Project '59 (modding my 5420)

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by j_double_u, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    @johnny g
    Thanks! You can imagine I can't wait either... I'm planning the next step to be the big one: New bigsby installation, pickups, harness, bridge, and nickel hardware all at once. Of which I only have the Bigsby in possession, at the moment. I have some busy (read: expensive) months ahead, so I'm afraid project '59 is on hold for the moment. After my holidays in May I hope that I've made up my mind about which pickups to order.

    that's good to hear. So... I may be not far off by stating this licensed Bigsby may be a better quality product than the US made version. Maybe we'll never know.

    I have learned so much in this short time I've joined this board. Thanks guys!
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2019
    johnny g likes this.
  2. Parttime

    Parttime Gretschie

    Dec 6, 2018
    Nice work.
    That’s the route I went with my 5420

    I didn’t go with the exact stickers and I ended up covering the old switch hole.
    Nothing wrong with a little creative freedom.


    I installed a space control bridge like Setzer used back when. Also opted for antique ivory Sperzel locking tuners and ivory dice to better match the binding.

    j_double_u, Trash Kidd and new6659 like this.
  3. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    Looks reeeally pretty. Great job!
    j_double_u likes this.
  4. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Lookin' good
    j_double_u likes this.
  5. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    @Parttime Thats cool! Not an exact copy, but definitely a tribute to the Cats. Interesting to see the custonized headstock. That works pretty good. Before I got my 5420 I purchased a piece of mother of pearl and wanted to do a veneer job with inlay. I think I can pull that off but feel quite hesitant about it now. The black headstock doesn't bother me like I thought I would.

    What kind of pickups did you install, and why?
    Parttime likes this.
  6. Parttime

    Parttime Gretschie

    Dec 6, 2018
    I haven’t changed them yet.
    I just put small strips of aluminum on them to cover up the black areas.
    I contacted TV Jones about classics or Setzers. They replied classics would get me the old stray cats sound and Setzers would have a little more bite.
    I’m planning on installing the chrome Setzers with gold rings.
  7. Parttime

    Parttime Gretschie

    Dec 6, 2018
    I would have liked to do all the mods exact but there are so many miner differences between the 5420’s and 6120’s
    - number of knobs / switches
    their placement
    - and most of all the color differences
    vintage vs new orange
    - even the bridge pick up is closer to the
    bridge on the 6120’s
    You can drive yourself nuts with the details.
    I will say you are doing a great job with yours.
    I had an opportunity to hold a ‘59 at a guitar show in Fort Worth Texas 2018.
    I say hold not purchase for $14,000.00


    It had some serious discoloration on the headstock possibly from water damage and the pick ups were pretty dirty but it was still amazing.
    It was also a little heavier than I expected.
    j.s.c likes this.
  8. j_double_u

    j_double_u Electromatic

    @Parttime Hah! I thought of that too: adding some aluminum strip pieces. I even have a way to make em look gold. But because I'm planning to exchange the pups anyway I won't bother.

    There are still lots of differences with 6120s. But to me it's kinda charming, the whole idea of customizing and upgrading the cheaper model. Like hotrodding a model T instead of buying a stock Cadillac. I think I'll be much more proud when I'm done with it.

    I have the 'vintage Orange' 5420, so my color is pretty close to late 50's 6120s. The color really pushed me over the edge and make the purchase... Mine is just still too shiny.
    Parttime likes this.
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