Electromatics

Buying advice

1

Hello. Do you have any advice for buying a G5422T? I’ve played as many as I can find - 7 - but it’s impossible to compare because few shops have more than one (the chains that do refuse to take stock from their other shops); intonation is all over the place and pickup heights vary a lot.

So much for UK retailers. A nearby chain got one black 5422 transferred for me, which I’d asked to be set up in advance so I could compare it to their orange one. They hadn’t bothered, so after a lot of waiting I compared the two.

The sound was miles apart, no matter how the pickups were raised. The orange one sounded extremely Gretschey with that serrated attack, was really loud and trebly. (A bit too much for me, it was harder to get jazzier tones and the bass wasn’t as full as most I’d played.)

The black one was much quieter and muffled by comparison. It sounded like a Streamliner or Epiphone archtop, but non-descript, none of that Gretschey serrated aliveness.

It was a bit worrying that they could vary so much. Maybe I assumed Fender had standardised quality (I played a Squier Tele that cost £160 and felt better than an American Deluxe I owned).

Any buying advice?

2

Every guitar is different. Every piece of wood is unique. I think you are doing the right thing. Eventually the right one will grab your interest even if it's not set up properly.

I went to check out an Epiphone Casino 61 Reissue a few years ago. The action was high, the strings were old and because of that it really didn't sound that great or even play that well. Still, there was something about it when I played it. I bought it, took it home, tweaked the truss rod which was very loose, set it up and put new strings on it. It sounds and plays amazing! I had a feeling about it even though it wasn't in optimal shape when I tried it out. Go with your gut.

I only ever bought one guitar online and it was my Gretsch Duo Jet. I normally won't buy a guitar online but Rocky at Street Sounds gave me 3 days to try it with a no questions asked return policy. It was still a bit of a gamble because I would have been out the return shipping costs if I didn't bond with it. I'm glad I did because he sent me a winner.

3

It’s a problem that not all guitar shops have staff who know how to set up hollow bodies. I’ve seen many Gretsch and other floating bridge guitars hanging in shops that still had the foam under the bridge - and in two instances the staff didn’t permit its removal. Not a great way to sell guitars.

That said, I haven’t played an Electromatic that I didn’t think could be a good guitar if it had a good setup.

If you’re remotely near Brighton, try GAK, they always have a good selection of Gretsches at different price points.

4

Good points, thanks. I’m up north. You’d think the pressure from online would improve customer service. One shop had a workshop and asked if I’d already bought the instrument I was asking them to set-up. The customers before me had, a week before, and were charged £75. They wondered why they had to pay when the shop had sold them a bass with fret buzz. They were told it’s only high-end instruments where you shouldn’t expect a set-up - that you pay for.

The whole thing is weird, like trying to give people most of £1k but nobody wants it.

5

IMHO, The G5422T is a guitar that Gretsch has clearly knocked out of the park and over the fence, in baseball terms. My Karolyn won one in Nashville last year and I'm not sure I don't like it more than my Falcon, which I love. Tavo will tell you it's one of the best Falcons he's ever had in his hands and I just can't say enough about the sound and playability of the G5422T, and hers is Fairlane Blue which is just gorgeous. I don't know if the one she got is special or not, because I have heard mixed reviews but at this point, I'm going to blame setup on that, depending on where you are and who may have set it up. Joe C set hers up.

6

The 5422 is one of my favorite sounding Gretsch guitars. Maybe contact Rocky at Street Sounds or Joel at Shanghai and tell them what you told us here and ask them to find you the guitar with the tonal personality you are looking for. I believe you could trust either of these guys to pick out a winner for you. The guitar will also come to you completely set up how you like it as part of the sale.

7

Good points, thanks. I’m up north. You’d think the pressure from online would improve customer service. One shop had a workshop and asked if I’d already bought the instrument I was asking them to set-up. The customers before me had, a week before, and were charged £75. They wondered why they had to pay when the shop had sold them a bass with fret buzz. They were told it’s only high-end instruments where you shouldn’t expect a set-up - that you pay for.

The whole thing is weird, like trying to give people most of £1k but nobody wants it.

– goyt

How are they still in business? That's one of the shoddiest practices I've ever heard of. Every guitar should be perfectly set up before it is placed on the sales floor.

8

@Suprdave - I couldn’t agree more. I’m besotted by 5422s. Every one I’ve tried has felt great in my hands. Re. BuddyH’s point that they’re going to differ, I’m thinking that’s part of my obsession, coming more from acoustics. I’ve had a Sheraton and a Tele and I want something a bit more alive, which means variables. Maybe the thing is I didn’t realise pickups are variables?

@wabash slim - no offence to any great music shop workers in the UK but I suspect there’s a vast difference in customer service culture vs US. They’re incomparably more helpful than the other chain in my city, who treat you as a shoplifter if you hesitate when asked “are you going to buy today?” when you ask if you can take a guitar off the wall. Because the signs say DO NOT TAKE GUITARS OFF THE WALL. Not mentioning any names Dawsons, you * kippers.

9
  • “are you going to buy today?”*

If one of those wankers said that to me, I'd tell him indignantly: "That all depends. I'll decide that after I play a selection of guitars on the wall....and without any further ignorant questions." If you found one you feel is okay, for the right price, offer an indecently low price just to watch their reaction. They don't deserve your business.

10
  • “are you going to buy today?”*

If one of those wankers said that to me, I'd tell him indignantly: "That all depends. I'll decide that after I play a selection of guitars on the wall....and without any further ignorant questions." If you found one you feel is okay, for the right price, offer an indecently low price just to watch their reaction. They don't deserve your business.

– Windsordave

They don’t get my business. To be fair their other departments seem more helpful. And they’re fair, treating 40-somethings with the same contempt as 14 yr olds. Maybe what goes around comes around. When the riots came around those kids walked out with strats.

11

"When the riots came around those kids walked out with strats."

There's no accounting for taste!

13

Goyt: I assumed from your title that you were from northern UK (Manchester/Stockport?). When I was a kid I used to collect train numbers at Stockport Tiviot Dale station --- when you peered over the wall at the end of the platform you saw the spot where the Goyt and the Tame meet to form the river Mersey. However, I digress!

Shops in the Dawsons chain usually have a few Gretsches in stock. I'm visiting family in Liverpool this week and the branch here had a couple of 5422 guitars when I was in there the other day. Through a decent amp, those pickups should sound just fine once adjusted for height -- I have them in both a Pro Jet and a 5420 and I'm very satisfied. Do Sounds Great at Heald Green have them in stock? Or Back Alley Music in Chester? Or maybe Dawsons in Manchester or Altrincham? Best of luck with your search.

14

Lovely to hear your childhood memory, Dave, as one of the songs i’m wanting a Gretsch for is partly about that spot where the river Mersey is born. Twenty-five years ago I walked past it under the road bridge to work in Meadow Mill every day, just before the derelict Portwood warehouses and mills were taken down. It was marked by submerged shopping trolleys then. I love the decorative iron railings now, but it still seems a forlorn tribute to the river in its first few metres before it’s culverted under the precinct.

I guess the Tiviot Dale line went to Hyde?

Thanks for your advice. I’ve been to the local shops you mention. I’m being fussy perhaps but I can only afford the cheaper 5422’s and don’t like orange. Leaving black. Then it gets odd: the orange and the gold hardware guitars always play better! Maybe the spirit of Gretsch takes offence when trapped in black guitars?


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