Modern Gretsch Guitars

Setzer Hot Rod guitars


Hello all!

I'd like to get some info and input on Gretsch Hot Rod guitars.

From what i can see, there has been 3 versions and several variations between them.

rosewood vs ebony body depth 2.5" vs 2.75" trestle bracing vs tone post pick ups, TV Jones Classics vs Setzer Sigs

I believe there may be other differences but i think these are the big ones.

What are the thoughts out there... are some know to be better than others? are there certain things to look out for to avoid?

I played a 2nd gen in Roman Red and it was a really nice guitar. it sounded fantastic!

Thank you!


I don’t think they’ve produced a bad generation of them. Just comes down to which specs you prefer.

Some of the early pre-Fender models had pretty crap electronics, but that’s easy to remedy.

I prefer my old tone post model that I’ve replaced all the hardware on though I wouldn’t be upset to own any of them.


thank you for the comments~

you'e right it is about what feels/sounds best to the player. i guess i'm asking because it's hard to find these guitars around here. more specifically the older versions.

it's funny because i swear by 12" radius on the neck, but Hot Rod with it's 9.5 feels great! so i dunno, i tend to overthink these things. and now they have a compound radius.

i guess i just want to make sure there isn't anything i should watch out for. i don't want to buy the one i'n looking at only to find out that other versions are know to be better... blah blah.

i will say i really like the new colors! Candy BlueBurst and Magenta are supper nice! and that green sparkle is a stunner!


Only thing to watch out for is on the older ones you’ll want to replace the electronics. Not a big deal if you’re comfortable with that.

Here’s what I can tell you spec wise from my own playing, for whatever that’s worth.

  1. I really do like the tone post models better. They feel and sound more alive to me. Some people prefer the focus of trestle bracing. I can’t really complain about trestle, I own them, just not my preference.

  2. I like the 2.5” depth bodies the best.

  3. The Fender/Terada factory models are better built, but not by as much as you’d think. The pre-trestle models have set necks similar to current Electromatics. They don’t sound or feel like the Electromatics though. The neck and fret work is top notch pre- and post-Fender.

  4. I have a Smoke model with the new compound radius. It measures 9.5”-10”, not 9.5”-12” like the spec. And when playing it, it doesn’t make a bit of difference.

  5. Ebony necks are nicer. But not nearly enough to be disappointed with rosewood. Especially good rosewood, which the hot rods have.

  6. I swap pickups so often that I shouldn’t even bring it up. But get some TV Jones if it doesn’t come with them.

  7. Try a tru arc bridge. Talk to Proteus here to get one. They’re awesome. If you really want a tune-o-matic though, get a better one than what Gretsch ships.

  8. Don’t worry about the pinned vs unpinned bridge. Pinned is nice. Unpinned is easy to secure.

  9. Get a softer Bigsby spring and some TI Jazz Bebop 11s. The roundwounds seem to bring the hot rod to life more than the flats. Seems to differ from one guitar to the next though and I use both, but ultimately it’s whatever the guitar wants.

  10. If you really want to do it right, get a fret job and use stainless steel 6105’s and better nut. It’s a real hot rod of a guitar that way. Maybe rolled edges if you can. Those fit well with the hot rod soft V necks.


And a little Gretsch photo op just for fun.


Thanks for all the info! And nice looking guitars!

I’ve been reading about the tru arc bridge and will get one,

I’m also looking at 2004. G6120BHLTV. Looks good, ebony board, TV classics. I’m assuming this post FMIC? Anything to be concerned about 2004 versions? It’s certainly a cool colour:)



I’m not sure about the 2004 being pre or post. That was right around the transition time. Fender started putting serial numbers on the back of the headstock, the pre won’t have it there. There are others around here that would know for sure. I want to say the pre-FMIC always had rosewood?

And I think they started using floating necks instead of set necks when they went to trestles.


Thanks again for the info. Very much appreciated!!

The seller of this guitar says the pick ups are TV jones. And the model being G6120SHLTV, would that indicate TV Classics? Where there any other TV pick ups sold on HotRods at any point? Also would the TV Classics have the regular pat pending numbers on the pick up casing?



Wait one more.... i read online somewhere that early Hot Rod’s had a longer 25” scale and not the standard 24”? Is that true?


2004 is definitely FMIC-era, though early. The transition was made during 2003.

I think Hot Rods always used Classics up to the advent of the Setzer Sig pickups. Might have been a Power'Tron in there somewhere. Surely your seller knows what's on the guitar?

Not all TV Classics on guitars coming from Gretsch have the pat-pending treatment - though some do - and I think any TV Jones pickup bought direct from TV (or a dealer) will say "TV Jones" instead. But I believe any can be ordered from TV with the number. So to be sure what pickups are on the guitar you're considering - and how they're engraved - you should lean on your seller. If there's no external proof, he can always pull a pickup and look at the bottom.

I've never heard of a Hot Rod with 25" scale. But I could be under-informed. Member Tartan Phantom (Rob Campbell) is kinda the keeper of the catalog specs around here, and may be able to answer definitively. Thenocturnebrain (Tavo Vega) would also be a trustworthy source for that information.

But again ... on any individual guitar, these things are pretty easy to determine. Many yardsticks and tape measures go out at least to 25.5"!


All modern 6120s are 24.6" excepting the new Steve Wariner model. Check under the pickups (with a mechanics mirror) to confirm the TVJones as the tops can be plain, pat.#, or TVJones.


thanks for all the great info!

i've been doing more research and also got to try out an older hot rod with classics. fist impressions was the neck. the older ones had move a V shape and it does not sit well in my hand. the newer one have that perfect Gretsch neck... like on my G6120.

the bigger body ones sound fuller too, but that could be the set up and pick up height. the older hotrod's neck pick up was lower. i tried to raise it real quick but it couldn't go any higher... and it wasn't my guitar so i couldn't fiddle too much with it.

either way.... it's a lot of fun trying out and learning about these guitars. I got bit by the 6120 bug last year... and it's finally what i've been looking for. I've tried a bunch of other Gretsch guitars some pro and more Electromatic in the past but could never bond with them, until a i played a 6120 with filtertrons and that was it!


Pre-Fender Hotrods had the ceramic Filter'trons - it wasn't until Fender revamped the spec that they started to come with TV Classics. And it seems that only the deeper bodied Hotrods have real ebony fingerboards. All of those I have had with the slightly shallower body had "ebonised" (dyed) rosewood.

I like the V neck, but obviously it's not for everyone. Some are thicker than others too - I had a matt black Hotrod which had quite a chunky V neck compared to most. But the 6120 is a great guitar. Great looks, great sound, lovely to play. And they can rock!


Well i'm happy to say that i finally got a Hot Rod!

I ended up not getting that Roman Red i was looking at. but i found another 2nd gen (bigger body) in Highland Green. it was a good deal overall i think. used but it really good shape. needs to be set up to my liking but so far so good. i wasn't sure about the colour but i do love 2 tones and the green is growing on me :)

The neck on this one is a bit more of a pronounced V than the Roman Red, but not as much as the earlier versions i tried. But it's very close to my G6120's neck (best neck shape ever!)

These Hot Rods are overall really great sounding guitars, I feel very fortunate to finaly own one! :)

Thank you for all advice and opinions... really does help!

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