Playing a Gretsch requires a great deal of commitment. I say this because chances are, your electric guitar leanings have primarily been solid-body choices, and Gretsch guitars are predominantly hollow bodies, which often requires some finessing of your amp’s tone if you’ve ever switched between the two.
But that isn’t a condemnation nor a dissuasion, because if you’ve never experienced the joy of that primal “Gretsch Sound” roaring through an amp, you just don’t know what you’re missing.
The only problem for those of us who have an itch for a Gretsch has always been its typically out-of-reach prices for its most prestigious hollow body models. But behind the scenes, Gretsch has assiduously revamped its Electromatic collection of instruments, making them not only more robust and player-friendly but, more importantly, temptingly affordable.
The new collection of Electromatics includes a slew of Classic Hollow Bodies, a Jet BT, Jet Baritone, a short-scale Junior Jet II bass guitar and even a Lap Steel, all in wildly cool and arresting finishes.
For this review, I was able to strap on the lovely Gretsch G5422TG Electromatic Classic Hollow Body Double-Cut with Bigsby and Gold Hardware, which verbosely tells you the kind of Gretsch it is, but even so, I can succinctly say this guitar is destined to become your next favorite model.
Simply looking at the G5422TG, it’s abundantly clear that Gretsch made great strides in refreshing its mid-tier Electromatics – so much so, that one must wonder whether it comes as a detriment to its top-of-the-line Professional series.
But that aside, it says a lot about the construction of this hollow-body instrument; because the G5422TG feels quite solid and substantial once it's in your hands, and you can see how Gretsch pays homage to original Fifties and Sixties designs with the guitar’s newly refined arch contours and vintage-inspired shape on its double-cutaway laminated maple body.
The updated trestle block bracing under the hood noticeably increases sustain (even when unplugged), reduces feedback and makes the guitar respond closer to a solid body while retaining all the vibrant qualities of a hollow body. The classic “C”-profile maple neck has a pleasantly comfy shape and features a 12-inch radius laurel fingerboard with Gretsch’s signature Pearloid hump block inlays.
Other notable upgrades and refinements include Gretsch’s brand new FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups, a master volume with treble bleed circuit, master tone, individual pickup volume controls for bridge and neck and three-position pickup toggle switch, a smaller late-Fifties G6120 bound headstock and vintage-style open-back tuning machines, a Graph Tech NuBone nut, Bigsby B60 vibrato tailpiece, and an Adjusto-Matic bridge with secured laurel base.
Finally, this model comes in Orange Stain, Snowcrest White (a left-handed version is available only in this color) and Walnut Stain finish.
There was a time not long ago when I’d point to an Electromatic as an affordable alternative to its Gretsch counter-part, but now, I can no longer in good faith do that, because this G5422TG Electromatic is so spot-on in its overall build and tone that if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of a having a Gretsch in your arsenal, now might be the time to grab one.
Having the combination of the guitar’s condensed 24.6-inch scale length and super flat 12-inch radius fingerboard contributes to its inviting playability, and I can’t help but be enthralled over the bounce of the springy Bigsby B60, which stays remarkably in-tune for subtle vibrato.
The piercing looks of its bold orange stain finish radiates a great deal of rockabilly vibe when you’re ready to take that Gretsch twang live, but I can also counter that you’d have no problem playing power metal on this hollow body thanks to its rock-solid trestle block bracing, which firmly keeps the guitar from feeling as if it’ll burst apart if you pump too much gain through it.
Speaking of which, once you do get to that seriously overdriven or higher gain territory using it, the FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups along with its treble bleed circuit deftly emit that one-two punch of Gretsch snarl and buzz-saw roar with brilliant clarity.
But if you’re reading this, you will most likely use this guitar for more nuanced and jazzy textural tones, and if that’s the case, the G5422TG Electromatic delivers the tonal goods with smooth response and a soft shimmer, which is the primary reason many players (including yours truly) gravitate toward a Gretsch for these deeply satisfying tones.
- PRICE: $799.99 / £829 (case included)
- TYPE: Hollow-body electric guitar
- BODY: Laminated maple
- NECK: Maple
- FINGERBOARD: Laurel, 12" radius
- FRETS: 22
- SCALE: 24.6"
- ELECTRICS: 2x FT-5E Filter’Tron pickups, 2x volume, master volume with treble bleed, master tone, three-position toggleswitch
- HARDWARE: Bigsby B60 vibrato, Adjusto-Matic bridge, Graph Tech NuBone nut, Vintage-Style Open-Back tuners
- CONTACT: Gretsch