Electromatics and player models.

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Marko60, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. Johno99

    Johno99 Electromatic

    Feb 24, 2017
    Haslemere, UK
    I've had a Double Jet G5445T for two years or so and honestly, I have no desire to change it. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It took a while to sort out the tuning stability - the Bigsby B50 is horrible, but with a zero fret fitted and the strings running over the tension bar it stays in tune perfectly, the Bigsby is usable and the strings never jump the bridge slots. Satisfied !!!
    Shadowy_Man and Marko60 like this.
  2. Tokairic

    Tokairic Electromatic

    I had a windfall and bought an orange 6120 a while ago. My adult daughter loved it and we couldn't run to another 6120 so I bought her a 5420 in orange (naturally). Changed the pots to give a more graduated change (especially to volume as it was almost on / off) and fitted straplocks instead of the Gretsch screw in buttons.
    She loves it and it definitely gives my Japanese Gretsch a run for its money.
    Marko60 and Mr Swisher like this.
  3. Bradford

    Bradford Electromatic

    Jan 21, 2016
    Metro Detroit
    I have a few Electromatics searched and searched for a 512X series and almost had one, then another bit lost outone was my fault for waiting a couple extra hours to call but the other was guitar ce tees fault holding it for me until I could get there tonoay and then selling it on me anyways I ended up getting this red sparkle 5420 instead ordered a set of T-Armonds. New pots and a cap are coming, it'll be rad for sure.

    I also have a G565tg limited. It feels every it as nice as anything I've played never owner a proline but played some in the store. I can't justify the higher prices when I know I am going tomchange and mod stuff. Usually, the higher end guitars get modded with the same stuff as the lower end guitars in the end you aren't usually hearing a difference and spending money on a proper set-up can make the difference between a real players grade guitar or a wall hanger that looks pretty no matter the cost. Doesn't matter if it sounds good and was expensive; if it doesn't play good then it's a waste. I say go for the Electromatic remner,these are still $800 guitars for an electric guitar that is quite a bit of money. You're starting to get into entry level USA guitars for the money of middle range Gretsch. Gretsch are on a while different level from other guitar manufacturers out there (even considering FMIC is handling that.) The WC is pre set and for Gretsch is say that standard is much higher than your average guitar. Buying an Electromatic isn't a downgrade it's a choice and will yield a guitar you can be proud of.

    After buying my red sparkle 5420 and the pups im.about a grand in it'll be just as killer sounding as anything and has the added benefit of being super unique and exactly the way I want it. I could've saved a little more, spent a little more and waited a little longer but then I'd still have the same 6120 as anyone else. If I decided to mod that I'd still spend the same cash as I would on a 5429 for the same parts. I'm way less into the 5420,may more unique than most and will sound and play every bit as good as those 6120's out there. 20210316_110327.jpg 20210402_142145.jpg 20210402_142301.jpg
    Archtops, T-Bawler, audept and 5 others like this.
  4. GuitarGene

    GuitarGene Electromatic

    Jan 11, 2021
    I have many many guitars of all different ranges, makes and prices including Gibsons, Fenders, Ibanez, Framus etc. I am also a guitar tech and do a lot of setups etc. I was a very active performer pre-covid and do a lot of studio work and sold guitars in a shop too once. I have put a lot of guitars through my hands and in my experience especially in the last five years the gap between the 'real McCoy' and the lesser ranges in brands has closed a lot.

    The guitar that did most of my live work with and I am talking thousands of gigs since '92 is an Epiphone Les Paul I got in Dublin. I changed the pickups in it for Duncan '59s put in new switching vol and tone pots in it and wired it with the Peter green mod and Jimi Page mods. I could get anything I wanted out of it playing at weddings, rock gigs etc. Point is, I had a lovely REAL '95 Gibson Les Paul standard plus in honey burst at home but I preferred the Epi more over the years because of the mods etc. The neck was different but it was every bit as good by the time I changed the tuners etc. This was my go to guitar.

    I recently bought a Tokai ES-335 type that I prefer to the Gibson one - again I changed the pickups and electronics, tuners, hardware. It has a different feel and more snap. It is not better than the Gibby but different. I put Irongear Blues engines in it and they are just class and cheap. It has a maple body and neck compared to my dot's mahogony neck/maple body but I have a Gibson 335 studio with the same woods and they all sound different. To me it is the pickups that define the sound the most, particularly how the pole pieces and overall heights are set.

