Usually when marketing materials describe a product as “no-nonsense,” the phrase usually means the same thing as “austere,” “stripped-down,” or “plain.”
But in the case of the Gretsch Electromatic series guitars, “no-nonsense” must be another way of saying sensibly priced or—if I may be more dramatic—an outrageous bargain.
The new Gretsch G5422TG Electromatic is a perfect example. It looks like the long-lost brother of a Gretsch Country Gentleman—once the company’s flagship model designed by the legendary Chet Atkins and made into an icon by George Harrison with the Beatles.
Yet this fancy, deluxe-looking ax costs about the same as guitars from other manufacturers that look like junior high wood shop projects.
If you love Gretsch style, the G5422TG Electromatic delivers what you want in spades. It has pearloid “hump-block” fretboard inlays, large genuine f-holes with binding, a gold plexi pickguard with black Gretsch logo, gold plexi pickup surrounds, a walnut stain finish (really more of a burgundy wine red hue), multi-layer body binding, a bound fretboard, and gold-plated hardware that includes a genuine Bigsby B60 vibrato tailpiece, metal “G-Arrow” control knobs, vintage-style open-gear tuners, and a floating Adjusto-Matic bridge with secured rosewood base. The overall look and design aesthetic isn’t very far removed from Gretsch’s fanciest top-of-the-line “cowboy Cadillac” models.
But even more important to Gretsch fans is how the G5422TG delivers “that great Gretsch sound.” The pickups are a pair of Blacktop Filter’Tron humbuckers, and the control circuit consists of master volume and master tone knobs, individual volume controls for the neck and bridge pickups, and a three-position pickup selector switch (and none of that tone mute switching nonsense—maybe that’s also what Gretsch meant by “no-nonsense”). The body is genuinely fully hollow, and its sound post bracing provides rich, honking midrange while suppressing unwanted feedback at loud volume levels or high gain.
The body’s five-ply maple construction also helps suppress feedback while delivering ample dynamic response and resonance. The maple neck has a 24.6-inch scale for enhanced twang, 22 medium jumbo frets, a rosewood fingerboard, and 12-inch radius.
The feel and playability of a great vintage Gretsch guitar is truly unique, and the G5422TG Electromatic delivers a playing experience that’s instantly familiar to the most devoted Gretsch fanatic. The neck is rock solid, but it has a slim, fast profile, relatively flat radius, and ample fingerboard width to facilitate explosively fast runs and cleanly fingered complex chords. Because the bridge is securely anchored in place, you can wail away without worrying about knocking it and your intonation out of whack. The fretwork is smooth and consistent. Honestly, it’s a heck of a lot better than what Gretsch’s best craftsmen achieved on even their best days during the Fifties.
If the looks of the G5422TG haven’t already seduced you, the sound inevitably will, as it provides that signature Gretsch growl and midrange honk that has graced everything from Eddie Cochran and Brian Setzer rockabilly to the hard rock sounds of the Who, the Cult, and AC/DC. The Blacktop Filter’Tron humbuckers are dead quiet, and like a good set of Filter’Trons they’re not overpowered or overly weak.
The pickups are wonderfully twangy through clean amp settings, but when you crank up the gain they maintain their distinctive tonal personality while delivering impressive clarity and definition. Even at ultra high-gain distortion settings the pickups refuse to howl unless you hang onto a note for a few seconds, when the desired note of feedback fades in and takes over.
If you haven’t already become a Gretsch addict, the G5422TG is an affordable gateway drug that will change your life for the better.
LIST PRICE: $1,349
MANUFACTURER: Gretsch Guitars, gretschguitars.com
• Classic Gretsch features include a genuine Bigsby B60 vibrato, G-Arrow control knobs, and hump-block fretboard inlays.
• The Blacktop Filter’Tron humbuckers deliver authentic Gretsch tone with moderate output and distinctive midrange honk.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you’re lusting for your first Gretsch or just want to add yet another to the stable without breaking the bank, the G5422TG Electromatic is a worthy addition to anyone’s Gretsch collection.