Modern Gretsch Guitars

Should Gretsch make a pro-line (MIJ) CVT Corvette?

1

Hi Folks, I don't post here much but this open letter to Joe C. was posted in the other Gretsch forum and I thought I would share.


Joe C. Carducci National Sales Manager The Gretsch Company 17600 Perimeter Dr. Scottsdale AZ 85255

9/27/2017

Dear Joe,

I hope all is well with you. When we last spoke - at the Canadian Round Up - in the spring of 2017, we talked regarding the creation of a pro-line (CVT) Corvette. I'm sure you remember that discussion.

We discussed the potential anatomy of such an instrument;

  1. Bound Ebony fretboard with 24 3/4" scale
  2. 2-HS Filter'tron or TV Jones Classics
  3. Single three-way pickup selector
  4. Master volume/master tone
  5. Gretsch B5 Bigsby
  6. Alternate colour options, including Firebird Red, White and Black (Fairlane Blue and Cadillac Green would be nice too!)
  7. Proper Gretsch Case included

I do not believe I am alone in this desire. The Corvette (CVT) is the unsung hero in the Gretsch line up and an incredibly versatile and useful instrument. It's addition to the Gretsch pro-line stable would permit market penetration into the same buying circle currently inhabited by Gibson's SG product, would not directly compete with the current Gretsch pro-line nor with the products currently offered by FMC.

Please let me know if any progress has been made towards this end as I currently have money burning a hole in my pocket that cannot be satisfied in any other way. Thanks for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely (and with Great Gretschiness),

Tony B. (AKA Tony65x55) Oshawa, ON Canada

2

I've talked with Joe about the CVT as well, to those specs I'd add 22 frets, and availability of Dynasonics. It wouldn't necessarily have to be a pro line.

3

I would be thrilled if Gretsch used my Freestyle design instead.

4

Gretsch needs a couple more mahogany slab models like the CVT or the Special Jet---with a variety of pickups, like the DeArmond 2000s, as well as 'Trons. Gretsch is well known for hollow bodies---why not some more solids?

5

They should reissue the AstroJet . Cool head and body design

6

I don't know. The CVT is well-nigh perfect as it is. I've always most appreciated the Electromatics (like Epiphones) that are their own unique thing, unavailable in the "pro" line. The CVT is at the top of that list for me.

Bound fingerboard, ehh. It adds nothing to an SG, just a tux on a fighter. Not what these lean mean mahogany slab rock machines are about. Rosewood is fine.

Why change the scale length? Especially to the quintessential Gibson scale? Gretsch's 24.6 is certainly so close to that in functionality that all 24.75 would say is "hey, we wanna be a Gibson!"

I think the control config you suggest is what it already has.

And I like the pickups - such a cool cross between single-coilish snap and funk and dual-coil drive. But if you want to TV up, by all means go for it. There are no wrong choices there.

At the CVT's price you could do all that and have it re-finned for color and still be short of pro-line pricing.

There are two possible weaknesses in the CVT out of the box: tuners (seems to vary from guitar to guitar) - and a very tiny thing which makes a HUGE difference. Replace the Bigsby spring with the 1" Gretsch or the softer Reverend spring, and it transforms the performance of the unit.

(You might add a Tru-Arc bridge, too - but so many guitars come with Adjustatunadialamatics I've given up mourning. I have aluminum on my CVT, and boy howdy does it bark. 100.00.)

I believe - and have often posted - that there's little could be done to the CVT as a pro-line to make it worth-the-extra-money better than it already is. Maybe the best guitar in the line for pure bang-for-buck.

More colors, sure.

But, as it comes, it's fine. To tweak for pure pro stability and performance, put less than 100.00 in tuners and Bigsby spring. 200.00 to add the Tru-Arc to that. Pickup swap optional, still under 400.00. I don't see how the guitar could be made any better for more money than that.

You won't get into a pro-line for that 600.00.

The CVT is pure killer from git to go. It's the working man's rock-n-roll machine, and he can be proud of every lustrous red-stained mahogany inch of it. It says "SG, sure, bring it on. I'm ready."

And it is.

7

So, building on that - a CVT GT might be a good offering, a way to test the waters for upscaling the model. (Or, in my thinking, it would BE the upscale model.)

Start with the standard model and do the stuff I mentioned: better tuners, softer Bigs spring (really, when the Bigs is buttery-responsive, the whole guitar seems 1,000.00 more expensive), a Tru-Arc (we'll do a run with a custom appearance for distinction), maybe the perfect TVJ set of pups - why not PowerTrons for this config?

