Gretsch Guitars – FAQ & Buyer’s Guide!

If you’re anything like me, buying a new guitar is always more complicated than going to a store and picking a guitar up. I like to know how a certain guitar fares against similar ones, so I know I’m getting my money’s worth.

I was sure I wanted a Gretsch1 guitar, but I wasn’t sure which model was the best for me. If you’re in a similar position, I hope these reviews help you in your quest.

Best Choice
Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club
Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club
Best Gretsch Guitar for The Money
The Electromatic Jet Club gives you everything you’d want in a Gretsch guitar on a budget. It’s not a large body guitar, but it’s great if you love the classic Les Paul-like look. Whether you like or not how it looks, you will love how it sounds.
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When buying a new guitar, several different aspects will end up guiding your purchase. You have to factor in your budget, the styles you’re going to play, and how the guitar looks.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the classic Gretsch look. Sure, the tone is amazing as well, but what pulls me towards Gretsch guitars is their enormous size and their sexy hollow bodies — something that most Gretsch models seem to have. So, since most models seem to be similar, which one should I buy?

Well, the answer, to me, is simple. I want to buy the best Gretsch guitar available — or I would if I could.

You see, I simply can’t afford the best of the best when it comes to Gretsch. If you’re looking for the best Gretsch guitar and have a limitless budget, then a Custom Shop Gretsch is the way to go, no questions asked.

But most people can’t drop north of $5.000 on a guitar. The guitars on my list are more budget-conscious Gretschs. They might not have all the shine and sparkle of a Custom Shop Gretsch, but they’re still great guitars with plenty of Gretsch-qualities.

Best Gretsch Guitar — Comparison Table

ImageProduct 
best gretsch guitar for the money
Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club review
Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club
  • Premium sound on a budget
  • Vintage Les Paul-like design
  • Great resonance

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guitar under 1000
Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody review
Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody
  • Authentic Gretsch tone
  • Great resonance due to the hollow body
  • Great value for your money

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acoustic guitar
Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar review
Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar
  • Very affordable
  • Great entry-level acoustic guitar
  • Very stylish

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for blues and rockabilly
Gretsch G9200 Roundneck Boxcar review
Gretsch G9200 Roundneck Boxcar
  • Great for old-school blues
  • Superb resonance

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Also great
Gretsch Guitars G5022C Rancher Falcon Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar review
Gretsch Guitars G5022C Rancher Falcon Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar
  • Great country aesthetic
  • Preamp does its job
  • Plenty of brightness and twang

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Best value
Gretsch G2420T Streamliner Hollowbody Golddust review
Gretsch G2420T Streamliner Hollowbody Golddust
  • Premium finishes
  • Plenty of versatility
  • Great Gretsch sound

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Best Gretsch Guitar Review

1. Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club — Best Gretsch Guitar for the Money

Features

  • Premium sound on a budget
  • Vintage Les Paul-like design
  • Great resonance

Specifications

  • Arched maple top and chambered basswood body
  • Dual-coil pickups
  • Anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge

While there are plenty of expensive Gretsch guitars, there are also more budget-friendly versions available. The Electromatic Jet Club is Gretsch’s entry-level series and one of their more affordable models.

However, the price tag shouldn’t fool you. Yes, you could buy 10 of these for the price of a single Custom Shop Gretsch, but that doesn’t mean that the Electromatic Jet Club is a bad guitar. It’s simply a no-frills, sound focused Gretsch guitar.

The Jet body is a parlor-sized body relatively similar to that of a Les Paul. However, it has more of a retro appeal than the Gibson model. If you’re looking for a huge Gretsch guitar, then this is not it. It’s a relatively small guitar with 22 frets, which you can easily get to due to the cutaway body.

If you’re not enamored with the design, you’ll definitely be with the sound. Despite its price tag, the Electromatic Jet Club has a sound that’s on par with the more expensive guitars. The Filter’tron1 pickups are warm in a clean setting and pull no punches when played distorted.

Another great thing about this guitar is its resonance. If you want to practice late at night or don’t have access to an amplifier, you’ll find that the Electromatic Jet Club gets loud enough on its own.

