Modern Gretsch Guitars

NGD: It’s springtime and the Tennessee Rose…

1

...wood is blooming!

This one just popped up.

(Full Gretsch pedigree: G6119TG-62RW-LTD Limited Edition '62 Rosewood Tenny. Pretty sure that in the annals of Gretsch lore, it will be known simply as the Rosewood Tenny. I bet the Rosewood Tele had a model number too, but did it matter?)

2

We knew the pictures on Gretsch's site wouldn't do the guitar justice...so here's some justice. (If you remember the durn trick to see them at full size, justice is even better served.)

3

It's a dark grain, so it's subtle, but the top is bookmatched...

...and so's the back, but more obviously. And I love the sculpted back of this build, with its arch rising from a flatter perimeter - not to mention the rounded-over non-bound edge. Really comfortable, really sleek.

(Note: the back is not really as different a shade from the front as it appears in this shot. Lightened slightly to show detail.)

4

Closer look? I don't mind.

Note the embossed arrows in the knobs. I don't like them as well as the more familiar G-brand, because an arrow suggests you need to go somewhere else. With the G-knobs, you know you've already arrived.

It came with a black pickguard, but I wanted to see all of the wood. I'm thinking this would be a good candidate for a clear guard. Or, if one had to be opaque about it, gold would really belong. The rosewood certainly sets off the rest of the bright shiny new gold bling.

5

So, you know. Rosewood everywhere...except the neck, which is maple. With a skunky stripe, and a subtle fadeburst on the back I wasn't expecting. A nice touch.

But I would have liked rosewood.

6

Dang you sure can pick the pretty ones. That's what they said about me and chicks until I got old.

7

Even more subtle...the end of the neck where it cantilevers above the body also fades lighter.

Slinky action, too. As it came out of the case, it was playable - but I just kept cranking the bridge lower and lower. Amazing neck and fret finishing, flawless feel. I'm as low as I'd want to go, and not a buzz anywhere.

I don't know if I'd say Terada keeps getting better and better, but it's fair to say they've gotten as good as anyone could get, and then kept up the standard. The golden age has a durable and consistent lustre.

8

Dang you sure can pick the pretty ones.

No pickin' to it, at least not for me. As I understand it, Rocky got two; I guess he picked this one for me. If it's not the prettiest one, I don't want to know.

9

Closer? Really?

Miscellaneous observations.

• Despite the warnings, it's not heavy: 6 lb 10 oz. Lighter than my 2005 Triple HiLo Tenny.

• I don't know whether FMIC spec'ed it or it's evolution in Terada's bridge practices - nor whether it's consistent or just what happened on this one - but the bridge base is kinda "semi-pinned." That is, it has a pair of oblong holes on the bottom to fit over the grub screws in the top of the guitar, which permit the bridge to slide forward and aft on either side to fine-tune bridge position for intonation - but prevent its being bumped out of place by over-enthusiastic right-hand technique or string bending.

That strikes me as a perfect configuration, as it provides probably 90% of the stability achieved by fixed-position pinning, but still allows differential longitudinal bridge adjustments (which for some reason matters to me). (And yes, there's probably a Tru-Arc in this guitar's future.)

• I think this guitar has the cork-sniffin' ee-lectronical tweaks Gretsch ballyhoos in the marketing - no load this, capacitor that, whatever - but it also shows further evolution in tone switch cap choice.

Can't even call it a mud switch on this one, because even the darkest setting still has a dull edge of articulation. The center position, of course, is wide-open bright - but what used to be half-mud is now just barely rolled off from wide open. Just has the edge taken off. Time will tell if that's enough to be useful. I really rely on the half-bright position on my last-decade Gretschs for a rounded but still clear voice - and, on this guitar, I can no longer roll a volume knob off for a little extra treble cut. Because, you know. Sniffed corks. It stays bright all the way down.

And, for what it's worth, I note the taper on the pots is still extreme: that is, all the useful variability is in the upper 20% or so of a knob's rotation, below which floop, it's all gone.

