G5438T Electromatic Pro Jet
Burpbelly, on december 13, 2011 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Price paid: £ 424
Purchased from: Andertons.co.uk
- "Jet" single cutaway body style
- Basswood body with an arched maple top
- Maple neck with a rosewood fretboard and 22 medium jumbo frets
- Bone nut
- Gold top finish with mahogany back and sides and single ply white binding
- 2 "Black Top" Filter'Tron humbucker pickups
- 3-position toggle switch
- Master volume, master tone, bridge volume and neck volume controls
- "G" chrome arrow knobs
- Vintage style chrome tuners
- Knurled strap buttons (almost locking - they screw down on the strap and are far more secure than the buttons seen on most other guitars)
- Licensed Bigsby B-50 vibrato tailpiece
Overall some nice features put into a fairly cheap package, however a gig bag would have been nice as Gretsch cases are horribly expensive, and it doesn't fit into a standard Les Paul shaped case. // 8
Sound: Most of the songs I play can be placed in the rock and blues Venn diagram of music, and so buying a guitar from a company known to produce guitars made for country might seem like an odd choice. However once I heard this guitar I knew I wanted to buy one. The sound that comes from the bridge pickup is exactly what I wanted, delivering a bright, yet full sound that cuts through the mix with aplomb. I'm running my Jet through an Orange Dual Terror with several effects in front of it (Crybaby, Bad Monkey, T.Rex Dual Boost, Double Muff, Q-Tron, Hardwire Delay).
Overall I'd say the Jet is slightly noisier than your average Les Paul style guitar due to the chambered body, but not overly so (compared to my Epi Casino it's silent!) - feedback will happen if you run a lot of dirt, but not uncontrollably. There is quite a lot of difference between the two pickups with the neck pickup sounding a lot darker than the bridge. The neck pickup is really nice for some rhythm, especially (surprise, surprise) some country-esque songs of the likes of Dylan, Cash etc. But also great for pretty much any clean sound I've wanted so far. I find that the best combination for me however is a combination of the two with some of the volume rolled back on the bridge getting a nice smooth sound but not losing any of the high end from the bridge which made me want the guitar in the first place. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: Out of the box the guitar was set up really well. I've found nothing to complain about in this section. The action is low but not too low, the pickups are both equal in volume on full, the finishing is gorgeous - the gold sparkle top looks brilliant under stage lights and just as good in daylight, the control knobs are really smooth and the Bigsby set up is good and it holds tune really well. Almost perfect in every way! // 9
Reliability & Durability: I've played this guitar live a couple of times since I've had it and it'll go the distance. The finish on the neck felt the same when I finished as when I started, which I've noticed can change a bit on some other guitars I've owned. The Bigsby is a really nice addition to the guitar and, while extended use will put the tuning out a bit, it's no more than you'd expect from extended use. Having never owned a Gretsch before the strap buttons really interested me when I saw them - they are massive (as in tall) and are like thumb screws. Once the strap is on you can screw the strap buttons down on top of the strap making it more secure than regular strap buttons. While I believe this guitar would withstand live playing without a backup, I'm far too paranoid to put this into practice and always have a backup - the guitar will withstand live playing, but strings can always break. // 9
Overall Impression: As I mentioned earlier I play music from mostly within the blues and rock spectrums and this guitar fits these really well. I've been playing guitar for about 8 years now and own a few other guitars (Epiphone Casino and Firebird VII, Godin Exit-22). The Jet has become my main guitar virtually overnight, I love the sound and the feel of the instrument, and being able to create warbles on the Bigsby is something that I've always wanted to do! I love the look of the guitar as it's just different enough from a Les Paul that people take notice, while traditional enough that things like feel and balance aren't effected (I'm looking at you Firebird), and the Gold Top Sparkle finish contrasting with the mahogany coloured back and sides is stunning. In terms of looks the only thing I would change is having a B70 Bigsby rather than a B50, but that's purely cosmetic and something I might look at in the future. Before buying my Jet I looked at an Epiphone Les Paul Ultra III and a Fender Custom Telecaster, but went with the Gretsch when I heard it, and also because it's slightly different, which I really like in a guitar. Quality wise it's on a par with my Canadian Godin, and exceeds both my Epiphones. If lost/stolen I'd probably buy another, however having played this one it does make me curious as to how much better the "proper" (1500) Gretsch Jets are, as I've not played anything that's much better than this! And for a third of the price who can argue? // 9
G5438T Electromatic Pro Jet
manyscissors, on june 17, 2013 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Price paid: £ 349
Purchased from: Regent Sounds
Features: I suppose that in terms of features it isn't particularly fancy (I didn't get the bigsby one), although it does have a separate volume control knob for each pick-up (which are black-top Filter'Trons) which is actually pretty useful if you want to have a lot of contrast between parts (since I've been loving you, for example). I really like the neck: given that it's a 350 guitar, the fact that it feels so welcoming and luxurious is very nice surprise, and actually that is true of the rest of the guitar. I don't think it's that thick, but it fits into my (pretty big) hands very comfortably and is very playable.
