How many plies in 6120 top? What about the PE version?

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by sgarnett, Apr 23, 2020.

  1. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    828
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    I know the 5420 has a 5 ply top with (I think) a single sound post, regular 6120s have trestle bracing (4 posts), and the PE version has ML bracing with two posts.

    How do tops compare though? The website just says “laminated maple” for the 6120 in both the regular Nashville and PE versions. Are they also 5 plies and the same thickness as the 5420, or does the bracing allow a thinner top?
     
  2. afire

    afire Country Gent

    I believe all of the Japanese Gretsches have 3-ply bodies and have since around 2003-2004.
     
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  3. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    And keep in mind the trestle/ML posts are much bigger than tone posts and also add quite a bit of wood to the parallel bars. Very different thing.

    Like @afire said, 3 ply, thinner tops. But it's not the trestles that allow it to be thinner. They make thinner tops without the trestles, too.

    I suspect it's a manufacturing thing. 5 ply might be cheaper and easier to get or easier to work with at that scale.
     
  4. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    828
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    I think the Streamliner 2420 may also have a 3 ply top (hard to be sure with the black paint on the f-hole edges), but with parallel bars (no post at all). It's probably the most feedback-prone of the three, but I have no way to confirm that. OTOH, it has a very lively acoustic tone. I often play it unplugged.

    Three ply is probably easier to work with when pressing the arch into the top, but that's just a guess.

    I'm guessing the 5 ply top and sound post in the 5420 are intended to reduce feedback, but with some reduction in acoustic liveliness. I know the trestle bracing in the 6120 was developed to reduce feedback, but I'm wondering how much the thinner top (and ML bracing in the player) offsets that.

    Or to put it another way, how much acoustic liveliness (unplugged) do the different variations give up to reduce feedback?
     
  5. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    The feedback thing is way overblown. Listen to something like Reverend Horton Heat live. His amp is cranked, his 6120 has a thin top and sound posts instead of trestles, and I'm pretty sure he's using stock TV Classics. It's still not feeding back all the time.

    For bracing, I think feedback reduction was a bonus or by-product while the main goal of trestle bracing is sustain and clarity. There are other, easier, cheaper ways to reduce feedback. That acoustic guitar liveliness comes from the top flopping around and creating sound waves inside the body. That same movement also changes the attack and decay of the strings, which in turn dampens some sustain. It also shakes your pickups and causes feedback. Heavy wax potting is a good way to fix the feedback. Think of a sliding scale from acoustic to Telecaster. The Tele is on the other end of that spectrum. It's a plank of wood and sounds totally dead unplugged. But it sustains for days and doesn't feedback without some effort.

    The difference when plugged in and turned up can be heard through the change in attack and decay and in the pickups shaking around. There's a growliness that you don't get with trestles and a clarity you don't get without them. That said, swapping pickups makes a much bigger difference.

    For reference, I have ML, trestle, and post guitars and can tell you first hand the ML bracing is a lot closer to '59 trestle than to posts. The bracing makes more of a difference than the top (at least for Gretsch models). If you put trestles in a 5 ply guitar you may as well have a center block.
     
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  6. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    828
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    Feedback is really not a concern to me at all. I am playing with much lower gain than I used to anyway.

    @jarrodtaylor , would it be fair then to say the 2420 is the growliest and most percussive, the 6120 has the most clarity and sustain, and the 5420 is somewhere in-between, tonally? Assuming the pickups were the same in all three.
     
  7. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    @sgarnett I honestly haven't spent more than a few minutes playing Streamliners, always in loud music stores, so I can't comment on them specifically.

    There are *so many* variables though. How stiff is the wood? Does the bridge and bridge base transfer the energy to the top efficiently? Which areas of the top move more? Every little bit makes some difference, some bits more than others. You can play two acoustics of the same make and model and they'll still be slightly different. Martin started using titanium pins (I think titanium, definitely metal though) and that made a noticeable difference in how even the sustain sounded. Also, tone posts are mostly there to keep the top and back vibrating in unison to prevent feedback.

