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If Gretsch Offered to Make a Signature Model for You . . .

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Synchro, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    This isn’t the first time I’ve started such a thread, but I thought it was time to give it another go, especially in view of the fact that I have changed the specs of my dream Gretsch considerably.

    In 2011, I bought a 6120 DC which had been built at Dyna Gakki and weighed in at a featherweight 7 pounds. Eventually, I modified this guitar buy adding the same pickups that came on my G6122-1959, a modern reproduction of Chet Atkins 1959 Gent, complete with a Supertron in the neck position and a Baldwin era Filtertron in the bridge position. This was duplicated in our day by using a TV Jones Supertron in the neck position and a TV Jones Classic + in the bridge. It does come startlingly close to the sound of Chet’s Gent and this pickup combo in the 6120 DC gives a slightly warmer variant of the same basic sound.

    However, the DC does have one significant limitation. Because of the presence of the mute, the bridge pickup is displaced towards the neck of the guitar and does not have quite the treble bark it would have were it right next to the bridge. FWIW, the mute, if adjusted slightly lower than spec, makes for a passable electric sitar sound.

    Since buying the DC and the Gent I have added a couple of Guilds to the mix, a Starfire III and a T-400, both having Guild mini humbuckers, which have similar clarity and focus to a Filtertron, but with a slightly different tonal pallette. While I love the sound of these guitars, I’m not thrilled with the four-knob control set and the lack of a master volume control. They come close, but they are not likely to ever be my first choice for gigs.

    So what is the Synchro Signature model, circa 2017?

    Somewhere along the line, I had the opportunity to buy a G6119-1959, which is a transparent red Tennessean (I’m using the name it would have had in 1959) with a single pickup in the bridge position and trestle bracing. This guitar was featured on the cover of Chet Atkins’ Workshop, an album released in 1960, with no Country music, but did have some Pop and Jazz of its era, including a very impressive version of Lullaby of Byrdland.

    The guitar came with a very simple control set, a master volume and a three-position tone switch. As good as the guitar was, having only one pickup did prove a significant limitation. I finally bit the bullet and cut in a second pickup in the neck position. Because the bridge pickup was a Powertron, I decided to choos the same for the neck pickup. I removed the tone switch and installed a pickup switch in its place. The pick guard had to be notched and, of course, I had to dust off my soldering iron, but at the end of it all I had a very nice, clean conversion.

    So, what did I end up with after all of this effort?

    Sonically, the guitar is quite good. I set the volume knob at roughly 75% as a starting point and get a great clean sound. We do a fair amount of Surf and Instrumental Rock and this delivers a clean sound in keeping with the late ‘50s and early ‘60s conventions. The only effect I use is reverb, and this guitar works quite well as a clean tone source. If I crank the volume all the way up, it remains clean through a Fender Deluxe Reverb set at 4 on the volume, but it’s definitely going the amp plenty of signal to work with. Id I were to add a degree of clean boost the amp would break up noticeably at these settings. Because I go for a clean sound, this is perfect, giving me just the right amount of character and sonic complexity, but never losing definition. The feedback resistance is quite good, but if I were to face the amp directly, there would be feedback. Overall, it's a very serviceable Gretsch with a powerful sound, but still recognizably similar to the Chet sound I've craved since I started playing, back in 1966. This guitar is my go to axe for gigs.

    Structurally, this guitar is probably most similar to a Brian Setzer Hot Rod, albeit with Powertron pickups. It has the same “gas pedal and a gear shift” control set and the same level of usability results therefrom. For the fast-paced environment of a gig, nothing beats simplicity. Were I to try and duplicate this guitar functionally from the current Gretsch catalog, any trestle-braced 6120, including the Setzer Hot Rod, would be a good starting point. In fact the Hot Rod would probably be my first choice, although the G6120T-59 would work or the G6118T-60 or G6119T might be a less expensive way of accomplishing the same overall effect, considering that either solution would require a pickup swap. The G6119T-59 would probably get you close, albeit still requiring a pickup swap, but adding the feedback resistance benefits of a closed top and the surprisingly useful standby switch. The G6120T-59CAR would come quite close also and a swap to silver pickup rings and pickguard would make for a near look alike.

    But enough about me, what would you spec as a the (your screen name here) Signature Model?
    loudnlousy likes this.
  2. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    I got the same guitar. Since I am a one pickup-guy it is perfect for me just as it is.
    If I could dream up a Gretsch I would like another one like that but with all the White Falcon cosmetics (white laquer, gold binding, golden hardware, golden pickquard, winged headstock, feather inlays...).
  3. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    A recreation of my Jim English esquire as it's the best guitar that I've ever played and is basically a gretsch
  4. slimwilson

    slimwilson Synchromatic

    Dec 22, 2015
    Mobile, Al
    I'd want one based off of the 6121-1959, with nods to the 6121-1955. Black finish, red G-brand, double binding in white (maybe red?), 55 style inalys, ebony fretboard, bigsby, TV classics, and the body depth of a Les Paul. I'd also do the exact same layout, but with T-Armonds for a second guitar.
  5. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Funny, my sig's base form would be a 6119-1959 as well. But..I want a
    Falcon headstock with vertical logo,
    no f-holes,
    laminated spruce pressed top, trestle bracing,
    2 SD P90 Antiquities dogears,
    Volume+tone(a bass roll off)+3-way PU switch,
    short Caddy tailpiece,
    black piano finish with orange binding,
    gold hardware.
    And the price point halfway between the Electro and Proline. ;)
  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    If you are playing lead in a two guitar band, the bridge pickup is amazing. I could get almost anything I wanted out of the guitar stock, but for trio work I ended up wanting a neck pickup.

