Vintage Gretsch Guitars

The Gretsch Rally


I’m a long time fan of the Rally - having started my love affair the first time I ever saw/played one in a shop back in 2005. I bought that guitar and enjoyed it for a few years - and then regrettably sold it a few years later for some cash to buy a tele that at the time i thought i wanted more. I was wrong.

I have since righted that proverbial ship, purchasing a much better-conditioned one a few years back and have been downright happy i did ever since.

And with that - there is something I’ve always wondered.

They are always described as being such wretched beasts - the bottom of the barrel - the weakest of the weak and lowest of the low of the gretsch line.

I am in no way here to debate that fact - I’m a duojet owner, and have also owned a mid 60’s 6120, and one of those sweet Annie Jr’s and i’ve loved them all in some measure. Strangely, however - The Rally has been one I go to more often than those.

And so i was curious - what exactly makes it the general consensus that these were the worst of the worst ? Different wood material ? Less bracing? Less quality control ? The lack of inlays ? Bad electronics ? the Treble boost in general ?

What is it that makes them differ so greatly and suffer such comparison of their more heralded older/other siblings ?

would love to know the specifics


To some it was the appearance. Others thought why a treble boost for HiLo Trons? For others, it was just heralding the new direction under Baldwin. I would know less about construction, etc. but others here know.

Most people feel the Terrible Trio of the late 70s.. the Committee, TK-300, and solid body Broadkaster were the lowest of the low. But for the late 60s maybe the Rally had that general reputation. The Astro Jet was just too weird to be included in any rational discussion and I think Rally started same year Astro Jet ended. Some say the Monkees model was right down there with the Rally

Onward scribes, to discuss the Rally and its place in the Gretsch constellation.


I had one for three or four years. It was the most comfortable guitar to play that I've ever owned - I've owned around 25 or so. Unfortunately, the tone was poor and the further up the neck you moved, the worse the tone got. It sounded weak, with no sustain to speak of, and anything above around B on the first string had a really unpleasant 'ping' sound - thin, weedy, and died away almost as soon as it was played. I kept it for a while because I enjoyed practising acoustically on it - the 'ping' was not evident, and the neck was so comfortable that it just felt good to play it.

Eventually though I got to the point where I couldn't handle the horrible tone any longer, and it had to go. I experimented a bit with strings to see if heavier strings could improve the tone but although i tried up to 14 - 58, the tone didn't get so much better that I was prepared to cope with the heavier strings; I use mainly 11 - 48, so I struggled a bit with the 14's. I don't know if all of that is typical of the Rally though, the one I had is the only one I've ever played - maybe it was just a one-off, but I've heard/read of other folks making similar comments regarding their lack of sustain. As for the treble boost - all that did was to make the pingy tone and lack of body even worse, so I used it literally about three times, and never again. The pickups were Hilotrons - I've had two other guitars with Hilos, both Anniversary models, and both of them were significantly better sounding than the Rally - I still have one of them, and I like it a lot, so I don't think that the pickups on the Rally were the problem; it seemed very, very lightweight in comparison to other Gretsches, maybe that had something to do with the poor sustain.


My Rally is my favorite of all of my guitars. I don't use the treble boost at all. It has a silver pickguard, not the brown/silver stripe. (not original) With the Hilo'trons shimmed up as close as possible, it's the coolest tone ever... if you ask me. There is a bit of that George Harrison "plunk" or "clang" to the tone that you either love or not.... Great neck. It was weird at first as its thin and narrow. I had never heard that they have a bad rep. Weird. Maybe I can get a great deal on another though!


I really LOVE the Rally/Monkees/Blackhawk/Streamliner/12 String family of 16" thinbody double cutaways! I think they are light, handy, good looking and great sounding guitars. Most of these models sport twin Super'Tron pickups-arguably the best pickups Gretsch made. The Rally of course had Hi-Lo'Trons and a "Sonic Boom" treble booster, but I think they sounded fine in the passive mode and differently exciting in the boost mode. The sound reminds me of Tommy James' "Hanky Panky". The Rally Green finish has been unfavorably compared to Cadillac Green, but I think it is quite attractive in a different way. There were a lot of guitars back in the late '60s sporting transparent dark green finishes, my Apollo "Deadly Dozen" 12 string as an example, as well as Burns. The only issue that bugs me on the Rally is the orientation of the "Rally Stripes" on the pickguard and truss rod cover. I wish they'd faced them both in the same direction!


Horrible paint choices, bad electronics, hilos.

The trinity of evil.

Well, I got it in a trade, straight up for an even worse guitar, even though I hated my Rally worse than a tuna and lime jello mold.

Over time, I hated it more, like a ugly cat that you try to pet, and it scratches you everytime you try to pet it.

Finally, I had enough. I modded the living snot out of it, and got something that looked beastly, played badly, but sounded like Angels farting glitter.

My Franken-Rally is still with me today, although retired.

Where's my signature model, Joe?