I don't know yet whether any of that will be a practical problem. I like having tone control at the guitar, and am not sure the mild treble cut available on this tone switch gets me there. (And, sure, I have plenty of EQ elsewhere in the signal chain.) I know I can always wire in a different cap, if it comes to that. (Not that it's fun working through the pickup holes.)

• Also, the Bigsby action is superb. Perfect tension with this spring. Very sensitive: why it responds submissively, with sensual abandon, to the slightest touch.

10

Wow!! Gorgeous guitar, Tim!!!

11

Wow! This is stunning. I'm excited for you! How does a Rosewood Tennessee Rose sound?

12

The headstock also has a rosewood face, but it's very dark, and the figure is not prominent.

Also gosh. It could be little fancier. Nice discreet rose inlay, maybe.

13

Congratulations, Tim. Absolutely beautiful!

14

How does a Rosewood Tennessee Rose sound?

I'm glad you asked that!

A 16" closed-hollow Gretsch Electrotone body at 24.6" scale with TV Classics: how could it go wrong?

Well, it couldn't and it didn't. Unamplified, it's surprisingly loud; also, resonant and lively, with a throatier fundamental (particularly on the low strings) than I expected, with extended upper overtone presentation - and a rich and piquant enharmonic aftertaste compliments of a mild break angle from bridge to Bigsby. (We'll get to wine-talk jargon yet.)

Plugged in, it rings in a sort of giant-harp way. It sounds very open, with tons of chime and jangle (if waveforms can weigh anything), with all the complexity you expect from the combination of enclosed hollow body with floating bridge and Classics. If anything, it's brighter than either my Gent 6122 or 6119HT, which have similar build and geometry. Except that, oddly, the neck pup alone sounds darker. The middle tone is sparkly and alluring. Chords are transcendental (or at least intoxicated) celestial sparklefests, overtones dancing like pheromones.

Can we attribute that voice to the rosewood? For the moment, why not?

15

Man, Tim, that's BEAUTIFUL! Congrats!

16

Well, Gretsch saw me coming with this one. It fell into my endless tonequest right when I'd realized yet again that a hollow or chambered body tickles more of my aural fancies than centerblockers - and when I'd realized a floating bridge, spreading its vibes over a wider area than a stud-mount, along with the harp created by a moderate break angle to a Bigsby without tension bar, were other essential ingredients.

So the spec was all-good; what pushed it over the top was the all-rosewood construction, if only because I'm curious about single-species guitars.

It's just one of those guitars which, from the first time I "saw" it, seemed like it was already my guitar.

I sure like it.


So. What could be better? I guess I don't know if it could be better - but it would sure be a thing if Gretsch made the same design (in any wood combination), but in a 14" body. A full hollow, not a centerblocker. Like a (mumblemumble) Guild Aristocrat or Airline Tuxedo, see.

This is not to say I'm in the least unhappy with this. On the au contrarious, brothers. I'm so happy I almost smiled.

It's just to say if they made it...I'd probably buy it.


And for more Rosery, click right here.

17

the description sounds as good as the photos look. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLL!

18

Very eye appealing, nice wood, gold trim...what's not to like?

Some day we need to see your Gear Warehouse photos...

20

Thanks, fellers! I also got my second shot today, thus have my Covid-U diploma. It's been a good day.

22

Congrats! Spring is in the air, shots are had, time to romance the rose.

23

Tim, thanks for the pictures. Now that's a beautiful guitar. Congrats on your new guitar!

24

Slight revision to control pot observations, above.

The master volume knob actually has a pretty gradual taper, and is very useful. (And, indeed, the tone doesn't darken when you turn it down. But for my purposes I'm not sure that's a good thing!)

The individual pickup volume pots still seem classic Gretsch - very abrupt tapers at the top of their rotation. You can change the blend of the two pickups in middle position, but you gotta be precise and minute about it.

Also, I'm starting to like the slight-rolloff position of the tone switch. It does change the voicing appreciably.

25

Congrats! That really is a beautiful guitar.


Register Sign in to join the conversation