    I got a Thomann PRS 24 fret copy 3 years ago in a lovely green flame. The pickups were Wilkinson as was the trem etc. Gigged it a lot with a wedding band and took it to 'dangerous' gigs where we and the gear could get broken and smashed lol as I didn't risk taking an expensive one, everyone needs a guitar like that! I was surprised to see the cavity was done with graphite shielding paint (some of my Gibsons do not have this). It has a lovely neck. I eventually upgraded the tuners to locking ones (copies I get that are as good as real brands) and put different Irongears in it and new pots and wiring. The Wilkinsons were grand and I gigged them a lot but was just curious to try different pickups in it. This guitar neck needed a bit of work on the frets but for €222 it was a great platform. I would take it to record or gig as quick as a fender or Gibson, it is every bit as good now.

    The thing is, if you are willing to 'finish' the guitar by getting some fret work done, perhaps a setup and maybe new pickups, tuners, pots etc you will end up with a very good guitar at a fraction of the cost, especially if you can do the work yourself but even if you get a tech to do it you will save a fortune.

    Now, my Gretsch.......................

    Got an Aspen green G5420T outta Spain few weeks ago. It arrived with a broken tuner, I looked at where it had broken and would say the metal is pure crap in them. So, I widened the holes carefully and fitted spurious locking tuners that are just as good as the real ones in it, I have them on many guitars now. That sorted that problem.

    I researched the pickups prior to purchase and I formed the opinion I would not need to replace them, and I was correct, he stock ones are just grand. I strung it with DR pure blues 10-52's and can get country bends etc out of it grand. The tone is just fine not thin or anything. Some players use 7's and get great tone. Some people think you have to have wire ropes on to get good tone, not so in my opinion, we have tone pots on pedals, guitars and amps.

    I was going to put roller bridge on it but the rollers on the one I have are going slightly in the wrong direction so am looking at alternatives and was in contact with someone here who makes them a while ago. Compton I think make a type too.

    I can see under the gloss and paint some tooling marks but hey........... you would have to look very close and it certainly will not annoy you when you are playing it and the audience will not see it either. The neck is lovely, I just need to round the edges of the nut a bit more.
    I may fit a Chet wire arm to it and it will need a slight mod to fit but shouldn't be a problem, it will look nice and I think I will prefer it.

    The guitar looks great, sounds great, stays in tune and will be better when I do the bridge.

    Look, for the cost of these and a few wee mods you will have just as good a guitar for a fraction of the cost and more to the point it will be your own customized model as YOU want it. I would imagine these laminate bodies would have to be made much the same way anyway expensive or no. Honestly, I wouldn't be buying a MIJ one, the price difference doesn't make sense to me anyway as I can mod it myself. The frets are lovely as they are, and I will get years of studio and gigging out of my G5420T.

    It will not be my MAIN guitar, I don't have a main guitar, I use what required on the day and this includes my new G5420T, I wouldn't see any need to buy a more expensive one. I recently got into Reverend guitars which are fantastic for the money, I'll never buy a new Fender again, Reverends are fantastic out of the box each time.

    I was looking at getting a G5422T but would have to widen the holes in the headstock again for the locking tuners so decided on the new weight relief G5622T as they look good and have ordinary tuners so I think my locking ones will slip right in.

    So, in my opinion as a guy who works on guitars for people as well as my own, I have seen in the last few years a great improvement in guitars built in the Korean factories and I just got a lovely China built Stanford ES-330 type that is lovely. I have a Faith acoustic built in Indonesia that is just.............couldn't ask for better, all solid woods , a beaut. I think the standard is very high now. I have bought a few bad ones online. Worst was a USA Gibson SG, the nut looked like it was cut with a chainsaw LOL something obviously went very wrong that day!! But my dot was great outta the box. The Gibson Faded series are great too, stripped down versions of their more polished brothers but just as good only RAW, a guitar players guitar. You do not need to go big money to get a humdinger of a guitar for life now!
  5. Marko60

    Marko60 Gretschie

    Mar 26, 2021
    Yorkshire, England
    Thanks for that, I know Congleton well as I used to get there with my work quite regularly a few years back. I've previously owned four Gibsons, 2 SG Standards and two Les Pauls. However, having had to sell them all at some point or other when I replaced the Les Paul Standard I bought a Tokai Love Rock (Japanese) which equals the Gibsons, but at £1100 less than the then going rate of a les Paul Standard, in all honesty I could not see where the £1100 extra for the Gibson was. I liked it so much I also bought a Japanese Tokai Telecaster, again as good as the USA std tele. Thanks for all the tips, however, I don't know any Gretsch players, all my friends who play guitars have the sheep mentality of "if it's not Gibson or Fender...."
  6. Marko60

    Marko60 Gretschie

    Mar 26, 2021
    Yorkshire, England
    @Bradford - I absolutely love the finish on that orange, it looks fabulous, thanks for posting!
    Bradford likes this.
  7. Marko60

    Marko60 Gretschie

    Mar 26, 2021
    Yorkshire, England
    @GuitarGene - I loved your post. Every guitar I have ever bought has always been taken to a tech to have a top quality set up, fret dress etc, it makes a huge difference. The only one I never had to touch is my Tokai Love Rock (MIJ). My guitars are all working tools to do a job, but I'm buying the Gretsch purely and simply because I want one.

