The Current's Guitar Collection: Jillian Rae, Gretsch 6118

Watch Jillian Rae play her Gretsch 6118 hollow-body guitar during a performance of her song, 'Shades of Grey.' (Mary Mathis; Helen Teague | MPR)
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Jillian Rae talks about her Gretsch 6118 hollow-body guitar
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After Jillian Rae and her band stopped at The Current for a session hosted by Andrea Swensson and heard on The Local Show, Rae took a few minutes to tell us about the guitar she was playing. Here's what she had to say:

Tell us about the guitar you played in today's session.

It is a beautiful hollow-body Gretsch 6118. It's a new guitar, but it's modeled after a late-Sixties-style Gretsch.

When did you get this guitar?

We've had it for probably a year and a half; two years, tops. It was always the one I wanted to add to the arsenal, because Eric Martin, my husband, is the guitar player in my band and the guitar expert of the two of us, but I also play and write on guitar, and I know what tone I want, depending on the song.

We have a Stratocaster; we ended up getting a Telecaster; we have an awesome Gibson Dot; we have a beautiful Gretsch baritone, but we never had that hollow-body — big, fat-sounding, with that little bit of acoustic nature — electric guitar. So I've been badgering him for years, like, "Let's just keep our eyes open — if we can find a hollow-body Gretsch, I don't care what year it is, I honestly don't care what it looks like, it just needs to have a Bigsby [tailpiece and tremolo] and it needs to sound big and fat and beautiful."

So he found that. I think it was a Craigslist purchase; he found it and bought it from a person used, and it was one of those things where a bunch of people were trying to get it and he had to either act now or miss out on the deal. So I came home one day and Eric was just — this is not like him, he was super sheepish — he was like, "OK, Jillian, we need to talk. I did something today…"

And I'm thinking, "Oh my god, what did you do?" I thought it was going to be something really serious. He was like, "OK, I couldn't pass this up. I bought this Gretsch…"

It [cost] a lot. But for me, compared to how much the price of a violin is, I always think guitars are a steal, even when they're expensive, because my classical instrument was about $15,000. An expensive guitar can be a thousand dollars or in the lower thousands.

So Eric was prefacing with this apology, and then he brings the guitar out and shows it to me, and it's beautiful; the color is Cadillac green — it's like a light mint green with a darker green on the edges — hollow-body Gretsch with a giant Bigsby. And I almost started crying, but I had to play it, so you know, I was a little bit silent for a while, like, "OK … yeah, so we have a Gretsch now?"

But I truly did ride that out a little bit. He had that "I bought something really expensive without talking to you" guilt, so it just allowed me, for the next year, to just buy expensive things for myself music-gear wise, so it all balanced out in the end!

What's your songwriting process? Have you been writing on the Gretsch or on something else?

It really depends. If I'm at home writing, I have access to all the guitars we have, so I'll usually pick one and have that add to the tone. But most of the time, it's just an acoustic is what's handy, and to get the chord structure and just the melody of the song, I'll use that.

But instantly, when I bring it to the band, we kind of experiment. We have a Fender Jazzmaster, too, and that's one I kind of go back and forth between the Gretsch and the Jazzmaster on all the songs on this record, and then what ends up happening at the end of the day is the Gretsch is on most of them because it's just so beautiful.

Do you plan to use the Gretsch onstage more often?

Yeah, definitely! Again, the whole idea was for that sound to be in our guitar arsenal for Eric to play, so now that I'm playing more guitar on the songs on the new record [I Can't Be The One You Want Me To Be], it's kind of an amazing treat that — yeah! — I'm going to be playing that Gretsch live onstage now for most of the songs that I play electric guitar on, so it's just a win-win-win!

External Links

Jillian Rae - official site

Gretsch Guitars - G6118T Players Edition Anniversary

Related Stories

  • Jillian Rae plays songs from her new album in The Current studio On the cusp of releasing her new solo album, 'I Can't Be The One You Want Me To Be,' Jillian Rae visited The Current studio to play songs from the new record and to talk with The Local Show's Andrea Swensson. The album documents Jillian Rae's continuing growth as an artist. 'I ended up giving myself permission to put out the sounds that I love and that I'm feeling with this collection of songs,' she says.

3 Photos

  • Jillian Rae portrait at The Current
    Jillian Rae with her Gretsch 6118 hollow-body guitar (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Jillian Rae portrait at The Current
    Jillian Rae with her Gretsch 6118 hollow-body guitar (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • Jillian Rae portrait at The Current
    Jillian Rae with her Gretsch 6118 hollow-body guitar (Mary Mathis | MPR)