What makes my Duo Jet so comfortable for me?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Cassotto, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Cassotto

    Cassotto Electromatic

    Age:
    45
    40
    Jun 16, 2019
    Spain
    Until I bought a G6128T-GH Duo Jet almost one month ago, I had only played two electric guitars: one was my beloved DeArmond T-400, and the other was a cheap Squier guitar resembling a Stratocaster (apparently, it was some sort of hybrid model, not a Bullet, not a Horizon) that I played about twice. While I couldn't be more comfortable than when I'm playing the DeArmond, I found the Squier very uncomfortable. I'm talking mostly in terms of the left hand. The neck of the Squier felt thick and coarse (I don't know whether real Fender Stratocasters are the same). So I was somewhat afraid when I ordered the Duo Jet online without playing it beforehand (the place where I live has only got one music shop, and their range is very limited and doesn't include Gretsch instruments).

    I needn't have worried! The Gretsch feels exactly the same as the DeArmond, which is awesome, as I've been able to play it from the start (well, the little I could play anyway) without any sort of adjustment transition. I imagine this may have something to do with the fretboard radius, or with the shape and thickness of the neck, but it could be something else.

    Does anyone know what the Duo Jet and the DeArmond have in common about these, or what is so different between them and the Squier? How does the size of your hands affect what is or isn't comfortable for you? I'd like to know these things, just in the unlikely case that I ever decide to buy another guitar online (the DeArmond and the Duo Jet will certainly last me for years, especially if we take into account my lack of proficiency at playing!). Is it safe to assume that any Gretsch will feel as comfortable too, or does it depend on the model?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    Well, I don't recall your specific model, but the current Duo Jet specs are either "U-shaped" necks, or a model with a "V-shaped" neck. That Squier likely had a more "C-shaped" neck, as that is the modern Fender neck shape. How you feel about a neck is a very personal thing, and it has a lot to do with you specific technique, and how you hold the neck in you left hand.

    Me? I'm fine with a wider neck, but I prefer to have less thickness through the shoulder of the neck. Not that I can't adapt, but if I was playing for several hours at a gig, my left hand would appreciate a little less thickness. Others? Well there are plenty around here that love a thicker neck.

    Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the DeArmond, so I can't say if the the Duo Jet and DeArmond have a similar neck shape in common, but my guess would be yes.
     
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  3. rob batz

    rob batz Synchromatic

    691
    Apr 17, 2014
    Bristol ct.
    Luved mine , regret lettin her go
     
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  4. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    111
    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    I've played a couple of DeArmonds at the local Sam Ash and found the necks to be my biggest problem with them. No comparison at all to my G5230. The Gretsch neck seems much more finished to me. It felt like they gave a lot more attention to the overall finish and fretwork. Since I was not comfortsble with the neck, the rest of the comparison was mute.
     
    Cassotto likes this.
  5. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    39
    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    I haven't played the models you have mentioned but I would say much of playing comfort comes from the set up of the guitar rather than just the guitar itself.
    A well set up cheap guitar can often play far better in terms of comfort/playability than an expensive guitar that is perhaps not so well set up. It won't change the tone of the cheap guitar but it makes it easier to play but even adjusting the correct pickup height can have a huge effect on the sound output so, guitar set up is important irrespective of whether guitar was cheap or expensive where playability is a major factor for a player.

    I recently bought a mint condition 5120 at a very attractive price indeed but it had an awful neck bow which I wasn't sure I could correct due to it being left leaned steeply back up against a wall for two years with strings thick enough to tow a car out of a ditch but I took a chance on buying it and was even prepared to use it just as a wall hanger if I couldn't get right.

    The action was dreadful and for me, virtually unplayable. It took quite a while of adjusting and relaxing the neck until it returned to shape but now after a final set up, it plays probably better than any other guitar I own and I've got the action certainly as low as on my Telecaster which is very low indeed and makes it effortless to play.

    I have several guitars and each play differently in their own way but I do my own setups including fret dressing and levelling etc which gives each guitar a consistency when I swap over and play a different guitar as they are set up for me personally so I don't notice the changeover, though I would if I didn't set them up.

    Speaking of cheap guitars. Recently I picked up locally a used Strat copy ( Westfield) for the princely sum of £40.00 with the intention of leaving it at my caravan which is sited 100 miles away and which I visit every month for about a week each time and it would save me hauling it with us every time we go. However after getting the guitar home and looking it over it seemed quite well made and after doing a full set up including fret levelling, it now plays about as good as any guitar I've got, even maybe close to the playability of the Telecaster or 5120 so I'm loathe to leave it at the caravan as I now use it occasionally for recording at home.

    I'd not played a Gretsch prior to buying the 5120 except for maybe a minute on my cousin's 6 Series but I'd say they have an excellent neck profile which makes them extremely comfortable and easy to play and given the level of quality which surrounds Gretsch guitars, I'd now have no hesitation in buying one unseen if brand new from a retailer as based on what I know, I really can't imagine Gretsch to ever produce a pig.
     
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  6. Cassotto

    Cassotto Electromatic

    Age:
    45
    40
    Jun 16, 2019
    Spain
    Thanks everyone for your comments. What I've read has opened many doors for me. Now I'll read more about U-, V- and C-shaped necks, action, etc., things I hadn't heard of before. That won't probably give me the magic formula (as it seems there is none), but learning new things is never a bad idea.

    Funny. I thought my DeArmond had been very carefully finished, smooth and without scratching fret ends. But then, I had nothing to compare it with. Or it may depend on the model, or on your luck on picking one guitar and not another.
     
