Early 60's vs FMIC Gretsch Guitar Comparisons?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Mojo Houka, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    I think also the problem over here is that the market for them is so small that it's hard to get a realistic price on them.
    People are sticking them on eBay with ridiculous buy new prices n they are sitting there for ages n not selling
  2. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    That's what it looks like from here, though i know we have a much bigger supply to choose from so sellers have competition.
    You guys have all the cool German and Italian guitars!
  3. Pete66

    Pete66 Gretschie

    Nov 18, 2015
    Wyre and Fylde
    I was a little put off re: the new Gretsches and was a bit of a vintage snob. Having said that, I used to play a 63 double cut 6120 and it was amazing! I digress, I was a vintage snob until I joined a band and the singer owned a 6120 Setzer, which he loaned me, and it was a joy! That's what gave me the push to buy a new one. That and Synchro's review (Eddie Cochran sig)
    But them early 60's 6120's are great if you find a good 'un!
    I can't tell you what the new ones are like but, they're probably not a million miles away from the old ones.
    Cost and convenience sides with new but, if you find a reasonably priced oldie in good condition............
  4. TomsDadJet

    TomsDadJet Gretschie

    Dec 9, 2014
    Milton Keynes
    Vintage instruments were brand new ones once....

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    wildeman likes this.
  5. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    I'm no vintage snob but I look at old ones and new ones as different beasts.
  6. larryb

    larryb Gretschified

    Oct 29, 2012
    Greenville, SC
    It is like a mood ring
    Kitvin713 likes this.
  7. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Exactly. There are reasons one's subjective personal preferences may skew one way or the other, but the one thing that's a fact is that they aren't the same.

    To the OP, I would say you'd really have to try both for yourself to know which you'd prefer. Unfortunately, opportunities to try out a decent selection of vintage Gretsches for most of us who don't live in Nashville, LA, NYC or Chicago are slim. And even more unfortunately, a lot of people get their impression of vintage Gretsches by playing something like a god-awfully neglected late '60s Annversary that hasn't had setup in 50 years or new strings in 20 years. That's about the only sort of thing I ever encounter in person.
  8. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    Totally agree.
    I'm like you from the point of view of owning some nice guitars but mine aren't as nice as yours tho. Lol
  9. Charles Conner

    Charles Conner Gretschie

    May 19, 2016
    Go with Gretsch/FMIC...... That's me 50+ yrs ago with a '62/63 Country Gent in my avatar.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  10. Staffs Blue

    Staffs Blue Electromatic

    Jun 27, 2016
    Stafford, England
    For me, the vintage thing appeals because of a sense of fascination of the history of the guitar. Generally, I like some 'character' to a guitar, regardless of age, hence the Gretsch thing, I guess. For a gig, probably a modern Telecaster would do the trick and it's easy to play, versatile, good looking and reliable.'

    But the vintage stuff - the smell, the patina, the look, the history - it's a major part of it's appeal. Now 'made in Brooklyn' might, to you Americans, not seem very exotic, but it is to us Brits - well, it is to me, at least. Peering inside that '53 Electromatic/Streamliner of mine, it makes me smile every time - wondering who's had it, where it's been, where it's been played, etc. Similarly a '55 ES-125 from Kalamazoo does it for me - the label, the crazing, the tone, but the history behind it appeals.

    I have a 1959 Roger Junior Cutaway - built July '59, in West Germany. The luthier was imprisoned for black market dealing after the war - he was a jazz guitarist in Berlin. His son, Roger, went off to Kalamazoo in about '53 to work briefly for Gibson, before going off to head Rickenbacker's design studio for about 7 years, ending up with Fender, developing their acoustic range and designing the Tele Thinline. Great history.

    You don't get that with a modern guitar - what you do get is reliability, and generally a better outright playability (not always). But with a vintage guitar, you get all of that rich history. And if you like your history, you're on the way to loving vintage guitars.
  11. JC higgy

    JC higgy Gretschified

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Welcome to GT Mojo Houka!