    Trevor Wilkinson has made some great stuff and his guitars are pretty good too.

    By the way, I used to work in Wexford, where in Ireland are you? My ancestors are from Galway.
  8. Marko60

    Marko60 Gretschie

    Mar 26, 2021
    Yorkshire, England
    I'm glad you were able to buy a really good 6120 that you like, looking at your name, I take it you own a Tokai or two?
  9. GuitarGene

    GuitarGene Electromatic

    Jan 11, 2021
    I am in County Monaghan few miles from Dundalk in Louth
    Marko60 likes this.
  10. GuitarGene

    GuitarGene Electromatic

    Jan 11, 2021
    I put straplocks on my G5420T too. You just have to be careful not to overtighten on the laminate bodies, you get a kinda feel for when to stop. turning the screw.
  11. ronbo

    ronbo Gretschie

    Feb 28, 2012
    Broomfield, Colorado
    Guess I went in the opposite direction....started with a '77 Tennesseean and sold it years ago to fund a bass. Bought a 2005 Tennessee Rose a few years ago, and liked but a lot, but didn't love the HS filtertrons, so I sold it and bought another 2005 Tennessean. Loved that guitar and the pickups, but never really played it all that much since there weren't really songs that did it justice that we played in my band at the time. Sold that and bought a beautiful 5420 in Fairlane blue from Shreddy Kruger on this forum for a killer price, all decked out in Gold pro hardware. I put in a TV Jones set from Synchro, here on this forum (Supertron neck and Classic+ bridge) and have never looked back! It plays like a champ, looks great on stage (or just sitting there) and that pickup combo sounds fantastic and is really versatile! I also have a '99 Pro Jet with T-Armonds that I really love, and got it at a silly price....

    I keep looking at Pro hollowbody models but have yet to find a reason to spend the extra money, unless it's to own a different color. I know I should care about trestle bracing and other things, but don't really think my old ears or crappy playing would do it justice. I am looking at a Cadillac Green 5422 though....
    Marko60 likes this.
  12. Mark W

    Mark W Country Gent

    Jun 6, 2008
    Central Florida
    I started with a G6120DS and shortly thereafter a 6120N. Very nicely made guitars and their sound was just like I expected. Only problem was after a few years I grew disenchanted with the neck profile (not fat enough) and slowly stopped playing them. I gave the DS to my son and last year finally sold the N. I have owned an Elliott Easton Synchromatic Jet and an Electromatic Jet but did not bond with either. Nothing wrong with them they just left me uninspired.

    After a while I got to missing a full hollow with a B6/B60 style Bigsby and bought a G5420T. The neck has more depth and feels comfortable. It is light and the BT Filtertron's although more Gibson like than Gretsch sound great for what I play. The only thing I have changed so far is to put a set of direct drop in locking tuners because they make string changes so much easier. I am actually contemplating a G5410T in natural. A 1/2" shallower is moving in the direction of my 335 style guitars that I prefer.

    So I went from Pro-Line to Electromatic to Streamliner. The important thing is that your guitar whatever is on the headstock makes you smile.
    pmac11, Johnny ray and Marko60 like this.
  13. gretsch-to-go

    gretsch-to-go Gretschie

    Oct 2, 2019
    Palm Coast, FL
    Cat's Eyes are the descriptor for the F-Holes on the semi-hollow & Hollow models.

    Traditional F-Holes vary in size, but the shape is what you'd see in a violin to Cello for a sound hole for lack of a better term. Here's a cat eye style of F-Hole. Not sure if they make them anymore ?

    Marko60 likes this.
  14. Bradford

    Bradford Electromatic

    Jan 21, 2016
    Metro Detroit
    It's actually the Red Sparkle. It's pretty impossible to accurately photograph. You have to show video and see it in person. It's a big-ole 70's giant metallic flake. 20210316_110322.jpg
  15. Durbanator

    Durbanator Electromatic

    Aug 16, 2016
    Marko60, if you are in the UK then I urge you to try-out one of the Korean 5124-9 models equipped with D'Armond 2000s. These come-up on eBay from time-to-time and can be bought for as little as £450 inc. hard case, although there is one available now for more than that. These early instruments lack the quality of finish of the pro-line models but I can testify are great players. I have one with an RBB and a brass nut and even though I have a 6120 RHH (with TVJs) the 5124 has more "twang" and easily earns its place on the stand.
  16. AZBrahma

    AZBrahma Electromatic

    Dec 18, 2020
    There is a lot of truth in this. I'd add to this by saying, it depends on how you want to buy, if resale matters, and where you play to decide if this makes sense. Even inexpensive guitars are indeed getting very, very good.

