Modern Gretsch Guitars

Well, they went and did it (Sparkle Jet 2021)

1

I'm not a fan of the silver sparkle, and would love a red sparkle Jet VS, but they don't make a red one currently. BUT now they have a GOLD one.... she sure is pretty....

https://gretschguitars.com/...

2

Apparently they are calling it the '89 (pre-FMIC)... I hope tho, that it's NOT a boat anchor like the 80s-90s models, and is instead like the current (and vintage) Jets: properly chambered?

https://www.wwbw.com/Gretsc...

3

I didn’t know there was a demand for pre-FMIC guitars, nor understand why.

4

I didn’t know there was a demand for pre-FMIC guitars, nor understand why.

– NJBob

I don't think there's really a "demand", but that was the last time Gretsch made a sparkle Jet in a color other than silver, in a production run, I think. There were some small-run red and green sparkles, but really if you wanted an FMIC sparkle jet, new, especially a VS, it was silver or nothing.

5

I read some copy somewhere that said that the body was not chambered like a newer (or vintage) model, that it was period-correct (heavier), but I haven't gone searching for the actual spec on weight differences so it could have just been something someone made up.

6

It’s chambered just the same as any of the other new ones, not totally solid like the real 89s. The neck is three piece and doesn’t have the little cap of binding at the heal, and it does not have ceramic pickups like an 89. Basically it’s visually meant to be exactly like an 89 but without the less desirable traits those actually had. I do like these, but the price seems a bit exorbitant at around $2600.

7

Just about period-correct for Da Golden Age, except for the Filters and gold sparkle not being offered on production guitars. Today's $2600 price point translates to $290 in 1959 bux. List price that year for the Silver Jet( the closest equivalent) was $330, so I'm a little reluctant to call that "exorbitant". Quality costs.

EDIT: All that said,and despite substantial GAS, I gotta remember that a Gold Sparkle Jet comes real close to breaking the First Commandment of Country Lead Guitar:

"Thou shalt not play a bling-ier ax than thy bandleader's!"

8

Differing opinions as to what exact chambering is used aside, I do like the color. I think a Red Sparkle Jet would get my GAS flowing even better, though (I'm a sucker for a red guitar!).

When I was in the process of buying my 6131T PE Firebird Duo Jet, the VS Silver Sparkle Duo Jet was exactly $200 more than the Firebird. This one is $300 more than I paid for the Firebird, hardly exuberant. The old saying "you get what you pay for" certainly applies in this instance. It takes more time and materials to make a Sparkle Duo Jet than any stained or painted Duo Jet (like my Firebird), so I definitely don't have any problems with one of these Sparkle Jets costing a nominal amount more. These are fairly expensive guitars, so at this price point, $200-$300 more than a PE Firebird Duo Jet is nominal.

BTW : The current Sweetwater price for a VS 6131T Firebird Duo Jet is $2699.99 (exuberant?)

9

Differing opinions as to what exact chambering is used aside, I do like the color. I think a Red Sparkle Jet would get my GAS flowing even better, though (I'm a sucker for a red guitar!).

When I was in the process of buying my 6131T PE Firebird Duo Jet, the VS Silver Sparkle Duo Jet was exactly $200 more than the Firebird. This one is $300 more than I paid for the Firebird, hardly exuberant. The old saying "you get what you pay for" certainly applies in this instance. It takes more time and materials to make a Sparkle Duo Jet than any stained or painted Duo Jet (like my Firebird), so I definitely don't have any problems with one of these Sparkle Jets costing a nominal amount more. These are fairly expensive guitars, so at this price point, $200-$300 more than a PE Firebird Duo Jet is nominal.

BTW : The current Sweetwater price for a VS 6131T Firebird Duo Jet is $2699.99 (exuberant?)

– Wade H

I know the quality is good and it’ll be a better guitar, but yes, a little exorbitant considering a real ‘89 can be had any day of the week in good shape for about half the price.

10

I know the quality is good and it’ll be a better guitar, but yes, a little exorbitant considering a real ‘89 can be had any day of the week in good shape for about half the price.

– Chmason85

Actually, have you looked at those models lately? When I looked (they are rare) the red ones are going for alot more than half.

11

Actually, have you looked at those models lately? When I looked (they are rare) the red ones are going for alot more than half.

