Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

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Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Art Sims » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:13 am

I'm looking for an archtop that doesn't cost a lot, can be set up to finger well, and would be easy to replace. My playing is mostly for pleasure at home though sometimes I play in church settings and once in a while other venues. When playing out, I’m a little uncomfortable taking my main guitar (Vintage Riviera) because it would be almost impossible to replace and very costly to do so. It was about $400 when purchased back in the 60’s but since then has become somewhat rare and worth $1000’s. Things do happen to guitars when taken on trips, left on stage during breaks, etc. So I’m looking for something more feasible for regular use. What I’m thinking about is a Joe Pass Epiphone or Gretsch 5120, either of which would be around $500, I think. Years ago I had a Tennessean (traded in on the Riviera) and that guitar played quite well. But top line Gretsch guitars are too much money for what I have in mind.
Anyway, I’m planning to do some shopping and wondering if any of you have the Joe Pass Epiphone and if so what you think of it. I would guess several here have the Gretsch 5120 or similar model. Are you happy with it? Does it set up well and play nicely for you? Would you buy another if something should happen to the one you have?
Thanks for any input?
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Ray Bohlken » Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:56 am

Art, I once had an Epiphone Chet Atkins Country Gentleman II that I liked a lot. I sold it because I got a good deal on a 6120 and I don't have room for that many guitars. The Guitar Center used gear web site has a sunburst one listed for sale for $498. I don't know if it comes with a case or a gig bag, but I really liked the guitar and neck. The neck pickup was really good and the bridge pickup had a good sound, too. They will sometimes negotiate price and shipping, so you might want to talk to them.
Here is a link to that site. Just enter Chet Atkins in the Key word area and they will come up.

http://used.guitarcenter.com/usedgear/i ... cation=843

Here is the info for that particular store. They'll probably be glad to send photos.
Good luck.
Ray


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916-746-8787

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GUITARS | SEMI/AE ARCH TOP
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USED EPIPHONE CHET ATKINS HOLLOWBODY
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Steve Moran » Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:18 pm

Art,
I agree with Ray that an Epi Country Gentleman II is a really good guitar and reasonable at used prices when they come up. I replaced the tuners with Grovers on mine and added a Bigsby and it stays in tune and plays real well. Also has a nice neck shape for fingerpicking.

Since you're thinking jazz type guitar for fingerstyle I have a Cort Larry Coryell LCS-1 guitar which has a really nice neck shape for fingerstyle chord shapes though it's a standard narrow (1 5/8" I think) neck.

The two guitars above are definitely keepers! Anyway good luck finding a jazz style guitar.
Steve
:D
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby LMark » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:06 pm

How about the Swingster? I played one in a store and thought that it was pretty nice; http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ ... MwodLl0ABw But then, again, Art, it looks like your current guitar has Gibson-esque humbuckers. You might not find that you get your sound with Gretschy pickups. If you look at the 5120 and the Swingster, the pickups appear very similar to each other. Neither of these is quite a filtertron--at least not the way I hear them. They have a kind of hybrid Gibson-Gretsch humbucker sound to me. It sounds like the Epi II GC, as some have suggested, might work. I have an Epi Elitist CG. If the pups in the Epi II are the same or similar, I think that you would like them. But I suppose you just gotta go out and play a couple guitars (whenever it warms up?)! LMark
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Ray Bohlken » Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:51 pm

LMark wrote: I have an Epi Elitist CG. If the pups in the Epi II are the same or similar, I think that you would like them. But I suppose you just gotta go out and play a couple guitars (whenever it warms up?)! LMark


The Elitist CG is made in Japan and has USA pickups in them and the Country Gent II was made in Korea I think and has pickups made in the Orient. They sound fine and I liked them, but they are not the same as the Elitist pickups. I played an Elitist once, and it was a really nice guitar, but they usually go for about 2 times the cost of an Epi Country Gent II.
Ray
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Art Sims » Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:30 am