    I tend to think of it this way. Let's say you spend 7 or 8 hundred dollars on a new import guitar. Throw in an HSC or high quality bag, a thorough setup including fretwork, maybe some pickups and tuners. You're probably going to wind up at around $1200 all in, for a great guitar and zero regrets. That's not bad at all.

    The other way is usually what I do. I have a penchant for USA Schecter guitars, which are the quality and cost equivalent to instruments like Anderson and Suhr. I really don't want to pay the ask. For whatever reason, they don't hold their value on the used market. I am now up to 8 USA Schecters, all like new, and most cost me right at that $1200 mark. They include a case, top-notch hardware and electronics, and world-class luthiery including utterly perfect fret and nut work, so they need nothing other than a basic setup to my preference.

    If I resell a Schecter for some reason, I'll get all of what I paid back out and maybe more. If I have gone the import route, my add-ons have added nothing to the resale value. But, resale might not be a factor at all for some buyers so this becomes moot. Buy an import used and the deal gets even better, but then you may or may not want to sink in the money to upgrade it at such a low price. Then again, if you buy a high-end guitar, you may hesitate to take it to dive bars where the import is a shoe-in.

    All that to say, there are a number of different individual factors that dictate value and priority.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
    Marko60 likes this.
  17. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Nope, always been an Electromatic player, all I could afford for many years. If one added up all the money, sure, I could of bought a Pro Line sooner, but it’s not about value/saving money/financial maturity. It’s about having fun. It’s about trying new stuff and attempting to make music :)

    I still like to mod Electros, as I don’t mod anything over a grand—it should come the way I want it at Pro Line prices. I don’t mod as deep nowadays, see my Rat Rod:

    Outlaw, T-Bawler, BCBlues55 and 8 others like this.
  18. Glaw

    Glaw Electromatic

    Aug 30, 2017
    It’s like cars, at first you want one to just get you around but later on it’s nice if you get to ride around in style.
    Marko60 and Mr Swisher like this.
  19. Pine Apple Slim

    Pine Apple Slim Country Gent

    Dec 14, 2011
    North Alabama
    I eyed the 5120s for several years but finally found one that felt and played great and bought it.
    Turned out it was the last year of the 5120 and within 6 months the 54XX series came out.
    Played and enjoyed the 5120 for a few years, even installing some 5420 Blacktops.
    Then in 2019 I bit the bullet and got myself to Streetsounds and bought a Falcon with TV Classics. But it was neck in neck with an identically configured Penguin.
    A few months after getting the Falcon I saw a nice older gold topped Pro Jet with the G tailpiece and the mini mud buckers on Reverb and took a chance on it. Turned out to be a really nice and solid instrument that I enjoyed playing as much as the Falcon. So I ordered me some T Armonds. So now my Tele and Strat are very lonesome. The Falcon and the Pro Jet are my go too pretty much. I enjoy them equally. The 5120 is sold. It was lovely, but the Falcon covers the same ground and so much more.
    Marko60 likes this.
  20. GuitarGene

    GuitarGene Electromatic

    Jan 11, 2021
    This is very true that a good used bargain is great if you get one.

    I recently pickup up a used Gibson SG in heritage cherry in Dublin, it was just before the covid struck here and we couldn't travel shortly after I bought it from this guy. There was a wee crack in the nut so I replaced it with a Tusq one and gave it a deep clean and service. It has stock pickups etc. Never had one before and I love them for high fret playing and how light on the shoulder they are. I picked it up at a good price, several hundred less than they seem to be going now on the domestic online markets here now. It looks cool, plays a dream and I could sell it in the morning at a profit too.

    But yes, you have to weigh up if it's a keeper or not and if you could buy a guitar for 3-400 euro and spend another 2-3oo on mods but if there was a model up the scale available at €700 it would be a better buy. This is one of the reasons I chose to get the G5420T as my research led me to believe the stock pickups were very good and I wouldn't need to change them and I didn't. I also liked the fact the electromatic logo was taken off the headstock too. Back when fender started making the assembled in Mexico range I think it became known that the necks and bodies were the same. A lot of folks bought them and just swapped out the hardware and had the same thing as the USA one but on the cheap.

    Another thing is the brand itself. Some Framus guitars for example are very expensive but not everyone knows about them so they can be harder to sell on. A Gretsch on the other hand pro or not, well people know the brand so it will sell faster.

    Plus, it is a bloody GREAT feeling when you snap up a high end instrument at a steal price......... it doesn't happen often but it can, even in a shop ex-demo you can come away with a guitar in a case chuckling down the street. I once got a €1800 Godin for €400 like that!! Sold it later though....................
    Marko60 and AZBrahma like this.
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