How Would You Rate a Modded 5120?

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by Gretschman2, May 11, 2013.

  1. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh Country Gent

    May 14, 2013
    Initech, Inc.
    In my life I've owned ~10 guitars, and only left 3 of them unmodded. I recently got a Squier 51 just for modding; I'm just that kind of guy I guess (I'm an engineer by day, go fig.) Anywho, I'd say that a modded 5120 is an excellent guitar. You start off with an ~$700 "entry" level axe that plays and sounds great, and you slowly turn it into something that plays and sounds better than the majority of ~$2000 guitars out there for a total investment (depending on what you do) of about ~$1000. Best part, it's unique, and it's YOU. I certainly have big plans for mine...

    I'd say that's pretty good. Just my $.02.

    -Brian
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  2. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Gretschie

    390
    Dec 5, 2012
    charlotte, nc
    People keep saying a new, fully modded 5120 costs nearly as much as a used Pro Line. Of course. May as well say "don't be foolish." If you're going to heavily mod it, and you want it to make sense financially, ebay is fat with 5120s at $300 - $400 less than a new 5420. Start there. Let's say $500. Put $150 worth of pickups in it. $65 in a Compton. Change the wiring harness? Don't be silly. You can't hear wire. Is it a recent 5120? It has full-sized Alpha pots in it and they are fine. New nut? To bring it up the the standard of a 6120's "synthetic bone?" Folks, synthetic bone is plastic. Is it better plastic? Maybe, but for those six notes, I think a well-cut nut will do. So what does "fully upgraded mean in the world of people who change that which actually affects a change? $150 in pups, $65 in the bridge, maybe another $100 in tuners, + $500 for the clean used 5120.

    Who's got a really clean used Setzer they'll sell me for for the street price of a new 5420. I'm buying.

    P
     
  3. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    You know that saying "it's not what you play, it's WHAT YOU PLAY" ? I'd add "it's how it makes you feel". Only YOU can really know.
     
  4. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Age:
    74
    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi Brian, welcome to the forum! We love pics of modded guitars here. Please post some of yours.
     
  5. Perry Bryant

    Perry Bryant Synchromatic

    Age:
    74
    712
    Jan 12, 2012
    Sharpsburg, GA
    +1. I love mine. My only mod was a Compton SS bridge. :)
     
  6. HooDooPhonix

    HooDooPhonix Electromatic

    39
    Feb 13, 2012
    I really like the 5125's mine has gretsch filtertron aand an aluminum bridge I think it sounds as good or better than the 6114 tenn rose I had not as good as 6120 RHH though
     
  7. HooDooPhonix

    HooDooPhonix Electromatic

    39
    Feb 13, 2012
    I think laminate/trestle vs laquer/sound post
     
  8. fender62custom

    fender62custom Gretschified

    Age:
    56
    Mar 3, 2012
    Helidon, Australia
    G'day Brian!! welcome to the forum!!
     
  9. J.Banning

    J.Banning Gretschie

    417
    Feb 15, 2013
    Lodi California USA
    I had a chance today to A/B Test my heavily modded 5120 (Tv Jones classics, all new wiring & pots, compton bridge...etc) vs a stock Brian Setzer 6120. I mostly wanted to hear the difference in the bracing.

    The two guitars were extremely close in tone. I mean so close that if you closed your eyes and just listened, you couldn't tell them apart. The 5120 was ever so slightly a little more bright.

    I even had a chance to crank the volume and find a feedback point. To my surprise my 5120 actually beat out the 6120. The 6120 started to squeal earlier in volume than my 5120! But I was playing way louder than I would every play in even a live situation!

    6120 definitely had a nicer neck, even with my Compton installed on the 5120. The fret work and finishing was superior for sure on the 6120, no questions asked. I think I have to agree that the 5120 and other Electromatics are a bargain at the price point, but the Pro Lines are still worth every cent!
     
  10. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Gretschie

    390
    Dec 5, 2012
    charlotte, nc
    Those are the big structural differences that have a chance of impacting tone. Do they? On some level I'm sure they do. I just have a tendency to want to examine these things. Trestle vs. soundpost? There is no doubt that trestle bracing will keep the top of that guitar from moving as much, making it quieter acoustically, controlling feedback and having some positive effect on sustain. Laminated vs. Plywood? In basic terms this is 3-ply vs. 5-ply. The 3-ply, if it is really good, thin, well-laminated stuff, and I assume it is, should be more lively, louder acoustically, be more prone to feedback and have less sustain. But then they fix all that with the aforementioned trestle brace.

