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IN PRAISE OF THE OLD STYLE PRO JET

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by old fella, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. old fella

    old fella Gretschie

    107
    Dec 11, 2009
    uk
    IMG_8019.JPG IMG_8021.JPG


    After not having owned one for very many years, I got back into electric guitars in 2009 when I purchased a second hand (but virtually new) Pro Jet. One of the main reason I bought this guitar was because I thought it was one of the coolest looking guitars I had ever seen . It also actually looked just like a “real” Gretsch ; this was the first time I had become aware of the Electromatic range. Even if it it sounded terrible I was prepared to pay £185 for it just to hang it on the wall as an ornament! I think the hard tail was selling new in the UK at the time for £250 plus £10 shipping with the Bigsby version around £45 more.



    I was absolutely delighted with how this guitar played and sounded although some mods were latter carried out. For the price of a bottle of whisky a more competent friend improved the cut of the nut and checked the frets. Amazingly no fret work was needed. My buddy said at the time that he had seen worse frets on a new USA Gibson Les Paul. I did take the opportunity to give the frets a very thorough polish. I use hybrid strings with a 9 on the E . I find the slightly thinner E and B easier to bend whilst the chunkier bass strings keep the tone. I also use Dunlop fret oil on a regular basis. I do not like a dry fretboard.



    I later fitted a brass Compton... a distinct improvement and no intonation problems whatsoever. I also had, during a US vacation, the pick ups rewound by Bryan Gunsher of BG pups ($50 a pup but the £ was much stronger against the $ back then) keeping the original mini covers which I liked. After various experiments I have set my bridge pup quite close to the strings and the neck is a lot further away. I have also used rubber pads to make sure pups line up with the strings. They had a tendency to angle slightly. I thought I might have to invest in locking tuners but have been very surprised how good the chinese stock ones are.



    My final mod was to invest in 2 push pull linear pots. As my rebuilt pups had 4 conductor wiring I was able to wire the vol push pull so that I could put the neck pup in parallel and the tone pot was wired to swap the inner coils so that I could get the neck screw coil with the bridge slug coil ( either in series or in parallel) etc. This wiring enables subtle and usable tone changes . Simple coil cuts do not really work on mini humbuckers because of reduced output.



    To put in bluntly this is a great looking guitar which both sounds and plays great. It gets a lot of use. My other electric guitars now include a Washburn Idol 166, a Washburn HB 35 hollowbody and an old style Schecter SI Elite . All these guitars sound great partly because they have all been well set up and all have excellent Seymour Duncan pick ups. The Pro jet is definitely not outclassed and holds its own. If I have any complaint it is that the black finish on the front could be a tad more robust. I suspect it can chip fairly easily but fortunately the body binding does seem robust and the varnish finish on the sides back and are able to take the occasional knock.



    I use a Vox VT 50 and a Marshal MG 15FX . The simplicity of the Marshall seems to suit the Pro Jet and they tend to get used together.



    I am aware that the old style Pro Jet has got several fans on this site and there are others who claim the new models are superior. I am sure all views are based on experience. Personally I have tried several of the new models but I cannot see the improvements. Visually, I prefer the head binding on the old model and the thumb nails and G tailpiece over the blocks and Gibson style bridge on the new models. Whilst I accept that a new model in a guitar shop is probably not going to feel as good as a set up and played in guitar, there seems to be a bit of Mojo missing. As regards sound the black tops are interesting in a good way but I found getting different sounds by adjusting tone and vol pots difficult . Guitar definitely sounded best with tone and individual vols on 10 and master vol ly rolled back. Possibly too many vol pots are muddying the sound. My Pro jet has excellent response from its 2 pots but I accept mine have been upgraded.



    As regards construction I do not see the basswood body and maple neck as an improvement over mahogany . As far as I am aware the Jet prolines are ,like the old pro jets ,still made from mahogany. Gretsch presumably do this for a reason. Basswood is supposed to be lighter but the difference was not noticeable on the various new models I tried . My Pro Jet weighs 7.7 pounds and compares favourably weightwise with my other guitars.