  7. Cassotto

    Cassotto Electromatic

    Age:
    45
    40
    Jun 16, 2019
    Spain
    I forgot to ask: when you know nothing about this and take your guitar to a technician to have it set up, will he be able to do it all right without knowing you? I don't know whether there are technicians that you can be with while they're doing the setup, so you can try the guitar after any change and say whether you like it more or less than before. Or is it better to leave a brand-new guitar as it is and don't change anything before you've played it (or any other guitar) for long enough to be able to discern what is better for you? I suppose that when you're a beginner everything looks clumsy and awkward, no matter how well the guitar is set up.
     
  8. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    39
    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    If you feel the guitar plays ok from brand new then it's likely that the action etc suits you so don't just go throwing money at a technician for the sake of it.
    Most likely after a while you will maybe find that the string heights ( action) is a bit too high and need setting up which you can easily do yourself if it's just adjusting the bridge height.
    If the nut slots are not cut correctly with regard to depth then that could cause issues of making it harder than necessary to play but that will involve an experienced luthier or technician to sort it properly.
    If there is fret buzz after lowering the bridge then it might be that you've overdone it and may have to raise it again slightly or it could be that the neck needs adjusting via the truss rod and neck relief.
    The other cause of fret buzz is a neck where there may be the odd fret which are higher than the others. That can easily be ascertained by using short accurate straight edges which span only three frets at any one time and then see if the straight edge rocks when placed over three frets.
    If it rocks then mark it on paper as which fret is the high one. eg: if you span the 7th, 8th and 9th fret and the straight edge rocks then the 8th fret is higher than the other two though it should be unnecessary if you take it to a technician as they should easily identify those.
    You start at the lowest end of the fretboard scale and work up toward the pups. There are specific inexpensive tools for this but I just use my own which includes the blade edge from a box cutter ( Stanley Knife)
    While it's probably better left to someone who knows what they're doing if you have no experience do a setup, there are plenty of Youtube videos on how to do the basics such as setting up the string heights and for the more advanced, adjusting the truss rod and neck relief so that can be done by someone who is basically competent with tools if they study up first. I certainly would advise against levelling the frets as that is more for professional luthiers/technicians or those with special craft skills.

    If you feel you want to take it to a technician to set it up for you, first explain to them what you feel the issues are if you actually have any and tell him or her how you want to it play.
    A competent technician will have a good idea of what you want so if it needs adjusting then they'll know what to do. You could also ask someone you know who is an experienced guitar player what they think but at the end of the day it's what suits you that counts.
    I've learned never to expect a guitar to be at its best when just purchased as for instance very few leave the factory which don't need setting up in one way or the other.
     
    Cassotto likes this.
  9. Robbie

    Robbie Country Gent

    Age:
    66
    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    I’d suggest you talk to a good Tech and tell him/her you want the guitar set up. If he/she is good they will do a sort of standard set up and you can start your relationship with the Tech from there. Your comment suggests you may not have a lot of experience which is why I recommend this. At this point you don’t know what you don’t know such as neck relief, action etc. and I think it would be a good baseline for you to start with.
     
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  10. Cassotto

    Cassotto Electromatic

    Age:
    45
    40
    Jun 16, 2019
    Spain

    Thanks a lot for such a detailed answer! I've just highlighted the above because it's sound advice. I don't want to start messing around aimlessly; as I haven't found anything wrong with the guitar (just the opposite, rather), I'll play it as much as possible, and once I get to know it better I may find something that needs improving.



    You're right there. I have little experience playing the guitar, and no experience about the technical side of it. As I said above, one of the great things about reading your answers is that I find out about things (neck shapes, action, frets, neck relief...) which I didn't know before, but I'm prompted to look them up and start learning about them. I haven't got much confidence in my abilities, so I'll have to read a lot before daring do something myself, but knowledge for the sake of knowledge is good, too.

    Thanks everyone!
     
    Robbie likes this.
  11. olliethecat

    olliethecat Electromatic

    39
    Jun 12, 2019
    East Yorkshire, UK
    You're very welcome.
    Even if you don't intend to do any setting up of the guitar yourself, it will do no harm to spend a few hours learning all the ins and outs of setting up a guitar. It will help you understand what you might need doing to a guitar to get it to play exactly how you'd like in the future.

    I know pretty much what I'm doing when setting up guitars though I'm by no means an expert and even if I was I would still need to find out such things as the amount of recommended relief manufacturers specify for their guitars and the best source of information is the internet and manufacturers web sites these days if they give out technical info but if not either Youtube or forums like this are the places to enquire and can be a wealth of information when looking for such details.

    My motto has always been..if it ain't broke don't fix it but know how to fix it if it does and then if I can't fix it, leave it to someone who can.;)
     
    Cassotto likes this.
  12. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    As long as your tech is not familiar with your peronal preferences he cannot help you.
    Besides neckbow, string height, intonation there are many other aspects on a setup that are very personal. E.g. pickup height, the work on the nut, tremoloadjustment and fret dressing.
    Everybody has his preferences . So the perfect setup can be vastly different depending on the player.
    The perfect setup for my friend Markus is totally unplayable with me and vice versa.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019 at 3:08 PM
    Cassotto likes this.
  13. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Among other lenses for categorizing, set up involves either objective or subjective improvements.

    Most of them will be objective. Dressing nut and frets, intonating the bridge, providing a reasonable action, etc. Most of this stuff should be done and tour guitar may or may not need all of it.

    The fine tuning of the guitar is subjective. Some people play gently and want low action, someone else may be the opposite. You can try to explain what you like, or maybe bring another guitar you like to show. Obviously easier the more experience you have.

    And don't just go to a tech or GC. Find someone reputable in your area.
     
    Cassotto likes this.
  14. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    111
    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    Yes, my experience was only with two guitars, right off the wall at GC. And if my memory is right, they were both in the under $500 range. So probably not indicative of the line as a whole, particularly if others have had better experiences.
     
    Cassotto likes this.
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