    Definitely an interesting combination.
  7. wilblee

    wilblee Synchromatic

    May 23, 2013
    TX Hill Country
    I did it myself. The only change I might make - in the future, if I get some money that needs burning - is to swap out the TV Jones Classics for Setzer signatures.

    6121-FTW with steerhead pickguard and wire Bigsby handle and the bridge "pinned" with tape. Damn, I love this guitar.




    With its frequent partner


    My fave pic of it in action

  8. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    Hmm....6120 with 2.75" depth, tone post bracing, nitro finished, in either sonic blue or daphne blue, maybe even sea foam green. Gold hardware begrudgingly, B6 Gretsch V cut Bigsby. Tone control instead of tone switch and a treble bleed on the master volume. Hump block inlay, zero fret, matching headstock and indifferent on tuners. Dunlop strap locks

    Now, to be different than other guitars in the lineup and a tip of the hat to Scotty Moore, a pair of TV Jones T-90s in cream covers and filtertron mount-so pickups could easily be switched out.
  9. TSims1

    TSims1 Friend of Fred

    Jun 18, 2013
    My Panther with locking tuners and a zero fret.'s perfect and delivers EXACTLY what I want and like out of a Gretsch. It's also the best SOUNDING Gretsch I've ever played.
    nickurso and Robbie like this.
  10. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    Could you go into greater detail on your specs? :)

    That was great, St. John. It's obvious that you've thought this all out thoroughly.
  11. afire

    afire Country Gent

    I like this idea. I could see doing the same thing, but with my '59 Country Gentleman as the base model. And I'd keep the inlaid f-holes, but have them inlaid with multiple layers of faux white, black and gold binding.

    Or, maybe a Synchro-club like Paul Pigat's.

    But instead of the trim of a middle of the range Synchromatic like this:

    Go all out and make it pre-war Synchromatic 400 trim, including headstock shape. 13 plies of black white and gold binding, and a few more layers of purfling to boot.

  12. Brutus Presley

    Brutus Presley Gretschie

    Jan 21, 2016
    6120 1955 style model with western inlays, the "G", gold pickguard, SSLVO headstock, Dyna in the bridge, p90 in the neck. Compton bridge.
  13. StJohn

    StJohn Country Gent

    Jun 5, 2008
    North Louisiana
    A little bit, lol. It's really a combo of the things I like on each of my 6120s and ways I would make it stand out from others in the line.
  14. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Apr 5, 2014
    A reissue of the 6135 with the Stump string-through but only two pickups, powertron and powerton plus.

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
  15. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    A dyna Jet like George Harrison's, only with an attachment on the back where you could hook up a vacuum cleaner to it.

    I suck, so my signature guitar would have to, too.
  16. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Wow!! What a supercool guitar!
    wilblee likes this.
  17. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    Paul's guitar is awesome. Functionally, that is quite similar to my Guild T-400, 17" body with parallel bracing, 2" depth, etc. I've never seen Paul's guitar in person, but I know that my Guild is surprisingly resonant.

    Sort of an Eddie Cochran meets Brian Setzer approach. Sounds cool.

    Who would have thought that a bike-guy would be so into Corvettes? :)

    That's pretty durned funny.
  18. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    I have an idea for a guitar that I am going to get some version of.

    TL/DR, a blonde or possibly orange 6121-1959 with a 25.5" neck, no controls and a floating Kent Armstrong pickup.

    I have an Epiphone with a Kent Armstrong made or Kent Armstrong style Benedetto pickup. I just got the guitar back from a long overdue and expensive [nearly as much as I paid for the guitar] repair. I love the pickup, especially through certain amps, and I had Kent Armstrong send me a similar neck mounted floating pickup, which he assured me would sound the same or similar, earlier this year.


    I bought that pickup to put in my B-16 equipped Telecaster, if changing the neck pocket to lower the strings at the neck pickup doesn't satisfy me, but I have this alternate and better idea for the pickup now.


    I need to rule out the shorter scale neck. I have one Gibson that has a short scale and I always find it cramped and uncomfortable, but I went down to Minneapolis a couple of months ago and played the 6121-1959 at Twin Town and I really liked it, it was all I could do to keep the impulses at bay. I think that I had been doing so little playing in the last few years that I wasn't able to judge this properly. I have to get my #1 guitar, which is also undergoing a full-purchase-price repair which has spanned two luthiers, two countries and more than half a decade, back before I can answer this question finally.

    I saw a picture of a Les Paul Acoustic, that and the lack of controls on my Epiphone are really driving my want for this project. It needs a Bigsby, right?


    Colour, I'm very fond of the 6131MY, but I do love those faded 1959 6121s.



    As for the little bits, it would have a floating bridge. I really like the Space-Control style bridge being made in Germany [Mojo]. I have a vintage Space-Control I could put on there.


    And nickel or chrome tuners & knurled strap knobs.

    So a pinhole in the top of the guitar for the pickup, a pinhole to ground the Bigsby and an output jack.

    I had considered doing this one floating pickup solidbody as a Jazzmaster, with just the thumbwheel controls, all black with a tortoise shell pickguard, sort of a very Jazzy Jazzmaster, but I've concluded that I don't like the tremolo enough.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
  19. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    I love that Les Paul acoustic.
  20. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    The Gretsch "Robbie" is pretty much there already. White Panther, "good" roller bridge and locking tuners.
    TSims1 likes this.