As a drum manufacturer, Gretsch perfected the art of wrapping sparkly plastic around curved wood. In a world in which the tonal properties of timber and adhesives are endlessly debated, gluing fabric-backed nitron sheets onto guitar bodies is surely not a recipe for resonance. But it doesn’t appear to do any harm here.
Introduced in 2016, Gretsch’s Players Edition guitars are the result of some smart thinking. At first glance, they seem to have a fantastic vintage flavour but, look closer, and it becomes clear that Gretsch has sneaked in some refinements that make these instruments road-ready for performing artists. Here, an Adjusto-Matic bridge sits on threaded posts that are fixed into the body, while a set of Gotoh locking tuners graces the bound headstock. There’s also a no-load master tone pot with a Squeezebox paper-in-oil capacitor and a treble bleed circuit on the master volume.
Less obvious is the streamlined maple-capped mahogany body, with its modern chambering pattern, and depth reduced from 51mm to 47mm. The corner of the cutaway has also been softened, and the heel is tapered to provide better upper-fret access than you’d get on a vintage-spec Jet.
The aforementioned master volume and tone controls combine with individual volume controls for each pickup and a three-way selector switch. It’s a clever layout because you can approach it like a Telecaster player, using only the master controls and ignoring the individual volumes, or you can explore Les Paul-style blending options and ignore the master volume.
The pickups are High Sensitive Filter’Tron humbuckers, while your wobble needs are catered for by a Bigsby B7CP tailpiece sporting a String-Thru roller bar – a real time-saver during string changes. The Red Sparkle top looks amazing and we’re quite taken with the brown-stained mahogany body and one-piece mahogany neck.
Any concerns about neck-dive are quickly dispelled because the Bigsby maintains a good balance. The slim and fast-feeling U-shaped neck has a bound rosewood ’board with 22 fairly low medium-jumbo frets that look and feel fantastic. The unplugged tones are loud and discernibly semi-hollow but have the sort of sustain we might associate with an ES-335.
It’s an encouraging start and the merrymaking only increases when we plug in. These pickups sound louder and more crisply defined than the vintage Filter’Trons in our 6120 conversion. The output is on a par with early-1950s P-90s and yet they are unmistakably Filter’Tron in tone.
Played clean, the bridge has a squeaky bite and the neck has a rounded jazziness. In the middle position, the midrange scoops out to produce a phasey quack that rolling back the neck pickup’s volume control accentuates nicely. Step on a dirtbox and the G6129T snarls, growls and sings like a chimier, brighter and twangier P-90 Goldtop.
Those with vintage predilections may crave a slightly fatter neck and lightweight tuners but this guitar’s subtly updated pickups, massive tonal depth, comfortable ride and fabulous build quality make it one of the best Jets ever.
- PRICE £2,049 (inc hard case)
- DESCRIPTION 6-string electric guitar, made in Japan
- BUILD Chambered mahogany body with arched laminated maple top, set one-piece mahogany neck, bound 12-inch radius rosewood fretboard, pearloid Neo-Classic thumbnail inlays, 22 medium-jumbo frets, synthetic bone nut
- HARDWARE Anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge, Bigsby B7CP String-Thru tailpiece, Gotoh locking tuners
- ELECTRONICS 2x High Sensitive Filter’Tron humbucking pickups, master volume and master tone controls, individual pickup volume controls, 3-way pickup selector
- SCALE LENGTH 24.6”/625mm
- NECK WIDTH 42.7mm at nut, 52.2mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 21.2mm at first fret, 23.3mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 35.7mm at nut, 51.5mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 8.13lb/3.69kg
- FINISH Red Sparkle (as reviewed), Silver Sparkle
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- CONTACT gretschguitars.com