Where is this guitar made?

The Gretsch G5425 is made in China. Since it’s one of the less expensive Gretsch guitars, this guitar is not manufactured to the standard of some of the premium Gretsch guitars.

Does this guitar need a setup?

You should always set up new guitars, especially ones bought online. Packages get beaten up during the delivery, and it might affect the guitar. This one usually comes with the action a bit too high.

Does it come with a strap?

No. This guitar comes without any extras.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for a small-bodied budget Gretsch guitar.

Why I like it?

The Electromatic Jet Club combines great design and sound with a budget price tag.

2. Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody — Best Gretsch Guitar under 1000

Features

  • Authentic Gretsch tone
  • Great resonance due to the hollow body
  • Great value for your money

Specifications

  • 5-ply maple body
  • Adjusto-Matic bridge
  • Dual-coil pickups

There’s something to be said about Korean Gretsch guitars. They capture everything that makes a Gretsch great. They nail the visual, the finishes, and, more importantly, the sound.

The G520T is not exactly a budget guitar, but it’s the closest you’ll get to a Custom Shop Gretsch without having to pay an excessive amount of money.

Its design is simply wonderful. It’s a big guitar with the familiar “f”-shaped holes and with the classic Gretsch pickguard. However, and despite its size, the G520T is a relatively light guitar. This guitar weighs around 3.5 Kg — mainly due to the fact of it having a hollow body.

Pickup-wise, the Gretsch G520T has two Filter’trons, which give you plenty of that classic Gretsch tone. Some of the entry-level guitars appear to have Filter’trons, but actually, just have regular humbuckers with a Filter’tron cover — that’s not the case with the G520T.

The pickups give this guitar a warm, resonant tone with plenty of brightness and twang. Combined with the hollow body, this guitar sounds exactly as a Gretsch should.

It might take a little bit of time to get used to its size, but other than that, this guitar plays great straight out of the box. If that’s not the case, then a proper setup should do the trick.

The Gretsch G520T is not a cheap guitar, but you definitely get your money’s worth.

Does this guitar come with a case?

No. This guitar comes with no added extras.

What’s the silver thing on the body?

The silver thing is a Bigsby. It’s the same as a Stratocaster Tremolo.

Where is this guitar made?

The Gretsch G5420T is made in Korea.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for the original Gretsch sound without having to pay a premium price.

Why I like it?

This guitar is Gretsch through and through, and it’s not overly expensive.

3. Gretsch Guitars Jim Dandy Flat Top Acoustic Guitar — Best Gretsch Acoustic Guitar

Features

  • Very affordable
  • Great entry-level acoustic guitar
  • Very stylish

Specifications

  • Parlor-size body
  • “C”-shaped neck
  • Rosewood bridge

When it comes to acoustic guitars, the Jim Dandy Flat Top isn’t here to impress experienced players. Its main selling point is being a cheap guitar which you can throw around without any major worries.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s a crappy guitar. It isn’t. It’s nothing short of impressive how Gretsch was able to make such a low-priced guitar that doesn’t suck. 

Sure, the body is made from low-quality wood, but the output doesn’t suffer from it. The Jim Dandy Flat Top still produces a big and full sound while being very playable.

This guitar is great for someone looking for a cheap, but a different acoustic guitar. This guitar combines the old-school design and the Gretsch headstock with a very budget-conscious price and no major drawbacks.

Sure, it’s not a Martin or a Taylor, but it beats most acoustic guitars at the same price point while also offering plenty of styles.

Does this guitar have an adjustable truss rod?

Yes, it does. The truss rod2 is located on the bottom of the neck and is accessible through the soundhole.

Where is this guitar made?

The Jim Dandy Flat Top is manufactured in Indonesia.

Can you use a strap with this guitar?

Not without any modifications. You will need to install a set of strap holders, which is relatively easy to do.

Who this is for?

Someone in the market for an entry-level acoustic guitar.

Why I like it?

There’s just no better acoustic guitar at the same price point.

