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  #46  
Old 03-31-2024, 09:23 PM
Puddleglum Puddleglum is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
The "executive summary" version:
  • General rule here: any Electromatic 5_20 instrument is a single-cutaway, a 5_22 is double-cut, 5_27 is a GC/MF dealer exclusive (5_55 and 5_57 instruments are generally 3/4-size semi-hollows)...
  • 5400-Series Electromatics are, with a couple oddball exceptions I'll skip over in the interest of simplicity, full hollowbody instruments: here's where you'll find the affordable versions of the classic Gretsch models (Double Annie, 6120, Country Gent, White Falcon, Viking, Country Club, "Monkees" 12-string, et al.)...
  • 5600-Series instruments are semi hollow, and during their Korean days sometimes served as the skunkworks for new design concepts being considered/market-tested for inclusion in the high-end Professional Series; IME they were some of the most interesting guitars to bear the Gretsch marque, both visually and sonically: I own a three-pickup/cats'-eye G5622T-CB that has been my go-to gigmeister for nearly a decade, and likely will remain so for as long as I inhabit this earth - here's a pic, with its current G2627 Streamliner version (note differences in hardware, trim, and electronics):


  • Pre-2013 5000-Series Korean Electromatic hollowbodes/semis have the first-issue Broad'Tron pickups, visually identical to those on nearly all of the current Indonesian Streamliners (with the notable - and welcome - exception of the G2604T Streamliner Rally, which comes with Super Hi-lo'Trons) - see the G2627 above...
  • Post-2013 Korean 5400/5600-Series E-Matics are stamped on the headstock with a manufacturer code (generally KS) followed by the serial number, below which appears "Made in Korea"; these come equipped with either '70s-style Baldwin-era "blacktop" Filter'Trons, Super Hi-lo'Trons (based on a modified blacktop Filter'Tron platform, and fully humbucking unlike the Brooklyn-style single-coil originals currently used on the '60 Double Annie and '62 Chet Atkins Tennessean reissues - my favorite of the "modern" true-Gretsch designs BTW), or both as on the G5620T-CB (a short-lived near-deadringer for the similarly short-lived '64-66 cats'-eye 6117)...
  • Chinese-built 5400-Series instruments have a similar stamp (usually with the prefix CYG and "Made in China"), with the most recent ones now sporting the proprietary FT-5E blacktop Filter'Trons - unfortunately the 5600-Series semis still uses the Broad'Tron, this time in an oversize blacktop case/trim ring that makes it appear almost identical to a true-Gretsch design (quick way to tell side-by-side is that the FT-5E is smaller - plugged in there's no mistake)...
That should get you started...
Wow, very helpful info. Thank you. Have you been a Gretsch enthusiast your entire life?
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  #47  
Old 04-01-2024, 01:06 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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...Have you been a Gretsch enthusiast your entire life?
I'm an old Brooklyn boy - grew up in the Gravesend/Bensonhurst area in the '50s/60s, lived there for 50 years before relocating to Staten Island ("Attitude Capital of the Known Universe" featured prominently in the reality shows Mob Wives, Made in Staten Island - another mob show - and numerous episodes of Jersey Shore ), and my grandparents lived three blocks from the old 60 Broadway factory (and just down the block from the drum warehouse) - so yeah, I have a long history with the marque and, given its local ubiquity, I've probably played several hundred (no exaggeration) examples over the last 60+ years...

FWIW if you were learning to play in that time/place it was almost inevitable that hometown brand Gretsch (or less frequently erstwhile competitor Guild, at that time made in nearby Hoboken, NJ) would be your first "good" electric when you were ready to step up from your Harmony Rocket or Meteor, and a blue-check Linden (NJ) Ampeg - generally a Jet or Rocket 1x12" combo - was its mandatory companion; BTW somewhere in my basement/attic I still have the original '63 catalog I drooled over when I was a kid (long before anyone on this side of the pond heard of the Beatles), and from which I made the decision to purchase a 6117 Double Annie in May '64 - which I also still have, and is in temporary retirement pending some necessary work...

