3 ply vs 5 ply

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by doctorSlo, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. doctorSlo

    doctorSlo Gretschie

    Age:
    62
    489
    Aug 22, 2016
    san luis obispo, CA
    Hey guys, The one and only Gretsch I have right now is a 2016 g5420t. I am aware that this guitar has a 5 ply body. It has TV Jones classics, I have a Reverend Soft Spring, and my Compton Bridge is on its way. My question is: would I be that much better off with a , let's say, 6120? Would a 5 ply body have an appreciable advantage over a 3 ply? The reason I'm asking is that I hear a lot of you mod your mid range guitars but also own prolines. After the mods on your mid range, how much better is your proline? I would seriously consider getting a proline if there was a big enough difference in sound and playability.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
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  2. Axis39

    Axis39 Country Gent

    Age:
    52
    Jun 2, 2008
    Beaumont, CA
    Depends on what you want. 3 plys is supposedly more resonant, less stiff.

    More resonant could mean more tuneful... it could also mean more feedback.

    I do believe most ProLines these days are 3 ply tops. (But, don't quote me, I'm too lazy to go research it right this second... Haven't had enough coffee yet, either)
     
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  3. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    63
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    For starters I believe it was only the pre FMIC prolines that had (heavy) 5 ply. The newer ones have 3 ply.
    Never played an Electromatic but prolines play really, really nicely.
     
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  4. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    54
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    It is more a general body-construction-question.
    The feedback-resistance or better resonance surly has to do with the count of plys but also with the bracing-concept.
     
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  5. DaddyDog

    DaddyDog Country Gent

    Sep 18, 2011
    Mississauga, Canada
    What Eman said. On the day I bought my first Gretsch, I had 3 Electromatics to try first. They were nice guitars for a nice price. Then I said "at great risk that I may HAVE to have it, can I try the Tennessee Rose?" I still own it. No regrets.
     
  6. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    54
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    I had the same ephiphany. My 6119 1959 RI is still my finest instrument. Trestle braced, rock-ready , spectacular looker, way -too-much-guitar for a certified dilettante like me. Love it .
     
  7. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I also think the way the plies are laid up might have something to do with it.
     
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  8. Axis39

    Axis39 Country Gent

    Age:
    52
    Jun 2, 2008
    Beaumont, CA
    I just did a minute or so of research and sure enough, all of the hollow body guitars these days are 3 ply construction.

    But, the OP is asking if he'd be better off with a ProLine. It's a tough question for me... my 5127 stays in the #1 position probably most often. It's splits stage time with my Telecaster... These really are the two guitars I'll grab first.

    I have a nice ProLine Jet that I do love as well. It is one of the finest guitars I've ever put my mitts on... It was about 1200 bucks more and it might be worth it as far as fit and finish. The Jet is tight, the finish is perfect... It's one of the Blue Pearl Sparkle Jets, so it has a unique finish on the top. It has a better Bigsby, a floating bridge. The mahogany back and neck are beautiful and finished perfectly. The neck shape is a really nice soft V to full C. Fretwork on it is fantastic. I like the tuners on it better as well.

    But, I think I like the single coil Dearmond 2000 pickups better than the Filters in my Jet. I think that's why my 5127 sits atop the heap.

    The 5127 has a decent finish, although around the f-holes it's a little clumsily applied. The neck is a bit shallower front to back (which is my single real complaint about my 5127... I like a handful). The Bigsby has the tone bar, which makes it less reactive. It takes a bit more wiggle to get tuneful wiggling. The finish is decent, the binding is nice and is a nice vintage cream looking color. There really is nothing to complain about on it... but it looks a touch clumsier here and there. But, only if you are looking close.

    As a tool, the Electromatic is just as good. It has held up well to hundred of gigs and sounds fantastic. I've never felt the need to replace it with a ProLine hollow body... (Wanting more hollow bodies is another story, of course!).

    I just put new strings on my 5127 and spent about an hour abusing it... I've got a gig tomorrow night. The Jet will probably sit home unloved. Maybe. But, the Electromatic will definitely be on stage!
     
