New forum member looking for Gretsch recommendation...

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by donb1234, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. donb1234

    donb1234 Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2019
    Phoenix, AZ, USA me spend some money!

    I've previously owned 3 Gretsch guitars:
    1. Red sparkle Electromatic from the 90's: played horrible, but looked nice onstage
    2. Silver Sparkle 6128: looked good, played good, sounded good
    3. Blue flametop 6128: looked good, played good, sounded good

    My main guitars are Gibson SG Standards. They are modified with Graphtec Piezo tuneomatic bridges, and I run stereo out...electric guitar to the amp, and the acoustic piezo signal to the board, they sound great.

    I also really like the action on them, the neck size, very playable.

    It looks like I'll be getting into some duo/trio (vox, guitar, drums) gigs and they are at high end resorts/bars doing Jazz type covers. Think Sade, Adele, etc. Nothing distorted. However the SG's just don't look the part. I need something classy, something I can be wearing a suitcoat and play, if you know what I mean.

    While I really liked the 6128's (and one of my bucket list guitars is a duojet in champagne sparkle), I think it would be a much better fit for these gigs to have something bigger, like a 6120, a Setzer or maybe a Falcon or Falcon Jr.. I think I'd be open to an Anniversary or a Broadkaster as well.

    On the 6128's I didn't care for the neck as much as say, the SG's. It felt more narrow/less wide, and had a very deep V to the neck shape.

    Question #1:

    Can anyone point me to a reference or description of what common Gretsch neck sizes/profiles are and how they might compare? The last time I did these winebar type jazz gigs I used an acoustic and my hand would cramp like mad playing for 3 hours, so I would love to find something close to the SG.

    Question #2:

    My price ceiling is $3000, I could possibly do $3500 but that would be tops. Ideally $1500 would be great as I'd be able to get some other gear sooner. I believe this price point puts me out of league for any new or relatively new custom shop models/USA made models? Fit and finish on my two 6128s (both Japanese) were really good, I supposed it just leaves me wondering "how much better" the USA made Gretsch guitars would be.

    Question #3:

    Looking at the used market in my pricerange, I see some vintage guitars (mid 60's) within reach. I'm aware of neck resets, binding issues, etc on older guitars and have heard about them on Gretsch guitars. Any words of wisdom? Am I only seeing problem guitars with these low prices? Am I asking for trouble gigging with a vintage Gretsch? In contrast, if I bought a 60's Gibson 330, no one would tell me to not gig with it.

    Question #4:

    Maybe not an actual question, but for these gigs, I need to cover both "Jazz guitar" and acoustic sounds, so I would like to put the same Graphtec tuneomatic piezo bridge that I have in the SG's into whatever Gretsch I buy. Are there models that this wouldn't be a good idea on, or models where putting a tuneomatic on wouldn't work? I'll need to add a 9v and a preamp somewhere, but I'm pretty handy and figure I can sort this out without any new holes.

    Let me know if there are any details I could add in to help.

    Thanks in advance,

    Merc likes this.
  2. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    The current Japanese proline range is world class, with amazing detailing and finish. Custom shop stuff is more expensive because you pay for a one-off. Most have a modern C profile, with just a couple if models with a V shape.

    The Gretsch Dynasonic is one of the original "jazz" pickups from the late 40s; the neck position with some treble roll off will cover it. Filtertrons are very bright and most models with them don't have a tone knob, but a limited tone switch instead.
  3. Wozob

    Wozob Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2014
    The Netherlands
    In my (limited) experience only older Jets (2003-2008) have a slightly v-shaped neck. Newer ones are more c-shaped. Some Penguins have maple necks instead of mahogany. To me it feels chunkier, but I’m not sure the size is really different.
    A Penguin also looks classy, so that would be my vote. A pinned bridge might be convenient if you want to install a TOM-bridge.
  4. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Welcome to the forum! We're always happy to help fellow members spend their money. :D

    I don't know much about the neck profiles on the pro line Gretsches, but I can give you some info on the fingerboard radii in case that's helpful. I believe the Setzer models have a 9.5" radius, while all other post-2003 pro lines have a 12" radius, which will feel familiar to you as an SG player.