    Can't really add anything that hasn't be said ,i have a 65/66 6120 and its been with me since i bought it when i was 17,it was my first Gretsch,the binding is starting to go now.

    I've been playing the new Gretsch guitars for nearly 20 years, and i have to say the guitars they make now are great,different ,but great,i don't play my old stuff much anymore.

    If you just want a good reliable guitar, i'd go with a new one.
  12. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    Totally agree, the trick is being able to see through the horrible setup and 20yr old strings.
  13. rockape

    rockape Gretschie

    Aug 12, 2009
    Dorset, UK
    I have a '63 Tenny and a 2014 proline 6120.
    The old 6119 is just sublime to play, and though the HiLo's obviously sound different to the TVJ filters of the Proline, the '63 instantly shouts 'Gretsch!!! To my ears.
    The new 6120 sounds very Gretschy too, but it doesn't hit me like the Tenny does.

    No binding rot on mine (so far), and though the guitar looks like it has seen some action over the years, I still think if both were brand new, side by side, the proline would look like the better made guitar.

    What can I say, the old '63 has all that Brooklyn mojo (a proper vintage USA Gretsch), and the 2014 Terada model is a work of art!

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
  14. musicman100

    musicman100 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2008
    Your comparison is like comparing a car made in the 60s to a brand new one.
    Obviously the new one will look like the better made one.
  15. rockape

    rockape Gretschie

    Aug 12, 2009
    Dorset, UK
    I completely get that, but my feeling is, if I were able to bring a 60's Gretsch back from the past, brand new (impossible, of course!) I can imagine the Japanese build being nicer.
    That said, my old 6119 is not a bad example.

    Sent from my SM-N910F using Tapatalk
  16. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    Those struggling to get a vintage sound out of your new Gretsch, please stop by my store:


  17. Axis39

    Axis39 Country Gent

    Jun 2, 2008
    Beaumont, CA
    I have never owned a vintage Gretsch. I have owned, and currently own, a few other brand vintage guitars.

    I have also never seen a vintage Gretsch in decent condition that I could afford. I've played a number of lesser examples. Most of them it's been rough binding issues or big scratches, cracks or general poor setup stuff. I am not convinced anything after the very early 60's was built all that well, either. I know a few guys who own late 60's Gretsches, but they seem to require a bit more maintenance than my old guitars from other manufacturers. I'm not convinced they were really that great to begin with... Maybe I read the Internet too much? LOL

    It's a shame to me! I've always been drawn to older guitars, but it's tough to see these guitars that have been mistreated. Anything that is a hollow or semi-hollow should be in decent condition. They are more pieces of art and while they should be played, they should also be treated with respsect. To see something like binding rot from sitting in a case for years or big cracks... It's just a bummer.

    Funny, though, I love a mistreated solid body, like a Strat, Tele or LP. To me, those guitars have mojo when they've been played the heck out of. But, They also rarely get binding rot or structural issues.

    I love, love, love my 'new' Gretsches. My 2005 5127 sounded more Gretschy than the RHH I tried at the same time. But, it has single coil Dearmonds... Not quite Dynas. But I think they have more of that Gretsch thing than Filters. But, on the same hand, my 6129TLS has Filters and sounds Gretschier than any of my other guitars! LOL My only real ***** about these tow guitars is that they have that thick poly coating... I'd love it if they were lacquer.

    I play what might be thought of as old timey music, I like a more 'vintage' tone. I play Blues, more 50's and 60's sounding Blues, West Coast stuff, Jump, Swing, some Jazz. That kinda stuff. So, I don't like modern sounding guitars or amps. I play through Tweed and Brownface Fender circuits. So, old is what I want.

