Sound — 8
This is an "on purpose" guitar. Although some people might buy it because it looks cool, it is a guitar to buy for it's hollowbody sound. I play it through a Peavey tube amp (often using my Boss GT6 effects pedal) and I can get some real nice scratchy, rockabilly sound. The cool thing is, it warms up for some very nice jazzy tones too. For old style rock, blues, or jazz, this is fairly versatile, especially if you can do some EQ-ing on your amp or effects pedal. I've read reviewers who complain that it has no sustain. No kidding! Who buys hollowbodies for sustain? I've also read people who thing you're better off buying a Epiphone Dot (or similar 335 knockoff). Better off than what? Thos semi-hollowbodies aren't even in the same category. In my opinion, the only Asian hollowbody guitars that come close (and admittedly are cheaper) are the Ibanez Artcore series. And while they are decent looking, they definitely don't have the same sound or Gretsch look and feel. What sets this guitar apart is the fact that they use the US made DeArmond 2000 pick-ups. The same pickup, for example, that Guild put in their $2500 (list) X160 Rockabilly, which is very similar to this Gretsch Electromatic. Because I was looking for an "on purpose" sound, this guitar delivers exactly what I wanted.
Overall Impression — 8
Like I said, here's a guitar that is typically purchased with a purpose. It might be bought as a first electric guitar, but more often than not it is likely purchased by a player/collector who is looking for a decent hollowbody that doesn't cost 3000 bucks. Sure, I'd like a Nashville, or a Silver Falcon but until my budget allows it, this Korean made Gretsch does a nice job meeting my needs. It looks great, plays nicely, and sounds good. I'd do it all over again, and recommend it to my friends.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had mine over a year now, and there have been no problems. I've done my own adjustments on it along the way, and I have absolutely no complaints. You would think that a hollowbody would be more fragile (and it probably is if you dropped it), but this is a solid instrument. The bridge, especially, has held up fine without being bolted into a solid block like most electrics.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
This is my only area of minor complaint but then again, I can't expect excellence from Korea. Although, the action adjusts easily (and I've had to do my routine fine tuning with weather changes), and I like the fit (the neck feels more like my Les than my Strat), the finish is a little rough in a couple of spots. The back and sides are beautiful, but the silver sparkle top has two areas that aren't perfect. First, some of the silver sparkle finish laps up on the neck a bit where the neck meets the guitar top. I suspect that working with this glittery kind of finish is difficult in the first place, and so any sloppiness shows. Nothing major, but my close inspection noticed it. Also, the finish around the f-holes is rough. You have to get really, really close to notice. But for $800 out of Asia, I would think adding binding to the f-holes would really put a nice finished touch on these guitars. Where the neck meets the guitar at this heel it's fairly thick, too thick to easily do too much lead work beyond the 12th or 14th fret. But that's what you get with hollowbodies. And it's not like anybody wants or needs to do a lot of screaming up there with the style of music one plays with this instrument. I have a decent collection of guitars, and this is the one guitar that constantly gets all the ooohs and ahhhs. It's partly because of the silver sparkle, and also because the big hollowbody look with the Gretsch styling looks just plain cool.
Features — 8
Korean made Gretsch. Very stylish looking guitar. A bit thinner (2 1/2 inches) than the higher end Gretsch models, but the same functional layout of features and contols, including the screw-in Gretsch strap locks (very nice), individual neck and bridge volumes, master tone, and upper bout master volume (very functional). The mini-tuners are a bit weird, but after a year I've had no problems. And the rest of the hardware, including the Bigsby, is solid. I don't use the whammy bar much, but it's not like its meant to be used for metal dive bombing. For the stiffer price than most Asian guitars, it would be nice if it at least came with a gig bag. I had to buy my own.