I'm not currently a Gretsch owner (though hope to be one at some stage). I've been casually on the lookout for a 5120 (Electromatic) or 6120 (Pro-line) on adverts.ie for a while now. One thing I'd say about buying second-hand is they don't seem to turn up very often. And when they do, often it's not exactly what you want, so buying second-hand, from Ireland at least, may not be that practical.
One thing you could do as a middle-ground, is get an Electromatic and upgrade the pickups. TV Jones classics are generally thought to be an improvement over the stock pickups. From what I've read, the stock pickups on the Electromatics are more Gibson/darker sounding, and pickups like TV Jones classics give it more of the Gretsch sound (while stock pickups on the pro-line are generally thought to be fine).
I'd also recommend having a look on the gretsch-talk forums, very helpful guys on there. They have an archive search so you can see if similar questions to your own have been asked before.
WOW! Awesome mate. Thanks a mil.........I realy mean that.
Its geat to get help like that, makes it easier for novices like me to get things done.
Thanks again....top marks
Super. Never considered upgrading the pickups. I assume this can be done fairly easily buy someone who knows what they are doing?
If you want to do it yourself, you should get some solderless connectors from singlecoil.com. You just cut the cable coming from the old pickup (leave a bit on the pickup you are removing) and just attach the solderless plugs.
Otherwise, taking the pots out of a hollowbody guitar to solder new pickups to them is a pain in the arse. The soldering only takes a couple of seconds, getting the pots in and out takes quite a bit longer. I know of repair guys that automatically levy an extra charge for working with hollowbody guitars.
I have a couple of Gretsches (5129 and a 6131T.) You should DEFINITELY get one with a bigsby - particularly for the kind of music that you mentioned. Gretsches can be a bit pernickity at first but with a bit of tweaking they come to life. Upgrades: Well the first upgrade you should make to ANY Gretsch is to buy a Tru Arc bridge. You can get them from Proteus (he's the inventor of the Tru Arc bridge) over at Gretschpages.com If you're going to upgrade the pups you should look at TV Jones pups. He is highly, highly regarded. I haven't bought any of his pups (yet) as I'm waiting for his Dynas to come out in Summer... they're supposed to be absolutely magical. TV also sells upgraded wiring harnesses and a smart tubing kit that makes changing pups and harnesses much, much easier. There are also instructional vids on his website; there is one where he shows how to change pups and a wiring harness on a 5129. Excellent vid and makes it look a breeze. 1,500 will get you a long way into Gretsch greatness - I would recommend that you consider buying from overseas. I bought both of my gits from Rocky at Street sounds. If you want his details go ahead and PM me. The biggest recommendation that I could make to you however, is to get over to www.gretschpages.com You'll find all manner of experts over there; it's also one of the better git forums on the net with just lovely people.
Thanks a lot mate. Lots of info for me to digest there. I will take a good look at gretschpages.com this evening. PM sent for Roskys details.
Try with and without a Bigsby to see which you prefer. I wish I had, I eventually ended up replacing the Bigsby with a trapeze tailpiece. Its not that I'm anti-Bigsby either, it's just I don't think they work particularly well on fully hollow body guitars. TV Jones pups are excellent, amongst some of my favourite pickups.
That said I am not too crazy on the standard wiring of a lot of Gretsches; I feel that a regular 500k volume and 500k tonepot wired in parallel (per pickup) gives the best results. I have tried all of them from two individual 500 k volume pots wired in series with a master volume pot to the Brian Setzer wiring (1 x master volume). Th load on the pickup has a huge effect on tone and feel.
I am also not particularly a fan (tonally speaking) of the rocking bar bridge on Gretsches. I am sure the Tru Arc is a big step up, but don't forget a regular tunematic also fits onto the wooden base. I have had great success with the Callaham ABR-1 on mine.
Wow you guys know your stuff. I realise now how little i know aout the subject. I assumed it was just a matter of finding, buyind and playing the instrument but I realy need to do my homework first. That suits me anyway because I enjoy finding out about the subject before I buy anything. I have contacted rocky and also had a look on that japaneese site. The shear ammount and variations of guitars and hardware is staggering.
Anyway I will let you guys know what happens when I eventually decide what to buy.
Rafared, it's great to understand all about pickups and wiring but not necessary. Like you I am on the Gretsch trail and I have my model picked out. Although DORD's posting above of the G6117 Anniversary has really thrown me, thanks DORD :|. Anyhow don't worry about all that pickup and wiring stuff just yet. Go for a Japanese made Gretsch and staring playing. If you don't like it you can sell it right?
Just out of interest, what model are you going for Quattro?
I take your point Quattro. Thats basically what I intend to do just want to familliarise myself with the basics first.
After all is said and done a nce Gretsch is a nice Gretsch!