Beautiful finish and looks generally, and when it's in the sun the back is actually this really nice dark brown/red colour - one possible problem if you like to take great care of the appearance is that the surface of the body, which is laminated maple, picks up any fingerprint and holds onto it forever unless you make the effort to remove it. And then you play it again and the tiniest amount of grease or sweat on your arm is instantly visible on the guitar.
The tuners are good too - if I had to name one fault in terms of features it would be the bridge, which is actually pretty crappy: when I'm playing unplugged (which is also nice on this guitar) the top three strings all often make the bridge buzz, and I suspect I'm losing a lot of tone through that. In fact, I'm getting it replaced (with a Compton bridge). Finally, I've also read on the internet that the nut is bad, but I don't actually think it's caused me any problems at all. All in all decent features, and if it weren't for the bridge I think a 9 or 10 would be appropriate, but I'll give it an 8 here to keep it realistic. // 8
Sound: The sound is, in short, freakin' awesome. I mainly play Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and loads of blues stuff as well as just jamming along to bluesy songs or anything that really takes my fancy (but generally in the rock/blues area) and I have to say it is a great noise that it makes for that kind of thing. I will admit that my amp is a piece of crap (a 10W Stagg) and doesn't do it justice at all, but I often use my friend's amp (which is some 30W solid-state amp) and it sounds incredible on that, although pretty good on mine too.
There is a lot of contrast between the neck and bridge pick-ups: clean, the neck pick-up is very bright, and actually I quite often just turn the tone and volume knobs down slightly when playing it. Clean on the bridge pick-up is very rich and deep, a great sound. The combination of the two while playing clean is very useful as well, I reckon it would even be pretty good for funk, and I also find that I can use it very effectively for things like Chet Atkins and even some more classical stuff like "Classical Gas."
It's also definitely worth considering the sound when driven: on the neck pick-up this is again pretty bright, but you can get some really nice bluesy shrieks out of the top frets and some power chords really bite nicely. On the bridge pick-up, the overdriven sound is like eating chocolate. Honestly, it is so good - so powerful and great for mournful bluesy soloing...
However it wouldn't be a proper review if I didn't find some fault with it, and I think that the only real problem is that because of the bridge the sustain on the last couple of frets isn't quite what it could be (although it is still easily enough to use). Despite that, I'm still really tempted to give it a 10... In fact, I will, because I think the features are actually an 8.5 and the sound is a 9.5. // 10
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was reasonably well set-up when I first got it, but I went back to the shop to get it set-up anyway because they gave me a free set-up with the guitar so I thought I might as well. The pick-ups were, I think, well adjusted- although the bridge pick-up is very high, and if I'm picking aggressively I find that my hand pushes the string onto it and creates an undesirable noise. However that is easily solved by just moving my hand further back over the bridge, which I think is where it should be anyway... The action is good; as I said, I've read that the nut is bad and makes it too high, but that hasn't been the case for me.
Looking at the suggested flaws here, none of them really seem to apply, other than the bridge which you've already heard all about by now and the control knobs which were very slightly loose but that was fixed in under a minute with an allen key so hardly worth mentioning. It seems that the bridge is taking points off in all areas, and perhaps I've overstated it's annoyance as it honestly really isn't that bad. Still, I guess this is one section where I am actually confident about the score I'm giving. // 9
Reliability & Durability: I haven't actually played live with it yet, although I have to say that it leads a pretty demanding life in my bedroom in terms of the knocks that it takes and it handles them very well, often staying happily in tune after an hour car journey or just falling straight over onto the floor. The hardware is very solid - metal tuning knobs and pickup switch - so I can't see any feasible way in which they might break. Same goes for the strap buttons, which are metal screw-on ones and as such also seem pretty reliable.
I would actually quite like for the finish to wear off so you get that used look like on Stevie Ray Vaughan's strat, but I'm afraid I can't see that happening for a long time. I've been playing it a couple of hours a day (or an hour at least, it's hard to tell) for a year, and there is not a single sign of any wear. I guess I can't really give this a ten here because I haven't tested the reliability properly, but from what I've seen it is really pretty solid. // 9
Overall Impression: In the slightly limited world of left-handed guitars, I literally don't think I could be happier with this guitar. I know I've managed to find a flaw to mention in every section, but that's just because I feel it necessary to highlight every possible aspect that could ever annoy you. It really is great - I've been playing about two years (properly, although quite a bit of time without actually getting that into it before that) and it is easily the nicest guitar that I could realistically afford of all the ones that I've played in that time (I've tried loads of others in shops, and the only one that came close was a tele). I do also own a Danelectro DC 59, but I don't think it's really a fair comparison to make as this guitar is just way higher quality.
Needless to say, I would get it again without hesitating were it lost or stolen. The things I love about it are its tone and its looks: perfect for rock and blues in both aspects (and it is basically Les Paul shaped, although the top of the cutaway bit is more rounded). If I had to choose one thing I wish it had, it would be a better bridge, but don't let all this bridge talk deter you from buying it: it's awesome and if you're buying a guitar for rock, blues, country or rockabilly or in fact anything similar, I can't see how you could be disappointed with this guitar. // 10