Modern Gretsch Guitars

Opinions Sought on G6128TCG Duo Jet

1

I've been attracted to the Caddy Green Duo Jet for years and am now giving serious thought to an acquisition. The only Jet I've ever owned was a 2001 New Jet. It was a very nice guitar, but ultimately not what I wanted. I am interested in the FMIC models made before the newer Vintage Select variants.

If you've owned this model what were the pros and cons of the guitar? Did you replace the Melita bridge and, if so, with what? Did your replace the stock Dynas and, if so, with what? Old marketing materials refer to the guitar as being chambered. Is the chambering significant or does it feel and respond more like a solid body?

Please share any thoughts on the model and thanks in advance.

2

I have a 2009 6128TCG that I've had since 2010. It has not had much playing time lately, but it has been a fantastic guitar since I received it.

To call the guitar 'chambered' would be to stretch the truth a bit. When talking about 'chambered' Jets, I tend to think that term refers to the vintage-correct chambering that you'd find on the 6129BZ (and others). My 6128TCG has the same chambering as found on other post-2003 / pre- current era Jets, but other than being slightly heavier, it's not something I notice.

I replaced the stock Dynas with T-Armonds fairly early on. I was pretty happy with the stock Dynas initially, but found that there were some highs missing that the TV pickups provided.

I switched out the Melita bridge because I found that, even with reduced-head screws, it was just too difficult for me to palm mute. I replaced it with a brass TruArc, and have been intending to replace that with a TA Serpentune for some time.

I've gone back and forth between the standard Bigsby arm and a Chet arm for quite a while now. I would probably leave the Chet arm on, but I find that it doesn't fit well in my standard case with that installed.

Well, that's what I know about my 6128TCG. I'm very glad that I got this one, rather than the standard black 6128 I was initially seeking, and remain grateful to Joel at Shanghai and Joe C. for making that happen.

3

I have both a 6128TCG (2007) and a 6128T-57 VS from last year.

I've had the 2007 since 2008, and after swapping the stock Dynasonics out for Seymour Duncan Dynas (T-Armonds not yet being available), it became - and pretty much remains - if not my favorite guitar, at least a Cold Dead Hands guitar that would be one of the very last of Way Too Many that I'd ever willingly let go. I did replace the Melita bridge, strangely enough with a brass Tru-Arc. (Sometimes a brass SerpenTune.)

I got the Vintage Select specifically to see its ostensibly greater chambering (by comparison to the '07) would make enough of a sonic difference to make me like it better. A year later, I still have both guitars - they're just so close that any decision between them is based on small aesthetic differences. That isn't to say I can't tell them apart sonically - the VS is every so slightly "woodier," has an equally slightly different attack/sustain/decay characteristic, and may be microscopically louder acoustically when played unamplified. Or I could be imagining things.

As for chambering, I expected the VS to be noticeably lighter than the '07. It's actually a few ounces heavier. It's also about 1/16" deeper in body thickness, so apparently if it has more chambering, that additional 1/16" sliver of mahogany more than makes up for it.

They play and feel so close as to who-could-tell. And I don't know how much of the (very) slightly different tone is due to body construction, and how much to the difference between the Seymours and the T-Armonds. (Both have brass Tru-Arcs on rosewood bases.)

The VS has a slightly lighter shade of mahogany for back and sides, which is attractive, and the bluer more metallic Cadillac green which matches my Country Club (and, tiresomely - because I mention this every time the subject comes up - the Wedgwood green roof of my 1955 Coupe de Ville). I like those features. (The '07, by comparison, has the non-metallic more dark olive Cad green.) I hated the banjo armrest on the VS, and took it off.

But truly, the difference between the two is so slight that I can't ever distinguish a favorite. It's not even that I prefer one on some days and the other on other days, or that one is better for some things and the other for ... other things. While the difference is audible, it wouldn't possibly stand out in a mix with other instruments, and I don't know that any listener would prefer one or the other in a recording. The player's performance and dynamics would make more of a difference than swapping between the guitars.

When I got the VS I didn't - and still don't - intend to keep both. It's just that...well, see all above. Too hard to decide. In a Court of Absolutes, other than the armrest I like the look of the VS slightly better. But it's also not enough better a guitar to keep in place of a Cold Dead Hands guitar which has been a constant companion over a decade.

I know you're not interested in the new VS version, so take this report as something like confirmation that if you're missing something by passing over the "more chambered" VS in favor of the previous model...I don't know what it is.


Not to be glib about your question as to whether it feels and responds more like a solid body...but it feels and responds like the chambered, enclosed-body 14" guitar it is.

It's not as open and "acousticky" as, say, a Casino, nor as woody-lively as the fully enclosed but fully hollow Guild Aristocrat or Airline Tuxedo. But it's more acoustically lively than a center-block guitar - meaning surely more than a true sandwich solidbody like a Les Paul. It's more about percussive attack and resonance, with a certain air around the note, than about the sledgehammer mechanical sustain of full solidbody.

