Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Rockabilly Guitar

I hope to not offend anyone with this since this is primarily an acoustic site, but I’ve been wanting to try my hand (both of them … and the fingers) at Rockabilly guitar for a long time. My heart has always been and always will be with Flatpicking guitar and mandolin but I love that Rockabilly style.

I’ve never been much of an electric guitar player. I’ve had a few strats and a Peavey T-60 years ago (wish I would have kept that), but never kept them long and currently do not own any electric guitar. That being said, I need some advice on what to purchase to get that true Scotty Moore (and many others) sound. I do have a Fender “Blues Junior” 15 watt tube amp. I’m not sure if this will get the right sound or not. Should I get a different amp? What is the best delay pedal for this sound? Do I need overdrive? Etc… etc.

For a guitar, I’ve been looking at Gretsch G5120’s on ebay. They’re about $500.00 to $700.00 used. Or a new Gretsch G5420 (I think this is the replacement for the 5120, not sure) for a little more. These are cheaper versions of the real thing, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on something that may not work out or may lose interest in. A telecaster crossed my mind too. If I did go with the cheaper Gretsch, would I need to install better pickups?

The most important thing is capturing that true sound and of course learning to play that style.

Talk to me gearheads and thanks in advance. Again, I apologize if this topic shouldn’t be discussed here.


I am not a rockabilly guitarist so ignore everything I have to say :smiley:

With that said, here’s my thoughts: First off… your blue junior is a hot little amp. It should do fine for you. Add a little reverb, and you are already at some of the classic sounds.

When I think rockabilly, I think Brian Setzer. Much of the tone he gets come from his hands, but with that said, I am thinking a big Gretch with a Bigsby tremolo would have the right look. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about Gretchs to have specific info. I am not sure how much difference there is between a 6120 and the 5000 series. I suspect if you bought a pair of TV Jones classic pickups, that would be a pretty hot setup (or in my case, I’d just need the neck pickup). If I were in your shoes, I think I’d just google what brian is playing and then check my bank account.

On the flip side, there’s the chicken picking leaning side of rockabilly (I am not sure if that is on your radar as much)… I am thinking like Bill Kirchen in the video below. I love his classic sound. If you wanted to go for that sound, a tele is the way to go.


It’s two different sounds, and I think you can’t go wrong either way.

BTW, I’ve got a T-60. I am the original owner. My parents bought it for me when I was about in 8th grade. It has a tone I like and it plays great. It weighs approximately the same as a boat anchor. That’s a big chunk of ash. I did a setup on it and took it up to the church a few months back. It was fun to get it out again.

Thanks for the reply Mike.

Brian Setzer is exactly the sound I’m looking for. What a great guitarist he is (and singer). The chickn pickn’s good too but not really what I’m shooting for. I believe I’ll keep a close watch on a good deal for a Gretsch. I’ve heard of the T.V. Jones pickups, they seem to be popular in the rockabilly circle.

What I’m the most uncertain about is delay. There’s a ton to choose from with just as many opinions on each. From what I’ve found so far, analog must be the way to go… but which one?! And there’s even arguments over digital or analog. Acoustic music sure is a lot less complicated :unamused: !!!

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BTW, I’ve got a T-60. I am the original owner. My parents bought it for me when I was about in 8th grade. It has a tone I like and it plays great.

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I received mine in 1982 as a graduation gift. It was the natural ash body which most were. I wish I would have been as smart as you and kept mine. It came with a Peavey Bandit amp. I don’t miss that nearly as much as the guitar. They’re still out there, maybe someday I’ll pick one up.



If by analog you mean something like the old Roland chorus echos, I bet those puppies are expensive as all get out. They were expensive back in the 80s and I bet they are just as bad or worse now. Add to it that tapes need to be replaced… I don’t even know if one can get tape for them. Where I am going with this rambling is this: I bet to really get the cool tone alot of guys have retro gear, but that’s is probably a stout cost in money and effort. I bet you could do it with digital for a fraction of the cost and trouble. In the mean time, keep your eyes peeled for a deal on a good tape echo. Of course, this may all be way off base and maybe they can be had for a reasonable price. Let me know what you find on it, because now you’ve got me curious.

Hey JW,
I just found this comparison between a space echo (RE-201) and a modern digital simulator (R-20). I came to a conclusion, but I’ll not prejusice anyone else’s thoughts:

Thanks for checking things out for me Mike.

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I came to a conclusion, but I’ll not prejusice anyone else’s thoughts:

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I’m not sure what your conclusion is but I’m lost on both of these effects. I was thinking more simple pedals like a Dunlop XLR Carbon Copy or the Way Huge Aqua Puss or the old Boss DM-2 (which seem to be highly desired on E-Bay judging from the price).

On your you tube comparison, I personally thought the digital sounded cleaner, but I know nothing about effects. For the slap back rockabilly thing, it seems like everyone suggests analog. But are the pedals I mentioned above truly analog? Like I said before, I’m lost on effects.

Thanks again,


My conclusion on the analog (tape) versus digital (little stomp box). The analog does seem to have a slightly more vintage sound and vibe. It is so slight that in a loud, live setting I doubt I could hear any difference. That’s to my ears… some people are apparently much more sensitive to the digital sound. The digital is cleaner, maintenance free and less that 20% of the cost of a vintage tape echo. Add to the it that you can use it as a looper as well and it’s a slam dunk. For my money, I’d go digital (compared to the vintage tape echo) and put more bucks into my guitar/amp/tubes/etc.

As far as the modern analog stomp boxes, you’d have to try them out and see what your ears tell you. The modern analog devices do look appealing (and you don’t have the same maintenance issues of the old units), but you can get alot more versatility with digital. It’s all up to your ears. If you like the tone of say, the carbon copy versus something digital and don’t need the extra delay time and features of a digital, then there’s nothing wrong with the analog.

You talk about an entertainer that guy is super better than super I cannot find words to describe him but that one Hot rod Lincoln where he goes off into other tunes is fantastic. have never seen any one do that . wow!