Modern Gretsch Guitars

NGD: 6129T Sparkle magic

1

My first post here, and my first Gretsch (well, not counting a 70's Committee I had years ago). I've been wanting a duo jet forever and this one popped up on Reverb for a great price. It's a 2006 and it needed a setup very badly. I got it back yesterday and it plays very nice now and sounds good (he shimmed the stock dynasonics). There's sort of a stringiness to it in feel and sound that's interesting. I'm also wondering about the TV Jones T-Armonds but I think I'll see how I feel about the stocks.

I thought this would kill my Gretsch gas but now I want a hollow body to go along with it.

https://i.imgur.com/IZ8cTEY...

2

Oooo, a Sparkle Jet! Nice start to Gretsch goodness. Welcome to our addiction and the best lil' spot on the interwebs.

Play the hell out of her! Congrats and welcome aboard.

3

You got it back from a setup yesterday? I'd bet money the intonation is way off. Did you knock the bridge out of whack? Congrats!

4

Congrats on a great first Gretsch - my Dyna Jet is THE last electric guitar I'd ever part with. Nothing else sounds like it.

And yeah, obviously it needed a setup; the bridge in that pic is so back-assward the intonation must have been Disneyland. And not in a good way.

What you say about "stringiness" in sound reminds me of my first several months with my first Jet. There was something about the tone that was unique and, yes, very interesting - but it took me a long time to adjust to it, and to come to terms with how I would use that sound with my own playing (and original songs). It was just so different from anything I'd had before.

I eventually concluded that, fascinating and textured though the fundamental tone of the Dynas was, they were a little thin and weak for my instincts. I found myself constantly overplaying the guitar, trying to get a bit more response from the pickups.

At the time, TV Jones hadn't yet released the T'Armonds, so I spent the money for Seymour Duncan Dynasonics - and the guitar then more than fulfilled its promise. I made meticulous before-and-after sound clips keeping everything in the signal chain the same - except the pickups - with fingerpicking, rhythm chording, lead, clean and dirty through two different amps, and posted them on here. (That thread was lost in a GDP database meltdown several years ago.)

Some guys preferred the stock Dynas, more preferred the hotter/somewhat warmer-fatter Seymours - but everyone heard the difference. (And the difference is much more pronounced when playing the guitar than just hearing it, as the hotter pickups just respond so much more dynamically.)


I later put T'Armonds on a different Gretsch, and they're great pickups as well. Here's a link to a comparo I did with another guy between Seymour Duncans and T-Armonds on identical Jets (same strings, bridges, etc):

(There are three sections if you want to overload.)


I have numerous other Gretschs with the stock pickups (made by Tokiwa in Japan), and here's my considered take: a hollowbody of 2.5" or greater depth is fine with the stock pickups. But the solider the body and the thinner it gets, the more it benefits from an upgrade to TV Jones or Seymour Duncan.

Of course your experience may differ, so by all means get familiar with the stockers first. (And experiment with pickup height and polepiece adjustment - guidelines for which can be found in numerous places here on the GDP.)

But "stringy" is a term that fits exactly with my sense of the guitar, so I thought our ears might be coming from the same place. The upgraded pickups retain the core of that unique tone, but bring more dynamic response and richness to the sonic picture. The Seymours took my Jet from "interesting" to my number-one cold-dead-hands guitar.


And of course you want a hollowbody. And as you get deeper into Gretschdom, you'll find there are several body construction types that produce different results with different pickups: chambered Jets, 16" hollowbody, 17" hollowbody, the thinner "closed hollowbody" Electrone bodies, etc. AND...that the three main varieties of Gretsch pickups (Dynasonic, FilterTron, and HiloTron, each with their sub-varieties) have a different effect in all those body types.

Furthermore - that the exact details of the body construction are unique to Gretsch, while no one else has pickups that sound like Gretsch's big 3.

So there's a world of unique tone to be found in Gretsch.

Have fun in your explorations - and remember, the GDP is always here to encourage and enable...

5

Hahaha, that shot was from before the setup!

He doubled stickied it down.

6

He doubled stickied it down.

Oh man. Because what you want between your precious string energy and the top of the guitar is a couple layers of polyester or vinyl!

Sometimes it's necessary to hold a bridge down...but not usually. Free-floating works for most guys, most of the time. And when you have to stick a bridge down because you've actually experienced bridge skate, it's appropriate to start with the least intrusive strategies. I like a little viola bow rosin under the base, which often suffices. Escalating from that, a dab of school glue under each foot can be sufficient. Of easily undo-able stickdowns, tape is the most intrusive.