    These are of course my own personal thoughts and views.



    I have always wondered what a set of HS Filtertrons would sound like in this guitar ( or possibly my Washburn HB 35 hollow body. If a set came up second hand at a reasonable price I might be tempted to experiment. Sets used to turn up regularly for well under $100 but I have not seen any for several years. View attachment 82028 View attachment 82030 View attachment 82028 View attachment 82030 View attachment 82028 View attachment 82030 View attachment 82028
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
    matlor, benjwri, ZackyDog and 4 others like this.
  2. englishman

    englishman Friend of Fred

    Age:
    60
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    These are pretty cool guitars, if only they had the master volume!
     
    wildeman likes this.
  3. TSims1

    TSims1 Friend of Fred

    Jun 18, 2013
    Atlanta
    I think it's a beautiful guitar, and though/while I typically focus on Prolines these days, I think Electro Jets are outstanding guitars worth more than the price of admission.

    I also actually prefer the simple clean layout of your guitar to Proline Jets! I WISH they would build PLine Jets with that design.......1 switch out of the way, 1 master volume, 1 master tone. Everything you need, nothing you don't.
     
  4. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Country Gent

    Age:
    51
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Glad, that you like it. It is one elegant guitar.
     
  5. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Country Gent

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
  6. englishman

    englishman Friend of Fred

    Age:
    60
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
     
    Uncle Daddy likes this.
  7. Dennison

    Dennison Country Gent

    Jul 17, 2011
    Kent, UK
    I like these guitars. They are a bit heavy but they balance nicely on the strap so I don't find the weight to be an issue.

    The steep string break angle over the bridge saddles due to the closeness of the Bigsby tension bar was an issue, so much so on my guitar that the strings caught on the back of the bridge, so I just passed the strings over the top of the tension bar -- problem solved and a much nicer springy feel to the Bigsby. I did swap out the pickups for a Bareknuckle P90 at the neck and a TV Jones Filtertron at the bridge, both soapbar size which is an easy fit.
     
  8. wildeman

    wildeman Friend of Fred

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    I totally dig my '08.

    20160227_125636.jpg I went ahead an made it a little like more better. 20170312_155753.jpg 20170324_210834.jpg
     
    benjwri and rockinforJesus like this.
  9. johsonrod

    johsonrod Country Gent

    Apr 14, 2010
    Toronto
    Yup, I have an '09 as well. 8lbs with a b3c, compton, tv supertron neck and and filtertron bridge. Never touched the trussrod either after 8 years. Super solid guitar.
     

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    j.s.c, rockinforJesus and Floo like this.
  10. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    I can see the appeal of both the older Pro Jets and the newer Pro Jets. There is something positive to be said about simpler design of the older Pro Jets, and the mahagony body (although it depends on what "mahagony" was used), and with some minor modding, it's a good guitar. In the same way, with some minor modding, the newer Pro Jets are good guitars, and I think the basswood body is not a deal breaker in any way, for me. There are other guitars out there with basswood bodies that are fine guitars.

    There certainly is a difference between the Pro Jets and the pro line Jets, but that is expected whether they are older or newer. For me, it's like the American Standard or MIM Standard Stratocasters. I've been quite happy to play the MIM Strats (and I did mod one with Lace Sensor Gold pickups) even though I know that the finish details, hardware, and electronics are better on the American Strats are better. For me, the MIM Strats are just fine.
     
  11. NickGretsch

    NickGretsch Synchromatic

    812
    Aug 30, 2011
    Cornwall, England
    A really nice post. Thoughful and informative.
     
    matlor likes this.
  12. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Friend of Fred

    Age:
    61
    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    Lovely guitar. Thanks for sharing!
     
  13. wabash slim

    wabash slim Country Gent

    Age:
    67
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    You're preachin' to the choir! I have an '08. I have no major complaints, except for the weight. 10 pounds is a load, but I sit to play these days.
     
