Today were are going to take a look at a variation on an iconic single-cut electric guitar. No, not that one – the Gretsch Jet, a model that has been in production in one way or another since 1953 with the arrival of the Duo Jet.
The Jet has put some miles under its belt over the years, finding its way into the possession of an array of players, including George Harrison, Matt Bellamy, Chris Cornell and many more, and like an old-fashioned blues standard that’s been passed down generations there are all kinds of variations on the theme.
You’ll find them with hardtails or Bigsby vibratos, with pickups ranging from the DynaSonic snap and definition of the G6128T-GH George Harrison Signature Duo Jet to the PAF-power of a Broad’Tron humbucker.
The G5220 from Gretsch’s mid-priced Electromatic range is Chinese-made but conform to the classic Jet recipe, with a chambered mahogany body. It looks like it pre-dates decimalisation but is in fact new for 2022, arriving with a host of updates bestowed upon all new Electromatics – bound headstocks and bodies, vintage-style purfling, Big Block pearloid inlays, sealed tuners and a number of finish options.
There is the neat V-Stoptail hardware, not to mention the very welcoming Thin U neck profile and Indian laurel fingerboard that is found across the series. The G5220 houses a pair of Broad’Tron humbuckers, with its newly upgraded body sporting a maple top.
All the classic guitar brands have their purists, yet none are as devout as the Gretsch super-fan. This electric has retro appeal, sure, but is not necessarily for those whose idea of Gretsch doesn’t extend beyond twang, chime and the radio hits of the 1950s. Sure, you’ll get a taste of that here, but the G5220 grants today’s player plenty of license to give ‘That great Gretsch sound’ a new cadence.
The G5220 is a typical Electromatic, which means a champagne instrument at craft beer prices. Of course, Gretsch’s superlative entry-level Streamliner series is even easier on the wallet, but it’s hard to compete with this on value. The Bristol Fog finish has a smoky vibe that is immaculately finished with the binding and purfling, and complemented by the chrome hardware and Gretsch-branded arrow control knobs.
If your first move on any new electric guitar is to play hit an open A chord as hard as you can, you’ll be well rewarded with a sound that suggests that, just maybe, this is going to be a classic Gretsch experience after all, and by classic we mean a sound inextricably linked to the heritage of the brand.
The Broad’Tron pickups are hum-cancelling, with an output similar to, say, a Gibson PAF, and they balance this power with definition. Gretsch calls it “full-spectrum fidelity” and we’d endorse that description. There’s a forensic note definition that brings chords to life. Should your amp be on the threshold of overdrive when hitting the aforementioned A chord, the recorded works of Malcolm Young will spring to mind.
What this Jet reminds us is that heritage brands can be fun, fun, fun. The compact scale makes it a willing accomplice for all kinds of rock ’n’ roll adventures.
High-gain stuff is rough and unruly and exhilarating, while the Jet excels at power-pop mid-’70s sounds, sprinkling magic dust on big chords. There is a resonant snap and bounce that does just enough to assuage the rock ’n’ roll set. Through the right amp, a tube combo with spring reverb to taste, it’ll scratch that itch for American Graffiti tones. It’s not an all-rounder, but what is? Besides, it is pretty close.
The G5220 is a contemporary update to septuagenarian platform: accessible, classy, a jack of most trades. Though the output jack was a little loose on our review model, the quality of the fit and finish is otherwise tip-top, with tuning stable throughout, and factory setup presented it as an addictively playable guitar.
- PRICE: $599 / £529
- BODY: Chambered mahogany with maple top
- NECK: Maple, bolt-on
- SCALE: 24.6”
- FINGERBOARD: Indian laurel with Big Block pearloid inlay
- FRETS: 22, medium jumbo
- ELECTRONICS: 2x Gretsch Broad’Tron humbucking pickups
- CONTROLS: Master volume with treble bleed, 2x individual pickup volume, tone, three-way toggle
- HARDWARE: Sealed tuners, V-Stoptail, chrome
- LEFT-HANDED: Yes
- FINISH: Bristol Fog [as reviewed], Midnight Sapphire, Black, Firestick Red, Dark Cherry Metallic, Jade Grey Metallic
- CONTACT: Gretsch