Actually screwing/pinning/railroad-spiking it down probably enHANCES energy transfer from string to top...but if you don't get the position just right, intonation will suffer forever after. And it's not that it's necessarily permanent - you can always remove the fastening hardware - but it does leave holes. (Which, unless you got it WAY out of position, would be hidden by any bridge that goes on the guitar. But you know...you know there are unnecessary holes in your guitar. Just knowing might keep you up nights.)

7

I switched the stock Dynas in my Sparkle Jet for T-Armonds, and find them a bit thick through a tweed style amp, especially the neck pickup. The wound strings lack the snap and twang of Dynas for playing clean. Great with drive, and as TVJones describes them, they are designed for a more modern player.

I'm seriously thinking about the new Lindy Fralin Dyna-Rod (that's a drain unblocker in the UK!) https://www.fralinpickups.c...

8

You say this:

I switched the stock Dynas in my Sparkle Jet for T-Armonds, and find them a bit thick

(Apparently a bad thing.)

Then you say:

I'm seriously thinking about the new Lindy Fralin Dyna-Rod

And at Fralin's site, they say:

Our DynaSonic replacements feature a thick midrange with top-end clarity and articulation.

The theme running through this extended composition is...(thank you Gerald Bostock)...thick.

So I dunno! Maybe the stockers are where you should live. They are distinctly non-thick.

Or, you know, you can have TV or Seymour wind one to a value between the relatively low stock Tokiwas (from memory, around 8K) and the usual output TV & Seymour wind in. (Usually more around 12k.) There's some room in there that might contain what you're after.

9

The theme running through this extended composition is...(thank you Gerald Bostock)...thick.

I wonder how many others caught your “brick” reference.

11

You say this:

I switched the stock Dynas in my Sparkle Jet for T-Armonds, and find them a bit thick

(Apparently a bad thing.)

Then you say:

I'm seriously thinking about the new Lindy Fralin Dyna-Rod

And at Fralin's site, they say:

Our DynaSonic replacements feature a thick midrange with top-end clarity and articulation.

The theme running through this extended composition is...(thank you Gerald Bostock)...thick.

So I dunno! Maybe the stockers are where you should live. They are distinctly non-thick.

Or, you know, you can have TV or Seymour wind one to a value between the relatively low stock Tokiwas (from memory, around 8K) and the usual output TV & Seymour wind in. (Usually more around 12k.) There's some room in there that might contain what you're after.

– Proteus

I'd read that the Rod version gives more of Fendery single coil snap. It's exactly that that I'm missing with the T-Armonds. I'm looking at either a pickup swap, or an amp swap to something less middy. That said, the tweed Super is the least "Tweedy" of the range, after a Bassman. I really just want a bit more clarity off of the bottom end.

12

Hahaha, that shot was from before the setup!

He doubled stickied it down.

– brudy

You're good to go then! Here are a couple videos of mine with Seymour Duncan pickups and a Tru-Arc bridge. By the way, I've got nothing holding the bridge in place except the strings.

13

You're good to go then! Here are a couple videos of mine with Seymour Duncan pickups and a Tru-Arc bridge. By the way, I've got nothing holding the bridge in place except the strings.

– Bluecap

What year is your TSP? That sounds fantastic. I wish I could get my 6128 Cliff Gallup sounding that good.

14

UD, what bridge is on the guitar? You can do significant tone tweaking there.

15

Welcome to the GDP brudy, you're at the right place, and amongst good people. That Sparkle Jet is super cool, and naturally you want a hollow body Gretsch! I started out the other way around, and now I want a Jet. I just don't think that you can get too much of a good thing.

I noticed in the picture that the former owner "double sticked" the bridge off center of the fretboard as well as the backwards angle, I bet it sounded wonky. I visited a buddy of mine last weekend, who owns 6 or 7 Gretsch guitars. I'm now looking for GAS money!

16

The theme running through this extended composition is...(thank you Gerald Bostock)...thick.

I wonder how many others caught your “brick” reference.

– Bob Howard

I caught it! Gerald Bostock, the mysterious English school boy and writer of the (1972) "poem" Thick........ I'm not going to spoil it!

17

Thanks for all the great info, Proteus. From your video I like the TVJ more, but it's close. I had it at practice last night with my one band (kind of a 70's punk n roll - Johnny Thunders/Dead Boys deal) and it sounded very cool through my 1976 50w JMP. That stringiness persists, like loads of definition but almost a little brittle. I'm more interested in trying it with my other band which is an instrumental thing which is maybe a mix of Booker T, fuzzed out 60s beat, and Shaft. I use a 60's Supro Big Star 2x12 combo with that one.

18

You're good to go then! Here are a couple videos of mine with Seymour Duncan pickups and a Tru-Arc bridge. By the way, I've got nothing holding the bridge in place except the strings.

– Bluecap

Sounds fantastic! What did the bridge upgrade give you?