  14. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    I had one. I miss it though I really couldn't get wooden bridge base to work.

    wglb9qicscinbl7ix7ma.jpg
     
  15. old fella

    old fella Gretschie

    107
    Dec 11, 2009
    uk
    Thanks for all the positive feed back. I was expecting a query or two about my somewhat unusual wiring which actually works well, but perhaps it is not as unusual as I thought.

    Wildeman....Your guitar looks cool Very brave to go for a colour change!

    Don't know how many of the old style Pro Jets were sold . Hopefully most are in good homes and will be around for many years to come. I actually have a theory that some guitars seem to improve tonewise with age unless of course you wear the frets out. Possibly due to the wood drying out?

    The reported differences in weight of the Pro Jet, one was claimed to be over 11 pounds, is interesting. I would like to think that the normal weight for a Bigsby model was around 8 pounds with the hardtail being a bit lighter. I think the older models were heavier because they were almost solidbodies. Mine seems to be constructed a bit like a centre block with quite large cavities. Different batches of mahogany can also have different density.

    I have a bit of phobia about weight in guitars. I like them light and not too big . I actually enjoy playing an electro acoustic . I know the theories about sustain but this does not seem to be a problem in practice. Interestingly my heaviest guitar is my washburn 335 style hollow body which at around 10 pounds tends to get played sitting...I do not even have a strap on it. Cannot fault it for sound however. The seymour duncan Seth Lovers are perfect pick ups for this guitar.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  16. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    These must be great guitars because they hardly ever show up on ebay. I've had some dosh ring-fenced for a while now in case I see a black one, no luck so far except for a feller asking 500 quid.
     
  17. old fella

    old fella Gretschie

    107
    Dec 11, 2009
    uk
    Markeebee... I know what you mean. I was trying to find one for a young relative a while back. There used to be quite a few for sale cheaply around 5 or 6 years ago but these have vanished. Suspect many were snapped up by those who appreciated guitars potential and then had serious mods like TV Jones pups etc and are now keepers .
     
    markeebee likes this.
  18. whitecloud

    whitecloud Gretschie

    Age:
    63
    106
    Oct 19, 2009
    Pullman Wa USA
    Hi old fella. I remember our conversations regarding the BG pup rewinds. I've mentioned this option on many occasions here and other forums. I instructed Bryan to make the pickups clearer and with a bit more output. Last time I checked DC resistance the bridge was just over 8k and neck a bit over 7k. The end results including replacing all the innards the guitar sounds fabulous. A dear old friend of mine with a very discerning ear that was quite the player and had collected so many guitars since the 60's was very impressed. In fact the jaw drop and big smile actually happened. Granted he conceded that I might of just got a good one and he wasn't sure he'd be as lucky. BG told me the components used on the mini-hums not bad really, he just put in his special sauce. I said it before and I'll say it again, sometimes I'll reach for my Pro Jet over my Gibson Les Paul for certain tones. As far as the new Pro Jet's I've played them in the local shop and in my opinion they are a step back from my 2009. As far as weight of mine I think mine is close to 9 lbs and it does seem to be quite hollowed out from my observations while doing the mods. I need to update my avatar as I now own a 5622t and no longer own the Black Special Jet as I gifted it to a close friend and he seems to enjoy it.
     
    blueruins likes this.
  19. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    34
    37
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I had a silver one just like that ~2010 but sold it in a rush when we had our first baby.

    I've regretted it ever since. For not a lot of money it was one hell of a guitar. The only real complaint was the weak pickups but in the right gig they sounded more than okay. Was especially good at rhythm stuff, sat nicely in between the strat and gibsons I was usually paired with.

    I've tracked it down and it's in Arizona (I'm in TN). I'd love to buy it back from the guy and he's willing but he doesn't wanna fool with shipping...

    Was a surprise from the then-girlfriend-now-wife and I have a big sentimental attachment to it, too.

     
  20. wildeman

    wildeman Friend of Fred

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    Sounds like a road trip is in order.