4. Gretsch G9200 Roundneck Boxcar — Best Gretsch Guitar for Blues and Rockabilly

Features

  • Great for old-school blues
  • Superb resonance

Specifications

  • Mahogany body and neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Ampli-Sonic resonator cone

Resonator guitars embody old-school blues. There’s no better way of feeling like a Mississippi Delta blues player than by playing a resonator guitar. The Gretsch G9200 gives you that experience without forcing you to break the bank.

This guitar sports a mahogany body with two charming “f”-holes. The Ampli-Sonic cone makes this guitar a resonance machine, allowing for extreme natural depth to the full sound of the G9200.

Aesthetically, this is a very pleasing guitar. Luckily, its sound quality matches its great looks. Blues definitely sound great — the country twang and the effortless slides give the sound an authentic, almost raw quality —, but any other genre will sound amazing as well.

For the price, you can’t get any other resonator guitar with the same craftsmanship and attention to detail. This guitar is a definite must-buy for any old-school blues aficionados.

Where is this guitar made?

The Gretsch G9200 is made in China.

Where is the serial number located on this guitar?

The serial number is located inside the body.

Does this guitar have a pickup?

No. However, you can install one.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for a great resonator guitar.

Why I like it?

Gretsch proves once again that it can use inspiration from the past to produce a modern, yet old-school guitar.

5. Gretsch Guitars G5022C Rancher Falcon Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Features

  • Great country aesthetic
  • Preamp does its job
  • Plenty of brightness and twang

Specifications

  • Solid spruce top with laminated maple back
  • Glossy finish
  • Classic Rancher triangular soundhole

A huge acoustic guitar with plenty of flairs is not for everyone. The Gretsch Rancher is big, but so is its sound. You’ll either love or hate its vintage, old-school look.

Looks and size issues aside, this guitar is everything a country player could want sound-wise. It has brightness and twang and is perfect for both fingerstyle and chord-based songs.

What might surprise you negatively is the quality of the acoustics on this guitar. Unplugged this guitar lacks bass and doesn’t get nearly as loud as you feel it should. However, that doesn’t become a problem once you plug it in.

The preamp is nothing to write home about and might need a little fine-tuning on the EQ side of things, but once you nail it down, it’s great for small and medium venues.

What amp should you use with this guitar?

This guitar sounds best when played through an amp with a good clean channel.

Does this guitar come with a case?

No. This guitar doesn’t come with any extras.

Where is this guitar made?

This guitar is made in Indonesia.

Who this is for?

Someone interested in country-style songs and who doesn’t mind an attention-drawing guitar.

Why I like it?

This guitar has both flair and sound at an affordable price.

6. Gretsch G2420T Streamliner Hollowbody Golddust — Best Gretsch Guitar for Blues

Features

  • Premium finishes
  • Plenty of versatility
  • Great Gretsch sound

Specifications

  • Laminated maple body
  • “U”-shaped neck
  • 22 jumbo frets

You don’t have to pay a premium price to have a premium Gretsch guitar. Even though the G2420T is half the price of an Electromatic, you’re getting way more than a guitar that’s only half as good.

Sure, the finishes might not be as good as the ones on a Custom Shop Gretsch, but they are still excellent. One of the great things about Gretsch is the attention to detail present throughout their entire range of guitars, and that will make you wonder how the guitar didn’t cost twice as much.

Besides looking like a much more expensive Gretsch guitar, the G2420T also sounds like one. It’s a great guitar for blues and rock and roll — it has the classic Gretsch tone with plenty of room for versatility.

Can this guitar be played acoustically?

While not as loud as an acoustic guitar, this guitar is louder than a regular electric guitar and can be used to practice in quiet environments. Still, this guitar isn’t meant to be played acoustically.

Is this guitar a full hollow-body guitar?

No. This guitar has a block through its center.

Where is this guitar made?

This Gretsch model is made in China.

Who this is for?

Someone looking for a guitar with the classic Gretsch look at a relatively affordable price.

Why I like it?

Despite its price, this guitar has premium finishes and a great Gretsch tone.