Okay, I hope I'm not sounding defensive of my favorite guitar, but after thinking about some of the downsides with Rally in hand I have some contradictions. Maybe mine is an oddball, but it's kind of heavy. Heavier than my Les Paul Jr. or Tele. I couldn't describe the tone as weak or thin. It isn't much quieter than my Corvette with a Filter'tron in the bridge, louder than a gold foil pickup. There is a big fat, bottom end and tons of highs. Brighter than a p-90, but thicker than a '52 Tele. Way more sustain and jangle than a 330 Rick (that's what I traded to get the Rally). A friend of mine has one in better shape and with original pickguard and it sounds pretty thin , but the strings are way higher above the pickup and poles aren't lined up. When I got mine the action was a mile high and it sounded horrible! Barely any volume and no sustain. I asked the TV Jones site how to set the pickup up correctly and he said to mount it as close to the strings as you can w/out touching and to be sure that the poles line up. I have a Silvertone Siluette (sp) with gold foil pickups. Same thing. They sound incredible when setup right, horrible if not. If anyone has a Rally that isn't doing it for them, sell it to me...... for cheap!


Horrible paint choices...



I also like the thinbody double cutaways and thought that Gretsch 6123's one for sale a few months ago was a fantastic deal. At the minimum, I think they are great candidates for modding while also good looking stock.


crowbone- Let's see a photo of thru frankenrally! Wow! Put that passion into song, man!


Great to hear the praises... and fun to hear the detractions too. Keep those opinions coming. A lot of fun to hear 'em.

However; with all that said - my reason for posting (if someone can offer any expertise on the subject) was to find out why this was offered by Gretsch as the "bottom of the line".... "cheapie" model. (It was wasn't it ?) Were there corners cut ? I guess I'd just like to know what technically made this considered by so many the way it is (i have read in Gretsch story books that this was offered as a 'budget' model). It's pretty much the same shape as a 6120DC, it's legitimately hollow... tennessean's had hilos, so it's not the pickups that would have been a cost-cutting measure... it's double bound all the way round... good tuners... electronics... it's wire, pots and switches - would those contribute to a lower cost ??

i'm mystified.

it's an awesome guitar and on it's face has all the features of more expensive Gretsches...

love hearing everyone's thoughts - and hopefully in between the yeas and nays, someone might offer some technical perspective.


I don't think the 6104 (green) and 6105 (two-tone) Rally was exactly a "Budget" model. At $435.00 in 1970, it was priced in the center of the Gretsch line. It came in at $110.00 more than the 6117 and 6118 Double Anniversary guitars and about fifteen dollars less than the 6119 Tennessean. The only quality issue I've ever seen with the Rally was the same problem suffered by many of the Gretsch guitars of the late '60s, namely, binding rot. I found the 6104 I owned years ago was a superb guitar construction-wise, as well as a great sounding instrument. Of course I'm in the Hi-Lo'Tron camp and love a properly set-up Gretsch, so equipped. I realize many don't like Hi-Lo's, but that's why Gretsch offered several alternative pickups.


Horrible paint choices...


– Afire


But let it be said here that when you send a guitar off to be painted, make sure you ask specifically for what you want done.

The guitar was painted over a two year period by a friend of mine that now spends some of his time directing Willie Nelson's movies and videos.

Willie and his sons are, apparently, gaga over this.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Franken-Rally.


The design is a blow up of a Brazilian air conditioning condenser that his grandfather worked on.

There are also several subliminal messages penciled in on the primer.

I'm not sure what they are, but everytime I play it, I want to punch a nun.


I've been here a long time and this is the first time I've heard Rally hate. I like mine so whatever guys.

I thought the Clipper was the lower end model of the era.


Very cool! Looks like the Borg Queen. Kinda made me feel funny.


Hey, anyone know anything about this? My Rally is the bamboo/copper one. Did not have the pickguard and had a replacement truss rod cover when I got it.

The weird thing is that it has an "anniversary Model" badge on the headstock??? Anyone ever come across that on a Rally before?


I've been here a long time and this is the first time I've heard Rally hate. I like mine so whatever guys.

I thought the Clipper was the lower end model of the era.

– RichB555

I couldn't stand mine because nothing was right about it, and everything I tried to fix it never worked to my satisfaction.

New frets, attempted repairs of the electronics by so called experts all came up short. That blasted Treble Boost...what were they thinking?

Funny you mention the clipper because the pickup in there now came out of a '56 6186, and sounds great.


Hey, anyone know anything about this? My Rally is the bamboo/copper one. Did not have the pickguard and had a replacement truss rod cover when I got it.

The weird thing is that it has an "anniversary Model" badge on the headstock??? Anyone ever come across that on a Rally before?

– hilosean

Did you ever get a replacement TRC and PG?

I've seen other Rallys with badges, but didn't notice if they were Annie or Rally badges.


Interesting how the paint job on the Franken-Rally matches the binding rot on the neck heel, but the paint job leaves me speechless as no other guitar ever has. Truly unique.


duojet - thanks for that information. that definitely adds some useful perspective.

duojet55 - it's not so much that i see "hate" about the rally - more that in history books, message board posts, and other "historical" publications it is described in some fashion as "the gretsch design that was considered 'lesser'", if you get my drift.

I think it's amazing, and every time i pick it up i wonder - why is there not a thinline hollow (trestle, not center block), double cut guitar (in a solid, lighter color, preferably) with hilotrons like this still in the gretsch line?? it's a killer design. Something about the thinline body with those pickups is a perfect combo.



want to know more about it.


and crow bone.....

... wow...



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