    The only modern Gretsches built in the USA are the custom shop models. All of the pro lines are built in Japan. By all accounts, their quality is top notch.

    If you like the size of the Duo Jet but want something that looks a little more suited to a dinner club, check out the Broadkaster Jr. It's a classy-looking semi-hollow with the feel of a solid-body.

    I've never played the tuneomatic piezo bridges, but they look very cool. If you need to install a 9V and a preamp into the guitar, I'm not sure they'll fit through the F-holes. You may need to cut new holes in the guitar. If you can put the preamp and battery offboard in a pedal, that'll save you from modding the guitar.

    Would there be any issue with using the piezo bridge on a floating bridge base? If so, I'd suggest looking into a Player's Edition Center Block model, as these have fixed TOM bridges.

    My only quibble with the Player's Edition Center Block guitars is that they use Bigsby B7s. I find that the tension roller on the B7 can cause tuning problems by creating a steep string break angle over the bridge. That issue is easily solved by replacing the tension roller with a Brick's BiggsFix.

    I have no experience with vintage Gretsch guitars, but I've heard that their quality can be hit-and-miss. I'm sure others can give you more guidance there. Anything from the Fender era (2003 onwards) will be first-rate.

    It sounds like you've got the budget for a pro line guitar, but don't be shy about looking into the Korean-made Electromatic line as well. The 5420 or 5422 would be excellent for what you're looking for, at a very good price point.

    Enjoy the hunt!
  5. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Gretschified

    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    You'll get as many choices as answers. I've been blessed to own many Gretsch guitars and have found none better than the filtertron Anniversary. All class, great sound.
    section2 likes this.
  6. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Q1: Thin, thin, and thinner is what MIJ Gretsch offers, IME. Electromatics are no better, but sometimes you'll find a beefier one. The best (thickest) necks can be found on Streamliners (excluding Custom Shops), funny enough. Vs are probably the worst feeling to me, being so thin. My VS '59 G6120 is thin feeling because of it. It's comfortable but it's the one thing I wish that guitar didn't have. The chunkiest MIJ neck I have is a C-ish VS 53 Duo Jet, which is one reason I bought it. I think FMIC calls it a U, but it's fairly rounded in the shoulder. You won't find anything over 0.90" at the first fret, which is where my comfort spot starts. See Wildwoods' site to compare.

    Q2: I haven't tried any CS, but with the MIJ bar so high, I doubt you can get anything better quality-wise in a MIA, just maybe a lacquer finish, relicing, and baseball bat necks.

    Q3: I wouldn't use one for a gigging guitar, but don't let that stop you from looking for a gem, as there are gems out there.

    Q4: A member (@Mr. Lumbergh ) has done this to his Electromatics. Just about all Gretsch guitars with a floating base will be able to take the TOM. Link here.
  7. donb1234

    donb1234 Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2019
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    I'm almost wondering if the blue flame 6129 I had was an unusual V neck. I know it was an FSR from Street Sounds.
  8. Merc

    Merc Country Gent

    May 6, 2017
    Welcome to the forum.
  9. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    That's interesting. My Electromatic 5620T might be an outlier, but its neck doesn't feel thin to me. It has a medium D profile, and I'd say it occupies the middle ground between thin and fat—about halfway between my old pencil-thin Hagstrom and my chunky "wide fat" PRS. The 5620T neck feels more substantial than the neck on my old Streamliner 2655 (but I sold the Streamliner last year, so I'm just going by memory here).
  10. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    Just for the devil of it, maybe you should sit down with one of the Electromatics. I have the 5230 Jet and the 5622 center block. This model line has moved up leaps and bounds in both build quality and pickup performance in just the last couple of years.
    new6659, section2 and rake_ether like this.
  11. EdwardsKim

    EdwardsKim Gretschie

    May 11, 2013
    Chicago, IL
  12. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    I'll second that. The SuperHiloTron pickups in the 5622 would be fantastic for jazzy tones. They combine the clarity and snap of a single-coil with the warmth and noise-cancellation of a humbucker. And the build quality is excellent. Definitely worth a look. (I'd steer towards the two-pickup version of the 5622. The older three-pickup version weighs a ton, and I think two pickups are all you need. But to each their own.)
  13. Falcon LPB

