just got a chance to sit down. First off I wouldn't say any Gretsch is superior per sey, to any other Gretsch, especially when we're referring to the top-of-the-line models that are fully appointed. You're right regarding the similarities of sound/tone with the differences between, leaving out the various iterations now available, F'trons and DeArmonds, the rest being shapes and differences in features.

I agree with Bernie in that a lot of appeal with Gretsches is the aesthetics. The Super Chet and Deluxe Chet share what I've termed a hybrid cutaway and aside from the solidbody Super/Deluxe Axe it's unique in Gretsch's history and gives superior access to the normal single cutaway. With the Super Chet, the neck inlays are not only very elaborate, but along with the floral style on the headstock and the fixed tailpiece if that's what the guitar has, they're done in abalone, again unique for a Gretsch. The cost to produce the neck alone these days would make the cost of the guitar unmarketable.

The original design of this guitar, produced from late '71 to sometime in '73, called for Chet's favored wider neck. Why these also have such a deep D-shaped neck is a mystery but I couldn't chord using my thumb with it so I had Nicole take it down to match the neck profile on my '98 Gibson Gent, making it much nicer to play and the wider neck not an issue.

The controls were notorious for being finicky and mine were no exception so I gutted the oversize guard and all the wiring and replaced everything with the normal Gretsch array of controls and gold plated, G-arrow brass knobs. This is what I feel makes my particular SC superior to the original design, not particularly superior to say a Gent or Falcon. I just happen to like the aesthetics better on my guitar. It has, again unique, pretty 5 ply center binding on the body and is also a color - deep Autumn Red that no other models share and in my case, has a pair of Ray Butts built pups. I wouldn't say they're startlingly better than F'trons, vintage or TV's, just very good and very versatile. Bernie's quite liked their sound and he has some good guitars to compare it with.

As a package, I like all the things that make this guitar unique to Gretsch, and since I had the work done, unique to Super Chets as well. True there are a few others out there that have had a similar 'operation' to gut the pickguard and go with what I did, but only a very few.


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