Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch 6120DC 1962 frets

1

I recently bought my first vintage Gretsch. a literally unplayed 1962 6120DC. What struck me was the very low, almost Gibson fretless wonder frets. Is that correct for a Gretsch or did Gretsches circa 62 come out with very low profile frets ? I would have thought that taller frets would have been much better suited for rockabilly or maybe I am just spoiled that way with my bigsby telle.

2

My 1968 Corvette originally came with those low frets too. I believe that is what Gretsch was using in the 1960s.

3

Same story with my '65 Tennessean and '67 Monkees.

4

Both my `59 Anni's, every Tennessean I've owned and both my Country Clubs had the small, almost "Fretless Wonder" size frets. Same size as vintage Fender frets. I have seen some vintage Gretsches that someone got aggressive with the fret leveling file in Brooklyn..

5

I recently bought my first vintage Gretsch. a literally unplayed 1962 6120DC.

6

Well, that settles it pretty much. Thanks a lot for all the responses. since this guitar is basically unplayed and has no fretwear, then that is the original fret/fretsize. These vintage Gretches really seem to need a pretty light left-hand touch to play. I started out on a fretless wonder decades ago. Wish I had glue and it was still sticking to me, but unfortunately it was sold. I find it pretty weird to play rockabilly on such low frets. I get better playability with my bigsby tele with taller frets, but I guess I cannot argue with all the greats that used these guitars. I will have to adapt. These old filtertrons are just great. I just dont know why everyone replaces them on the old Gretches. I have TV Jones in my Tele but they are not better to me than the filtertrons in this 1962 6120DC. Old Gretsch pickups are just the thing.

7

These old filtertrons are just great. I just dont know why everyone replaces them on the old Gretches.

I think it's pretty rare that anybody does. It's mostly the stock FilterTrons on modern Gretsches (particularly pre-FMIC) that often get replaced with TV Jones.

Now, how about some pictures.

8

Well the DC's are not really sought after\, so noone want to see photos of that, but once I clean it up (it has been sitting and gathering dust for years), I will post some.

9

Well the DC's are not really sought after, so noone want to see photos of that...

You might be mistaken about that. They might not be the most hunted, but there's plenty of love for them. I had a '65 that was a real joy. And it's always a treat to see a near mint example of any 55-year-old Gretsch.

10

Well the DC's are not really sought after\, so noone want to see photos of that, but once I clean it up (it has been sitting and gathering dust for years), I will post some.

– retnev

Well the 6120DC is still my favorite Gretsch ever, so please post away...and, just for me, post a couple with no pickguard- my preferred look for both 6120DC's & 6102's... for Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunderbirds & 6120 Jr.'s I prefer guard on... those are my favorite 4 Gretsch guitars (the Jet would be #5) & you just got my most fave of all!

11

I find it really strange that although the neck on my 6150 feels and has the same action as my gibson Les Pauls, the guitar is almost not approachable from a gibson mindset. It is strange, I cannot put my finger on it why. It is a completely different beast. Even my strats feel more familiar w.r.t my gibsons than this Gretsch feels. Therefore the slightly different scale length cannot be the reason.

I guess Gretsch rookie I am.. The one Guitar I did not play all these years and boy is it different.

So tell me your opinions if you found the same.

12

It may have a flatter fretboard than you're used to.

13

Hi retnev

I always felt the same about my Tenny until Proteus came along with his TruArc and explained the mismatch between the board radius and the bridge radius. Basically the bridge was too flat.

Although the guitar was always ok for chords, I could never get comfortable with playing solos on the thing.

Since it's a '63 I decided to try and keep the bridge original and a local engineering firm bent the bridge for me to match the board and now it's one of my easiest playing guitars.

Maybe start by checking the radius of both? If you don't have a radius gauge, you can download one from Pickguardian.

14

Good point The radius felt similar to Lespaul to me, and usually a flatter or more curved fretboard does not throw me as I am classically trained and played all the concert pieces during my studies on large flat wide necks compared to electrics. My Ramirz 1A Concert guitar has a scale length LONGER than a strat, with 2" wide nut and a dead flat ebony fretboard. The transition to wildly smaller fretboard and shorter scale lengths of strat and gibson is still easy, so it is not the curvature of the fretboard that is throwing me.