– ruger9

I didn’t know they made a red one! I haven’t seen one more than $1400 in my travels, but I’m sure they exist. A guy on the other forum was considering a champagne sparkle that I believe was $1500

12

I'm no particular fan of the wider headstock - and for me the jury is still out about the chambering. I've seen/read both ways, and it matters, so I wish it could be confirmed one way or the tother. But the headstock wouldn't be a dealbreaker, and if the '89 is less chambered than Jets have now come to be, I might be ambivalent. (Though it's undeniable that less chambering would be period-correct for the model year.)

(Parenthetically, it seems odd to think of a 1989 guitar as "vintage," but that is 31 years old at this point, so yeah maybe. I guess we're going to see more and more 90s nostalgia, as that market usually tracks about 30 years in the past.)

Anyway, I heartily approve of all the other build details and improvements over actual '89s, even if they aren't period-correct. And do note that these '89s have a TV Classic at the neck and Classic Plus at the bridge, so in that sense are "pre-upgraded," and in exactly the way I'd do it if I was going to upgrade a Filter Jet. That's worth between 200.00 and 300.00 alone.

I don't know from Sweetwater prices, but at the Gretsch site, all four of the single-cut VS Filter Jets (two '89s, two '59s) are the same 2,599.00 list. (The 59s have a Classic rather than C+ at the bridge.) Only the '62 6121 doublecut is 100.00 more. Why, I don't know. More labor in the second cutaway? I wouldn't think so.

Given all that, the current going price for an actual used 1989 Jet seems irrelevant: I wouldn't buy one at any price. (Oh, maybe at used-Electromatic price, for a good one - but I never go looking, so I won't find one.) On the other hand, while I'm not saying I'm in the market (I have a Filter Jet), but if I was I'd consider these '89s right alongside the '59 - and perhaps with a slight preference for the '89 (on account of the Classic Plus), especially in gold.

It takes more time and materials to make a Sparkle Duo Jet than any stained or painted Duo Jet (like my Firebird)

Well, I'm not convinced about that. As I understand it, the biggest single expense in building electric guitars is labor for finish - and a lot of time and attention naturally go to the top of the guitar. The cost for the sheet of nitron and labor to glue it on might come out less than the time to paint and buff a top - but I'd guess it at least comes out even.


I didn’t know there was a demand for pre-FMIC guitars, nor understand why.

In the two or three previous threads about these guitars, starting in January when they were announced, it emerged that in fact Chris Cornell played a then-current gold sparkler in the 90s, with some members immediately recognizing that it had been a thing at the time, to which they now responded as intended.

That particular dog whistle wasn't meant for me (though I was glad Gretsch was, this time around, improving the original formula by ignoring period-correctness in favor of a better build). When I study the actual specs, I realize I don't have to respond to any nostalgic prompts: the gold sparkle and the pickup specs would be enough to seal the deal, no matter who played one or when.

Gretsch's sparkle offerings do come and go, and it's been awhile since we had any choice but silver in the regular lineup. In that respect, the gold is actually nice to see.

I'm highly motivated by red sparkle as well, and there have been a couple-few limited editions or dealer runs of those. I should have got in on one.

13

Apparently they are calling it the '89 (pre-FMIC)... I hope tho, that it's NOT a boat anchor like the 80s-90s models, and is instead like the current (and vintage) Jets: properly chambered?

https://www.wwbw.com/Gretsc...

– ruger9

My 89' sparkle jet was a HORRIBLE boat anchor and sounded like warm cement plugged into a wet wall, for anything remotely clean. Only overdrive worked w it and yet was an anemic slug of an LP for buttrock. Full hate 2003 it all changed IMO, good stuff at that point. Highly routed and lightweight, so toneful when FMIC got into it

14

At some point, a gold sparkle Jet was in production with the proper for filtertrons tone switch circuit. Jessica Kaczmarek plays the hell out of one. Here's a video of her and her band at the Beatnik Bandito in Santa Ana. Solo starts around 2:22.

15

If a dealer can tell us what it weighs, we'll be able to more accurately pooh-pooh the release of the '89 Vintage. LOL

16

I’m pretty sure gretsch is only doing two bodies for jets; the VS version that is 2” deep and super chambered and the 1.85” version that is still heavily chambered. The website states the 1.85” body for the ‘89, so it’s likely the same as the players edition jets and every jet before the VS series came out. My silver jet was 1.85”. It would really surprise me if they did another version of the chambering for just one duo jet.

17

If a dealer can tell us what it weighs, we'll be able to more accurately pooh-pooh the release of the '89 Vintage. LOL

I wouldn't count on it. I have a 2005 Dyna Jet, 1.85" body, supposedly little chambered - and a 2019 57VS, 2" deep and supposedly super-chambered. The VS weighs a few ounces more.

