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Any Gretsch experts here?

AndreasG

Member
Messages
2,112
Looking to add a 6120 to my collection, but there are so may different ones that makes it hard to choose…I like the Brian Setzer (not Hot Rod) one, but also saw some early 90‘s 6120-60 that seem to be well priced. But I read that the pre FMIC models are not so good, and the newer ones are higher quality. Anybody know more? The musts for me are 6120 model with Filtertrons, possibly not a Chet Atkins (Isimply cannot stand him…sorry), priced between 2 and 3K.. Thanks
 

Johnny Alien

Silver Supporting Member
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2,699
The pre-FMIC stuff was also made in Japan and very high quality. They were less vintage correct with the specs which I think turns some people off but they are still nice.
 

StJimmy

Member
Messages
952
The pre-FMIC Gretsches are less period correct, if that bugs you; however, they were still good guitars. Improvements like thinner tops and trestle bracing reportedly made them more "Gretschy". BUT guys like Brian Setzer still play some of their pre-FMIC Gretsches so..........

Biggest deal to me. Pre-FMIC had cheap mini-pots and electronics though. I bought a TV Jones harness to replace the poor electronics in my 6120. When Fender took over the marketing and had some input, they talked Fred Gretsch into putting quality electronics in.
 

ultradust

Member
Messages
1,557
Older reissues up to 2003 are solid builds, but I'd keep a few things in mind, in line with the post immediately above mine.

I wouldn't fear getting pre-FMIC (I've owned a G6120-KS and a G6120-60, among others), but do note that the ceramic filtertrons and thicker laminated top than recent reissues translated into a far less "lively and bright Gretchey" sound than what I expected, and I was a bit disappointed enough to sell them off.

Three of the four Terada Gretsches that I have are are FMIC-era builds, and are what I consider to be guitars for life. I am very satisfied with them, even with the stock AlNiCo HS filtertrons.
 

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
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7,556
I agree with all the above, though I play 2 pre-FMIC Jets because they have the (non-vintage-correct) configuration that I prefer - namely, FilterTrons with the ‘tone knob’ configuration, the Bigsby without the tension bar (this is a deal breaker for me), floating roller bridge - though I’ve upgraded the electronics over the years to TV Jones pickups and most if not all of the pots, switches, and jacks have been replaced, in many cases because the originals outright died after a few years of heavy use.

I do think the FMIC have higher quality components from the factory and likely more consistent build quality, and probably maintain somewhat higher resale value.

More important than the era, in my view, is that you are comfortable with the feel and setup of the instrument. Many buy them without playing them first and realize the necks are too thin for them, the body too big, the Bigsby or bridge (especially if unpinned/untaped) too finicky, etc. Personally I love them when setup well (and bridge must be pinned/taped), but they are not for everybody.
 

MIke MM

Member
Messages
2,218
I want a Gretsch as my next guitar, but am also puzzled and paralyzed by the choices in 6120's.

There are none by me, so can't try them out, but I heard you can't go wrong with the Seltzer Smoke model.

Would love to hear any thoughts or opinions.
 

Papajuice

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,158
I have a several Falcon's and Duo Jets along with some Setzer HotRods. I bought a Setzer Smoke when they came out a few years ago. It is with out a doubt the best 6120 style I have ever played. The Ray Butts TV Jones are the best balanced fitertron style pickups out there. The soft V neck is so comfortable. Also the 10-14 neck lets me play slide and chords without any problems. Also no relation but I thing there is very clean one in the emporium for sale.



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MIke MM

Member
Messages
2,218
I have a several Falcon's and Duo Jets along with some Setzer HotRods. I bought a Setzer Smoke when they came out a few years ago. It is with out a doubt the best 6120 style I have ever played. The Ray Butts TV Jones are the best balanced fitertron style pickups out there. The soft V neck is so comfortable. Also the 10-14 neck lets me play slide and chords without any problems. Also no relation but I thing there is very clean one in the emporium for sale.



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Yeah, saw the one for sale, and tempted, just a couple of months too early for me.
 

jrjones

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,439
I had a 90s 6120 Nashville. It was incredible. My dad has it now and won’t sell it back to me. He told me I can have it back when he dies. Lol
 

Blauserk

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,413
In addition to the Setzer SSLVOs, take a look at the various Anniversary LTVs (for Lacquer and TV Jones pickups). They have many of the appointments of the Setzers but can be had for a bit less without the neck binding. See below for one example, although this one seems a bit like a 3-legged dog with features of various models in one place. This particular one doesn't have trestle bracing, but I don't think that's a dealbreaker. I'd go post FMIC because it'll save you a pickup change right off the bat if you get a model with TV Jones pickups. My favorites were the SSLVOs and Horton Heats with Sperzel tuners, and current Smokes seem great.

 

AndreasG

Member
Messages
2,112
Anybody have a Reverend Horton Heat? Seems apart from cosmetics kinda like the Brian Setzer model, with TV Jones pickups, Sperzels etc…
 

Golem

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,085
I've had really early FMIC Gretsch (I think it was in the first two years) and I was really disappointed with the quality of the wiring and workmanship on the inside of the guitar. My newer 6228 is superb by comparison. Both were made at Terada in Japan, but clearly to different standards. I'm one of those people that shies away from the early FMIC examples as well as pre-FMIC.
 

art_z

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,975
Anybody have a Reverend Horton Heat? Seems apart from cosmetics kinda like the Brian Setzer model, with TV Jones pickups, Sperzels etc…

I had a RHH (one of 6 6120s I’ve owned over the past 30 years ), and stupidly sold it. Now I have a SSLVO. The RHH have for some reason gotten very expensive. I find the SSLVO has everything I needed in a 6120 which was locking tuners, pinned bridge and TV Jones pickups and that “Great Gretsch Sound”.
 

jbinco

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
163
Fender made improvements to the overall build quality. Thinner body material, more accuatre bracing, plus new bracing patterns. TV Jones pickups added on some models, and improvements to the single coil Dynasonics In magnets and winding accuracy.

Trestle bracing in my opinion was a huge improvement in feedback control and still keeping the guitar sounding like a hollow body. I also like the pinned bridge idea.

The Setzer and Horton Heat are very close in design, and I would not hesitate to buy either.

There are different body depths in the hollow bodies. Check the specs before ordering if you can’t play it in person.

Also be aware of the different wiring schemes that are offered. It can be confusing if your comparing to a Gibson style set up.

I have owned a few over the years, and ended up with a Fender Custom Shop ’59 Duo Jet in Black. Excellent sounding and playing guitar!
 

AndreasG

Member
Messages
2,112
Well, found on almost locally…a Brian Setzer from 2004 for about 1,5K which over here seems like a very good price. Pick it up tomorrow and see how it works out. Thanks for all the precious inputs!
 

sws1

Member
Messages
12,411
I have a several Falcon's and Duo Jets along with some Setzer HotRods. I bought a Setzer Smoke when they came out a few years ago. It is with out a doubt the best 6120 style I have ever played. The Ray Butts TV Jones are the best balanced fitertron style pickups out there. The soft V neck is so comfortable. Also the 10-14 neck lets me play slide and chords without any problems. Also no relation but I thing there is very clean one in the emporium for sale.



View media item 335353

Don't forget the thinner body too which makes a nice playability difference.
 




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