Very good point about the difference in the bridge curvature and the fretboard curvature. that could be exactly what is throwing me as it will cause wildly varying string distances to the fretboard and unexpected different tensions in the middle strings compared to the edges due to be higher or lower than edge strings.

I have radius gauges and I will go check. Thanks

15

Good point The radius felt similar to Lespaul to me, and usually a flatter or more curved fretboard does not throw me as I am classically trained and played all the concert pieces during my studies on large flat wide necks compared to electrics. My Ramirz 1A Concert guitar has a scale length LONGER than a strat, with 2" wide nut and a dead flat ebony fretboard. The transition to wildly smaller fretboard and shorter scale lengths of strat and gibson is still easy, so it is not the curvature of the fretboard that is throwing me.

Very good point about the difference in the bridge curvature and the fretboard curvature. that could be exactly what is throwing me as it will cause wildly varying string distances to the fretboard and unexpected different tensions in the middle strings compared to the edges due to be higher or lower than edge strings.

I have radius gauges and I will go check. Thanks

– retnev

That's it exactly retnev - outside strings just right/middle strings too low or middle strings just right/outside strings too high...

16

Hi Shuggie,

Seems i have a compound radius fretboard !? How is that possible. It is clearly untampered and factory.

At first fret radius is 12" At about 14th fret it is 16 At last fret it is basically FLAT !?

It gradually goes from 12 to flat .. Sheeesh !

You were completely right about the bridge, it is at 16", which is about half way between the compounding on most of the frets except the last few.

Was Gretsch ahead of their time or is this just a fluke when the planets aligned in the early 60's ?

Doesnt seem I can do anything about this. No need to be lazy, I guess I just need to adapt. The thing sounds great.

17

If you look at the new incarnations of the 6120DC, then the frets extend over the neck binding. See this link second last photo: Link The original frets on the 6120DC ends at the binding. I am wearing the nickel frets in this Gretsch so fast that I will have to refret in 5 months. I will definitely do Stainless Frets and refret it like the RI 6102DC's as it gives way more string separation which I like as there is way more useable space in that case and I want to use the entire nut width for string spacing. I worn down the Zero fret in about 5 months ! Bigsby sawn right through it. Stainless is the only way to go as I dont keep wall hangers and religious guitars and play what I have. EVO Gold frets just looks silly although that would be much easier to work with. I would like to add photos but even being a member for years I am still moderated and cant add any so my words will have to do. I dont see that I will devaluate it too much as the frets will wear out soon anyway and old gretches had really crappy frets (wearing real fast) in my opinion anyway.

18

Well the DC's are not really sought after\, so noone want to see photos of that, but once I clean it up (it has been sitting and gathering dust for years), I will post some.

– retnev

What a silly statement. Lol

19

If you look at the new incarnations of the 6120DC, then the frets extend over the neck binding. See this link second last photo: Link The original frets on the 6120DC ends at the binding. I am wearing the nickel frets in this Gretsch so fast that I will have to refret in 5 months. I will definitely do Stainless Frets and refret it like the RI 6102DC's as it gives way more string separation which I like as there is way more useable space in that case and I want to use the entire nut width for string spacing. I worn down the Zero fret in about 5 months ! Bigsby sawn right through it. Stainless is the only way to go as I dont keep wall hangers and religious guitars and play what I have. EVO Gold frets just looks silly although that would be much easier to work with. I would like to add photos but even being a member for years I am still moderated and cant add any so my words will have to do. I dont see that I will devaluate it too much as the frets will wear out soon anyway and old gretches had really crappy frets (wearing real fast) in my opinion anyway.

– retnev

It's interesting how much playing style must influence fret wear. I've only had one guitar refretted in 28 years of playing, including the years when I played one guitar for hours a day, every day (not so much anymore). And that one was only because they were worn out when I got it. And I've had plenty of vintage Gretsches that were obviously well played, half the finish worn off the back of the neck, but still had the original frets.