Although it was never an issue for me (or any of the other local guys/gals I was in bands with over the years) I've heard a fair number of players complain that Gretsch is a one-trick pony tonally - twang and jangle and nothing more; FYI unlike Gibson/Fender - where you could just plug in and achieve instant sonic gratification - Gretsch was always sui generis, never an everyman's instrument and never intended to be. If one were to research carefully, players from different genres who tended to think outside the box found them to be the perfect tool to express their musical ideas: sure they do country and rockabilly (IMO nobody does it better - and I owned a Tele for years), but I've also used mine for lightweight jazz, '60s soul/R&B, surf, British Invasion, doo-wop, classic rock (remember CSNY in their heyday...?), wedding/Bar Mitzvah music, fingerstyle folk (my 3-PU 5622 can do a very convincing "acoustic" tone when played lightly through a clean amp) - simply put, just about everything short of death metal, and quite credibly. You've got to learn their idiosyncrasies - as I said they're not for everybody - but if you take the time/effort to master them you'll be rewarded with tones you won't find anywhere else; do I own other electrics - absolutely, and I play them out when the occasion demands - but if I had to pick a "desert island" guitar I'd reach for a Gretsch in a heartbeat...
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  #48  
Old 04-01-2024, 07:57 AM
Puddleglum Puddleglum is offline
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Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
I'm an old Brooklyn boy - grew up in the Gravesend/Bensonhurst area in the '50s/60s, lived there for 50 years before relocating to Staten Island ("Attitude Capital of the Known Universe" featured prominently in the reality shows Mob Wives, Made in Staten Island - another mob show - and numerous episodes of Jersey Shore ), and my grandparents lived three blocks from the old 60 Broadway factory (and just down the block from the drum warehouse) - so yeah, I have a long history with the marque and, given its local ubiquity, I've probably played several hundred (no exaggeration) examples over the last 60+ years...

FWIW if you were learning to play in that time/place it was almost inevitable that hometown brand Gretsch (or less frequently erstwhile competitor Guild, at that time made in nearby Hoboken, NJ) would be your first "good" electric when you were ready to step up from your Harmony Rocket or Meteor, and a blue-check Linden (NJ) Ampeg - generally a Jet or Rocket 1x12" combo - was its mandatory companion; BTW somewhere in my basement/attic I still have the original '63 catalog I drooled over when I was a kid (long before anyone on this side of the pond heard of the Beatles), and from which I made the decision to purchase a 6117 Double Annie in May '64 - which I also still have, and is in temporary retirement pending some necessary work...

Although it was never an issue for me (or any of the other local guys/gals I was in bands with over the years) I've heard a fair number of players complain that Gretsch is a one-trick pony tonally - twang and jangle and nothing more; FYI unlike Gibson/Fender - where you could just plug in and achieve instant sonic gratification - Gretsch was always sui generis, never an everyman's instrument and never intended to be. If one were to research carefully, players from different genres who tended to think outside the box found them to be the perfect tool to express their musical ideas: sure they do country and rockabilly (IMO nobody does it better - and I owned a Tele for years), but I've also used mine for lightweight jazz, '60s soul/R&B, surf, British Invasion, doo-wop, classic rock (remember CSNY in their heyday...?), wedding/Bar Mitzvah music, fingerstyle folk (my 3-PU 5622 can do a very convincing "acoustic" tone when played lightly through a clean amp) - simply put, just about everything short of death metal, and quite credibly. You've got to learn their idiosyncrasies - as I said they're not for everybody - but if you take the time/effort to master them you'll be rewarded with tones you won't find anywhere else; do I own other electrics - absolutely, and I play them out when the occasion demands - but if I had to pick a "desert island" guitar I'd reach for a Gretsch in a heartbeat...
Your posts on these matters contain an absolutely insane amount of knowledge and zeal. It’s impressive! And I appreciate you taking the time to educate me on all this.

