Modern Gretsch Guitars

Please help me decide about my first pro-line Gretsch

1

Hi, a newcomer here looking for an advice on a Gretsch (a very unspectacular reason for posting, I know...). Currently I'm researching the market of used guitars (Germany, 1500-2000 EUR price range) and can see this:

  • Jets (Black, Silver, 6131 Atkins). I like playing comfort of a solidbody. Sometimes they are less expensive. But looks are a bit questionable (for rockabilly crowd where you're expected to have smth big and orange), also what about the sound? Should I avoid pre-Fender ones, or are those still okay? I can see sometimes old pre-Fender fancy looking Atkins ones can be more expensive than fresh recent priced to sell Silver Jets packed with features, what's the deal?

  • Older 6120s and Country Gentlemen. For the money, it is either pre-Fender (possibly with TV Jones upgraded PUs) or early Fender stock ones.

  • 6118/6119/Anniversaries. Surprisingly inexpensive for pro-lines, what's the catch? Also, I see a variety of PUs, HS Filtertrons, TV Classics, even TV Powertrons, what to look for?

  • Recent Country Clubs. Interestingly, some of them fall into my price range. The looks are just wow, what about the sound of the spruce top and the size (getting back to my solid body's playing comfort point here)?

In which direction should I narrow down my search?

Ah, and since you'll anyway ask about my playing style, the description goes below. Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas!


I've been playing rockabilly for about three decades with a Telecaster, lately modded into Esquire, switching back and forth between the pickup with some treble rolled off and straight-through-the-jack.

What I'm looking for is bluesier/jazzier sound, heading a bit into jump blues/Charly Christian direction but still not leaving rockabilly territory. I don't use tons of distortion obviously but I dig mildly overdriven sounds with some mid/upper mid presence to cut through the mix and play a bit with picking dynamics. I use a Tube Screamer, or, my latest addition, Mooer Rumble ('Dumble-in-a-box") with some minimalistic overdrive setting for that. I don't play only strictly vintage stuff, sometimes appear on stage with neorockabilly and even teddy boy bands, so being able to cope with loud drummers and dense mixes is a thing to consider. Still being able to step back to the 50's and clean the things up is another important thing. From playing technic perspective, I use a thumb pick, combining Scotty Moore style fingerpicking licks while singing with Cliff Gallup/BB King inspired licks when soloing.

Lately I've been trying a lot of guitars, apart from my Tele, in search for the sound, including a P90s Les Paul, a couple of hollowbody Ibanez boxes with GFS Surf 90s and TV Jones classics, Guild X175 Manhattan, Strat, Danelectro U2 and Gretsch G5128 (Electromatic, DeArmond 2000 PUs). From this list, I really liked the Strat and then the G5128 which has become my main guitar. The thing I'm missing a little bit from the last one is playability. After decades with the Tele, I have to admit, none of the hollowbodies can approach a solidbody in terms of playing comfort. Plus the usual GAS, considering a pro-line Gretsch should be an upgrade (or an addition??) to Electromatic...

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Welcome to the GDP!

You sound torn between the comfort of a solid body and the sound of a hollow body. Some of the Double cut hollow-bodies with the center block are a thinner variation and aren't as wide. They might fit your feel better. If you're getting along fine with the G5128 fit and feel then you're leaving yourself wide open for a 6120 type guitar. Maybe a Setzer Hot Rod if you can find one over there.

I'm thinking that since you play fender Tele type guitars that you prefer a single coil so in that respect the T-Armonds that TVJones makes might be what you want but there are plenty of TVJones hum-buckers that would fit your style and the sound that you are seeking.

3

if you're liking the hollowbodies and dig FilterTron-type pickups, a used Tennessee Rose appears to be a sleeper of a bargain deal compared to e.g. a 6120. i tend to agree with Dave that given your enjoyment of the Tele, Strat, and 5128, you'd probably be a better match for a guitar with Dynasonic type pickups. don't neglect Seymour Duncan's Dynas; in a head-to-head test which appeared here years ago i preferred them to the TV Dynas.