Could be done like Yenko and others tweaked muscle cars, after it leaves the factory. Send the guitars to someone in the US to do these quick replacements and set the guitar up so it delivers all greased-up and ready to race. Would it take 60-90 minutes a guitar?

The Custom-Tuned CVT-GT. Race with the pros, spend like a weekend warrior.

8

I agree, Tim. I love the Corvette for what it is, not for what it doesn't have.

I think adding Powertrons to a slab Gretsch would definitely pull it out of the "Great Gretsch Sound" territory and into the darker Gibson realm. That was already done with the old G Love Signature model. It was chimey enough, but based on my sole experience with that model (the one that Dylan used to have) the overall tone was a bit darker to my ears. Might as well buy an SG from the get-go. The stock Megatrons are chimey, snarly, and have more than enough oomph to compete in the volume department. Depending on how I have the controls set on mine, I can get anything from Strat-ish sounds to LP Jr. tones, but they still have that tell-tale Filtertron-style compression.

I think the only areas of improvement from a performance standpoint would be better quality tuners and the softer Reverend Bigsby spring, or maybe ditching the B50 altogether in favor of a B5. And I actually prefer the somewhat spartan decor appointments on this guitar. A wider color palette is always appreciated though-- that Black Nono Corvette just looks flat out mean. I bet it would look just as good with chrome/nickel hardware, keeping it in the current price range. Heck, I'd even jump on a Golden Duke reissue in a heartbeat-- but with the newer Super HiLos instead of traditional HiLos

10

I didn’t know I needed one of these. Curse you.

11

I must say that I remain very intrigued by the Stump-O-matic version of the Corvette. (I hate that "CVT" moniker because it reminds me that someone must have dropped the ball to lose the name "Corvette".) The racing stripes can be left off, for my taste, but build it with the three Mega'Tron pickups and a string-through body which is offered in some normal Gretsch colors. Yowsa! That is a rocking machine.

12

I mentioned to Joe in Nashville that I'd like to see a CVT with neck binding and thumbnails.

13

I mentioned to Joe in Nashville that I'd like to see a CVT with neck binding and thumbnails.

– Twom

Yup. I was thinking of getting one of the '60's bodies and doing my own "Cowboy Corvette." Orange, big tortguard with a steershead, humpblocks, horseshoe, Bigsby and a Magnatron. There are so many ways to go with the Corvette/CVT. I don't think you'd have to go "pro-line" either as the workmanship on the recent 5420 Electros is just stellar.

14

I like the idea of an Astro Jet but chambered to reduce weight. And a Bigsby instead of the Burns. Fixed roller bridge.

15

I gotta say I agree with Proteus, but if one were to do a Hot-Rodded Vette, I'd go with

  1. uprated Bigsby spring.
  2. Twin Megatrons
  3. Thumbnail inlays.
  4. No pick guard. Back-mount it all.
  5. Nicer neck profile. Vette necks tend to be awfully meaty.
  6. More color options.

I'd be open to the idea of an altogether different sort of vibrato, even. I know it's heresy, but if there's anyplace it could be tried out, it's the Vette.

What I'd REALLY like to see, though, is something like that thin line Vette mockup I created a few years back.

16
  1. No pick guard. Back-mount it all.

Yes, completely agree.

17

A Terada Corvette is unnecessary. It's already hard to find an Electromatic CVT in a music store.

18

I'm down with back-mounting - but that's a pricier mod than the other hardware-only tweaks.

I'd also like to see the bridge mounted at a milder angle. The current steep angle is unnecessary and complicates bridge substitutions. It would be such an easy thing to fix at the factory, just a change in a template for where the holes are drilled.

19

I'd also like to see the bridge mounted at a milder angle

Will you make a serpintune that corrects for this?

20

I like my stock Corvette and wouldn't mind having a second one with the above suggested mods. I disagree with Bax about the neck being too meaty. My only issue is wishing that the pickup switch was located a little more to the bottom end as I hit it when strumming.

The model has great potential for modding and I would leave it as an Electromatic because, after you do all those upgrades, you still have the same slab of wood. I am assuming that Pro-Lines use better wood.

21

Will you make a serpintune that corrects for this?

Already do. Wish I didn't have to.

22

A Terada Corvette is unnecessary. It's already hard to find an Electromatic CVT in a music store.

