What is the Great Gretsch Sound to you?

RatRod Gentleman

Sep 28, 2020
Brisbane, Australia
What song (ideally with a clip) best encapsulates the "Great Gretsch Sound" to you? Current or ancient; Chet, Setzer, Young, Duffy, Cochran or whoever. What song best fits in the centre of the stereotype in your ears? I see it important that some of us young at heart artists glean some ideas as we endeavour in whatever form to advance what links us all.

I'll start with a polarising one that many may not agree with as he rarely even touches a Gretsch but this is what inspired me to buy a one. Naturally if you disagree, show me something more "Gretsch" as I'm all ears. :)


Horse Nation

Jun 7, 2022
new york
That´s actually a hard question!

Not really. The way to answer it is this:

Suppose someone is over your house and they are checking out your guitars. You pull out your Gretsch and you want to best demonstrate its great Gretsch sound. What song are you going to play? Easy answer for me: Duane Eddy's "Rebel Rouser."

Just ask yourself what would you play to show somebody that Great Gretsch Sound.


The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
The Chet recording of the ‘60s were my first introduction to the Gretsch sound. Probably, it would be more accurate to say the sound of a closed archtop, with trestle bracing and Filtertron pickups. To this day, I love that sound, and it’s a big part of what made me want to pursue playing guitar.

For whatever the reason, Gretsch has been associated with twangy sounds. The Dynasonic guitars don’t sound exactly like Filtertrons, but the two sounds seem to bear a family resemblance to one another.

The “Great Gretsch Sound” advertising slogan, IMHO, probably was just that; a slogan. IIRC, this was around before the ‘50s era guitars came along, and twangy wasn’t really a thing in the Big Band days. But when Gretsch sort of reinvented their electric line, with the 6120, the Duo Jet, and the subsequent developments, it seems like they had that twang like no other, with the possible exception of the Telecaster.

And so it remains, to this day. It’s no coincidence that there’s a lot of overlap between Gretsch players and Tele players. A lot of us here have Teles, and this all seems, somehow, just right.

Sixty plus years on, the Filtertron sound still is with us, and still works for many things. It’s a great humbucker, for people that like a single coil sound, but without the hum. It’s a great pickup for the players that want the heft of a humbucker, but not to the extent that a Gibson HB would deliver. They are strangely competent as Surf pickups, which is a bit unexpected, but is also true. I love Filters as much as I did tne first time I heard Chet.
Everyone talks about the Gretsch sound but I have never looked at it like that. My search was always for clarity and some of the HB breakup without the mud. I really don’t like full size HB but filters are far enough from the HB tone that I like them.
The Filtertron family occupies a somewhat unique place in the world of pickups. They are a curious balance of clarity, power, heft and delicacy. The only thing I’ve ever heard that came close would be the Guild mini humbuckers, but even these are different enough to not be truly in the same camp. Cousins, perhaps, but not siblings.

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