Rockabilly and Big Band Swing’s reigning king Brian Setzer and his vintage ’59 Gretsch 6120 decorate the cover of Guitar Player’s May issue in celebration of his newest album, Setzer Goes Instru-Mental!
GP quizzed the former Stray Cats frontman about his thinking behind his first-ever solo instrumental effort, and the gear he used to fuse rockabilly, country and jazz into a potent batch of songs.
Here’s a quick sample of what the article offers:
Q: What was your setup for “Far Noir East” which has that great sounding tremolo?
A: Man, I could put that tone in a bowl and eat it. I’m using a ’61 Fender Twin Amp, which, of course, doesn’t have reverb, so I was using the matching reverb unit with it. Fender was really at the top of their game with that thing, and I just love how it sounds. But the Twin Amp does have a beautiful sounding tremolo and that’s what you’re hearing.
Q: What’s the advantage of taking out the zero fret (from his Gretsch Hot Rod)?
A: I could never get along with a zero fret because grooves would wear into it, and then the strings wouldn’t slide over it properly. Even 30 years ago, we would take a chisel and bang those things out. So if you want the original-style Chet Atkins model from the ‘50s, Gretsch still offers it—but if you want to rock with it and have it play in tune, I think my model is the logical alternative. I think about what a 6120 was used for in the 1950s—it was a guys who were trying to play like Chet Atkins. And that’s why the old Gretsches are usually in pretty good shape. Basically we’ve tried to duplicate a ‘50s guitar, but add all the things I’ve done to them over the years to make them rock.
The article also includes a link to this oldie but still rockin’ live performance of “Guitar Rag.”