Modern Gretsch Guitars

The New Gretsch 6118: a Comparison of Two Models

1

I took some time today to goof off and drive north of the city to a store that I knew had some pro-line Gretsches in stock. I was interested in the 6118LTD Anniversary and the 6118T-60 Vintage Select. I must say, in my opinion Gretsch really hit it out of the ballpark with both of these models.

Both guitars have trestle bracing and very comfortable C necks. The Gretsch website says U necks, but no way, they are C and felt great; not too skinny and not too fat. Both guitars are very responsive and light feeling. I say 'light feeling' because I don't know the weight and the Gretsch site is often off on such details. The 6118-60 VS feels a tiny bit lighter, but if so, it can't be much; maybe just the difference in weight between the single coils and Filter'trons and the tuners.

The 6118T-60 is 'inspired by' the 1960 vintage model 6118, so it's not intended to be an exact replica. It does however, have a decidedly vintage feel; an openness and lightness that is very similar to my old 1960 Anniversary conversion, as if the wood had been drying for many years. It has TV Jones Hilo'tron pickups, and I confirmed with the good folks at TV Jones that they are in fact, TV HTs with the Hilo'tron name; the same pickup. I've used these for years and they are just about my favourite pickups. My one complaint is that, like the 1960 models, the neck pickup is set back towards the bridge about an inch from the standard position. I'm pretty sure though, that if the neck pickup was reversed so the pole screws faced the neck instead of the bridge, it would sound like the standard placement does. I confirmed this with my Annie conversion. I couldn't hear a difference between the pickup screws positioned towards the neck before and after moving the whole pickup closer to the neck. Still, the mind can be a terrible thing, and it was never a great idea.

It has the mud switch, which I simply don't use or convert to a tone pot. Some people like that kind of thing, so it's there for those folks. It has pins on the Bigsby; some prefer the string through style. I would have preferred an ebony fingerboard, but that's a minor detail; rosewood is just fine. It has the Space Control bridge saddle; not my preference, but I always change to a Tru Arc Serpentune anyway. https://gretschguitars.com/...

The 6118LTD (Limited Edition) is equally as responsive, but with perhaps a more modern feel. The Filter'trons provide a beefier sound; you could say it is a more versatile instrument, and the features put it in a more 'modern' camp, as adverse to 'vintage'. The Gotoh locking tuners are a welcome choice over the bulkier Sperzels and I prefer them to the Schallers too. I have Gotoh vintage style open back tuners on my two old Annies and the tolerances are very tight. I'm assuming these locking tuners meet the same standards. Other features that fit into my wish list are ebony fingerboard and the tone pot circuitry. It has the string-through Bigsby that some people prefer to the standard pins; one more feature putting it in the 'modern' camp. I'm good with both. The rocking bar bridge is fine with me, and really sounds great on this guitar.

My first reaction to the gold top with deep wine back and sides (Gretsch calls it Dark Cherry Metallic) was negative, but the more I played the guitar the more the colour scheme grew on me; now I'm a fan. It's a break from the Gretsch Annie tradition, but it's a modern guitar, so why the heck not. The body design (16" X 2 1/2") with trestle bracing and Filter'trons keep one foot in tradition.

My complaints? Artificial (Tusk?) nut and strap locks instead of the Gretsch knurled strap buttons, at least that's what was on the one in the store. Then again, some folks like strap locks, so it could be a plus. I might be inclined to see what capacitor value they used on the tone pot as I wasn't real fond of the taper and it sounded a bit honky at the lower range. I think I felt a slight indent at the top of the range, so it might have a no-load tone pot, which is a plus. https://gretschguitars.com/...

Both models are really outstanding and among the best that Gretsch has released to date. One could argue that some of the post Fender era guitars were constructed a bit on the heavy side, or at least some models felt like that. Both of these models have a wonderful openness and respond to the player's dynamics and subtle articulations. Neither guitar feels heavy or tight.

For anyone thinking of one of these, the choice is between a modern guitar with all the versatility and features offered by the 6118LTD, or a more vintage inspired instrument. The 6118T-60 really does feel like a vintage guitar, but without the rattles and quirks of a 60 year old instrument. They are different enough to warrant owning both. Being newer models, they are priced accordingly, but compared to competitor's prices, they're a great deal considering the quality and features. I'll be keeping an eye out for after market deals down the road, unless of course, everything suddenly goes back to normal and the work returns. What better way to celebrate than with a couple of new Gretsches?

2

I took some time today to goof off and drive north of the city to a store that I knew had some pro-line Gretsches in stock. I was interested in the 6118LTD Anniversary and the 6118T-60 Vintage Select. I must say, in my opinion Gretsch really hit it out of the ballpark with both of these models.

