What makes the Gretsch sound pickups or actual guitar

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by BoogieSith, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. BoogieSith

    BoogieSith Electromatic

    Jul 29, 2019
    Hello, a while back I won a Electromatic G520 from a pawn shop. I always wanted a Gretsch and have played a few American and Japanese versions. Anyway, I switch the pickups (to TV Jones) and electronics. But I yet to really bond with the guitar. I have a 2 Ibanez AS-80's that I love. I was wondering if I just keep the TV Jones pickups and sell of the Gretsch; will I still be able to maintain that Gretsch sound? I guess what I wanted to know is what makes an electric guitar have a legendary vibe, is it the guitar or just the electrical parts? Like a Tele; Do I really need a Fender Tele to have a tele sound, or just the pickups and wiring. Thanks
    r0de0 likes this.
  2. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Only a Gretsch will offer you That Great Gretsch Sound... :D;)

    hogrider16, sh4rkbyt3, Outlaw and 2 others like this.
  3. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Wood+Construction+Nut+Hardware+Pickups/Electronics+Strings= Tone.
    Do you've ever swapped a bridge on a guitar? The differences can be huge!

    Your Ibanez won't sound like a Gretsch and only a Telly will sound like a Telly.
    Waxhead and TSims1 like this.
  4. mschafft

    mschafft Gretschie

    Jan 19, 2017
    The most crucial factors are the pickups, the scale length, the position of the pickups.
    The list goes on: body type (solid/semi-hollow, hollow), bridge type (hardtail, tremolo...), controls (type, resistance and wiring scheme of potentiometers), etc.
  5. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Welcome to GT!
    What kind of Gretsch is it? 5120 or a 5420?
    Can we see a picture?
    We like pictures.

    And Yes, with those pickups you oughta achieve that great Gretsch sound. Whether or not you bond with the guitar, that’s a whole different story.
  6. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    Its really both. My Gretsch's sound like Gretsch's even when they aren't plugged in. I have TV's in a DeArmond guitar and it gets close but it don't sound like my Jet. I put TV's in a Ibanez AS73 before and it was great but same deal.
    sh4rkbyt3 likes this.
  7. larryb

    larryb Gretschified

    Oct 29, 2012
    Greenville, SC
    My Cabronita Teles (equipped with TVJones Trons) all sounded like variations of Teles, not Gretsches
  8. T Bone

    T Bone Country Gent

    Sum of the parts.

    If you sell the Gretsch, might want to keep the TV Jones pickups (which ones?) for possible installation on another Gretsch if you get one. Or sell them separately.
    MotorCentaur likes this.
  9. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    A Filtertron does not a Gretsch make.
    Stefan likes this.
  10. kjmac

    kjmac Gretschie

    Mar 7, 2018
    Omaha, NE
    I have a bone stock G5420 and a relatively stock G5622 and they both sound like Gretch's to me.
    SWoody likes this.
  11. Great topic imho.
    Tone from the strings, so scale length and string gauge of course, etc.

    But I guess where I'm coming from is that the centre block (Gibson "log" started this innovation) was all about reducing feedback on the full hollow body electronics, right ?

    So with the same pickups, I guess the tone on a solid body like a traditional Tele or Strat (Squier etc too) would prolly be different than same pickups on a semi-hollow - but I dunno.

    RG7X likes this.
  12. ronbo

    ronbo Gretschie

    Feb 28, 2012
    Broomfield, Colorado
    I have TV Jones DuoTrons in my Reverend Flatroc, and it sounds very Gretsch-y. Doesn't sound like a Tele at all! It is a 25.5" scale with a Bigsby, so has a bit more snap but has that same clear, ringing twang that I've heard in Duo Jets. The Streamliners I've played, as well as the older Duo Jets with Gretschbuckers don't really sound all that much like a regular Gretsch, so I feel that the pickups are most of what gives that sound.
    manunk and Jena like this.
  13. RG7X

    RG7X Gretschie

    Nov 11, 2018
    Los Angeles
    That's a really cool picture. Do you know if that was from Gretsch or a really loyal fan?
  14. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck Gretschified

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    As others have said, sum of its parts. An Ibanez with Gretsch pickups won't sound like a Gretsch. It's the true hollowbody, floating bridge, pickups, scale length, body size and many other factors from large to small. Mitch Gallagher wrote a great book that looked at literally everything from your fingers to the amp and assessed the effects of each.
    sh4rkbyt3 likes this.
  15. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Friend of Fred

    Welcome to Gretsch-Talk, BoogieSith!

