Gretsch Broad­kaster G6609TG-VWT

Guitarist - - Longtermers - with Neville Marten

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”

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