Gretsch Broadkaster G6609TG-VWT
When I reviewed the Duo-Jet sized Cadillac green and larger-bodied black Players Edition Broadkaster guitars in issue 422 I mentioned to Gretsch that I had a upcoming tour and one would be perfect for the show, plus a great opportunity for a long term test, too. Very kindly, Gretsch furnished me with this gorgeous thing of whiteness, which will be strutting the UK’s theatre boards with me over the next couple of months – I shall let you know how we click.
To recap: the Players Edition Broadkasters are an extension of Gretsch’s relatively recent ‘centre block’ range and come with various improvements and updates. Switching has been simplified, the Bigsby is the more userfriendly string-through type, and pickups are the seriously good Full’Trons. The centre block itself is spruce, and said to offer dynamic tones while defeating feedback.
The first gig is a couple of weeks off, but I’ve played it lots at home and in a full-blown rehearsal studio. It’s interesting to see how an instrument functions in all situations, and you can learn a lot in these less pressurised environments. For instance the guitar took a little time to bed in, tuning wise; but now the strings have fully stretched and the Bigsby settled down, it’s behaving impeccably.
I can’t get over how great it sounds. I’m lucky enough to have nice Fenders and Gibsons at home, against which I can judge it. The Filter’Tron type humbucker definitely has a thing of its own: there’s real power there but also a crispness that puts it somewhere between those two more ubiquitous brands, sonically. Cranking up the gain on my home Blues Junior ‘Woody’ it instantly rewards with Malcolm Young style guts, but back the volume off and it cleans up perfectly. This model also features Fender’s ‘no load’ tone system so with the knob wide open the pot is bypassed for full twang potential.
I’ve not yet come to terms with the master volume, situated on the lower horn. It always strikes me as counter-intuitive to reach across the strings for it, so I’ll probably leave it full up and use the individual controls. Being so used to Strats, Teles, ES-335s and Les Pauls, it will take a while to acquire the same familiarity with the Broadkaster, but I’m getting there.
Of course, what no one can deny is how amazing it looks. The milky white and gold combination is so striking, and the cream binding and very classy tortoise-grain pickguard set it off perfectly. I’ll confess to a few mirror-related posing incidents.
The updating that Gretsch has done makes the Broadkaster one of the company’s easiest guitars ever to live with. The slimmer body, lower neck join and less protruding pickups make it feel so much more modern than traditional Gretsches, and a tiny detail that makes a big difference is that the forward strap button is on the top horn and not, as on an ES-335, heel-mounted; this places the guitar at a great playing angle and balances it perfectly on a strap.
Live, I’ll be using it through a Line6 Helix straight to front of house via the XLR outputs. I’ve set up a range of sounds, from vintage Fender, Vox and Marshall to modern Dumble clones with all the usual vintage effects like delay and tremolo.
Next issue I’ll let you know how the Broadkaster and I hit it off in the heat of battle. And if any of Guitarist’s rock ‘n’ roll-era readers fancy seeing us in action, look up Marty Wilde’s Solid Gold Tour, check if we are nearby and come and say hello.
“The Broadkaster is one of Gretsch’s easiest guitars ever to live with”