G5438T Electromatic Pro Jet review by Gretsch

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (20 votes)
Gretsch: G5438T Electromatic Pro Jet

Price paid: £ 424

Purchased from: Andertons.co.uk

Sound — 9
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.

Overall Impression — 9
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?

Reliability & Durability — 9
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.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
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!

Features — 8
Features: - "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 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Nice one, I'll have to try it out some time. Also nice review, for once it wasn't a generic straight 10s and "ITZ ZO BROOTALZ!" review.
    Good review - I've had a couple of these over the years, and will probably get another some time in the future. Excellent guitars, definitely better than anything made by Epiphone.
    I'm interested in these. Would it perhaps need a pickup swap to something better like a set of TV Jones or something of the sort?
    Ramshackle: I don't see why not...he usually uses a white falcon (or some other gretsch semi) doesn't he? Might be worth a look at their semi-acoustic stuff, cos I don't really have much experience in comparing the two. sg4ever: You'd have to judge that yourself - the pickups in this are definitely a step up from the mini humbuckers in the old electromatic jets, but I imagine swapping in a set of TV Jones would make this sing even more. But as I said in the review: I love the sound that these give
    Andy Jarvis
    Gretsch have gone from Mahogany and set neck on the older models to Basswood body and bolt on maple neck without droping the price, worth noting as there are lots of decent guitars at this price that do have mahogany/set neck construction