Price paid: £ 500
Purchased from: Trevor Davies Music
Sound — 6
Well, it's a Gretsch - expect a twangy sound reminiscent of '50s and '60s rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and surf, with punchy cleans and raunchy overdriven tones. Now the sound of the G5120 has the correct vibe for a classic Gretsch tone, albeit a little lackluster in the top end. This can be remedied by boosting the treble or presence on the amp a fair bit, but this can easily make some amps sound very sharp and nasal - a bit more natural 'sparkle' can be extracted from them by raising the polepieces on one of the coils of each pickup, accentuating the sound of that coil more than the other, but they still don't really deliver the crisp, cutting twang you expect from a Gretsch, and are a little bit muddy, particularly the bridge position. I can't help but feel that most people who buy a G5120 will be wanting to upgrade the pickups soon enough. With a bit of careful tweaking the stock pickups can sound acceptable for the price you pay, but I think there's a lot more potential that the stock pickups aren't making the most of.
Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression of the G5120 is that it's a great guitar, but in order to sell something this good quality at such a good price they had to cut some corners. Fortunately the things that let the guitar down can be improved - since the pickups are standard size humbuckers there are a plethora of aftermarket options available, and the bridge, as well as the loose base it is mounted to, can be replaced very easily too, without making any non-reversible modifications to the guitar. It most certainly is worth upgrading the G5120, as even if you add the cost of the modifications to the total cost of the guitar, you still couldn't have done much better for the money you spent. There is great potential in the G5120, but potential unfortunately not realised with the factory hardware as the pickups and bridge simply hold the guitar back - but that doesn't mean to say it's not a good guitar without modifications. Without any upgrades the guitar is acceptable for the price, but it can be so much more for so little extra money.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This feels like a very sturdy, durable instrument, and I will gig with it as soon as a gig comes along that requires this kind of guitar. The hardware seems decent quality despite my criticisms of the bridge and the pickups. The strap buttons are solid and hold the strap in place very well thanks to their unique design, although the one on the upper bout of the body has a tendency to work itself loose on my G5120 and needs to be tightened from time to time. It definitely seems like a dependable guitar, I never gig without a backup incase of string breakages or any unforseen technical problems (it can happen at any time!), but I would trust this guitar to last a whole gig without any problems and wouldn't be too worried about using it without a backup if I had to. The finish seems bullet-proof like most modern polyeurethane finishes.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The factory setup of this guitar was actually one of the best I've ever had, despite the fact the truss rod was loose to the extent of not serving any purpose - the neck is firm enough to take the tension of the factory strings, though, so it didn't cause a problem. The pickups weren't really adjusted either, they were very low and delivered a very weak output, but were noticably improved when I raised them closer to the strings and adjusted the polepieces. For the money the build quality is superb - the guitar itself is flawless and feels like a much more expensive guitar than it is. The only shortcomings are the pickups as I mentioned before, and the bridge, the tune-o-matic isn't really an ideal choice for the shallow angle at which the strings pass over it, as it tends to rattle and buzz a lot, and also the contour of the rosewood base doesn't actually match that of the top of the guitar too well either. But I think if you replace the pickups and the bridge/base, you'll have a pro quality guitar for an excellent price.
Features — 8
My G5120 is made in Korea, I think it was made around 2009 or 2010 (I'm not sure, really). Single cutaway, full-size archtop body with a laminate maple top and back, and a maple set-neck with a rosewood fingerboard. It has 22 frets with fairly small Vintage style fretwire, and a relatively short 24.5" scale length. It features white binding on the front and back of the body and on the neck. now on to the hardware: The bridge is a tune-o-matic style mounted onto a rosewood base that is held in place by the string tension, and it has a licensed bigsby B60 vibrato tailpiece. The tuners are Vintage style open-gear tuners. For pickups it has two regular sized Gretsch humbuckers which feature adjustable polepieces for each coil, and classy looking "toaster" covers stamped with the Gretsch logo. The controls feature a 3 position toggle switch, separate volume and tone controls for each pickup, and a master tone control, as well as a master volume control - a slightly eccentric layout but classic Gretsch nonetheless. The guitar's features very primitive locking strap-buttons as standard - simply unscrew them, place the hole of the strap over the screw thread, and screw the buttons back on, to lock the strap in place. The only criticisms I have of the features are that I feel if they had the control layout like a Gibson the guitar may be a little more versatile, but actually these controls do work well in their own unique way, it's useful to be able to control the overall volume with one knob even in the middle position, even if that means you can't adjust the tone for each pickup individually. That and the guitar doesn't come with any sort of case - A guitar this nice deserves a good quality hardshell case.