“Which Gretsch is right for me?” It’s a common question, and a devilishly difficult one to answer.
The short answer? The one you like and can afford.
The long answer is a bit more involved, and tends to lead to still more questions…
Three major factors seem to come into play with every Gretsch purchase — style, features and price. Making the right decision usually involves weighing and prioritizing all three factors.
With a Gretsch, style can mean a lot of things. Hollowbody vs. solidbody, color, body shape all matter, and many buyers buy a Gretsch guitar based on style alone. But style may be the least important factor. If you want a “cool rockabilly guitar”, a Jet will get you there just as well as a big orange 6120.
What does matter is your comfort. Think about weight and size. The 17-inch bodies on Falcons and Country Clubs aren’t for everyone.
And while you’re pondering style, make a note of any colors you particularly like or don’t like.
If you want a western style Gretsch but aren’t sure about a hollowbody, maybe a Roundup would be right for you. If you don’t wan’t an orange Gretsch at all, the 6120 is available in quite a few other colors, or you could look at other similar Gretsch guitars such as the Anniversary. Also, don’t be blinded by the “glamour” Gretsches. While it doesn’t get much attention, the base Tennessean is built for the serious player, but is often overlooked.
The point is, style is only a rough starting point, and you have options.
The main thing to consider on features is undoubtedly the pickups. Historically, Gretsch has primarily offered three pickups — DeArmond Dynasonics, FilterTrons and HiLoTrons — each with their own distinct tone that’s unlike anything else.
Many people have argued the Dynasonic is simply the finest single-coil pickup ever made, and many others have argued the FilterTron is the finest humbucker ever made. While HiLoTrons rarely inspire that kind of devotion, they have a distinct tone all their own and have unquestionably been put to good use by many people.
Because each Gretsch pickup has such a unique voice, which pickup you want should be a major consideration. For more on Gretsch pickups, see <a href=”http://gretschpages.com/guitars/pickups/” rel=”nofollow”>http://gretschpages.com/gui… or search the board.
Other features to consider should be scale length, whether or not the guitar has a Bigsby and any other factors that are important to you based on your experience. Remember, some of these things can easily be changed, while others can’t.
Ahh, price. Always a factor. If you absolutely positively can’t afford to spend more, can’t wait to save more money, or don’t have some pro-level feature you’d like to have in mind, take a look at the Electromatic line. In just a few short years it’s gone from being the bastard child of the Gretsch line to a series of very good, surprisingly affordable guitars.
But if you do really really really want the pro-line Gretsch, save up and shop around. Good deals do turn up — as I write this, HiLoTron-equipped Tennesseans are being blown out for $999, which is a stunningly good price.
People who buy one Gretsch have a tendency to buy another — and another — so buying smart means saving money in the long run.