I think it would’ve been pretty cool to grow up in the area these guitars were being made in. It would’ve been possible to even know people who worked for these companies and built the instruments. I really feel a sense of loss with these brands like Gretsch, Guild, D’Angelico (et al) now being made somewhere else and just branded with a name. I was a kid in the 80s and remember when buying a pair of Reeboks, Pumas (et al) meant something. Now I can go into Walmart and see flimsy shoes being sold there with these same brand names stitched on. I know there’s nothing to be done about it, but one really does feel a sense of loss in these things. I don’t care who made my phone or laptop or really even where it was made, but a guitar is a much more emotional purchase, and something we use to express and enjoy ourselves with on a deeper level. When it comes to something like a guitar, most of us grasp for a sense of meaning beyond what we do with other purchases.

A bit of a digression, but if I ended up with a Gretsch, I would want it to feel like a “real” Gretsch. Same with a Guild, D’Angelico… With a Fender or Gibson, it does seem like there is at least some real continuity with the brand. Unfortunately though, I don’t like much of what those companies make.

One could buy an old Gretsch, Guild, but vintage guitars are out of my price range and aren’t practical for my purposes anyway. I suppose the casual modern player is left with some pretty good options, but ones that lack historical continuity.
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  #49  
Old 04-01-2024, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
Your posts on these matters contain an absolutely insane amount of knowledge and zeal. It’s impressive! And I appreciate you taking the time to educate me on all this.

I think it would’ve been pretty cool to grow up in the area these guitars were being made in. It would’ve been possible to even know people who worked for these companies and built the instruments. I really feel a sense of loss with these brands like Gretsch, Guild, D’Angelico (et al) now being made somewhere else and just branded with a name. I was a kid in the 80s and remember when buying a pair of Reeboks, Pumas (et al) meant something. Now I can go into Walmart and see flimsy shoes being sold there with these same brand names stitched on. I know there’s nothing to be done about it, but one really does feel a sense of loss in these things. I don’t care who made my phone or laptop or really even where it was made, but a guitar is a much more emotional purchase, and something we use to express and enjoy ourselves with on a deeper level. When it comes to something like a guitar, most of us grasp for a sense of meaning beyond what we do with other purchases.

A bit of a digression, but if I ended up with a Gretsch, I would want it to feel like a “real” Gretsch. Same with a Guild, D’Angelico… With a Fender or Gibson, it does seem like there is at least some real continuity with the brand. Unfortunately though, I don’t like much of what those companies make.

One could buy an old Gretsch, Guild, but vintage guitars are out of my price range and aren’t practical for my purposes anyway. I suppose the casual modern player is left with some pretty good options, but ones that lack historical continuity.
Although I certainly understand your point, in many instances there are simply two options. One is that the company dies and goes out of business. Any guitars that have been made by that company may become collector pieces, but no new instruments are made.

Or, some other company picks up the brand and does something with it. Sometimes that means trying to replicate the brand (with varying degrees of luck), or trying to make a more economical version that will sell okay for a lesser price. I think the reason you often see the second option is there is a reason the original company went under. Not enough people were buying the item or poor money management, etc.
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  #50  
Old 04-01-2024, 02:12 PM
Puddleglum Puddleglum is offline
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Although I certainly understand your point, in many instances there are simply two options. One is that the company dies and goes out of business. Any guitars that have been made by that company may become collector pieces, but no new instruments are made.