I don't know what weight would prove anything.

18

The first Jet I ever had was a pre-Fender wider headstock Duo Jet with whatever awful Dearmond style pickups they used back then. Easily the worst Jet I have played. Mud. Heavy mud!

So I was very surprised to see Gretsch "reissuing" them. Why?? If it's only an aesthetic exercise I guess I can my head around it. I much prefer the smaller headstock if only for tuning stability reasons. It does look good though. I can't see why I would buy one over a VS or PE Jet.

19

It’s clearly a tribute to Chris Cornell without putting his name on it. It is only aesthetics, though I’m surprised this is the year they chose to add to the VS lineup. I’d love if they would do an early scripty silver jet like the one in that reverb article with a fixed melita bridge and G tailpiece.

20

I can't see why I would buy one over a VS or PE Jet.

Well...the 89s are designated as VS Jets. Other than the headstock, though, there's apparently nothing "vintage" to circa 1989 Jets about them - whereas other VS guitars are designed to replicate reasonably closely the construction and details of the eras they evoke.

So there's something odd about having these not-very-period-correct guitars in the VS series. It hearkens back to the "Historic" line of the 90s, in which there many nice guitars - but none actually very historic. (Well OK. There are so many ways to read the word "historic." I assume it was supposed to connote Gretsch history, which it only did via profligate mashups of past Gretsch features which hadn't been mixed together before. But a linguistic pedant could make the case that "historic," in this case, implied guitars which were unique and significant in the way of every event which has never happened before. They were making history.)

But to make the new VS89s more like actual 89s would have been to make them worse guitars (at least in the consensus judgment - I'm sure we'll shake out some who love their 80s-90s Gretschs).

But this nomenclatural analysis is probably counting angels on pinheads. The new 89s look very much like 80s-90s Jets, with all the FMIC-evolutionary build and spec improvements hidden inside. (Maybe they'll be the great guitars guys hoped for when they bought pre-FMIC Jets and were disappointed.) And I think Gretsch's Ministry of Product Designation was probably stuck anyway: for the last several years, all Jets with the traditional high neck set, floating bridge, and standard Bigsby have gotten the VS label; while the only other option (PE) is reserved for shallow neck sets, stud-mounted bridge, and the infernal tensionbar Bigs.

These not very vintage-correct (but improved) '89-reminiscent Jets are clearly not LP-geometry Jets...so they must be VS, right?

21

for the last several years, all Jets with the traditional high neck set, floating bridge, and standard Bigsby have gotten the VS label; while the only other option (PE) is reserved for shallow neck sets, stud-mounted bridge, and the infernal tensionbar Bigs.

Unfortunate for Gretsch to lock itself into two rigidly-defined product lines when I think it's likely most players actually want a spec which lies between the two.

Tricky spot to be in, where you can't make a guitar for everyone, you don't want any left on the shelves, you have to please vintage-correct crybabies, and you want to attract new players. That's a tall order, and this particular guitar doesn't really seem like it'll fly off the shelves. Without a look behind the curtain, we'll probably never know the series of decisions that led to making these rather than some other, presumably more-hoped-for model. I've got my own guesses, but who knows.

Nevertheless, I'm sure they're fine guitars, and you can't beat the color selection.

22

I agree with Otter - I'm sure they will be vastly better than the originals! Slightly ironic? You could almost argue that this is typical of all the Gretsch range...

I really like both the VS and PE ranges. I appreciate that with the '59, for example, they wanted to be as close to the original as possible but it's still "better" in some ways with the treble bleed cap and the spongey pickup mounts, meaning height adjustability is easier. For me all it needed to be "player's edition" would have been a Tru-arc bridge and maybe better tuners. But both are not unreasonable to do after-market.

23

At some point, a gold sparkle Jet was in production with the proper for filtertrons tone switch circuit. Jessica Kaczmarek plays the hell out of one. Here's a video of her and her band at the Beatnik Bandito in Santa Ana. Solo starts around 2:22.

– Mel Waldorf

Mel, clearly that is not an 89' glitter log she's playin!

24

My local shop is a Gretsch dealer - if they get one in maybe I'll take my 90's jet down and compare.

25

Mel, clearly that is not an 89' glitter log she's playin!

– TheNocturneBrain

absolutely - I mentioned her and her guitar because it suggests an alternative gold sparkle was made at some point. I wonder if it was an FSR deal?


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