    Falcon LPB Gretschie

    Aug 15, 2019
    Sydney, Australia
    I agree with Section 2's response. The players edition seems to fit exactly what you appear to want. You just need to decide the colour!
    I currently have one listed for sale to help fund another Falcon. See

    With shipping it is just a little over $2K USD. Look around ebay and the other on-line websites and I am sure you will find an example that you will be happy with. The only non-Gretsch you might want to consider, given what you are talking about as to the variety of what you play and gig, might be the new Fender acoustasonic. Nice thin neck, so light and versatile.
  14. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Not entirely. I have seen used Custom Shop sell around $3500. But only Jets, not hollowbodies. Asking prices are invariably higher, but if you keep an eye on eBay for those with a realistic starting price, say around $4500, you might get lucky with an offer around $3500. But, there aren't a lot of options at any given moment, so you either can't be too picky, or be prepared to wait for the right opportunity. There's a Penguin on eBay right now that's priced within striking distance of your budget at $4500. If it sits for a while, maybe $3500 could happen.

    Here's the cheapest I've ever seen, at $2750. Some mods and extra holes, but still.

    To me, the Custom Shop guitars are a significant upgrade. But there are construction details that mean something to me that may mean nothing to somebody else. And the biggest difference, the lighter build quality and livelier feel, also may be meaningless to some. The ones I've tried have felt like a really nice vintage example, which is pretty much all I've played for almost 30 years. But they're definitely a different animal. The good new is being in Phoenix, there must be somebody local that stocks a few. Worst case, take a day trip to Rainbow Guitars in Tucson. They currently have 10 Gretsches listed in stock - 5 Custom Shop, 3 Japanese, 2 Korean. I think it's well worth a few hours on the road to find out if the Custom Shop leaves you kind of "meh" or is an epiphany and you can't live without one.

    Maybe, maybe not. There are definitely nice vintage Gretsches for $3500 and under. With vintage, try before you buy is ideal. Or post here for input. Obviously nobody can tell you how a guitar is going to feel or sound from pictures, but you'll get help at least in evaluating condition, originality, value, and looking for red flags.

    Nope. If it's in good playing condition, there's no reason it would be any less gigworthy than anything else. I've been gigging for 30 years with Gretsches, and none have been newer than 1965.
  15. donb1234

    donb1234 Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2019
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    So just back from a trip to the store, brought one of my SG's for comparison.

    Tried an 06 White Falcon: neck wasn't as flat as the SG, but did not have the deep V my old Gretsch had, and was comfortable to play. Super small frets.

    Tried a new G6118T in Silver/Blue, had the same neck as the Falcon, but the frets were more normal.

    Tried a new G6659 in Cadillac Green, had the same neck as the Falcon, but the frets were more normal. I definitely noticed the smaller size compared to the Falcon, but I wouldn't say the Falcon felt uncomfortable.

    Tried a heavy flamed Setzer, and that neck had a deeper V that reminded me of my previous Gretsch.

    The shop didn't have any Falcon Jr's, but I didn't feel like the Falcon was that big, even when I tried the other guitars.

    Prior to going the Falcon Jr sounded right but now the full size Falcon seems good to me, the only hesitation I'd have on it would be the really small fret wire size.
  16. Lee Erickson

    Lee Erickson Country Gent

    Apr 20, 2009
    Eagan, MN
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  17. donb1234

    donb1234 Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2019
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Thanks Lee, it sounds like a nice guitar, however I'm looking to go to something with more of a Jazz box look.
  18. donb1234

    donb1234 Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2019
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    The Vintage Select Falcons sound nice but the price difference from the Player's line is pretty hard to justify.

    Does anyone know any differences aside from the trestle bracing?

    Currently have it narrowed down to the following:

    Azure Blue:

    Classic White:

    Ocean Turquoise (a Falcon Jr):
  19. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Mmm, that Ocean Turquoise Falcon Jr. looks stunning.
  20. donb1234

    donb1234 Electromatic

    Sep 8, 2019
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
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