It is its own thing - and evidently my favorite thing, since I haven't found a guitar I like better. That doesn't, of course, mean it will be your thing. But you can be confident it will be a vastly different proposition than your 2001 New Jet, which for all its virtues, is as unlike the Dyna Duo Jet in tone and response as two same-lookin' guitars could be.

I will caution, though, that unless you play pretty wide open loud, you may not appreciate the virtues of the build with stock Gretsch DynaSonics and the Melita. At the risk of pontificating where I don't know enough, I think perhaps Billy Zoom's steadfast defense of Gretsch Dynas (and the Melita) on his Jet is based on the volume levels at which X plays - where he powers past the tendency of relatively underwound Dynas to sound strident and even brittle in a chambered or solidbody, and where the inherently less sustaining design of the Melita helps keep his tone articulate and controllable at volume.

I don't play at those volumes, and with the original Gretsch Dynas on my '07, I aways felt like I was overplaying the guitar, trying to get more response out of it...that it just wasn't giving me enough. With the Seymours or T-Armonds, the guitar was suddenly full and fat along with crisp and articulate, and seamlessly responsive.

Likewise the bridge swap; the bar bridge just brings a bit more sustain and body to a build that, for all the acoustic resonance for which it's prized, can sound a bit like a big electric banjo. For me it was a matter of finding the ideal range of response along the continuum where the guitar has been most instinctively comfortable and "right" for me - where it feels like a natural extension of my musical intentions.

So if you try examples that don't have upgraded pickups - and/or, have the Melita - bear in mind that (at least in my experience) you may not be hearing it at its best.


Oh. Pros and Cons.

Pros: everything about build quality, feel, construction, appearance, and playability, all woven in with the fact that nothing sounds like a chambered Duo Jet with (hot enough) Dynasonics.

Cons: if you don't like that ain't-no-other-like-it tone, the rest of it might not matter. (Or if you have something against floating bridges or some aspect of the cosmetics.) There are no technical or functional shortcomings.

4

Amen, brother Proteus! I’m a congregant in the assemblage of the mighty Dyna-Jet! My ‘53 RI is my go-to instrument of pure joy.

5

I have both a 6128TCG (2007) and a 6128T-57 VS from last year. - Proteus

Just out of curiosity, how do the necks compare between the two, for shape, thickness, etc.?

6
  • If you've owned this model what were the pros and cons of the guitar? I own a 2011 G6128-DSV which is basically the same guitar but with some cosmetic differences. The pros are it sounds amazing. It has a great attack and an addictive follow through sound. If there are any cons it would be that because it's heavily chambered it may lack sustain compared to your favorite solid body guitar. It's a joy to play and to listen to.

  • Did you replace the Melita bridge and, if so, with what? I replaced the Melita bridge with an aluminum Tru-Arc Serpentune.

  • Did your replace the stock Dynas and, if so, with what? I have been messing with the stock Dynasonics since I bought the guitar in 2012. First I bought a TV Jones Dyna spacer to lift the bridge pickup. Then I installed 1 meg CTS pots which opened up the tone. Then I flipped both pickups 180 degrees to fatten up the bridge and clear up the neck. I was satisfied enough with the sound to record an album with it this way but since the 2020 lockdown I've been able to focus even more on getting this guitar to get as close to 100% awesome as I can. I currently have my stock Dynasonics being rewound by a pickup Jedi named Sayoko Kuwabara who I met as a referral from Grover Jackson. She informed me both pickups were around the 7.75 K range. It appears that the Terada factory in Japan was going for vintage accuracy over player preferences when winding their Dynasonics in 2011. Back in the 1950s manufacturers didn't discern between bridge and neck pickups. She is going to rewind the bridge to about 10 K and the neck to about 7.15 K. I'm not sure if I will still flip them when I reinstall them but I am going to add a treble bleed to the neck pickup and possibly the master volume. I've been tempted to replace these stock Dynas with TV Jones T'Armonds for years but then every time I plug this guitar in I really love the inherent sound of the stock pickups. I've only had issues with not enough from the bridge and too much from the neck.

  • Old marketing materials refer to the guitar as being chambered. Is the chambering significant or does it feel and respond more like a solid body? Yes the chambering is significant. My Jet responds more like a hollow body than a solid body in feel and tone. The newer VS Jets have gone back to the original increased chambering but honestly, I am happy with the airy midrange tone of my Duo Jet. It's a very balanced sound. The picture is the style of chambering my Duo Jet and the Jets you are interested in have.

7

The body on the right in this picture is the way the original Duo Jets were chambered. I heard the new VS Duo Jets also use this style.

8

Fantastic guitar that comes alive in your hands. I haven't changed a thing - who am I to argue with a brilliant instrument. Yes, the bridge takes some getting used to, but you work around it, and it looks so Gretsch. I couldn't say to what degree it influences the tone, but since the tones are great, it's a moot point. It loves volume. As versatile as any guitar. Terada quality is excellent. The dealer said you get Custom Shop quality at a cheaper price.

9

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. I'm in the hunt, but willing to wait for the right opportunity.


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