Boy, that’s a mouthful of a title. But after playing through it, it’ll leave you speechless! I got this about 6 months ago. Scored for a lot less than retail, thanks to musician’s friend’s open box sale items. It was condition 2, but the discount on it was deep enough for me to take the plunge. And since it was condition 2, i have the option to send it back within 30 days. I considered returning it after a couple of weeks, but something told me to hang on to it. I’m glad i listened!
Still a hefty price for the likes of me and my budget, but at the time i’ve been looking at a hollowbody Epiphone Casino, and was ready to go in that direction. I decided to call MF, and i asked if there was still some chance of them taking something off the discounted price. They did! And that was the clincher, so it was on my doorstep in 4 days. I love fast shipping. Correction: i love fast FREE shipping!
I got the black one, as im not a big fan of bursts. Plus its the only one that was currently discounted anyway (i had no choice 😛 ). The guitar over all looked amazing- no scratches i can find, no dings or issues. Was simply out of the box and briefly demo’d from what it looks like. As for the sound, it took a while for me to warm up to it. As i mentioned earlier, i almost returned it, as it felt ordinary at first, and sounded kind of flat.
I already had a 12-string semihollow electric guitar in the Dean Boca, which sounded alright, but it didn’t excite me much to play it often enough. It was another one of those can’t miss price tags i simply could not pass up. I even took the stock pickups off and changed it to a couple of DiMarzio pickups, though that didn’t improve it (it actually sounded bad). Not the pickups’ fault- The DiMarzios are simply made for straight up rock, on a solidbody electric. I was looking for the jangle, what 12-strings are known for.
And THIS 12-string Gretsch has it. In boatloads! I would say this guitar now ranks highly in the pecking order of my guitars. lately i’ve been mostly playing clean stuff, and not much gain added. Man, the sound is phenomenal!
It uses 2 blacktop filtertrons, which according to Gretsch, is inspired by their Baldwin era blacktops. I can tell right away it’s not a hot pickup at all, as i seem to turn up the volume a little more to coax the clean sound to decent playing levels. I did adjust the pickup heights and polepieces to get the balance juuuust right between the neck and the bridge. If anything the bridge can get closer to the strings, but it’s maxed out- may need a couple of pickup ring spacers.
But as it is, the output is definitely not hot at all. And theyre quiet! turned up on the clean channel, it doesnt give any stray noises. Though it IS technically a humbucker, and by definition it shouldn’t have hum at all, but some humbuckers still exhibit some type of noise, not necessarily the 60-cycle hum it picks up like single coils do.
i recently did sone online research on the new blacktop filtertrons, and it seems it has a ceramic magnet. That would make sense, since the original blacktops were produced with a thick ceramic manets. Possibly why it contributes to a clean sound as well. That and the purported resistance of the filtertrons are around 4-5k only.
What made me keep this guitar was 2-fold: the amazingly balanced jangly/chimey clean sound, and when overdriven, it retains great definition and clarity! I’m basing this on the Fender Prosonic (with the 2-12 greenbacks), with Gain 1 rolled up to 3 for basic grit, and playing around with Gain 2 (from adding a bit more grit, to getting real crunch, to simply dimed for a screaming out-of-control madness!). I can set the Prosonic to a medium gain on the 2nd Gain knob, and i can play around with the guitars volume knob to tame it back a bit. This allows me to play dynamically on the strings, either dig in for a great crunch with volume, or softly hit the strings for a much cleaned-up tone. So versatile!
What also made me keep the guitar was the change i did- removing the octave strings on the wound strings (Low E, A, and D strings are now single strings on their own). I kept the octave string on G, and the unison (for lack of a better word) strings on B and high E. This allowed me to keep that jangly sound on the higher strings, but keep the bass/wound strings clear. I find that (to my taste), the low strings sounded muddy and lacked clarity, even in clean settings. Now that the E, A, and D strings are on their own, im able to play it like a regular 6-string with more integrity, while retaining the jangle on top. So now i have a 9-string! Another thing- once i kick in the overdrive, the dirt sounds more focused, less dispersed. There’s some power in them power chords now! Granted it wont jump at you like a ferocious thrash metal tiger, theres just no way with low output pickups to have that kind of a sound, but then again this 12-string gretsch isnt the target guitar for shredders, and vice versa. This was made to sound jangly, and it performs 100% like it. Bonus is that it sounds great overdriven as well!
On a side note, i mentioned also that i had my eyes set on an Epiphone Casino (cherry!). But as it is, i already have a copy of it- a cherry hollowbody in the form of the mid-70’s lawsuit guitar that i equipped with chrome P-90s. The Casino sound is roughly there already, plus i already have another P-90 guitar in the Epihone Riviera P93. A Casino will just duplicate (even triplicate) what i already have. Now ive never had a Gretsch before, and really didn’t think much of it til the G5120 from a couple years ago. I held back since i knew the pickups on those werent the best- in fact they sounded bad! i got a pair on ebay to try out, and they never sounded good on ANY guitar i installed them in. Too mid-rangey, and not much bottom, and ice-picky highs. But getting a small bonus gave me the chance to try out the new gretsch lineup with the newly redesigned pickups. If they sounded bad again, i can grab real filtertrons, or the ones made by TV Jones. I didn’t have to. The stock gretsch blacktop filtertrons sound amazing!
If i was to play on stage or any gig again, this will be my main guitar, the guitar that’s to be mostly associated with me.