Or, some other company picks up the brand and does something with it. Sometimes that means trying to replicate the brand (with varying degrees of luck), or trying to make a more economical version that will sell okay for a lesser price. I think the reason you often see the second option is there is a reason the original company went under. Not enough people were buying the item or poor money management, etc.
Valid points no doubt, and no argument from me. I guess many of these designs just had their day and it eventually became unprofitable for these companies to continue. Brands like Danelectro come to mind as well. There just aren’t that many people interested. The same thing happened to all the pointy guitars that were popular when I was a kid in the 80s. The times just changed.
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Old 04-02-2024, 09:32 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Originally Posted by Puddleglum View Post
...I think it would’ve been pretty cool to grow up in the area these guitars were being made in. It would’ve been possible to even know people who worked for these companies and built the instruments. I really feel a sense of loss with these brands like Gretsch, Guild, D’Angelico (et al.) now being made somewhere else and just branded with a name...I know there’s nothing to be done about it, but one really does feel a sense of loss in these things...When it comes to something like a guitar, most of us grasp for a sense of meaning beyond what we do with other purchases.

A bit of a digression, but if I ended up with a Gretsch, I would want it to feel like a “real” Gretsch. Same with a Guild, D’Angelico… With a Fender or Gibson, it does seem like there is at least some real continuity with the brand. Unfortunately though, I don’t like much of what those companies make.

One could buy an old Gretsch, Guild, but vintage guitars are out of my price range and aren’t practical for my purposes anyway. I suppose the casual modern player is left with some pretty good options, but ones that lack historical continuity.
TMK Leo Fender had no descendants to assume control of the company...

Neither did Orville Gibson, and his successors - Lloyd Loar, Lewis Williams, Ted McCarty - are all long since gone...

With Epi Stathopoulo's untimely passing in the '40s the Epiphone company began its inexorable decline; after labor troubles in the early-50's (which led to the formation of Guild) and a move to Philadelphia, Orphie Stathopoulo sold the entire operation to Ted McCarty for $20K in 1957 - no other member of the family has been involved in instrument making for over 65 years...

In spite of the 50 years of stability offered by the Westerly plant Guild too went through changes of control, starting with Avnet in the '70s and eventually culminating in a rapid-fire succession of ownership that IMO still leaves them floundering in a market where they should be a major player (how many new USA Guilds do you see hanging in your friendly local guitar store, compared to 30, 40, 50 years ago?)...

Both John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto have passed, as has Herc Favilla - all of whose marques went to offshore production (Favilla's last guitars from the early-70's were good-quality, competitively-priced Japanese imports - a former college bud scored a NOS Brazilian RW D-28 copy in the late-70's that sounded amazing, for the princely sum of $150...)

Ampeg went through several different owners before the recent acquisition by Yamaha, and is now exclusively a bass-gear company; Dennis Kager (the last living link to the blue-check days of the Linden operation) operated a repair shop in New Jersey until his own passing - he was my amp tech, and we had several fascinating conversations about the glory days of Ampeg (and his collection of vintage gear and memorabilia)...

Gretsch: since the late-80's that's back under the control of Fred Gretsch (who was in his teens when the original Brooklyn company was sold to Baldwin in the late-60's - too young to take the helm but old enough to remember what a "real" Gretsch was) and more recently his own sons and, in spite of the fact that they're made in Japan, their Professional Series reissues have all the vibe - with far superior QC/playability - of the vintage originals; I admit to being a bit biased (as stated above), but when I bought the 5622 in the pics sight unseen/unplayed - I had bounced a near-identical design off a then-unknown (now world-renowned) local luthier in the early-80's, and figured this was an inexpensive way to realize my vision - it not only felt virtually identical to my '64 Double Annie (neck was slightly fuller, but I've played a few dozen originals with similar variation) but far exceeded the quality when I purchased it brand-new back in sixth grade. Truth be told, the only USA electric-guitar company that can lay claim to any real continuity is Rickenbacker, and if not for the Beatles (and their musical competitors) I suspect they too would have either sold out or gone under by the late-70's; on the other hand, Gretsch has made the most of their multi-level market presence - the Streamliners are now approaching the level of their entry-level competitors (still got a way to go before they catch Ibanez, though), the Chinese E-Matics have gotten their act together (I suspect one or two of the family went over, showed them a Korean example, and kicked some major-league heinie), on quality alone I'd sooner have a Professional Series than a similarly-priced Gibson - and if you have the bucks and the urge for a USA Gretsch, the Custom Shop will be more than happy to build something to your specifications or duplicate a vintage design...
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  #52  
Old 04-02-2024, 01:27 PM
Puddleglum Puddleglum is offline
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TMK Leo Fender had no descendants to assume control of the company...

