Modern Gretsch Guitars

To Trestle or not to Trestle?…my 5120 is more “Setzer” than my Ho…


your 2005 hot rod has different wiring and pickups than Setzers Stray Cat guitar 59 original 6120 he used to record that with. His had trestle bracing, vintage pickup, bassman amp with DM 3 Boss Delay and I think he may have used a VOx cabinet to record that song...I could be wrong ...I'm not a Stray Cat expert...but hey..if you get a great vintage sound out of it ..great

– Mike Schindler

You are right, a Vox amplifier was used on the London recordings produced by Dave Edmunds.

Also the Hot rod is just wired to the switch with no tone controls, that will make a difference to a 59/60 6120 that has the old mud switch and pickup switches.


Thats the question...

I am fortunate enough to have two Gretsch guitars. One with Trestle Bracing (2005 Setzer Hot Rod) and one without (2008 5120 with vintage filtertrons).

I have noticed a HUGE difference between the two for OBVIOUS reasons...but when plugged into my 63' Fender Bassman...the tone of the 5120 is seemingly more "Gretsch" Sounding than my Setzer Hot Rod.

dont get me wrong...the playability of the Hot Rod is so versatile that its pretty much the best all around guitar set up for any type of music....BUT ive noticed that its lacking "Punch" that chunky lower string sound that my 5120 does and is more reminiscent of what you hear from an old stray cats album.

for instance...if I play "Stray cat Strut"...that infamous melody heard at the beginning of the song where the bass notes are being somewhat palm muted in a way sounds much more rich and bassier coming from my 5120 without the trestle bracing...

If i play the same notes on the Hot Rod, the sound is much more clear and refined, but lacks the deep gritty chunk...

Im pretty convinced that its not the high quality Korean body thats out tone-ing the Japanese Hot Rod. but the fact that its sound is not dampened by the Trestle bracing.

this is somewhat of a confusing topic because the only reason why the new Gretsch guitars have trestle bracing is because Brian let his vintage 1959 Grtesch be run through a CT scan. that led to the discovery of the long lost trestle bracing that was specific to that year and makes for a piece of the "Tone" that Brian is so famous for.

any help here guys???

if your wondering...the amp is a 1963 fender bassman with the notorious 6G6-B circuit with band new F&T capacitors. Both guitars have D'addario 10's... pedals are a Riverside Overdrive pedal by Strymon and a flashback delay pedal by TC Electronics.

So, what do you guys think? does it sound like a Gretsch without trestle bracing gives you deeper and richer low end tones compared to a trestle braced gretsch? if so, I may be trading in my Hot Rod for a Pre-Trestle model.

– erick lopez

I have had a few Hot Rod 6120's 3 in all, my orange one here is a 99 and has an added tone pot which affects tone unless whacked right up against the stop where I keep it to give the 'true' straight through tone. My 99 has no bracing but a thicker top and is a nice sound.

The Hot Rods don't have tone controls, they rely on the pickup position to give a variation of tone. So they can sound a bit more bell like.

I do have a 6120 Brian Setzer which has trestle bracing and it is slightly deeper in body than the Hot Rod

I did convert a 5120 in orange to Filtertrons and that sounded ok but it isn't the same guitar as a 6120 and that's obvious when you have one to play against.

There can be many variances due to wood used, pickups can vary as can the type of bridge. You may have to experiment with playing other guitars to hear the sound and work out what the difference to your guitar can be down to.

I have been playing these guitars for almost 35 years now and I think the modern Japan guitars are amazing.


So what's the problem? You have a guitar that sounds it. I have a 5120 with Dearmond 2000s in it that keeps me from craving any other Gretsch...except maybe a Jet with Dynas...but I'm working on scratching that itch... You can hear it here, if you like. Link

– charlie chitlins

Nice Charlie and have felt this way about my 5126 with the DA 2000s. I play it way more than my Black Phoenix, which I love, but the that 5126 just has "that something". It is actually one of the most versatile guitars in my stable.


love the space control bridge! I have one on my 5120 and love it...shit I may slap one on my Hot Rod too!

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