I rarely make impulse decisions to buy guitars. Normally I spend hours, days, weeks researching and deciding which direction I want to go then I go on the hunt to find what I am looking for.
In the case of this Gretsch G6609TFM, I made the decision to buy it before I even played it. Literally I walked into my local shop, took one look at it and told them I had to have it. Now hold up. Before you all start telling me why it is bad to buy a guitar without playing it. I did in fact play it before I left the shop.
First off I know my local shop well and I know that even if it doesn’t play exactly like I want it to, my tech (who also works at this shop) can get it playing perfect. Secondly I have played Gretsch Centerblock semi-hollows with the same specs (other than the mounted pole bridge setup) before and loved them.
Looks to Kill
What stood out to me on this guitar was one, it’s finish. I love orange (in case you haven’t noticed.) For a guitar though I need the orange to be less bright and this burnt orange color fit the ticket perfectly. Not to subtle but also not to brash. Secondly, the wood grain is probably the best I have seen on any guitar ever. I am dead serious. PRS has made a name for their “10”, Artist, and Wood Library tops but this is right up there with the best I have seen.
Lastly the gold pickup rings, aged mother of pearl fingernail fretboard inlays and aged white binding paired perfectly with the nickel/chrome hardware and pickups. Yep that is correct. I decided to purchase this guitar because it was perhaps the most beautiful specimen of a guitar I have ever seen.
More Sustain & Transfer to the Body
Okay moving on to the tone and play-ability. Right off the bat I noticed a lot more sustain and vibration transfer from the Tube-O-Matic pole mounted bridge. There also wasn’t that “plunky/snappy” Gretsch feel that I had become accustomed to with other models that had the ebony mounted floating or pinned bridge setup. In addition to more sustain it is super nice not having to tape off and mark where the bridge is supposed to be when changing strings.
The knurled screws that adjust bridge height are a bit loose when strings are off and it would be awesome if there were set screws to hold the bridge height in place. That is a minor complaint and there are only a few bridge manufacturers that offer that functionality.
Overall this guitar feels and plays more like a Gibson ES335 than a Gretsch in all good ways. It keeps all of the vibes and feels that Gretsch players love without all of the honky things that make the vintage ones a bit hard to play. I would say that this guitar is around 60% ES335esque and 40% Gretsch.
More Gain and Low Mid-range Response
The Full-tron pickups were something that was a very pleasant surprise for me. After trying power trons and a few other remakes of the original Gretsch Filtertrons I just wasn’t a huge fan of anything other than the originals. That is until now.
These Full-trons retain all of that Gretsch snarl and crispy airy feel to them while adding some lowend and low mid-range which puts it more in the land of a hot P90 or Wide Range pickup in terms of tone. Again it still has all of that airy feel and crispiness that Gretsch folks love. It is just refined.
The Full-trons also have in my estimation 10 to 15% more gain than an original Filtertron but they also clean up really well with your pick attack or by slightly rolling off the volume.
Additionally the bridge and neck pickups are more balanced than and switches between the two are less abrasive than with other filtertrons I have played. There is enough difference to merit switching between pickups but there isn’t a huge volume difference and tonally they pair extremely well together.
I have owned this guitar for just over a year now and I honestly it has ruined me. I have owned around 5 other guitars during this time and I just can’t fall in love with anything else. It does everything that I need it to do on Sundays and it has just enough extras to keep me striving to move forward creatively.
As far as build quality goes it is impeccable. Unfortunately shortly after I purchased it my son sat on the case and the neck finish cracked a bit up towards the head stock. I took it in to my tech and he said that it only is in the finish so we wet sanded and buffed it and it hasn’t moved since. The crack still shows a bit in the finish but I haven’t lost any tuning stability and it hasn’t gotten worse.
Tonally these guitars are perfect for the worship genre. Tons of guys like Jeffrey Kunde, Michael Pope, Micheal Guy Chislett and Nigel Hendroff have used Gretsch guitars for years but this is the perfect marriage of a Gibson ES335 and a Gretsch. Give one a try. You won’t regret it!