NAMM 2020: Players of all budgets should find something to celebrate in Gretsch's Winter product launch, with huge additions to its affordable Electromatic and Streamliner Series plus some stunning Players Edition models and one head-turning Limited Edition Penguin.
Where to begin? Well let's get the bird out of the way first. The Penguin will set you back $2,999.99 and comes in Two-Tone Smoke Gray/Metallic Violet finish, quite possibly one of the finest finishes seen on a Gretsch – and the competition is strong. It has a chambered mahogany body with an arched maple top, which Gretsch says promise a harmonic richness and resonance. Pickups-wise, you've got a pair of TV Jones TV Classic pickups on hand with a twang-cum-growl reminiscent of the late-1950s Filter’Trons. As you'd expect, the Penguin will do rock ‘n’ roll, country, rockabilly... Vintage Americana.
There's a three-position toggle switch, two volume pickup controls, master volume and master tone to help find your tone. Elsewhere, there's a set maple neck with a 12” radius ebony fingerboard, 22 medium jumbo frets, a Bigsby B3C tailpiece for some wobble, arched rocking bar bridge with pinned ebony base, Grover Imperial tuning machines and a bone nut.
Then you've got the new Player Edition models, which comprise the Bigsby-equipped G6129T Jet in Red Sparkle, the G6128T Jet in Roundup Orange, and three G6659T Broadkasters Jr. Center Block singlecuts, each also fitted with a Bigsby.
For the most part, the Players Edition Jets hew close to the time-honored template, but the new rolled cutaway and tapered heel should allow better access to the top end of the fretboard. Also, you've got chambered mahogany bodies with maple tops, set mahogany necks with a standard U profile – i.e. something to hold onto. The body's 1.85" depth allied to the chambering was chosen for "a tighter, more controlled attack" says Gretsch.
A pair of High Sensitive Filter’Tron pickups in neck and bridge should help this cut through with customary Gretsch bite, while the switching and controls should be tip-top too, with a no-load master tone pot and Squeezebox™ paper-in-oil capacitor, and the treble bleed circuit on the master volume. Locking Gotoh tuners, a Bigsby and anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge, and a GraphTech Tusq XL nut complete the picture. The price is $2,399.99.
The G6659T Players Edition Broadkaster Jr. Center Block models share the Player Series Jets' hardware appointments and switching. They come fitted with a set of Full'Tron Pickups, and the Jr. Center Block bodyshape offers a more player-friendly 14" body to contend with. The chambered center spruce block that gives the model its name helps kill feedback without adding too much weight. These should set you back $2,499.99.
Pressing pause on the electrics for the second, this year sees the release of the G9500 Jim Dandy 24" scale flat-top. In 2-Color Sunburst, the Dandy is part of Gretsch Roots Series and has a basswood top, back and sides, and a C-profile nato neck, with X-bracing and a top-loaded walnut bridge.
Parlor-style, totally old-school with its open-gear tuners, the Jim Dandy will set you back a very reasonable $169.
The big news for the Streamliner Series is the G2210 Junior Jet Club, a stripped down workhorse singlecut with a solid nato body, a bolt-on nato U-profile neck, and a pair of Broad’Tron BT-2S pickups with tone, volume and a three-way selector. It has an anchored, compensated wraparound bridge, a laurel 12" fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets for a contemporary feel, and an avowedly retro styling – tortoiseshell pickguard and all. The Junior Jet Club is priced $299.99.
Elsewhere, the Broad'Tron BT-2S pickups, laurel fingerboards and medium jumbo frets are a leitmotif of the new 2020 Streamliner models. The G2420 Streamliner Hollow Body, with its Chromatic II tailpiece, has them. Constructed from laminated maple, with enlarged f-holes for improved acoustic projection, it should provide you an abundance of old-school Gretsch mojo for $449.99. For an extra $100 you can get the G2420T, which comes equipped with a Bigsby.
Also new for 2020 are the Center Block and Center Block Jr. models, each available with a choice of V-stoptails or Bigsby vibrato units. Using a chambered piece of spruce, used to tame feedback when the gain and volume is cranked, the Center Block models are doublecuts with heaps of retro mojo. Go for the Center Block Jr. if you want a slightly slimmer guitar across the lower bout. It measures 13.46” at its widest, with the Center Block measuring 16". Build-wise you've got laminated maple bodies, nato U-profile necks and expect to pay between $449.99 and $549.99.
The 2020 Electromatic Series has a few recurring themes. Laurel fingerboards, medium jumbo frets, a 12" fingerboard radius... And treble bleed circuits are a nice touch.
There is a lot of heritage in this lineup but a few surprises too. The big news is the debut of the G5410T "Rat Rod" Hollow Body Singlecut. Fitted with a Bigsby-Licensed B60 Vibrato, with oversized bound f-holes and a late-’50s G6120 bound headstock, Black Top Filter’Tron humbuckers with red pickup inserts, and the only model here that has a rosewood fingerboard, it's got a whole lot of Gretsch rock 'n' roll attitude.
But the big sell is the thinner 2.25" laminate maple body, making it a less intimidating proposition for those looking for their first hollow body.
Perhaps the next most newsworthy release in the Electromatic Series is the Jet Baritone. Available with a V-Stoptail or with a Bigsby for $649.99, it has a 29.75" scale and a solid mahogany body, a bolt-on thin U-profile maple neck, an Adjusto-Matic bridge, and a pair of mini-humbuckers that Gretsch says will hold the low-end in order while maintaining clarity and articulation.
A 12”-radius laurel fingerboard with 22 medium jumbo frets should give this a contemporary feel for when you've got the tremolo on and playing those Vinnie Bell Twin Peaks-style chords. If you want your rock 'n' roll vibe to mosey on down into the bassist's registers, this is for you.
Returning to the more familiar EADGBE territory there is the G5222 Double Jet. A doublecut with a chambered mahogany body and maple top, it is blessed with much of its higher-priced siblings DNA. The Black Top Broad’Tron pickups should have plenty of bite, while you have individual pickup volume controls, master tone and a three-way selector to help find your sound.
Again, Gretsch have gone with 22 medium jumbo frets and a 12" fretboard radius for a contemporary feel. And priced $499.99, the Double Jet promises a lot of Gretsch for not a lot of dough.
Finally, we've got the G565T Electromatic Center Block Jr. Single-Cut, which again, at 13.5" across the lower bout, offers a less bulky semi-hollow experience, with Black Top Broad’Tron pickups and a laminated maple build, maple set neck. Price TBC.
For more details see Gretsch.
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