4

Greetings from one German fellow to another. First question indeed is: which sort of pickups? Playing comfort: I'm not a tall guy and I'm okay with anything up to 16" body size. Looks: I personally don't give much on other people's opinions but I know the Rockabilly crowd can be tough sometimes. A Jet is a fantastic guitar and the current Vintage Select series is great. Annies are excellent value but it doesn't get anymore classic than a 6120 in orange. The limited used market doesn't offer too many options, unfortunately. Feel free to ask if you see a certain guitar that catches your interest. Happy holidays!

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agreeing with Dave and Mac, a Duo Jet with DynaSonic pickups sounds like what you're looking for. I have a friend that used to gig with a Tele. he bought a Duo Jet with DynaSonic pickups and loves it.

welcome to the forum.

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Thanks a lot for the replies!

I see the most folks are suggesting to opt for a telecaster-ish thing, a Jet with Dynas. The question is, if we imagine Tele on one end of the road, 6120 with Filters on the other and Jet with single coils in the middle, closer to which end it will be (and how much close)?

Regarding pickups. I liked the sound of my Ibanez with TV Classics, still it lacked fullness of vintage Gretsches with Filters which I had limited access to. No doubt tonewood and overall construction played their role, still, I read somewhere that HS Filters have less treble/more lower mids than TV Jones. Is that true/does it contribute to that 'fullness' quality?

P. S. Strictly speaking, I'm not really German member, although after 5 years here I was somewhat eingedeutscht!

7

I’m thinking straight out of the box the ‘53 would be your ticket.No fuss,no muss and equipped with TVJones Dynas.

And here’s our own Mr Twangy on his what I believe is an earlier post Fender ‘57 Jet with Duncan PU’s...(hope I got that right) similar bodies.

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So thanks everyone, I've pulled a trigger on a Duo Jet G6128TCG (2013, Dynas, caddy green, Melita bridge as a potential downside...). Maybe I'll create a NGD topic once it arrives and I get to know that baby...

But what I'm supposed to do with my Tele now.....?

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Great choice. You gon be very happy. I can help you not have the Melita bridge (I make Tru-Arc™ bridges), but give it a chance first. It's not universally unloved.

Also, I don't want to borrow trouble where there is none, but I didn't get completely happy with my Caddy green Jet till I upgraded from the stock repro Dynasonics to Duncans (TV Jones' T-Armonds are just as good/better). The tone was almost there, but left me wanting a bit more. With the upgrade, it became - and remains - one of small handful of guitars that would pose a serious Sophie's choice if I had to part with one. Cold Dead Hands guitar.

But you'll keep your Tele. Dynas on a Jet really aren't much like a Tele, and the Jet won't make you play Teletastically. It makes you play Jetly. And once you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way...

But both are essential voices in my head.

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We all keep our Tele's but a Dyna jet is a wonderful thing. Gots to have me one, someday. Especially in Caddy green.

Oh, and pic's or it didn't happen.

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Pics a bit later, it still has to arrive here (so that's true it still, physically, didn't happen... just take a look at the location in my personal profile, we have not much opportunity to try and buy such things in person here...).

And yes that's what I was worried about... Curing GAS for guitar only triggers GAS for parts! Tru-Arc bridges (found sound samples here http://www.craigdobbins.com... and really loved the copper one because of the mids), custom pickups (OMG, 450 bucks for a set?!) etc.

Plus the guitar GAS has chances to come back since I've just realized archtops have also arched bottoms... So if you make your strap longer to make the guitar sitting pretty low and put some pressure on the top with your elbow, the arched bottom will make it turning almost 45 degs up... It's pretty much Wes Montgomery's playing comfort while maintaining that cool neorockabilly look!

But, seriously, thanks for upgrade suggestions, still first I would explore it stock and then see!


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