Neither did Orville Gibson, and his successors - Lloyd Loar, Lewis Williams, Ted McCarty - are all long since gone...

With Epi Stathopoulo's untimely passing in the '40s the Epiphone company began its inexorable decline; after labor troubles in the early-50's (which led to the formation of Guild) and a move to Philadelphia, Orphie Stathopoulo sold the entire operation to Ted McCarty for $20K in 1957 - no other member of the family has been involved in instrument making for over 65 years...

In spite of the 50 years of stability offered by the Westerly plant Guild too went through changes of control, starting with Avnet in the '70s and eventually culminating in a rapid-fire succession of ownership that IMO still leaves them floundering in a market where they should be a major player (how many new USA Guilds do you see hanging in your friendly local guitar store, compared to 30, 40, 50 years ago?)...

Both John D'Angelico and Jimmy D'Aquisto have passed, as has Herc Favilla - all of whose marques went to offshore production (Favilla's last guitars from the early-70's were good-quality, competitively-priced Japanese imports - a former college bud scored a NOS Brazilian RW D-28 copy in the late-70's that sounded amazing, for the princely sum of $150...)

Ampeg went through several different owners before the recent acquisition by Yamaha, and is now exclusively a bass-gear company; Dennis Kager (the last living link to the blue-check days of the Linden operation) operated a repair shop in New Jersey until his own passing - he was my amp tech, and we had several fascinating conversations about the glory days of Ampeg (and his collection of vintage gear and memorabilia)...

Gretsch: since the late-80's that's back under the control of Fred Gretsch (who was in his teens when the original Brooklyn company was sold to Baldwin in the late-60's - too young to take the helm but old enough to remember what a "real" Gretsch was) and more recently his own sons and, in spite of the fact that they're made in Japan, their Professional Series reissues have all the vibe - with far superior QC/playability - of the vintage originals; I admit to being a bit biased (as stated above), but when I bought the 5622 in the pics sight unseen/unplayed - I had bounced a near-identical design off a then-unknown (now world-renowned) local luthier in the early-80's, and figured this was an inexpensive way to realize my vision - it not only felt virtually identical to my '64 Double Annie (neck was slightly fuller, but I've played a few dozen originals with similar variation) but far exceeded the quality when I purchased it brand-new back in sixth grade. Truth be told, the only USA electric-guitar company that can lay claim to any real continuity is Rickenbacker, and if not for the Beatles (and their musical competitors) I suspect they too would have either sold out or gone under by the late-70's; on the other hand, Gretsch has made the most of their multi-level market presence - the Streamliners are now approaching the level of their entry-level competitors (still got a way to go before they catch Ibanez, though), the Chinese E-Matics have gotten their act together (I suspect one or two of the family went over, showed them a Korean example, and kicked some major-league heinie), on quality alone I'd sooner have a Professional Series than a similarly-priced Gibson - and if you have the bucks and the urge for a USA Gretsch, the Custom Shop will be more than happy to build something to your specifications or duplicate a vintage design...
Another great post! And I stand 100% corrected on the matter. You know, after I said all that stuff yesterday, I went and did some reading and realized that the Gretsch brand is still in the family. I had no idea, but it’s a really cool fact to know. It honestly does make it seem like a more legitimate guitar with that being the case.