    But, if it were up to me, sure I'd love all Vintage guitars. But, I have so little interest in spending years finding one in excellent condition. My obsession leans more towards playing and getting out to gig. I want to sound like I'm playing old stuff.... But, I also nee dot rely on them to make me money. So, the more modern ones are where it's at for me.
  18. jagROAR_63

    jagROAR_63 Gretschie

    Apr 20, 2016
    I have a 64 6120dc and a 66 double Anniversary.

    When I got the 6120dc I wasn't sure about it (could not try before). But I cleaned it, gave a setup with my prefered 11s nickel rounds, and let my luthier do some fretwork and he put a new nut on it which made the string spacing wider ! Hmmmmm I'm so happy to play that axe now every day ! :) Binding rot is slightly there... I hope it won't continue.

    When I got the double Anni, it came out of the box in very good shape and setup wasn't bad either. I adjusted the PUP-height, threw my prefered string on it again and let my luthier clean one of the pots and mount a B6C - it played great right out of the box, but now its a killer axe !!! The Anni is a great guitar for surf :cool:. There's no binding rot visible !

    I have played some vintage 6120 dc's and some Tennesseans before I purchased my 2 Gretsches unseen online (ebay). Some of them I liked, but most were set up baaaaad (and too expensive). So I could not find out, if I would like 'em (bad setup makes a good axe feel and sound bad).

    What I wanna say:
    with vintage guitars it's always a risk. Experience helps a lot. I have played a lot of vintage fender offsets (Jags & Jazzys), that why I believe I can better seperate great guitars from the bad ones. When you're not yet familiar with a desired brand or model, you will most probably buy and find out some 1-2 weeks later, if the purchase was good or not. A guitar which feels odd and sounds not right can turn out a gr8 instrument after some care taking, but you don't know in advance.

    I ran the risk several times and was mostly lucky.

    But I have never had the chance to play the gr8 new Gretsch models. It would be very interesting to compare mine with the right new models (6120 dc & double Anni). But from what I read here, getting a "newer" one for a good used-price would most likely make most people happy.

    Dont know, if that is helpful ;), just some cents from here...
    best luck in finding a delicious Gretsch for ya
    Axis39 likes this.
  19. Crooner

    Crooner Friend of Fred

    Apr 15, 2009
    There have been a lot of good points touched on thus far.

    I have owned several vintage Gretsches and they ran the gamut insofar as playability is concerned. I had a Double-Cut 6120 that played and sounded great, a '61, transition year, Double-Cut Duo Jet that sounded INCREDIBLE, but had some issues with the tuning machines, but it played fairly well. Same goes for a '59 Duo Jet I had. I had '63 and '69 Duo Jets that were near flawless and played great with no issues at all.
    I also had a few '60's Jets that just couldn't be wrangled into playability regardless of what I tried. It really comes down, IMHO, to finding the right guitar. Methinks this is much harder nowadays as, as others have pointed out, the cost of quality vintage Gretsches have skyrocketed. With the exception of my '59, I paid under $1000 for all my Gretsches in the mid to late '80's.
    What I see in the new FMIC Gretsches is the second Golden Era of Gretsch. These new guitars are of top notch quality and are consistent. Yes... there is a certain vintage vibe and tone that can't fully be replicated, but pop in some TV Jones pickups and you can get very close.

    I'd say your best bet is to get a new Gretsch and play with it for a while and then assess any issues that may or may not make you feel the need for some tweaking. This way, you won't have to spend a lot of time searching for a possibly scarce vintage guitar without issues and you'll have a solid, well made guitar that at best, you'll love, and at worst, will serve as a platform for some mods that will allow you to end up with the Gretsch you want.

    Hope this helps.
  20. Mojo Houka

    Mojo Houka Electromatic

    Feb 19, 2017
    Norfolk, VA
    Thanks for all the insight/inputs!

    Since I already have a couple of newer ones, I think I'll stay on the lookout for a well preserved 60's 6120. Seems like every once in a while a nice one will show up, but most seem to suffer a lot more than other vintage guitars.
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