    My guess is that the method in Gretsch's madness is that a 5 ply top with a sound post is a less expensive way to achieve a very similar effect, and that the differences, acoustically, are more about individual guitars than the two design approaches, both of which are valid and accomplish a very similar acoustic response, which is thankfully pretty dead. These things, Proline and Electromatic alike, are really more like semi-hollow bodies than they are like solid top jazz guitars. We fool ourselves by obsessing over the responsiveness of the wood and the ability to transfer string energy into the bodies. They are very specifically designed to avoid transfering string energy into the bodies. That's why, unplugged, they sound so dead and tinkly compared to acoustic guitars.

    P
     
  11. Mortis

    Mortis Gretschie

    154
    Jan 30, 2012
    Bradford, UK
    ATEOTD, as long as you like it, who cares about other peoples opinions? I have a 5129 and it's the best guitar I've owned and I love it. I did think about trading it in against a 5420 but then I decided not to. All that needs doing to it is the nut straightening as it is about .5mm offset so the E string rattles now and again. If I actually start playing in another band, I may have to get it sorted.

    I have a Peavey acoustic guitar. After I bought it, I read some reviews that said it's a good guitar for learners and those who want a cheap guitar for practicing on but not much else! Anyway, my mothers "gentleman friend" asked to borrow it for a folk night jam at his local pub. He took it along and everyone who played it loved it and said it was better than a lot of the more expensive guitars there.
     
  12. ericdee

    ericdee Electromatic

    35
    Sep 26, 2012
    Missouri
    I think the main difference is that I don't have a heart attack when my 5120 falls over.
     
  13. spaenje

    spaenje Electromatic

    10
    Dec 29, 2011
    europe
    and we tweek

    as so many i love my 5120 & yes i too fiddled around, put on a wilkinson rollar bridge, taylor HD humbuckers with split coils................& it s still good and better(?????) than before. Yes i now have a one of a kind that feels great and i wouldn t get rid of because it s not replaceable.
     
  14. rickvox

    rickvox Gretschie

    Age:
    70
    208
    Aug 28, 2009
    Milwaukee ,WI
    I have and still play a Jimmy C pinstriped 5120 with Tv Jones classics . I recently bought a Brian Setzer ssl and there is a difference. They sound very similar But the Setzer has a bit more treble pickup being positioned closed to the bridge. Also the Setzer has more sustain bracing and wood wood would account for this I guess. It seems more balanced in tone and responsive and is easier to play. All that being said they are close and I am talking minor differences not major. I am keeping my 5120 and will continue to use it at band jobs that I don't want to risk my Setzer at. Small funky bars, outside jobs when It could rain ,small stages where it can get nicked up ect. I am very happy with both of them. Oh yea one odd thing the Setzer with 10's plays like the 5120 with 11's as far as string tension. I guess bracing woods used ect.
     
  15. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Gretschie

    390
    Dec 5, 2012
    charlotte, nc
    Bracing and woods should have nothing to do with perceived string tension. Much more likely that it is bigger frets or better fretwork on the Setzer.

    P
     
  16. rickvox

    rickvox Gretschie

    Age:
    70
    208
    Aug 28, 2009
    Milwaukee ,WI
    Its possible BUT the 5120 was refreted with similar frets to The Setzer model but the Setzer guitar in general feels more solid or not stiff but rigid not in a bad way just more substancial .
     
  17. Rockabillybob

    Rockabillybob Country Gent

    I have three 5120's. A Jimmy C pinstipe, with Surf 90's and a stainless steel Tru Arc bridge. A white 5120 with ST-120 Tru Arc and Surf 90's and my first Gretsch, a 2007 5120 with aluminum Tru Arc and Surf 90's, strung with flat wounds. I play them often and gig with them. My main guitar is a 6120 DSW. I would be reluctant to part with any of my 5120's. The biggest difference I feel in playability is the DSW Bigsby versus the stock Bigsby on the 5120's.
     
  18. rickvox

    rickvox Gretschie

    Age:
    70
    208
    Aug 28, 2009
    Milwaukee ,WI
    And the neck radius differance!
     
  19. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Gretschie

    390
    Dec 5, 2012
    charlotte, nc
    Just re-strung my 5120s and stuck a penny under the Bigsby spring. Shocked at how much more range I got out of it from that simple thing.

    P
     
  20. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Age:
    65
    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    Did you put the nylon washer on the bottom (guitar side) or top of the spring? Does it make any difference?
     
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