19

Congratulations on your new Sparkle Jet! They look extremely cool.

I was contemplating swapping pickups in my Duo Jet but I really loved the inherent tone of the stock Dynasonics. The bridge pickup sounded a bit thin and the neck pickup sounded a bit muddy. Then I read a thread on here that mentioned flipping the pickup 180 degrees so the Dynasonic poles faced in towards each other instead of out. As a last ditch effort with nothing to lose before spending money on TV Jones T'Armonds I flipped my pickups. It works great for me. Now the pickups sound balanced and there is just enough added warmth to the bridge pickup and the neck pickup has just enough added clarity to make all the pickup positions useful. I also added a TV Jones Dynasonic riser under the bridge pickup to raise it closer to the strings. That also helped a lot with balance.

20

loads of definition but almost a little brittle

Yes, that's the symptom. You have nothing to lose by trying BuddyHollywood's suggestion of flipping the pickups to get the polepieces facing each other - and raising the bridge pup (which is usually the main source of the thin wiriness). You don't need to order a riser to test this - just shim it up however you can. If it works, then you can order the riser.

And I'm reluctant to mention it, since it reeks of promoting my product, but the Space Control bridge can be a tone-suck (depending on part tolerances and how well it transfers energy as a unit). The low end suffers most when there's any energy loss in the transmission between strings and top; a one-piece bar bridge (the stock Gretsch item or a Tru-Arc) creates a more dependably efficient mechanical connection between strings and guitar top.

Of course I think Tru-Arcs (available in straight and compensated versions) offer additional advantages - among them, the possibility of fine-tuning the tone and response of the whole guitar via choice of five metals (or glass). Also, the compensated SerpenTune version will tighten up compensation by comparison to the Space Control (or a straight bar bridge of any variety).

While we're at it, we should mention strings. Relatively higher gauges generally sound "fatter" overall. I wouldn't put lighter than 10s on a Jet; I have 11s on mine. And you might find going with a pure nickel string tames some of the spikiness by comparison to the more common nickel-steel alloy. Most of the string brands have pure nickel varieties.

21

loads of definition but almost a little brittle

Yes, that's the symptom. You have nothing to lose by trying BuddyHollywood's suggestion of flipping the pickups to get the polepieces facing each other - and raising the bridge pup (which is usually the main source of the thin wiriness). You don't need to order a riser to test this - just shim it up however you can. If it works, then you can order the riser.

And I'm reluctant to mention it, since it reeks of promoting my product, but the Space Control bridge can be a tone-suck (depending on part tolerances and how well it transfers energy as a unit). The low end suffers most when there's any energy loss in the transmission between strings and top; a one-piece bar bridge (the stock Gretsch item or a Tru-Arc) creates a more dependably efficient mechanical connection between strings and guitar top.

Of course I think Tru-Arcs (available in straight and compensated versions) offer additional advantages - among them, the possibility of fine-tuning the tone and response of the whole guitar via choice of five metals (or glass). Also, the compensated SerpenTune version will tighten up compensation by comparison to the Space Control (or a straight bar bridge of any variety).

While we're at it, we should mention strings. Relatively higher gauges generally sound "fatter" overall. I wouldn't put lighter than 10s on a Jet; I have 11s on mine. And you might find going with a pure nickel string tames some of the spikiness by comparison to the more common nickel-steel alloy. Most of the string brands have pure nickel varieties.

– Proteus

The guy who does my setups actually mentioned the Tru-Arcs as an upgrade. I can definitely see myself doing an upgrade down the line. I'll flip those pickups when I next change the strings, and I'm using the NYXL 10-46.

22

Ah. The NYXL are made for a bright tone. I'd encourage you to try D'Addario's pure nickel instead - and maybe move up to 11s instead of the 10s.

Another VERY worthy upgrade would be Reverend's 10.00 Soft(something) Bigsby spring. Put that in, and the Bigsby becomes more pliable - and helps make heavier strings feel lighter. (Because it gives a little.)


The guy who does my setups actually mentioned the Tru-Arcs as an upgrade

Man. Smart guy. I'm always surprised when people have heard of the bridges.

23

UD, what bridge is on the guitar? You can do significant tone tweaking there.

– Proteus

It's one of them there stainless TruArc things!

24

Thanks!

May I suggest trading it for a different metal then? Stainless is pretty linear through all registers, while brass might sound relatively brighter, with more upper mids.

And aluminum will definitely comb the mids a bit, emphasizing wiry twang.

Bet you’d get purtnear full value on an exchange...

25

Well, the troll in my cave says he prefers GFS Surf 90s. Not that they sound like Dynas or T Armonds but to me, that's a good thing.

Thick? Your wiseman don't know how it feels.


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