The Woodshed

That Great Gretsch Sound

1

There is really no right or wrong answer to this question. I'm just curious. In your opinion, what guitar/pickup combination best defines that "Great Gretsch Sound" to you? And, what amp and setting do you use to make sure that sound comes through in its purest form?

2

Any full hollowbody with Dynasonics. But on the other hand, I first consciously fell in love with GreTscH listening to Eddie Cochran back to back with the first Bow Wow Wow record at a friends house. Eddie had a dogear P90 in his neck and Maff Ashman was playing a Falcon with original open face black top FilterTrons. Something tells me though that if that same afternoon we had put on GV's Race With The Devil (which we might have done, that record was definitely in the rotation) I'd probably be saying a 50s Jet with Dynas. Gallup's solo is as GreTscHy as you can get. As for amps, Eddie was playing a Magnavox or Standel. Maff was playing a sold state Roland Jazz chorus or a Marshall. Though I could be wrong on both of those. I think you can get pretty much any classic tube amp circuit to sound GreTscHy with TArmonds. I play through a 15 watt Vintage47 Ric style Valco repro. Octals and 6L6s. Gets as GreTscHy as I want it.

3

Ok....this is embarrassing....but I had to buy my first Gretsch after hearing "Wicked Game" in the late 80s, and seeing pictures of Chris Isaak with his tooled leather Nashville. I got my guitar, and finally had "that sound". It wasn't until much later that I learned that the sound I heard was a strat. I'm not convinced there really is a Gretsch sound. Kind of like before the internet, people thought they needed to have a Les Paul to get the Led Zeppelin sound....only to find out that the bulk of it was a Tele or Danelectro once they connected to the www.

4

I'm still picking it up. I started w BZs guidance of a single coil distortion overdrive that's separate from humbucker mid heavy distortion. A rumble. Then just recently I began a unique clean tone of both single coils heavier on the bridge. With gain just the slighted drive, more a warmth. Perfect of late nineties shoe gazer tone. But without chorus pedals. Again through direction of BZ. It makes my day every day.

5

There is more than one "Great Gretsch Sound". Whether thru a Vox or a Fender or a Standell, whether single coil or double, they all sound great! There's something for everyone!

6

It's somewhat subjective. The Great Gretsch sound is Chet to some and Randy Bachman to others and definitely everything in between. The Beatles and the Monkees. Duane and Eddy! all of the best sounds we've ever heard and they're emblazoned into our ears, hearts and souls. Tasty stuff.

7

Definitely FilterTrons. DeArmonds are great pickups, but they're not unique to Gretsch and not nearly as distinctive sounding as FilterTrons. That's the sound of Gretsch to me. And I'd probably pick 6120 or Country Gentleman for the Gretschiest guitar, though a case could certainly be made for a Falcon or a Jet.

8

IIRC, "That Great Gretsch Sound" moniker was originally spawned to describe Chet's style of tone which was clean, all other effects notwithstanding. A variation on that style presented itself in the sound of the British Invasion, which wasn't into distortion so for me, that's what I hear. I recognize that later tones and effects used is the Gretsch sound for younger folks and it's a case of whatever floats your boat. No wrong answer at all. Not possible to have a definitive example of the Gretsch sound. I will say though that it's the Gretsch pups over other brands that's the common thread down through the years.

A nice tube amp giving a warm tone gets me where I want. My best tone is through a Gretsch Exec with it's Eminence 15".

9

It's a marketing line intended to sell guitars. As Windsor Dave said, originally used to describe the clean tones of the first prominent Gretsch players. Basically it can mean anything and probably should.(as long as you buy the guitars!!) To me, as my first Gretsch was a 64 Tennessean that I have played for 25 years, that great Gretsch sound represented hilotrons through a Roland space echo into a Super Reverb with frequent application of bigsby. Full, bright and snappy with a hint of natural chorus.

10

Any full hollowbody with Dynasonics. But on the other hand, I first consciously fell in love with GreTscH listening to Eddie Cochran back to back with the first Bow Wow Wow record at a friends house. Eddie had a dogear P90 in his neck and Maff Ashman was playing a Falcon with original open face black top FilterTrons. Something tells me though that if that same afternoon we had put on GV's Race With The Devil (which we might have done, that record was definitely in the rotation) I'd probably be saying a 50s Jet with Dynas. Gallup's solo is as GreTscHy as you can get. As for amps, Eddie was playing a Magnavox or Standel. Maff was playing a sold state Roland Jazz chorus or a Marshall. Though I could be wrong on both of those. I think you can get pretty much any classic tube amp circuit to sound GreTscHy with TArmonds. I play through a 15 watt Vintage47 Ric style Valco repro. Octals and 6L6s. Gets as GreTscHy as I want it.