Best Gretsch Guitar Buyer’s Guide

Gretsch Guitar Controls Guide

Gretsch Guitar Controls Guide

What are the best guitar strings for the Gretsch Electromatic?

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D'Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
D'Addario EXL110-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings
Best Guitar Strings for Gretsch Electromatic
The answer you will get to this question will vary from player to player. There is no such thing as an overall best set of strings. String preference will vary depending on the guitar and the player.

Still, you should always use .10 or higher strings for floating-bridge guitars, such as the Gretsch Electromatic. Other than that, it’s completely dependent on your personal preference both in feel and in sound.

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What’s the best Gretsch pickup?

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Gretsch Electric Guitar Filtertron Bridge Pickup
Gretsch Electric Guitar Filtertron Bridge Pickup
Best Gretsch Pickup
Gretsch focuses on two different types of pickups: Filter’trons and Hi-lo’trons. Despite their funky names, these pickups actually correspond to humbuckers and single-coils.

Like with the strings, there’s no definite answer to this question. It will all depend on the type of sound you’re after. Single-coil pickups are brighter and best suited for clean settings and some light distortion, while humbuckers thrive under heavy overdrives.

If you’re still unsure, you can get a guitar with both types of pickups and alternate between them.

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What is the best amp for a Gretsch Electromatic Guitar?

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Fender Champion 20 - 20-Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier
Fender Champion 20 - 20-Watt Electric Guitar Amplifier
Best AMP for a Gretsch Electromatic Guitar
As you can probably begin to tell, there’s no right answer to these types of questions. It all comes down to preference.

That doesn’t mean that great amps for Gretsch guitars don’t exist. They might not be the best because it’s all subjective, but they’re still great amps.

Vox and Fender amps are considered some of the best amplifiers, and they don’t disappoint when paired with a Gretsch Electromatic. Budget models might be a little disappointing, but a 100W amp from any of these brands will probably sound terrific.

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Gretsch Streamliner vs. Electromatic

This question plagues lots of people looking to buy their first Gretsch guitar. Both models look similar — but is it really worth it to buy the more expensive Electromatic instead of settling for the budget-conscious Streamliner?

Both guitars are great. Despite being manufactured in different places, Gretsch has great quality control in all of its factories. However, only one of these models gets close to what a Gretsch guitar really is.

When you think of a Gretsch guitar, you think of a specific sound. The thing is the classic tone you get on a US-made Gretsch isn’t cheap. Streamliners are great budget guitars, but they will disappoint you if you’re looking for the Gretsch tone.

Electromatics aren’t exactly cheap, but they are way less expensive than a US-made Gretsch. These guitars can cost twice as much as a Streamliner, but they’ll be much closer to the classic tone than the budget guitar.

Still, if you find yourself enamored by the Streamliner tone, go for it. Despite being a cheaper Gretsch, it’s still a great guitar with an excellent tone.

What styles is the Gretsch Streamliner guitar good for?

Gretsch guitars are typically used for blues, rockabilly, and classic rock and roll. But that doesn’t mean anything. The truth is Gretsch guitars are great for whichever style you decide to use them for.

Conclusion

Gretsch guitars are not for everyone. Even though most people do agree that they sound great, their looks might be a little too much for some players. You either love them, or you hate them, there’s no middle ground.

If you do love them, there’s probably a reason. For me, it’s the looks. There something charming about a gigantic guitar that can be played so effortlessly.

If you’re like me and want a big guitar with huge sound, but are limited by a budget, then the Gretsch Guitars G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody is a great option. It has everything you want on a Gretsch guitar.

However, the best price/quality Gretsch guitar has to be the Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club. It’s impressive how much guitar you get for such little of a price.

The bottom line is that you won’t be disappointed with any of the guitars on this list. They all have their qualities and, more importantly, they’re all great Gretsch guitars. 

  1. https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1195&context=faculty-articles
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truss_rod

About the author

John Tschop

John Tschop

I am a music fan who is fond of different instruments and genres. The member of Klinger-McFry Band. We launched StereoShore to discuss proven tips, tutorials, and insights.

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