    But same pickups, same wood stiffness (per ply I guess), same bridges, etc etc, then the thinner top with less bracing would vibrate the most and a thick top with lots of bracing would vibrate the least. The bracing tends to make more of a difference than the top, at least in my experience.

    My favorite combo is a thin top, tone post 6120 (usually found on pre-FMIC 6120s since FMIC started putting trestles in most of the pro line) with the light wax potted Setzer Sig neck and TV Classic Plus bridge.

    Gretsch has a habit of making guitars that are *almost* exactly what I'm looking for, just not quite. And in the interest of experimentation I'm currently awaiting delivery of some tools to help me take the ML bracing out of an Annie. I'm more interested in seeing the results than I am in resale value, so it should be fun. I'm one of those weirdos who is just as interested in the physics as the music.
     
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  8. DennisC

    DennisC Country Gent

    Age:
    39
    May 11, 2017
    Germany
    But it is - intentionally - feeding back in some of the Revs songs. Live as well as in the studio. While in a studio, you potentially have infinite tries to hit the right amount, on a stage you gotta have feedback at hand when desired, and gotta be used to handling it.

    However, I'd like to throw in something else - the difference between ML and Trestle seems pretty minor to me. Of course, two additional posts, but ... but two ot them are pretty close to the rim and neck joint, and therefore reinforcing the stiffest part of the entire body and may be close to obsolete.

    Regarding wall thickness and bracings - yes, that is at least a plausible expectation, @sgarnett . If someone would have all three, or all four, models and a set of pickups ... identical connectors in all guitars ... identical strings ... hit string with a defined energy, like a mass falling on it from a fixed position ... record and compare how long it takes to get to half the amplitude in current, or something similar, might finally answer this. But, in the end ... all this is different in actual music. A note ringing like a tenth second will sound the same, totally hollow with no braces or a plank...
     
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  9. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    828
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    @jarrodtaylor I’m one of those weirdos too. :D I look forward to reading about your findings!

    I inherited a Gibson Lucille. It’s basically an ES-355 with no f-holes. It may also have a thicker top, I’m not sure. It is very heavy though. While it is technically a semi-hollow thinline archtop, it’s about as close to a plank (a massive one) as they can get. It is a sweet axe, but a totally different experience than playing a hollow body, or even a conventional semi-hollow.
     
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  10. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    Yep, big block of wood running down the center of that one. Like a 6620 with humbuckers.
     
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  11. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Friend of Fred

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    I thought the pre-Fender 6120’s had 5-ply tops.
    My 95 6120-60 has a 5-ply top, poly finish, and a tone post. It still resonates beautifully. It sounds alive.
    Way more alive than my 5420 with the same variables. However, 5420’s poly finish is much thicker. Feels like it was dipped like a candy apple!
    My ‘04 Falcon has a 3-ply top and a post. I play it loud, but I can control the feedback. It’s fun to make it howl sometimes though.;)
     
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  12. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    Yep, pre FMIC's had 5 ply tops.

    I used to make my '04 Bird howl too. Thought it was going to explode a few times! Lol.

    It's ALIVE!
     
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  13. jarrodtaylor

    jarrodtaylor Gretschie

    394
    Mar 14, 2019
    Delray Beach, FL
    Early hot rods were 3 ply. Mine is. Not sure why the changed it, I just assume it was a manufacturing thing.
     
  14. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    usa
    Not sure. I had a '98 DEO and it was a 5 ply top with tone post.

    It had a nice sound.
     
  15. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Pretty sure it’s a 5-ply, the bottom and top ‘bread slices’ in the sammich are super thin, veneer with the better grain showing.

    I agree, it’s way more acoustically live than any of my G5420s or G5122 with sound posts, and the trestle braced 6120. I can get it to howl easily at low volumes, no OD or dirt whatsoever.

    Speaking of variables, the biggest one is loading up any acoustic top with knobs, pickups, and switches lol. For me, that’s when ply loses any merit other than a spec to boost :)

    Bracing though, bracing still makes a big difference, IME.
     
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  16. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    56
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    I don`t think so.
    It not only depends on your amp`s volume but on it`s ammount of crunch. With my rig and my kind of music only solidbodies or a trestle-braced Gretsch will work. All other constructions would howl uncontrollable.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
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