But yeah, if you're wearing them out in five months, then I would agree that stainless is the way to go.

20

Pet peeve: There is no such thing as a vintage 6120 DC. A 1962 6120 is just that: a 1962 6120. It is not a DC, and at no point was it ever called that.

A 6120 DC is a modern take on the mid-60s Electrotone-bodied 6120.

I don't know why this bugs me as much as it does. But it does.

21

What if we called it a 1962 G6120? Would that irritate you any less.

22

I would like to add photos but even being a member for years I am still moderated and cant add any so my words will have to do.

To my knowledge, no one has ever been "moderated" behind the scenes here: no one's posts have to be approved by a "moderator" (there's only Bax) before they appear, and no one is prevented by the site from posting images.

Do you need a tutorial on image posting?

It's also possible an issue with your computer prevents uploading images.

Either way, we'd need more detail about your upload process, any error messages or behavior you get from the site, browser, or your OS when you try.

23

If you look at the new incarnations of the 6120DC, then the frets extend over the neck binding. See this link second last photo: Link The original frets on the 6120DC ends at the binding. I am wearing the nickel frets in this Gretsch so fast that I will have to refret in 5 months. I will definitely do Stainless Frets and refret it like the RI 6102DC's as it gives way more string separation which I like as there is way more useable space in that case and I want to use the entire nut width for string spacing. I worn down the Zero fret in about 5 months ! Bigsby sawn right through it. Stainless is the only way to go as I dont keep wall hangers and religious guitars and play what I have. EVO Gold frets just looks silly although that would be much easier to work with. I would like to add photos but even being a member for years I am still moderated and cant add any so my words will have to do. I dont see that I will devaluate it too much as the frets will wear out soon anyway and old gretches had really crappy frets (wearing real fast) in my opinion anyway.

– retnev

When you get it refretted you could also even out the neck radius. I believe luthiers prepare the neck for new frets anyway.

24

When you get it refretted you could also even out the neck radius. I believe luthiers prepare the neck for new frets anyway.

– BuddyHollywood

Sure will do that carefully if needed. I always refret my guitars myself (since 80's) as I always found I do a better job than what I get back paying for. I only use evo and stainless as I dont want these old guitars when played often continuously being refretted. What do you think about the difference between the old 60s frets that do not cross the binding and the new reissues that has the frets extending over the binding. To me it is about playability. I cannot see the sense in having such a huge waste of fretboard space. By refretting it to cover the entire fretboard, I get an enormous amount of extra string space. These old gretches has 1 11/16" nut width but the fact that the frets only extends to the binding makes it more 1 5/16" .. or less usable. All I will do is to lower the faux fret ends on the binding and refret with medium jumbo SS. I would really have liked to use evo, but the gold wire just looks silly on an orange gretsch for some reason. Dont know why but it does. If anyone has refretted a gretsch with EVO show me some photos. Maybe I just dont see it right with only a few frets inserted.

25

I would like to add photos but even being a member for years I am still moderated and cant add any so my words will have to do.

To my knowledge, no one has ever been "moderated" behind the scenes here: no one's posts have to be approved by a "moderator" (there's only Bax) before they appear, and no one is prevented by the site from posting images.

Do you need a tutorial on image posting?

It's also possible an issue with your computer prevents uploading images.

Either way, we'd need more detail about your upload process, any error messages or behavior you get from the site, browser, or your OS when you try.

– Proteus

Thanks, but it doesnt work for me. Upload always freezes with a site unavailable error. I will just load photos on my website and link them here. Hyperlinks work great here so that is the easiest solution, and it saves you server space.

To ADD: About 2 months ago I still got a message, that I didnt post enough messages to qualify for upload when I tried to add photos. I complained about that back then as I can remember. I never flamed anyone on this list or post advertisements or any such transgressions or spam, so I dont know why I got the special treatment. I now dont get that message anymore, but just the site unavailable error message.

In any case the problem is solved as I will just link from my own site which gets around that difficulty.


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