What is your favorite Gretsch bracing and why?

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,379
Tucson
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Electric tone will be the pickups, pickup adjustments (high/low/tipped and screw poles adjusted like little EQ monsters), and pots plus caps (where they are on their tolerance ranges which is quite wide). Bracing type won't matter for electric tones, perhaps feedback howl at loud volumes but then you've got a runaway guitar no matter what type of bracing you have.

Acoustic tone may change with bracing. If you are primarily playing plugged in then focus on the electronics (and know you can swap pots, caps, and pickups if the pickup setup "by ear" fails to get what you are after). However, strings and holding the guitar pressed against your body with an arm draped over the front of it will change the acoustic dynamics too, and a lot more than the guitar construction.

A few tone traps players get themselves into: Trying to prove they can hear 'a difference' (super, you can hear a difference, but does the difference matter playing alone or at a gig?), and then doing things like swapping pickups but also swapping strings where the tone change is from the old dead vs new zingy strings. Or from different pickup height settings before/after, or even different amp settings before/after. And then there is the feeling that spending $200 on a set of boutique pickups or a $2,000 new guitar justifies the need to proclaim "I definitely hear a difference!" when A/B in a band situation when there is no effective difference for the casual observer in the crowd.

Be sure to check out the many Youtube videos of guitars made with cement, colored pencils, candy, coffee, ceramic, hollow core doors, pallets, and more materials -- they all sound like electric guitars.

Conclusion: just be cautious about what is put out there as conventional thinking on sources of 'tone'.

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I agree that what we hear from an electric guitar is the output of tne pickups, but the pickups sense the vibration of the strings and that will vary, depending upon many factors.

Personally, I don’t use the word “tone” to describe this, because tone actually refers to pitch. The word I use is timbre, which is everything except pitch and timing.

Bracing affects the attack of a note, and the decay. Trestle bracing has a sharper attack than straight parallel bracing, and decays more slowly. The pickup will sense the difference in tne motion of the strings, and that will come out of the amp’s speaker.

I have four Gretsch guitars. My Gent and my G6119-62T have Supertron pickups. The Gent is trestle braced, while the 6119 has a soundpost. They certainly sound similar, but not even close to identical.

Likewise, I have a G6119-1959 with a pair of DuoTrons, and a G6120-DC with identical pickups. They sound quite distinct from one another. The G6119 is trestle braced and has a crisp sound, very similar to my Gent. The G6120-DC is parallel braced with no sound post. It sounds nothing like the G6119-1959.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Oct 18, 2015
12,530
Germany
While I'm here...what do they mean with heavy trestle bracing? Does it mean two kinds of trestle bracing, or is it used to differentiate from ML bracing?
I saw trestlebracing with bigger and smaller chunks of wood.
Some guitars were a lot heavierin weight because of it.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,704
Where the action is!
Here's my poor attempt to illustrate the difference between light and heavy trestles.

This is light trestle bracing (1959-1961):
download.jpg

The trestles are the arches glued to the parallel braces. They rest on four small blocks glued to the back.

This is the same picture, but with the elements of heavy trestle bracing (1958) crudely drawn in:
download2.jpg

Instead of the four blocks on the back, the trestles rest on full parallel bracing on the back. And the trestles themselves are connected by blocks of wood joining them near their feet.
 

6187LX

Electromatic
Aug 11, 2022
77
Marineville
"Heavy trestles" were a 1958 feature. You have the parallel braces under the top of the guitar connecting to parallel braces inside the back of the guitar by way of 4 trestles. There are also connecting pieces of wood between the trestles. By 1959 this arrangement was simplified to two trestles which rested on small wood plinths. Poison Ivy's '58 6120 (aka The Big O) has the heavy trestles which makes it a sustain monster.

Edit: Afire beat me to it, just like the old days on the gdp.

Another edit: Afire's pics reminded me of another important part of the heavy trestle bracing. The tenon block which secures the neck to the body is massive and butts up against trestles furthering sustain. Geez, I gotta go play my '57/8 Streamliner now....
 
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petit professeur

Electromatic
Nov 25, 2009
36
Marseille, France
I agree that what we hear from an electric guitar is the output of tne pickups, but the pickups sense the vibration of the strings and that will vary, depending upon many factors.