Hi Ray and Steve.
That’s interesting about the Epiphone Country Gentleman II. I clicked on the link Ray provided and can see the possibility. I didn’t know until now that this particular model existed. I see it’s at a store in California. Seeing the listing sure gives me something to think about. I appreciate both you guys speaking from experience in having one. Your recommendations make me want to watch for one locally to handle for a bit. Thanks for your input.
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Art Sims » Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:39 am

Hi Mark,
The link to the Swingster shows a great looking guitar. Seems similar to the Joe Pass model I’ve thought about, single cutaway, hollow body, oversized headstock that some Epiphones have. What you're saying about pickups underscores that I need to hear them, which I think I should be able to do at a local music store. The pickups on my current guitar are original mini-humbuckers that came on it. Epiphone was putting these on Riveiras back when I bought mine. On this particular guitar I think they sound pretty good.
According to Ray’s follow-up post regarding pickups, the ones on the Epiphone CG II evidently sound fairly good but not quite as good as the ones on your Elitist model. All of which means, like you mentioned, I need to play what I will wind up choosing. Thanks for your thoughts and input about what you have observed.
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:47 pm

Looks like that Epi CG II is gone from the Guitar Center used gear web site. I think somebody got a good one there. I hadn't seen a sun burst one before.
Ray
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby guitarchuck » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:33 pm

Those Epiphone Country Gentleman II guitars are under-rated in my opinion. I wouldn't doubt it if someone here on the board bought that guitar after they heard about it. They are really tough to find and when you do they are usually only in the $500-700 price range. A real bargain for a 1 3/4" neck electric Chet Atkins guitar. I had a ebony one once and also a sunburst. The previous owner put a U.S. made Bigsby on the sunburst guitar. I played that guitar for about a year once as my main guitar. Of course it's not as nice as the Gibson or Gretsch Country Gentleman, but it's a super nice guitar for the price. (0nly one tone and one volume control on the CG II.) As far as I know the Epiphone Country Gentleman II only came in 3 colors, ebony, sunburst and wine red. Chet used a wine red one on at least one TV appearance. (Chet liked it well enough to go to the trouble of putting his trademark bent wire fixed Bigsby arm on it!)
As a side note, they had a lot of finish problems with this model, so several are marked "SEC". My sunburst was a second, the finish was cloudy in some spots on it. I've checked on some advertised through the years and many sellers won't tell you that they are marked "SEC" on the back of the headstock unless you ask.
I've always had the dream of owning one of each of the various models of Chet Atkins guitars, Gretsch, Gibson and even Epiphone. I can't afford the luxury of that though. It would cost quite a bit.

Here's a list that I did a while back:

http://www.misterguitar.us/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=560&p=3157#p3157

Right now I just have my G6122-1959HOF Country Gentleman, my Del Vecchio, and my first real guitar - my Harmony acoustic. All of those guitars are keepers. When I can afford it, I would like to have a good nylon electric and a Martin acoustic/electric to add to my keeper list.

I think whoever got that Epiphone Chet Atkins Country Gentleman II got a good guitar for the money.
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Re: Joe Pass Epi or Gretsch 5120?

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sun Jan 26, 2014 11:01 pm

Art, I hope you find a guitar that you like and enjoy it. The 5120 is a nice guitar, too, and I've played a couple of those at the local Guitar Center while I was checking out a Roland Micro Cube amp. I enjoyed playing that guitar. I never tried a Joe Pass guitar, but I'm sure it is a good model.
Chuck, thanks for the list of Chet Atkins model guitars. That's so neat.
I had a black EPI CG II and I owned it for about 3 years and sold it to make room for another. I currently have a 2005 Gretsch Nashville Classic, a 1990 Gibson Tennessean, and a Taylor Big Baby that I enjoy. I keep my eyes open for bargains and if I find one, I may pick it up, but I'd have to sell one of these...no more room at the inn otherwise.
Ray
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