The Made in Japan thing doesn’t bother me in the least. I actually consider Japanese-made instruments (or anything they make) to be on par with anything U.S.A.-made, and sometimes it surpasses it. I do think the China thing does cheapen the brand, but I think that of all guitars made there. It’s nothing against the Chinese people, but when something is made there I know it’s solely because they were the cheapest bidder. The quality has come along, but the bottom line has always been financial (i.e. greed) on the part of US corporations subbing out the work. Digression…

At any rate, I’m doing a lot of reading and learning about Gretsch. Thanks again for all the info.
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Old 04-02-2024, 02:38 PM
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Another great post! I do think the China thing does cheapen the brand, but I think that of all guitars made there. It’s nothing against the Chinese people, but when something is made there I know it’s solely because they were the cheapest bidder. The quality has come along, but the bottom line has always been financial (i.e. greed) on the part of US corporations subbing out the work. Digression…
What about makers who are Chinese in origin - like Eastman, who started 30 years ago?
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Old 04-02-2024, 02:43 PM
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What about makers who are Chinese in origin - like Eastman, who started 30 years ago?
I view them as a separate type of thing. Not trying to start a flame war on the topic, but that is my position.
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Old 04-02-2024, 03:27 PM
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I view them as a separate type of thing. Not trying to start a flame war on the topic, but that is my position.
Understood. Also not trying to stir anything up - I just thought the distinction was worth making.
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Old 04-02-2024, 03:34 PM
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Understood. Also not trying to stir anything up - I just thought the distinction was worth making.
To me, the Eastman shop is something like Collings, et al, but just located in China. It’s not a huge, faceless factory churning out product for big buyers. But it’s more like a real shop of artisans.
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Old 04-02-2024, 04:51 PM
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. . .

Although it was never an issue for me (or any of the other local guys/gals I was in bands with over the years) I've heard a fair number of players complain that Gretsch is a one-trick pony tonally - twang and jangle and nothing more; FYI unlike Gibson/Fender - where you could just plug in and achieve instant sonic gratification - Gretsch was always sui generis, never an everyman's instrument and never intended to be. . . .
This guy seems to be able to get something other than twang and jangle out of his 5422T. He's got several videos with that guitar and, besides being a great player, he can get some great blues and rock and roll tones out of it.






Last edited by GoPappy; 04-02-2024 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 04-02-2024, 06:18 PM
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This guy seems to be able to get something other than twang and jangle out of his 5422T. He's got several videos with that guitar and, besides being a great player, he can get some great blues and rock and roll tones out of it...
I never said it couldn't be done, just that too many players tend to pigeonhole Gretsch tonally without any real knowledge of the marque. FYI several prominent jazz artists have used them over the years: Jimmie Webster (the grandfather of the tapping technique brought into the rock era by EVH), Mary Osborne, Sal Salvador, George Van Eps, Bucky Pizzarelli (and in the early-60's they were developing endorsement models for Al Caiola and Mary Ford) - not to mention Harry Volpe and Freddie Green on acoustic archtops - and there's a pretty hefty catalog of players across the spectrum of genres (including some past/present high-profile endorsers with their own namesake instruments - Tim Armstrong, Billy Duffy, Patrick Stump, Malcolm Young, Stephen Stills, et al.) who've made Gretsch their stage guitar of choice. You can pound the snot out of a Fender or Gibson and still get a useable sound or two - I've owned a Tele, a Strat, an SG, and an LP over the years - but you have to finesse a Gretsch a bit to bring out its best...
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Old 04-02-2024, 10:14 PM
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I know YOU weren't saying that, but were stating what others said or thought. I just wanted to post those videos for people who might be thinking the same thing - i.e., that Gretsch was all twang and jangle and nothing else. It's as inaccurate and unfounded as the notion that Telecasters are only good for country, which some people still seem to believe despite the hordes of players that have used them for just about every genre of music..
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Old 04-04-2024, 09:22 PM
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The upper-shelf Ibanez jazz boxes are very nice guitars.
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