Both guitars have trestle bracing and very comfortable C necks. The Gretsch website says U necks, but no way, they are C and felt great; not too skinny and not too fat. Both guitars are very responsive and light feeling. I say 'light feeling' because I don't know the weight and the Gretsch site is often off on such details. The 6118-60 VS feels a tiny bit lighter, but if so, it can't be much; maybe just the difference in weight between the single coils and Filter'trons and the tuners.

The 6118T-60 is 'inspired by' the 1960 vintage model 6118, so it's not intended to be an exact replica. It does however, have a decidedly vintage feel; an openness and lightness that is very similar to my old 1960 Anniversary conversion, as if the wood had been drying for many years. It has TV Jones Hilo'tron pickups, and I confirmed with the good folks at TV Jones that they are in fact, TV HTs with the Hilo'tron name; the same pickup. I've used these for years and they are just about my favourite pickups. My one complaint is that, like the 1960 models, the neck pickup is set back towards the bridge about an inch from the standard position. I'm pretty sure though, that if the neck pickup was reversed so the pole screws faced the neck instead of the bridge, it would sound like the standard placement does. I confirmed this with my Annie conversion. I couldn't hear a difference between the pickup screws positioned towards the neck before and after moving the whole pickup closer to the neck. Still, the mind can be a terrible thing, and it was never a great idea.

It has the mud switch, which I simply don't use or convert to a tone pot. Some people like that kind of thing, so it's there for those folks. It has pins on the Bigsby; some prefer the string through style. I would have preferred an ebony fingerboard, but that's a minor detail; rosewood is just fine. It has the Space Control bridge saddle; not my preference, but I always change to a Tru Arc Serpentune anyway. https://gretschguitars.com/...

The 6118LTD (Limited Edition) is equally as responsive, but with perhaps a more modern feel. The Filter'trons provide a beefier sound; you could say it is a more versatile instrument, and the features put it in a more 'modern' camp, as adverse to 'vintage'. The Gotoh locking tuners are a welcome choice over the bulkier Sperzels and I prefer them to the Schallers too. I have Gotoh vintage style open back tuners on my two old Annies and the tolerances are very tight. I'm assuming these locking tuners meet the same standards. Other features that fit into my wish list are ebony fingerboard and the tone pot circuitry. It has the string-through Bigsby that some people prefer to the standard pins; one more feature putting it in the 'modern' camp. I'm good with both. The rocking bar bridge is fine with me, and really sounds great on this guitar.

My first reaction to the gold top with deep wine back and sides (Gretsch calls it Dark Cherry Metallic) was negative, but the more I played the guitar the more the colour scheme grew on me; now I'm a fan. It's a break from the Gretsch Annie tradition, but it's a modern guitar, so why the heck not. The body design (16" X 2 1/2") with trestle bracing and Filter'trons keep one foot in tradition.

My complaints? Artificial (Tusk?) nut and strap locks instead of the Gretsch knurled strap buttons, at least that's what was on the one in the store. Then again, some folks like strap locks, so it could be a plus. I might be inclined to see what capacitor value they used on the tone pot as I wasn't real fond of the taper and it sounded a bit honky at the lower range. I think I felt a slight indent at the top of the range, so it might have a no-load tone pot, which is a plus. https://gretschguitars.com/...

Both models are really outstanding and among the best that Gretsch has released to date. One could argue that some of the post Fender era guitars were constructed a bit on the heavy side, or at least some models felt like that. Both of these models have a wonderful openness and respond to the player's dynamics and subtle articulations. Neither guitar feels heavy or tight.

For anyone thinking of one of these, the choice is between a modern guitar with all the versatility and features offered by the 6118LTD, or a more vintage inspired instrument. The 6118T-60 really does feel like a vintage guitar, but without the rattles and quirks of a 60 year old instrument. They are different enough to warrant owning both. Being newer models, they are priced accordingly, but compared to competitor's prices, they're a great deal considering the quality and features. I'll be keeping an eye out for after market deals down the road, unless of course, everything suddenly goes back to normal and the work returns. What better way to celebrate than with a couple of new Gretsches?

– Journeyman

That's a very good review, and because of our chat yesterday, I posted a song featuring my Players Edition 6118T SGR...

https://soundcloud.com/dani...

3

Great write-up, Jman. Thanks for taking the time and effort. I feel like I know those guitars better now!

4

Nice, thoughtful review. Thanks

5

Thanks guys. From what I see, these new Gretsches are about a third of the price of a new Historic issue Gibson ES175. That's a huge difference and while the new Gibsons are nice, these guitars are head and shoulders above them. Gretsch guitars, at least the pro-line ones, don't seem to be on younger buyers' radar, and that's unfortunate. I wonder what it would take to change that. Gretsch certainly has its share of heavy duty endorsers. Marketing and branding is really beyond my understanding; not that I want to see Gretsches priced that high, mind you.

6

Thank you for your great and detailed review! These kinds of posts are what keep me here.


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