– Strummerson

Eddie has been photographed using various amps on stage which were most likely supplied by the venue for use by all acts on the bill but for studio work and live shows closer to home he played through a 1955 Magnatone Maestro 150 early in his career and switched to a Fender Bassman in 1958.

11

...as for my interpretation of 'That Great Gretsch Sound' I've never been happier than with my current combination of the aforementioned 1955 Magnatone Maestro 150 and my single Dynasonic 1955 Gretsch Streamliner.

As much of an Eddie Cochran freak I am I never really bonded with my '59 Bassman reissue but the Magnatone is Rockabilly heaven.

12

Filters are more distinctive than Dynas? Hmmm... Thinking...

13

Two of the most distinctive Gretsch tones are Pete Townsend and Malcom Young... both w/ Filters.

14

Cliff Gallup, Billy Zoom, Duane Eddy have pretty distinctive GreTscH tones with Dynas.

Pete's '59 6120 through a Bandmaster is certainly distinctive, but stealth GreTscH. Only GreTscH players and Who fanatics know that he recorded Quadrophenia and Who's Next with that rig.

15

Any Gretsch guitar, with Gretschy pickups (either used by or made by Gretsch), through any amp, has "That Great Gretsch Sound". How could it not?

16

The Who & AC/DC qualify as much as those Rockabilly guys as much s the Go-Gos and X as much as Duane Eddy and Al Caiola.

Maybe it's not the guitar itself, but more so, the players it brings to them?

Still something about those guitars, though.

17

I wish I could link that video that Fred and Joe showed us at the Nashville Roundup with the Fred and Joe show. It really piqued on the quirkiness of Gretsch and why we all love them. And because no one has really mentioned Hilo-Trons Then I will.

18

The Who & AC/DC qualify as much as those Rockabilly guys as much s the Go-Gos and X as much as Duane Eddy and Al Caiola.

Maybe it's not the guitar itself, but more so, the players it brings to them?

Still something about those guitars, though.

– crowbone

"...those Rockabilly guys.."

Indulging in a spot of 'genre profiling' John?

19

Country Gent. Fender amp. 'Nuff said...

20

In those early days, Duane shlepped his custom amps back and forth across the country and across the sea, not trusting the venues to have what he needed. Definitely paid off, as reviews would always comment that his sound was "just like his records", regardless of the size of the hall or theater.

21

In those early days, Duane shlepped his custom amps back and forth across the country and across the sea, not trusting the venues to have what he needed. Definitely paid off, as reviews would always comment that his sound was "just like his records", regardless of the size of the hall or theater.

– Deed Eddy

I have to ask, can you give us some more info about those custom amps?

RE the thread title: for me it's gotta be George on the Sullivan Show. That was the first time I recognized the sound was distinctive. Of course I was watching the show on a computer in 2001, but I like to think the effect was similar to those who watched it on TV in 1964.

22

what guitar/pickup combination best defines that "Great Gretsch Sound" to you?

Best defined for me: two Dynas, Bigsby, Princeton Reverb. Variations on that are negotiable.

23

"...those Rockabilly guys.."

Indulging in a spot of 'genre profiling' John?

– Wheelgrinder

There's just so many of them, to not name one in a field of pioneers would be a sin!

Truth be told, Gretsch fuels that stereotype a bit now, doesn't it?

24

It's not just the pickups because I've heard That Great Gretsch Sound from a 5120 with Gretschbuckers. A Gibson with Filtertrons like Chris Cornell's ES-335 still sounds like a Gibson but with accentuated high mids. A 6120 with P90s still sounds like a Gretsch. It's not just the hollow or chambered construction either because I've heard That Great Gretsch Sound from a solid mahogany Corvette with HiLotrons. It's not just the floating bridge or Bigsby either. It must be a combination of things. Even though there are infinite variations of That Great Gretsch Sound from Chet Atkins to Duane Eddy to Cliff Gallup to 3 different George Harrison sounds to Matthew Ashman to Billy Zoom to Brian Setzer to other amazing players I hear here on the GDP to random players on Youtube and to what I hear out of my own rig with my Duo Jet with and Corvette, whatever it is I know I love it when I hear it.

25

For me it is my 6120 DSW through my original '65 Deluxe Reverb with a little slap back delay from an MXR Carbon Copy. I am equally as happy with my Filtertron guitars through the same rig or my '59., but my DSW tends to be my number one fave.


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