Price paid: C$ 700
Purchased from: Avenue
Sound — 8
Over the years that I have owned this guitar, I have played it through a wide variety of guitar amplifiers including a Fender Princeton, a Traynor YGM-4 (1972), a Vox AC30-CC, a Peavey Valveking 212 and, most recently a Mesa Boogie Roadster. However, given that I have used it primarily with a Celestion loaded Fender HOT Rod Deluxe, I'll use this amp when commenting on the guitar. Using a clean setting, the Bridge pickup is rather bright and quite loud. It is suitable for strummed parts with a bit of an edge and for clean lead work. The neck pickup, meanwhile, is relatively dark and a little bit quieter. Thus, the neck pickup works wonderfully for single note lines and warmer, jazzier tones. Using the two pickups together produces a rather acoustic-like tone, which is absolutely wonderful for strummed parts, and has become my go-to rhythm sound. Using an overdriven amp, think a little bit of crunchy break-up, the neck pickup stays fairly clean, picking up a little bit more shimmer than on clean settings. This is still lovely as a single note tone, but is is also great for jazz lead playing and is a nice alternate rhythm sound. The Bridge pickup, on the other hand, gets a real great 50's rock tone. Its loud, crunchy and twangy. Absolutely brilliant for rockabilly and rock n' roll lead and rhythm playing. Again, using the two pickups together produces great strummed tones, though the sound is somewhat compressed. Using still more gain, the Bridge pickup becomes a fire breather. Lead lines are full of harmonic overtones and rhythm parts are bright, but never thin or brittle. Both pickups together with moderate gains creates a good tone for rhythm work in a one guitar band, but is a little too thick for use with 2 guitars. The neck pickup developed a singing, vocal quality, which makes it an excellent choice for lead work, which is good because chording becomes muddled with gain. As with any hollow-body, feedback becomes an issue, but it is relatively manageable without significant compromise. It is also worth noting that the vol, vol, master control configuration is absolutely brilliant. It is possible to set different volumes for the two pickups while still being able to mute the guitar entirely, which gigging guitarists will truly appreciate.
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar serves as my go-to clean/crunch rhythm guitar. Certainly, it is capable of far more than that, but I have other guitars that are better suited to other tasks. That being said, this is one of the more comfortable all-night guitars I have ever used. Even after 4 hours of banging out song after song, I hardly feel any fatigue. On top of that, the guitar has a rhythm sound that fills a mix really nicely without necessarily needing to sit on-top of the mix, though it can certainly do that too. My only quip about the guitar is the Bigsby vibrato. Though it works quite well for a cheaper unit, I would probably have passed on the unit in hindsight because it is simply a complexity that doesn't add enough to my playing to necessitate itself. Overall, this is one of my favorite guitars to play for jazz, country, rock and just general fooling around. It is comfortable and it sounds very good. Definitely worth a look for anybody searching for a serious guitar that wont break the bank completely.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Overall, the reliability of this guitar has been rather good. In 2+ years of regular gigging and practicing, I haven't come across any durability based issues. All the hardware, apart from the stock bridge, has held up quite well and everything still looks and feels good. The strap buttons on this guitar are a nice touch. Essentially, you tighten the button around your strap to prevent the strap from falling off. Given that it would be very difficult to install typical strap-locks on this guitar, the addition of a more secure strap system is a very well though out and appreciated feature. As much as this guitar is extremely reliable, I would not use it without a backup because things do go awry at gigs sometimes. That being said, I have played many gigs where my backups (often more expensive instruments) haven't gotten touched. The 9 is only because the thinness of the body leads me to suspect that it wont tolerate a fall as well as a solid-body guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The factory set-up on this guitar was reasonably good. The action was a little bit high and the truss rod need to be tightened a little bit, but that is more than acceptable in my mind, especially given the climate where I live. The fretwork is really quite good, though any issues would be masked by the neck binding anyways. Beyond that, the tuners work well enough, the Bigsby is smooth and stays in tune (though I hardly use it) and the over-all fit and finish is quite good. However, the stock Bridge is quite poor. The machining tolerances on the Bridge weren't tight enough and the intonation screws would rattle and work themselves loose within a few hours of playing. The problem was easily solved with the installation of a tone-pros unit, but I would rather have not had to deal with it.
Features — 8
My guitar is a Korean made G5120 electromatic, made some time in 2008 (purchased in mid 2008, so I assume this is a safe guess). This is a full hollowbody, featuring Gretsch's classic "Nashville" body shape. The guitar features laminated maple sides, top and back, with dual F holes cut into the top. The top, back and neck are all bound with off-white plastic, giving the guitar a rather attractive look. The neck features a rosewood finger board, thumbnail inlays, 22 medium frets, a 24.5 inch scale and a 43mm nut. The guitar features a floating tune-o-matic Bridge on a rosewood base and a licensed Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. Other hardware includes 2 Gretsch dual-coil humbucking pickups, die-cast open-style tuners, a synthetic bone nut, a clear plastic pickguard and knurled strap retainer knobs. The guitar also features a master volume, a master tone, Bridge volume, neck volume and 3 way pickup selector Switch controls. The guitar arrived with nearly no accessories of any sort, with only a few allen keys to speak of. Rather disappointingly for the price, there wasn't even a gig-bag included. If you plan to buy one of these, make sure to leave cash space for a case.