I love the look of the Tennessee Rose models or any of the country gents.
I suppose im a sucker for a red guitar. I dont think the flash colours would be me. I wouldnt buy a silver model for instance because I just wouldnt like the look of it. Funnily enough I not that keen on the classic orange colour either.
Black, dark or deep red or even the wallnut finish just look super cool to me!
Id love to see a pic of your Gretsch's guys.
I have mine posted in the pics thread but sure I guess it wouldn't hurt to post them here too... :-) First is a Gretsch 5129 and then a Gretsch 6131T (pictured without Tru Arc bridge.)
Wow. Awesome guitars mate. Esp like the 5129. My kinda colour two.
Just out of interest what amp do you play them through and how do they differ in action, sound ect?
They're very different indeed. The first one, the 5129, has two DeArmond US 2000 single coil pickups. The pups are very bright and have a glistening, vintage shimmer that you just don't get with any other pups. It takes quite a bit of tweaking to get a decent distorted tone from them as they can sound ice-picky under heavy distortion. I don't particularly care though - the clean tones are amazing from this guitar. The fretboard is rosewood, as is the bridge base. The guitar is a full hollowbody (no plank down the middle like Epi Casinos etc). The bridge itself is a bigsby aluminium compensating bridge and it creates a very bright sound indeed. The bigsby is a licenced bigsby (i.e. not made in the states) although there is very little difference in quality. It's a little stiffer than the V-cut bigs on my 6131T. It has crazy low action too and strings up stiff - not as stiff as a tele but not as loose as a strat - somewhere in-between. It's made in Korea and the overall build quality is extremely high featuring parallel tone bars and a sound post. The finish is firebird red in gloss urethane. It is strung with 10 guage strings (although these will be changed to 11s.)
The second guitar is a 6131T - Jet Firebird. The colour of the Jet is also firebird red but strangely the two colours are slightly different - the 5129 is closer to a hotrod red and the firebird is a slightly darker, yet less intense red. It features a mahogony body with an arched maple top. The pups on the Jet are High Sensitivity Filtertrons. They're humbucking pups and also demonstrate a glimmering high end although has, overall, a much warmer sound than the DeArmonds with slightly less direction. The fretboard is ebony and, like the 5129, has neo-classical thumbnail inlays. Both necks are 12 radius. The body of the Jet is made of mahogony and is fully chambered (not 'swiss cheese, like a lot of Les Pauls) to the point where it's practically hollow. Consequently it can produce a lot of feedback at high distortion (but it's fairly easy to control too.) The Jet's control system is slightly different to that of the 5129. It features two switches - one controls the pups - centre is both on, top is neck and bottom is bridge. The other switch control that most idiosyncratic of Gretsch controls - the 'mud' switch. Leaving the switch in the centre position leaves the tone circuit off. Pushing it up gives a small treble cut, pushing it down gives a more pronounced treble cut. This control is absolutely useless - a lot of guys make mods there. It also has a bridge volume, a neck volume, and a master volume placed at the cutaway. The 5129's controls make a little bit more sense. It has a pup selector switch in the same vein as the 6131 but has a rotary tone control, two pup volume knobs and a volume control. The bridge featured in the pic is a Space Control bridge - and it's a terrible bridge in my opinion. It sucks sustain out of the guitar and just kills the tone. Each saddle is able to move horizontally along a thread pole - the purpose of which is to allow the user to dictate how close the strings are to each other alonge the neck. I remember someone describing the SC bridge as being a solution to a problem that never existed. I replaced that bridge with a TruArc Stainless Steel bridge - which is an excellent upgrade. The action on this guitar is low to medium and it plays much looser than the 5129 - you could almost say gloopy. But it is a joy to play. The bigsby is the special Gretsch US v-cut V3C. It works wonderfully well. I string the Jet with 11 guage strings. Both guitars have 24.6 scale length and both feature the knurled strap retainer knobs.
I play them both through an ENGL Screamer 50 combo. It's a cracker of an amp - perfect for rock music.
No probs! I know how daunting it must be so a few good links and tips here and there should get you on your way (to clearing out your bank account)
It's a pain in the hole to change pickups on a hollowbody. I wouldn't do it unless it was completely necessary or if you had some cash to get it done professionally. As Seziertisch says, most guys will charge extra for hollowbody pickup replacement.
Sorry rafared might wanna hurry and buy that, I have the GAS now.
In the process of looking for a few guitars that might be suitable for rafared I somehow managed to convince myself I need a Gretsch.
I'm eyeing up a G6119-1959 Chet Atkins Tennessean Rose (long name!! )
I was gonna try spring for a '50s Gibson ES225T next year but I like the look of this Gretsch... big difference between them but I'm gonna keep it in mind because it looks fookin' awesome. I have a bit of a thing for single pickup guitars.