Broadkaster Jr -- Road Test Report

Discussion in 'Guitar & Gear Reviews' started by senojnad, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. senojnad

    senojnad Synchromatic

    Jul 13, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA

    Last week I posted a thread covering my initial impressions of my new Broadkaster JR. Since then I’ve logged a lot of hours with this guitar, including a good amount of “A/B” comparisons with my 6122-’59 Country Gent which, for the last 9 years, has been my high “standard” against which all others should be measured.

    As reported previously -- Just my opinion, but this guitar is jaw-dropping gorgeous! Photos simply do not do justice to its elegant, rich, almost 3-dimensional color and finish. This photo from the Gretsch website gives a pretty good sense of the Cadillac Green (if you can filter out the distracting hues in the background).


    The fit and finish on the guitar are flawless. The build quality is outstanding. I spent a LOT of time looking for flaws and have found NONE. As a cabinet/furniture maker, this is an area where I know what to look for…. The guitar shows a lot of attention to fine details. The playability is excellent, equal to the best Gretsches (or Gibsons, Martins, etc.) in my experiences over nearly 6 decades.

    Among the “features” promoted with the Broadkaster lineup is the lower neck set, bringing the right-hand playing closer to the body. For me personally, the “feel” is pretty much the same as my Country Gent (other than body size). The lower neck set required the use of the B7 Bigsby which is not exactly a favorite with Gretschophiles. Initially mine was somewhat less responsive and stiffer than a B6 Bigsby. However, I swapped the standard tension spring for a Reverend “Soft Touch” spring and all is well in vibratoland. The B7 now has the same feel (for me) and function as the B6 on my ’59 Gent.

    Sounds/Tones – My initial reactions here were “mixed” – made a note to maybe think about TV Jones….. However – the source of my concern turned out to be the stock strings, which sounded very harsh to my vintage ears (D;’Addario round wounds). After installing Thomastik-Infeld JS-110’s (flat wound) the tones improved drastically. The Full’Tron pickups have a full, bold sound. They are warm with a lot of punch. There is excellent articulation with each string. They are comparable in tone quality and clarity with the TV Jones pickups on my 6122-’59 Gent, with a bit more mid tones. They are slightly louder than the Gent’s TVJ’s – resistances are 5.6k ohms (neck) and 6.4k ohms (bridge). The Gent’s pickups are 4.0k ohms (neck/SuperTron) and 7.8k ohms (bridge/Classic Plus). The Full’Trons likely will perform very well with overdriven amps, either via cranked volume or pedals. So far I have worked primarily on clean sounds.

    This marks the first time during the last 17-18 years where I am NOT inclined to upgrade stock Gretsch pickups – so far, at least…..

    The Broadkaster JR has remarkable sustain compared with other Gretsch guitars I’ve owned. I assume that is due to the center block design, although it seems to have more sustain than my Gibson ES-335 with a Tru-Arc titanium bridge. With the stock round wound strings, it seemed to be confusing my Peterson Stomp Classic tuner.

    The treble bleed feature works as advertised. The guitar maintains its tones as the master volume is rolled back. There is no noticeable darkening of the tone at lower volumes. The no-load tone pot yields a nice range of very good tones, much less “muddy” than others (IMO).

    The Broadkaster has screws for raising and lowering the pickups – a nice feature that I don’t recall in other Gretsches.


    String-Through Bigsby, Locking Tuners – While I’ve never had major issues with restringing traditional Bigsby-equipped guitars, part of my attraction to the new Players Edition models was the notion of quicker/easier string changes. My experience is very limited – one set of strings. The String-Through feature (IMO) has its own challenge in that I found it fairly difficult to insert the tip of the strings into the holes on the string shaft. It might be easier if the holes in the shaft were parallel to the top of the guitar. So – is it faster? No (IMO) – just different. Time and practice may change that view.

    I also had some problems with the Gotoh locking tuners breaking strings. I probably over-tightened the locks (??).

    Strap Locks – Appear to be Schallers. My only wish is that Schaller would make the threaded shafts slightly longer to allow use of heavier leather straps (Levy’s, etc.) without having to cut away some leather on the inside surface of the strap.

    Bottom Line – The Broadkaster JR is a KEEPER! I’m liking it a good bit my than originally anticipated. The tones and sounds are wonderful and it is a joy to play. In a word – it is a FUN guitar.
  2. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    I am glad that you bonded with it. A guitar like that is a serious investment. Noone who pays such a lot of money wants to be disappointed.
  3. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Thanks for the review.
  4. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Great review, Dan!
  5. blc45

    blc45 Country Gent

    Aug 23, 2011
    Beautiful guitar!
  6. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    That thing is gorgeous! You're lucky
  7. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    Nice review, Dan.

    Having a G6122-1959 myself, I find myself using it as a standard, also. It’s hard to imagine a way of improving upon that sound.

    I found your comments about the stock Filtertrons interesting. I’ve not had the best luck with HS Filters, but I am open to changing my opinion. I suspect that it’s all a matter of the overall effect of the instrument, the pickups and the strings. The Thomastik Jazz Swings seem to be a great choice on a Gretsch.
    Andrew Griffin likes this.
  8. Blaster

    Blaster Newbie

    Jul 3, 2010
    I just purchased the Broadcaster Jr. and love it. Years ago I had the 6120 and while I loved the tone it was a large guitar and uncomfortable for me to play, even though I am 6'. I still have a Duo-Jet and the Broadkaster compliments the Du-Jet as it has a thicker sound and it is a great playing guitar. It also is beautiful guitar
  9. Flouswa

    Flouswa Country Gent

    I have a 5120 and I've been curious about these as well as the thinner bodied Falcon for the same reason. I need to go play both.
  10. Alanqa

    Alanqa Gretschie

    Aug 22, 2019
    Lancashire UK
    I couldn’t see your pictures- just red Xs. I debated on whether to get the Broadkaster Jr. White Falcon Jr or White Falcon CB DC ultimately the one in my avatar was what became available at a price I could afford. The Broadkaster JR is my favourite model after the Falcon.
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