    I agree that what makes a Gretsch sound like a Gretsch is both construction and pickups.

    Like @wildeman said, I can play my Gretsch hollowbodies acoustically and I can still hear the basic Gretsch sound. Add the Filtertron pickups (or other classic Gretsch pickups), and the Gretsch sound comes through in all it's glory. Keep in mind that even the Gretsch "solid" bodies are chambered, and as a result they have a certain amount of resonance that makes them different, especially when paired with a Gretsch pickup.

    If the hollowbody Gretsch isn't doing it for you, there are other Gretsch guitars available that might be better for you, as you come into Gretsch. I remember comparing a 5120 with a 5420 when I was interested in getting my first Gretsch, and it was the 5120 that appealed to me, even though it was less of the Gretsch sound due to it's pickups. At the time, my ears just weren't ready for the full Gretsch sound, because I was coming from Strats and humbucker guitars. It didn't take more than a year for me to want the full Gretsch sound, though, and I bought a 5420. Now I have 3 Gretsch guitars - a 5420 hollowbody, a 6119 Tennessee Rose hollowbody, and a 543TG Pro Jet chambered solid body.

    I still love my Strats, an Ibanez AM93 semi-hollow, a couple of acoustic-electrics, and a couple of 12 strings (electric and acoustic-electric), but I wouldn't give up my Gretsches, now that I found the right ones for me.

    Ok, now it's time for you to tell us more about what is keeping you from bonding with your Grestch. Is it the sound, the size, the feel of the neck? Maybe we can offer some thoughts that might steer you closer to a Gretsch that it right for you.
    sh4rkbyt3 likes this.
  16. swivel

    swivel Synchromatic

    May 13, 2018
    Two things I have learned over the years:
    -Swapping pickups will not change the basic nature of a guitar. They will change tone slightly though.
    -But certain pickups, the Filtertron type being one, will change tone more. The Trons are punchy and compressive, in a Tele or a Gretsch.
    Jena likes this.
  17. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Country Gent

    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    The only way to acquire the Gretsch sound is with a Gretsch.
    Duesenberg's can also give you the "Gretsch Sound" putting filtertrons in another guitar won't neccessary give you the Gretsch sound on that guitar.
  18. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm gonna duck the fruit and veggies and say this:

    Electric guitars, the majority of the plugged in sound, like 99 percent of it comes from.....big drum roll......

    ...how you play.

    Play a Gretsch or whatever you want, you're gonna play to the stereotype looks and vibe, both a good and sometimes a bad thing. An Ibanez with H-cover chromed humbuckers don't have the panache, that swing, that sound. Any guitar you play through, still sounds like you. All your rockabilly licks aren't as convincing though, for some weird reason, on the Ibanez.

    The one percent, the remainder of the Gretsch sound, now that is mostly the pickups. The one thousandth of a percent after that depends on whether its a hollowbody tone post, parallel bars, trestle, ML, waffle bracing, 50s Jet, 60s Jet, modern Jet, questionable neck joint, 3-ply/5-ply, and finally scale length and bridge type, that's like 0.0000000000000005 percent of the G-tone. :D
    RomanS and Charlie westside like this.
  19. JC higgy

    JC higgy Friend of Fred

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Welcome to GT BoogieSith!

    Give it time or maybe try another flavor of Gretsch.
    Charlie westside likes this.
  20. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    [​IMG] upload_2019-8-2_16-1-1.jpeg

    To me, most of the sound (~75%) is in the pickups. The above two guitars sounded very similar, as they both employed HS Filtertron pickups.
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