Electromatics

End of the 5120s, start of the 5420s?

1

Does anyone know if there was like a point where the 5120 was done and the 5420 production started, or was it sort of a transition period? I'm pretty sure Gretsch started selling the 5420s somewhere in 2012, or maybe 2013 but I don't know for sure.

I'm pretty curious if there's someone out there with the very, very, very last 5120.

2

That sounds about right about the 5420 being the successor to the 5120 (which was good), but the 5420 just blows it out of the water.

3

That sounds about right about the 5420 being the successor to the 5120 (which was good), but the 5420 just blows it out of the water.

– lx

Does the 5420 really blow it out of the water? I have a 5120, albeit modded, but I don't see how much better they could've made it (stock). Okay, the Gretschbuckers were meh and the bridge rattled a bit, but other than that...

4

Right - change the pickups, fix the bridge, and the 5120s are nice.

5

Somewhere around that time frame, maybe even 2014. The 5420 is definitely the evolution, and I don't think I remember them being available at the same time. That was right around when the music store I was managing became a Gretsch dealer.

The 5120s are great guitars, and I still own my first Gretsch (2007 5120), but there is something about the 5420s I've played that is noticeably better. Hard to put into words, and realistically not a big enough difference to make me get one over the other all other things being equal. I've screwed around less with my 5420. Aside from the bridge, I can't really see any other mods worth doing. Maybe a V cut Bigsby at some point, but that's a cosmetic mod to me.

Just grabbed one of the hot off the press Electromatic Jets too, and it's a more dramatic improvement from the previous generation of them in my opinion. Not that the previous are bad guitars by any means. The new ones just have a little more of "it".

6

I like the neck profile better on the 5420s and 5422s.

7

In current terms, I'd say the old 5120 is closer to a modern Streamliner, while the 5420 is barely a notch below the pro-lines. My nephew gigged with his 5120 and I was always having to tweak it. My friend gigs with his 5420 (2 years now) with no issues until recently when he decided that the wiring wasn't holding up.

8

All these posts praising the 5420... I feel like going to a guitar store to compare one to my 5120. Maybe try a Streamliner to compare as well.

Though I wonder, why would anyone still get a Proline if the Electromatics are so incredibly well made!

9

There's enormously more variety in the Professional Series.

Also, 3-ply tops vs 5-ply, premium components, history.

But the 5120-5420 series are Gretsch's best-selling guitars ever.

10

I get confused. There seems to be a few variations of a 5420t. The black models seem to have hump block inlays instead of half moon markers, vertical electromatic headstock logo and the larger headstock.

But I haven't looked at this range much, probably being dopey

11

As regards comparison s with more expensive models, I often think the choice of guitar is based on aspects that don't reflect price...neck profile, fret size, scale length etc,. I've had expensive models that have gathered dust whilst I've been well happy with cheaper models. But it took a long time to work out why

12

I've been quite happy with my 5120 which rolled off the line in January, 2011, if I decode the serial number correctly. Only changes I made in it were to swap out the Tune-O-Matic bridge for a Tru-Arc, and swap out the delrin nut for a bone nut. The teeth of the original bridge kept digging into the palm of my hand when I'd mute the bass strings. And when I'd lean on the Bigsby, the G string went out of tune. The bone nut solved that problem.

I've played a couple of 5420s and the sonic differences are, to my untrained ears, negligible.

13

Long time since I've been online! I remember the transitional change between models....the G5120 was still listed in the 2010 Catalog but they had already dropped the G5125 thru G5129 models (Electromatics with DeArmond 2000 single coil pickups) and introduced the 5122DC (Double Cutaway) to the Electromatic Hollowbody line. Then, by 2012, the G5420T & G5422TDC appeared as its replacements in the 2012 Catalog.

My 5120 (Orange) is probably one of the earliest (2006) and when I first picked it up and tried it, I fell in love with it! Sure, it wasn't the pro line guitars but it had a lot going for it, especially for the price. I was amazed with the quality that came out of a Korean made guitar! The Gretchbucker pickups were a little different, but they were quite respectable in their own right. Then, when the 5420's came out, many liked the changes incorporated such as the Blacktop Filterons and the Hump Fret markers, and added the binding around the F holes, too. There seemed to be that big approval when the cosmetics made it look more like a proline model. Mind you, there were other minor changes as the neck profile, and other minor changes that made it a great player. But in the long run, I still liked my original 5120. To date, I had eventually changed the Gretschbuckers with the later Blacktop Filter Tron pickups that I managed to aquire. And I replaced the clear pickguard with a black pickguard (something about a clear pickguard that I never liked). To me, the sound is still amazing, and the Blacktop PU's were an improved tone change. It still has the classic "Thumbnail" style fret markers and the neck profile feels right for me. I still have the original bridge... I never have the bridge buzz issues that many complained about, but I see myself eventually going to a solid bar bridge. BTW, the bridge is not pinned on the 5120 and I never played agressive enough to have it become a problem!

I can't knock the original G5120 and have no desire to let it go!

14

I have a silver sparkle G5129, one of the orange "Jimmy C" 5120s, and a newer 5420 in Fairlane Blue, and while the 5129 and 5120 feel pretty much the same, I like the feel of the neck on those a little more than the 5420. BUT, I like the smaller headstock and overall look of the 5420 better. It also feels a little more solid to me for some reason, and I kinda like the like the Blacktops that are in there. I've gigged a lot with the other two after some mods...pinning the bridge base, replacing the bridge and installing Filtertrons on the 5120, and they were always very stable, dependable guitars live.

That being said, I REALLY prefer the 9.5 radius on my Hot Rod over the 12" radius on the others...I'm able to play so much better on that rounder radius that I gig with the Hot Rod now. If they did an Electromatic with a 9.5 radius, I'd be all over it!

15

Folks make statements...I like the neck better. What does that mean? Is it fatter? Wider? Thinner?

16

I'd love to be more precise on this but all I can say for sure is they are certainly more ergonomic, to me. It just has a good fit and feel. Others may be able to explain it better than I.

17

Folks make statements...I like the neck better. What does that mean? Is it fatter? Wider? Thinner?

– Mark W

"Chunky" or "fatter" is a pretty good description.

Just plum comfortable to my old hands.

As far as when the 5420/5422's hit the US, the 5422's were released in 2012.

The first one in the US was at the "2012 KC Roundup" (May 2012), thanks to Joe Carducci, and of course Baxter for making this event happen. I'm a lucky dog, as I was the winner of the white 5422T. Joe had it set up perfectly, Kim Falcon shook it SO gracefully, and out came my pick.

Serial Number: KS12043000

Outstanding guitar, and "priceless" to me in so many ways.

Production units hit the streets a few months later.


Register Sign in to join the conversation