– BuddyHollywood

I don't really understand why the limited availability of an Electromatic model would make a high end model undesirable? It would appear to me that availability is limited because sales are modest and dealers are not ordering many. Perhaps improving the product would change that.

The original proposal was not to make a super expensive CVT Corvette "Falcon," it was to make one built to higher standard, i.e., the difference between a Mexican Tele and an American Professional Tele. While we all know that Mexican and Squier Teles can be very good, the American Standard carries an expectation of higher quality.

I am the proud owner of two CVT Corvettes and they are great guitars. The nut and fretwork are less than wonderful, the electronics are cheap, the hardware is cheap, the Megatrons are very nice pickups but not as versatile as a TVJ Classic / HS Filter'tron and it's still a great guitar.

There is no reason a CVT Corvette built to a higher standard would be undesirable. It does not replace the Electromatic version but simply creates a professional quality model. It does not have to bear the same cost relationship as a 5420 to a 6120 but rather, the same relation as a Mexican Fender to an American Fender.

We Gretschies applauded the positive changes made from the 5120 to the 5420 and many of us own several Gretsch Pro-Line guitars and love the difference. Why shouldn't the CVT Corvette receive the same attention? It's a great guitar and shouldn't always have to be the red-haired step-child.

23

I don't really understand why the limited availability of an Electromatic model would make a high end model undesirable? It would appear to me that availability is limited because sales are modest and dealers are not ordering many. Perhaps improving the product would change that.

The original proposal was not to make a super expensive CVT Corvette "Falcon," it was to make one built to higher standard, i.e., the difference between a Mexican Tele and an American Professional Tele. While we all know that Mexican and Squier Teles can be very good, the American Standard carries an expectation of higher quality.

I am the proud owner of two CVT Corvettes and they are great guitars. The nut and fretwork are less than wonderful, the electronics are cheap, the hardware is cheap, the Megatrons are very nice pickups but not as versatile as a TVJ Classic / HS Filter'tron and it's still a great guitar.

There is no reason a CVT Corvette built to a higher standard would be undesirable. It does not replace the Electromatic version but simply creates a professional quality model. It does not have to bear the same cost relationship as a 5420 to a 6120 but rather, the same relation as a Mexican Fender to an American Fender.

We Gretschies applauded the positive changes made from the 5120 to the 5420 and many of us own several Gretsch Pro-Line guitars and love the difference. Why shouldn't the CVT Corvette receive the same attention? It's a great guitar and shouldn't always have to be the red-haired step-child.

– Tony65x55

You know, this may be the first time that a post has literally changed my opinion. I agree with you.

Gretsch should make them at the Fender Corona factory.

24

I like my stock Corvette and wouldn't mind having a second one with the above suggested mods. I disagree with Bax about the neck being too meaty. My only issue is wishing that the pickup switch was located a little more to the bottom end as I hit it when strumming.

The model has great potential for modding and I would leave it as an Electromatic because, after you do all those upgrades, you still have the same slab of wood. I am assuming that Pro-Lines use better wood.

– Baba Joe

I moved the switch out of the way on my 1968 refurbished, revived Corvette. It was in shambles when I got it so I made it a player.

*Purple Nitro by Curt Wilson aka The Man.

25

I don't really understand why the limited availability of an Electromatic model would make a high end model undesirable? It would appear to me that availability is limited because sales are modest and dealers are not ordering many. Perhaps improving the product would change that.

The original proposal was not to make a super expensive CVT Corvette "Falcon," it was to make one built to higher standard, i.e., the difference between a Mexican Tele and an American Professional Tele. While we all know that Mexican and Squier Teles can be very good, the American Standard carries an expectation of higher quality.

I am the proud owner of two CVT Corvettes and they are great guitars. The nut and fretwork are less than wonderful, the electronics are cheap, the hardware is cheap, the Megatrons are very nice pickups but not as versatile as a TVJ Classic / HS Filter'tron and it's still a great guitar.

There is no reason a CVT Corvette built to a higher standard would be undesirable. It does not replace the Electromatic version but simply creates a professional quality model. It does not have to bear the same cost relationship as a 5420 to a 6120 but rather, the same relation as a Mexican Fender to an American Fender.

We Gretschies applauded the positive changes made from the 5120 to the 5420 and many of us own several Gretsch Pro-Line guitars and love the difference. Why shouldn't the CVT Corvette receive the same attention? It's a great guitar and shouldn't always have to be the red-haired step-child.

– Tony65x55

Well-stated Tony!


Register Sign in to join the conversation