Modern Gretsch Guitars

NGD - ‘53 VS Duo Jet

1

Last year I bought a '59 VS Duo Jet which was a revelation for me and it's probably become my favourite guitar. I've owned a few Duo Jets over the years, both with Dearmond style pickups and Filter'trons. The '59 VS blew me away with how much better it sounded than any other Jet I had tried.

So I thought how bad could the '53 VS be? It looks beautiful! So after selling a Strat I had just enough to order a '53 VS Duo Jet. It only arrived yesterday and I have to admit that when I first tuned it up and plugged it in I was rather underwhelmed. To get any body out of the bridge pickup I had to turn everything up so far that when I switched to the neck pickup all I got was boominess. I adjusted the bridge pickup as high as it would go given the three shims it had under it but there was only thin ugliness.

It also doesn't play quite as well as my '59. Maybe I got lucky with the '59? That one is unusually well made - the action is lower than I usually like and still it plays and sounds incredible. The '53 appears to have smaller frets and I need to adjust the nut a little as the strings are a bit high. It should play better then I guess. You can feel sharp fret ends along the neck too - that doesn't happen on the '59.

But last night I remembered reading here about turning the bridge T-Armond around so that the pole pieces were closer to the neck. I did that to the bridge pickup and man what a difference! It's like a completely different guitar now. All of a sudden it has character and guts. Wow. It even sounded good through a 50W plexi I just finished.

So it hasn't been an instant bonding experience like it was with the '59 VS, but I'm starting to enjoy playing the new one now. It needs a little sorting out but I think it's will all work out. It is also incredibly light. It has to be the lightest electric guitar I have had.

3

Congratulations! I was looking at these and the Cliff Gallup model before the Cliff disappeared. From memory, one of the differences was the 53 had TVJ T-Almonds. Bet it sounds great through your Super! Did you get it locally ?

4

Congratulations. I love mine. What’s the deal with flipping the pickups?

5

Haha! Pics? They all look the same!

I had to order it online because I've never seen one locally. It comes stock with TV Jones T-Armonds, which suits me just fine. The '59 came stock with TV Classics and I have always loved those so they aren't going anywhere either.

The deal with flipping these kinda pickups is that the polepieces don't run down the centre of the pickup. They're off to one side, and generally they are closest to the neck for the neck pickup and bridge for the bridge pickup. So if you turn the bridge pickup through 180 degrees laterally you end up with the polepieces further away from the bridge than they used to be. It's surprising just how much difference that makes sonically.

The placement of the bridge pickup in general is a lot more important than most players realise IMO. It's one f the reasons I love the sound of a Gretsch bridge pickup - they're usually further from the bridge than on most guitars and give a more complex, thicker sound as a result. I suspect it's also one reason that PRS guitars can sound a little more "nasal" than the equivalent Gibson - it seems that they have more space between bridge and pickup to me.

6

Nice!! I didn't know any of the Jets came with T-Armonds, I thought they were either Filters or Dynas. The TAs are fantastic pickups!

7

Yep. The TV T’armons are the reason I chose the ‘53 Jet.

As far as flipping the pups, I had a 6129 silver Jet that was flipped. I tried it both ways and didn’t notice any difference that I couldn’t get by just using the individual pickup volume controls.

8

Mine sounds fine without being flipped. Plenty of cajones! Growl, bark and bite.

9

Congratulations. I love mine. What’s the deal with flipping the pickups?

– Tsar Nicholas

Apparently it changes the sound drastically in some guitars. Basically pull the pick up and rotate it 180 degrees and re install.

10

Here is the full thread on GDP about flipping the T'Armonds. Get comfy, it's a long but very interesting read: Link

11

I regularly visit your website and find a lot of interesting information. Not only good articles, but also great comments. Thank you and hope your site grows stronger. shell shockers

12

Well a day or two slowly making a few tweaks and I'm enjoying this new Jet a whole lot more. It's not the instant YAY! that I had when I got the '59VS. I've lowered the action at the nut a fair bit and raised it at the bridge a lot - odd how it seems that the action hasn't really changed much to look at it but it plays and feels so much better now. When the bridge is too low it kills all the mids and sustain - and makes the low E crash against the frets and make weird sounds. Now it twangs as a Gretsch should. Had to loosen the truss rod more than usual too. But it sounds more full, solid and chunky now which is what I was expecting all along.

Now I'm wondering what a SS Tru-arc Serpentune might sound like on it... I can't try the one on my '59 because the bridge posts are spaced differently.

13

A replacement base is the least expensive way to perform that experiment.

14

I have an aluminium Serpentune on mine and it absolutely sings with it.

15

Well a day or two slowly making a few tweaks and I'm enjoying this new Jet a whole lot more. It's not the instant YAY! that I had when I got the '59VS. I've lowered the action at the nut a fair bit and raised it at the bridge a lot - odd how it seems that the action hasn't really changed much to look at it but it plays and feels so much better now. When the bridge is too low it kills all the mids and sustain - and makes the low E crash against the frets and make weird sounds. Now it twangs as a Gretsch should. Had to loosen the truss rod more than usual too. But it sounds more full, solid and chunky now which is what I was expecting all along.

Now I'm wondering what a SS Tru-arc Serpentune might sound like on it... I can't try the one on my '59 because the bridge posts are spaced differently.

– JimmyR

The stock bridge is aluminum (I think it's a pretty decent bridge) but you might try an aluminum Tru-Arc instead of Stainless.

16

That's some fine pickin', Tsar Nic.

18

Wow, nice work on the Junior Barnard solo.


Register Sign in to join the conversation