Gretsch New Jet 6114
I had been meaning to get some nice photos of my guitars for quite awhile. So this weekend I finally made some time and shot one of them. This is a Gretsch New Jet, model 6114. It's kind of a fancy version of a Duo Jet with a flame maple veneer top. The New Jet was a Japanese model that was only made for a couple years in the early 2000s. It's not as nice as the American-made Jets, but it's a big step up from the Korean-made Electromatic line. It has a fairly chunky neck and it plays nicely. The best part about this guitar is that it has a pair of TV Jones designed Filter'Tron pickups with alnico magnets. TV Jones makes hands-down the best vintage style Filter'Trons you can get short of a real '50s era Gretsch. The pickups in this guitar are slightly hotter than vintage 'Trons and maybe a little bit darker sounding. Paired with the right amp this guitar sounds terrific, not surprisingly. It benefits greatly from new strings and I always try to keep a fresh set on it.
Here's a rigging set up shot. I used a couple sheets of white poster board as my backdrop, clamped onto a mic stand. I draped some black felt cloth onto a couple mic stands for the one black background shot. For lighting, I used a shoot-through umbrella placed camera-right, and a 24" EzyBox softbox placed camera-left, both with speedlights. I turned off the room lights before every shot so all lighting is from my speedlights. The modifiers are placed even with, or slightly above, the guitar and the speedlights were set to equal power. I also "feathered" both lights, aiming the center of the modifier (and therefore the brightest light) behind the guitar onto the background. The umbrella and softbox are both big enough that a lot of light still falls onto the face of the guitar, but it's feathered - i.e. tapered from brighter to darker. I think this adds some subtle 3-D depth to these head-on shots that might otherwise appear a bit flat. I was expecting to have to fight with reflections off the face of the guitar, but I didn't. I think that's because the finish on this particular guitar isn't as glossy as some. When I get around to shooting some of my other guitars, I bet I'll have to deal with that. As for lens, I used my 50mm f/1.8 lens for everything and did all my focusing manually using live view and zooming all the way in on a selected feature of the guitar. I shot everything on a tripod and with a wireless remote to ensure tack-sharp images.
I learned one valuable lesson on this shoot: These close-ups really show dust! I cleaned up the guitar before shooting it, but apparently not enough. Next time, I intend to use a compressed air can to blow as much as I can off the guitar, especially in the small crevices of all the machined bits. Then I'll probably spend some time in post-processing, spot-healing any remaining dust particles.