Price paid: $ 699.99
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 10
With the Monster Jazz cable and the Ibanez Wholetone amp - the sound is warm, clear, and soooo sweet. But, I was not done yet with my modifications. I changes out the bridge with a bridge that looed exaftly the same, but each string sits on a little roller. The string rolls and does not bind when using the Bigsby. I bought it on eBay for under $20.00, and I love it. My guitar stays in tune a lot better now.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I would say you will need to be someone, who loves to fix and tinker with his guitars, and has a working knowledge of how to put on a oval jack plate, and setup the neck (string action), and set the intonation on a regular basis, and also adjust the pick ups for a balance tone. If you are just a beginner, buy a more user friendly guitar without a tremolo. Fender has some really good ones a lot cheaper too. For me this guitar is an "8" but if you are a beginner, it would be less than a "5" per you will be frustrated tinkering with it's adjustments, and soon dislike it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I do not know yet, per I only had my guitar a month. However, since I understand the weakness areas of this guitar, and I can fix them myself, without running to an expensive Luther or Guitar Technician every week, then I feel it will last me a long time. But, like any hollow body guitar, it can be damaged (cracked), if you are not careful. Solid body guitars can take a real beating and still work fine. Just be gentle with it, and it will last.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
The finish was perfect. The fit? If you mean set-up, well it needed to be set-up by me, per I had to take the factory "packing foam" out from under the bridge, and the intation is lost. The store should set these guitars up before selling them, especially to beginners. And, advise beginners that the bridge will float or move, and the intonation will change, but it is an easy fix. It is not hard to set the intonation, just go to YouTube and there are free lessons how to messure from the nut to the 12 fret, then use that same distance from the 12th fret to the bridge - basically done. The YouTube visuals are more detailed. As for the pick Ups (PU). Well I have read a lot of complaints that there is little to no adjustment for the two PU, and that is true. My guitar neck PU is twice as load as the bridge PU. So, I will need a warranted tech to look at it. I do not think a minor adjustment will fix it for me. Therefore, I hope yours is more volume balanced then mine is right now. I read some tips how to fix this, and yes - I went to YouTube for advice and Gretsch Discussion Forum. All-in-all, I still like the guitar. But, I also like to fix and tinker with new modifications too.
Features — 8
When I bought this guitar from Guitar Center in Winter Park Florida, it had to be ordered, per none on the store floor. However, that month there wasw a sale, and they gave me a 15% discount, plus free shipping and handling (UPS), and free delivered to my home. It came in perfect factory condition. However, the foam under the bridge had to be removed, and I then had to set the intonation. For anyone getting this guitar, there are free lessons on YouTube how to set the intonation. I also read a lot of reviews that were positive, but a few negative features. Such as: if you put a straight guitar cable plug in the guitar jack receptical, and while you are sitting on a chair or couch, and you lean on that plug while sitting, or just knock the plug - you will serious crack the guitar wood. You may even knock in the jack plug receptical inside the guitar. So, I went on eBay and bought a $3.00 oval jack plate. Note, that the Gretsch 5120 does not have a jack plate, nor does it have any reinforcement on the inside to protect this area. All you have is the thin guitar body with the hole for your guitar to plug in. I also bought a guitar cable with an L-shape plug at one end, so I would no lean on it like the straight plug. Now I can lean on this area with no fear of damaging my guitar. If you do not know how to put an oval plate on, have a guitar tech do it, per the receptical may fall inside. But, do not have him put the two little screws in the oval jack plate, per it will just add more holes in your guitar, and may weaken that area. The oval jack plate can be tighened in place like a big washer - done deal. What I also did was to add some rubber glue, which will not hurt the finish. By the way, the cable I bought was Monster Jazz cable at $48.00. It gives my guitar a warmer clean tone. Amazing sound difference form a cheap cable. You will notice right away that it is thicker diameter cable than any other cable you have seen. It filters out a most static (check it out). I also bought an Ibanez Wholetone Jazz amp ($279.00) with a 15" speaker, 80W. Also check out the sound on YouTube - also amazing. If you like a really warm, cyrstal clean sound, then Monster Jazz cable and Wholetone amp will do that for you.