Personally, I don’t use the word “tone” to describe this, because tone actually refers to pitch. The word I use is timbre, which is everything except pitch and timing.

Bracing affects the attack of a note, and the decay. Trestle bracing has a sharper attack than straight parallel bracing, and decays more slowly. The pickup will sense the difference in tne motion of the strings, and that will come out of the amp’s speaker.

I have four Gretsch guitars. My Gent and my G6119-62T have Supertron pickups. The Gent is trestle braced, while the 6119 has a soundpost. They certainly sound similar, but not even close to identical.

Likewise, I have a G6119-1959 with a pair of DuoTrons, and a G6120-DC with identical pickups. They sound quite distinct from one another. The G6119 is trestle braced and has a crisp sound, very similar to my Gent. The G6120-DC is parallel braced with no sound post. It sounds nothing like the G6119-1959.
That’s what I hear with my tone post Annie. Kind of plucky acoustic sound, with not much sustain, but comes alive at gig volume.
The fact is, you have to have both. That’s what I said to my wife 😇😎!!!
 

ForTheLoveOfIvy

Gretschie
Feb 28, 2022
256
London
Here's my poor attempt to illustrate the difference between light and heavy trestles.

This is light trestle bracing (1959-1961):
download.jpg

The trestles are the arches glued to the parallel braces. They rest on four small blocks glued to the back.

This is the same picture, but with the elements of heavy trestle bracing (1958) crudely drawn in:
download2.jpg

Instead of the four blocks on the back, the trestles rest on full parallel bracing on the back. And the trestles themselves are connected by blocks of wood joining them near their feet.
Ah ok...my '59 Tenney has light bracing then. Good to know.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,704
Where the action is!
Afire's pics reminded me of another important part of the heavy trestle bracing. The tenon block which secures the neck to the body is massive and butts up against trestles furthering sustain. Geez, I gotta go play my '57/8 Streamliner now....
Right, and I believe that you can spot a heavy trestled Gretsch by its shallower cutaway. It's definitely the case that some '58s have a shallower cutaway, and I'm assuming that is a byproduct of the bigger neck block. But I'm not 100% certain that that is the reason for the shallower cutaway, or that all heavy trestled Gretsches have that feature.
 

Pemberton

Gretschie
May 4, 2022
233
Pennsylvania, USA
I believe that you can spot a heavy trestled Gretsch by its shallower cutaway. It's definitely the case that some '58s have a shallower cutaway . . .

I’ve read this before, but when I compare photos of 58/59 Gretschs, I can’t seem to be able to pick out an example of a shallower cutaway of a heavy trestled braced guitar.

Are there any photo examples in Ed Ball’s 6120 book of a shallower cutaway? Or any other comparison photos?
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,704
Where the action is!
Here's a '58 Anniversary that I believe has the shallow cutaway. It's subtle and I don't have the greatest eye for it. Gasmoney has pointed it out a few times back on the GDP.
s-l1600.jpg

s-l1600.jpg
 

Pemberton

Gretschie
May 4, 2022
233
Pennsylvania, USA
Here's a '58 Anniversary that I believe has the shallow cutaway. It's subtle and I don't have the greatest eye for it. Gasmoney has pointed it out a few times back on the GDP.
s-l1600.jpg




s-l1600.jpg

That cutaway does seem to be a slightly different shape than you usually see. But is it the result of heavy bracing or just one of those odd variations you sometimes find on vintage Gretschs?

I’ve looked at a lot of photos of 58s that would definitely have had heavy bracing, and their cutaway shapes seem the same as other years.

You would think that if the shallower cutaway was somehow necessary because of heavy bracing, then all, or most, guitars with heavy bracing would have it.

My early ‘59 6120 has heavy bracing and the cutaway is not shallow (at least I don’t believe so).
 
Last edited:

6187LX

Electromatic
Aug 11, 2022
77
Marineville
Just checked my '57/8 Streamliner (#266xx) heavy trestle and my '58 last batch Clipper (#297xx) braces and the cutaways are typical, not shallow. I have seen pics of '58 and '59 ish Annies and Tenny's with the shallow cutaways and more than a few '59 Clippers FWIW.
 


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