Upgraded my 5120. Some thoughts...

CheapGretschLover

Gretschie
Dec 2, 2019
130
Portland Oregon
I decided to do some common upgrades to my 2011 5120. Why? Just because, I suppose. To be honest, I was pretty happy with it bone stock, but I can't leave well enough alone, plus I was curious.
cs1jXgc.jpg

Firstly, I bought a B6 for a bargain $90, and then I bought a 1960s "G" tailpiece, which is longer that the ones you can buy new. I wasn't sure which one I was going to install, but opted for the Bigsby. Note: I slotted the tail piece, getting the idea from fellow member Radd and it made it WAY easier to install it. You don't have to fill the strap hole and mess with the ground wire. Thanks Radd! Heres a pic of his handiwork:
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Is the B6 better? In my opinion, no. The stock B60 is better machined, very sturdy and works great. But, I visually love the B6, so what the hell! Plus, the B6 came with a brass aftermarket string bar without posts so stringing this beast is way easier. Next, I bought some Blacktop Filtertrons for $65 complete with rings and screws. Installation wasn't terribly difficult, but its not a drop-in operation either. I had to purchase 3 risers from TV Jones to get the pickups close enough to the strings as the 5120s have a steeper neck angle that the 5420s. As far as sound, they sound pretty damn good! Better than the Gretschbuckers? No, I wouldn't say "better" but they sound different and great in their own way. More clarity, but not as much bass and fullness that the PAF style GBs had. Ill continue to mess around with them, but for the price, they sound really good overall. Lastly, I swapped out my Space Control bridge with an aluminum Compton. Really well made, high-quality piece of gear. I can tell the difference between the two bridges, and I like the Compton best. Plus, Wayne got right back to me and had that thing out to me within a week. Thats customer service!

Was the total upgrade worth the time and expense? Yes and no. I was honestly happy with it stock (other than the original crappy bridge). I could've just installed the Compton and that would have been enough, but aesthetically, I love the "V" tailpiece and the more traditional looking and sounding Blacktops.
 

Horse Nation

Gretschie
Jun 7, 2022
172
new york
I could've just installed the Compton and that would have been enough,

Yeah, that's really all I did. New Compton bridge and I am happy with the guitar.

I did do a number of aesthetic mods (dice knobs, faux binding on the headstock, G brand truss rod cover, pin up girl decals, G brand decal) and I came up with a clever swap of those pain-in-the-neck screw in strap buttons.

1. buy Fender strap buttons,
2. buy a tap from Home Depot and thread the inside of the strap buttons,
3. remove those annoying Gretsch screw-in strap buttons,
4. on the protruding screw, screw in your threaded Fender strap button. (And place a felt washer on the bottom while you are at it.)
5. Done. No permanent mods that can't be undone. Guitar can be returned to stock in about ten seconds.

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And just simple auto pinstripe from Pep Boys for the faux binding:

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CheapGretschLover

Gretschie
Dec 2, 2019
130
Portland Oregon
Yeah, that's really all I did. New Compton bridge and I am happy with the guitar.

I did do a number of aesthetic mods (dice knobs, faux binding on the headstock, G brand truss rod cover, pin up girl decals, G brand decal) and I came up with a clever swap of those pain-in-the-neck screw in strap buttons.

1. buy Fender strap buttons,
2. buy a tap from Home Depot and thread the inside of the strap buttons,
3. remove those annoying Gretsch screw-in strap buttons,
4. on the protruding screw, screw in your threaded Fender strap button. (And place a felt washer on the bottom while you are at it.)
5. Done. No permanent mods that can't be undone. Guitar can be returned to stock in about ten seconds.

View attachment 183355

View attachment 183356


And just simple auto pinstripe from Pep Boys for the faux binding:

View attachment 183354

View attachment 183357
Nice job on the binding!
 

Horse Nation

Gretschie
Jun 7, 2022
172
new york
I like personalized guitars.

I think Gretsch guitars are most open to personalizing. The dice knobs and pin-up girls, and G branding...making a guitar your own is sort of in the Gretsch DNA.

Rickenbackers, Les Pauls, Strats, SGs, Teles...to me they seem like they should remain stock. Why buy a classic Rickenbacker FireGlo 12 string and put stickers all over it? Those guitars don't have that tradition...and they would look really awful if you did put goofy stickers all over it. Gretsch guitars have that early rock and roll wild and free feel about them. That lends itself to DIY personalizing.
 

Emergence

Gretschie
May 25, 2022
419
New York
I think Gretsch guitars are most open to personalizing. The dice knobs and pin-up girls, and G branding...making a guitar your own is sort of in the Gretsch DNA.

Rickenbackers, Les Pauls, Strats, SGs, Teles...to me they seem like they should remain stock. Why buy a classic Rickenbacker FireGlo 12 string and put stickers all over it? Those guitars don't have that tradition...and they would look really awful if you did put goofy stickers all over it. Gretsch guitars have that early rock and roll wild and free feel about them. That lends itself to DIY personalizing.
My view is the opposite of yours. I’ve modified all of my Fender guitars, MIM to CS. At any level, they’re a stick screwed onto a cutting board. They’re meant to be modified. A Gretsch, at least a pro line Gretsch, is iconic. It’s to be mastered, not modified.

That said, I like the way you personalized yours.
 

Tokairic

Electromatic
What about electrical mods. I bought my daughter a 5420t and the volume pots were almost on/off controls. I replaced the pots with CTS left handers and the volume now rolls off progressively and smoothly. Much better.
Also added the jack plate and the Schaller strap lock buttons (same as the Fender type).
Happy enough with everything else, at least for now.
 

tvar103018

Electromatic
Apr 2, 2016
13
Colorado
Personally, I believe the value of the all original is much higher than the “modified versions”. But if you believe it plays better, by all means, go for it!!!
I have a1967 Gretsch Viking (sorry, don’t know the model number). It was destroying itself with binding rot etc…. So I sent it to Cris Mirabella. He did a complete restoration. Even had all the gold hardware re-plated! It plays like a dream. I’ll never get my money out of it, but it brings me great joy every time I look at it or play it!!! JMHO!!!
 

CheapGretschLover

Gretschie
Dec 2, 2019
130
Portland Oregon
What about electrical mods. I bought my daughter a 5420t and the volume pots were almost on/off controls. I replaced the pots with CTS left handers and the volume now rolls off progressively and smoothly. Much better.
Also added the jack plate and the Schaller strap lock buttons (same as the Fender type).
Happy enough with everything else, at least for now.
I actually have a treble bleed pot and a 22 cap coming from TV Jones. I agree, the volume pots suck on these models.
 

SneakyPete

Electromatic
Mar 7, 2022
84
Australia
Personally, I believe the value of the all original is much higher than the “modified versions”. But if you believe it plays better, by all means, go for it!!!
I have a1967 Gretsch Viking (sorry, don’t know the model number). It was destroying itself with binding rot etc…. So I sent it to Cris Mirabella. He did a complete restoration. Even had all the gold hardware re-plated! It plays like a dream. I’ll never get my money out of it, but it brings me great joy every time I look at it or play it!!! JMHO!!!
Without wanting to hijack this thread, how 'bout some pics?
 


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