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  9. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    If Electromatics would be as good as Pro Lines, nobody would buy the later ;)
     
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  10. Trash Kidd

    Trash Kidd Country Gent

    Age:
    54
    Dec 14, 2015
    London U.K.
    Us in the know would ;) ;) ;)
     
  11. blc45

    blc45 Country Gent

    Age:
    69
    Aug 23, 2011
    nc
    Owning both three ply tops and five ply top Gretsches I have failed to find much tonal difference between the two. I see more difference in the pickups than the tops. Older (pre=Fender) five ply tops usually have ceramic filtertons while new Electromatics have Gretschbusters or Blacktops. Comparing them to new proline Filtertons, Dynas and TV Jones will definitely show a difference in tone.
    It seems like the five ply top Gretsches are heavier but it is hard to imagine an two extra, very thin, layers of veneer weighting a significant amount.
    After playing both three and five ply tops for a while I don't particularly worry about any differences between the two.
     
  12. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Fact is Eletro is not Electro ... China versus Korean made. Especially the new 2016 G542x models have improved drastically in my opinion. I'm curious if we will see further good news at NAMM 2017.

    Nevertheless Terada's craftmanship is hard to beat, not to forget Pro pickups.

    Regarding the ply question I also think, that body design like bracing or center block have a huger impact on tone.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
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  13. Grez

    Grez Electromatic

    77
    Apr 29, 2015
    Petaluma, CA
    As others have stated, bracing, F-hole size, shape of the arch...... make much of the difference in why a 3ply Gretsch doesn't sound like a 3ply Gibson. 3 and 5 ply do sound a little different and from brief conversation I had with someone from Gretsch at a show, they define "better" now-a-days as sounding more like the original now vintage instruments and they were 3 ply.

    As a general comment, 5 ply tops are more time consuming to make than 3 ply so it isn't simply that a 5 ply top and back cost less and therefor go on lower priced guitars (at least that's the case in my shop). And the glue chosen can vary in weight and stiffness a fair bit. A top plate might weight 325 grams and depending on the number of plys and type of glue, you could have the glue making up 10 to 25% of that.
     
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  14. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    I owned a 5 ply pre Fender 6120 with ceramics, and at the same time had a Fender era 3 ply SSLVO with TVJs. I stuck some Classics in the earlier version and it sounded the same. Exactly the same. Wood makes no difference in an electric guitar. Nor does lacquer. Nor does fairy dust. Strings and pickups. The rest is aesthetics.

    Apart from bridge, nut and pots. Oh, and colour. And frets. And fingers. But not wood. Especially not plywood. A five ply top with a tone post versus a 3 ply top with trestle bracing weighs the same.

    More important to me is the shape of the neck and the pickups.
     
  15. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    If wood didn't make a difference in the sound of an electric guitar than they would be making them out of plastic.
    I changed the body on my Tele a few times while leaving everything else the same and each time the tone change was very obvious.
    Some people don't hear it while others do.
     
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  16. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    People would refuse to buy plastic guitars, but they will spend stupid money looking for "tone". Did anyone see that film where Fender engineers took apart SRV's No1 trying to find where the tone was hiding. The thing was a bit of junk with strings on. All the tone was hiding up the fella's sleeves.
     
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  17. Gretschtim1

    Gretschtim1 Country Gent

    Dec 4, 2012
    Dundalk, Md
    I also believe that most of the sound comes from the player but I think that every part on a guitar has something to do with it's sound.
    Wood, solid body, hollow body, bolt on necks, neck through, set in necks, keys, nut, bridge, tilted head stock vs straight, pickups, pots, wiring - everyone of those things has an affect on the overall sound of the guitar.
    Putting a TV Jones pickup in my Carvin Bolt guitar did not make it sound like a Gretsch - not even close.
     
  18. Whiteomatic

    Whiteomatic Gretschie

    334
    Nov 24, 2016
    Arizona
    Well, go to 18:32.

    Supro Martinique
     
  19. doctorSlo

    doctorSlo Gretschie

    Age:
    62
    489
    Aug 22, 2016
    san luis obispo, CA
    valid point. however, you would agree that the sound is different with a sold body vs a hollow body.
     
  20. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Age:
    72
    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    I had 2 Annies, a pre-FMIC 1997 with a 5-ply top and a post-FMIC 2009 with a 3-ply top. I sold the 1997 because it sounded dead and had no resonance at all. The 3-ply top is one of the most lively and responsive guitars I own, it just feels alive in my hands when I play it. Chalk and cheese, the 3-ply wins by such a huge margin.
     
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