Gretsch Amps

Any thoughts on the Gretsch Electromatic g5120?


I've recently run into a g5120 in my local classifieds for around $400, I've never owned a hollow body or semi-hollow and was originally looking at an Epi es-339 or an Ibanez as-93 but I'm now thinking about the Gretsch.

Does anyone here own one and have any insight as to how it compares to the Epi and the Ibanez? Tweakbox


That's a great price but I can't give you any comparison info to those guitars that you have referenced.

3's a Gretsch. Depending on what pickups it has, it either sounds like a Gretsch or can be made to with a pickup swap.

Both the Epi and the Ibanez are great guitars, especially for the money - but just in their own right as well. And they won't sound like a Gretsch. Both are semi-hollow thinlines with centerblocks and humbuckers, while the Gretsch is a full depth full hollowbody, a very different construction. In addition, the 339 is a smaller-size semi than the 335 it's based on.

For what it's worth, the Gretsch cost more new than either of the others - but I'd put them all in the same bracket for quality and fit/finish/build. Of course it's hard to compare new guitars to used without having the used guitar in hand for inspection - or numerous clear pics of it.

Semi-hollow thinlines in general have notably less body resonance than a full hollowbody, for a more focused tone, pretty much exactly midway between a deep hollowbody and your usual solidbody. They're generally more resistant to feedback at higher volumes (depending on the pickups), with more mechanical sustain - that is, they keep the string itself vibrating longer. A hollowbody, on the other hand, has a more resonant, diffuse, acoustic-like tone.

I think a guy should have experience with at least one of each type as he figures out what guitar(s) suit him best. If I had neither a semi nor a full hollow, I'd be shopping for both and looking for targets of opportunity - which you now have with the 5120.

Also, a Gretsch hollowbody - with classic Gretsch pickups - sounds different from a hollowbody with humbuckers. Generally brighter, brasher, with a characteristic twang and jangle...while humbucker hollowbodies are warmer, darker, "jazzier."

To be of more help in comparing, we'd have to know what condition the 5120 is in, how old it is, and what pickups are installed (they changed over the life of the model). But for 400.00 - unless it's really beat - I think you'd have trouble losing money if you decided to turn it after owning it awhile. That price also gives you money for upgrades (pickups, nut, bridge, etc) if needed, without exceeding a reasonable total investment.


I have a 2006 G5120 (bought it new) and like it a lot. I've been playing it a lot over the past week, in fact. Mine has the original stock Gretschbuckers, and by adjusting the polepieces differently on each coil of each pickup, I've got a very satisfying unique tone from them. True, they are not as bright and twangy as the better-known Gretsch FilterTrons or Dynasonics, but they also sound very different from the Epiphone humbuckers on my Epi Joe Pass (which has a similar body size and construction to the 5120). The 5120 has a brighter, crisper tone that can be adjusted into warm jazz territory or snappy and clean, and handles overdrive very well too.

I also put a Tru-Arc Aluminum bridge on mine, which brings out even more of the brightness in tone.

As Proteus says, the G5120 is a very different critter from either the Epi or Ibanez you mentioned, both of which behave much more like solidbodies than they do a fully hollow bodied guitar. If the G5120 you've run into is in good condition, it can be a very versatile guitar and a great way to get your feet wet with a hollow body.


Ha! I guess I did go assuming it's a nice and playable guitar. If it is, then good deal. If not, It may depend on condition.

I agree with Parabar on pole adjustments on the G-buckers but it's fairly simple and we have those instructions, if you go that direction.


I bought a used 2008 5120 with stock pickups in 2009 for $425 (from a motivated seller). It was my first Gretsch and I still absolutely love it. Some people love the stock pickups, but they just didn't give me the sound I wanted. They weren't bad, they just didn't have enough attitude or clarity for my ears. I swapped them for P-90s and never looked back. The overall build quality is excellent. Good luck and I hope it becomes your instant favorite.


I’ve owned and Epi Dot (335 - bit bigger body) as well as a 5120. Like Proteus said, they are both good guitars in their own right (loosely quoted). The Dot was my first decent electric guitar and I wish I still had it for nostalgic reasons. But I traded it for my first Gretsch. I won the 5120 at a Roundup. It was actually pretty cool. They have the same body depth as a SSLVO or Vintage Select ‘59 6120 and they also have thumbnail inlays. Put a set of TV Classics in there and you’ve got yourself a gem. They’re well made. Check it out.

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