Modern Gretsch Guitars

Looking For First Gretsch

1

Hi. Looking to buy my first Gretsch snd asking advice. I play some acoustic, no electric now. Like many typed of music, Love the Gretsch sound. What models would you recommend to get me started? Thanks

2

A 6120 would be a great place to start.

3

I agree with GaryL and also, check out the new Electromatics. If you aren't able to afford the pro-line series, they are awesome guitars. Are you thinking hollow, semi hollow or solid body?

4

I agree with GaryL and also, check out the new Electromatics. If you aren't able to afford the pro-line series, they are awesome guitars. Are you thinking hollow, semi hollow or solid body?

– Suprdave

I like the hollow and semi best. Want to make sure I get everything I should.

5

A 6120 would be a great place to start.

– GaryL

Which version of this model?

6

A 6120 would be a great place to start.

– GaryL

Is there an online dealer you could recommend?

7

There is a used G5120 from an online shop for $685. Built 2010. Is that considered a newer model?

8

A 6120 would be a great place to start.

– GaryL

That would be a good place to finish. It'd be like learning to drive in a Mercedes.

First of all, welcome aboard! Try out as many as you can in person. Do your research, beware of scammers. Advertisers here, like Streetsounds or Blackrider or Sweetwater are all highly respected dealers. Go thru the Gretsch online catalog and narrow down your search. Keep an eye on the sales here.

9

My recommendation is play as many neck shapes as you can, to see what feels the best for you. Neck feel is terribly important for most guitarists so that's a go place to begin narrowing down your search. The 6120 as suggested, comes in a variety of models so you're bound to find a comfortable profile within that family.

If you prefer a wider neck, there's only one model with it and that's the 6122-59 Gent, the re-issue of Chet's personal favorite. It's the flagship and new, not cheap, but if you're patient, you can find a nice used one at a reasonable price.

10

A 5120 from 2010 for 685.00 is not a great deal. It's certainly a competent guitar, but features and specs changed continually during the lifetime of that model - always for the better, so a newer one would be a better buy than that older one.

But almost certainly, a recent 5420 would be a better guitar for the money. Or, rather, not a better guitar from a strict quality point of view - there's nothing lacking in the 5120s in that department - but a better Gretsch. That is, features and specs have evolved over the 5420's lifetime as well to essentially bring it closer to the pro-line models in Gretschness - pickups, construction, etc.

A 5420 from late 2017 through the present would really be the sweet spot in every regard. And you should be able to find a recent 5420 for little - if any - more than those guys are asking for the 5120.


You really haven't given us much to go on in terms of what you want from a first Gretsch - what music you play, any particular tones you're chasing, what your current rides are, why you're shopping Gretsch. This will make our recommendations overly general - or we'll just end up telling you what our favorite models are (usually the ones we own). Not exactly a custom shopping experience

As a primer to get you thinking about models and options, you might read THIS PIECE • CLICK HERE. It's over 10 years old, and some of the model specifics have changed, but it's still a good overview of Gretsch's unique territory, and a decent way to ask yourself what you're really looking for.

You have said you like the hollow and semi-hollow best, and that's a help. If a guy had to characterize Gretsch's many offerings in those builds in overall sound and response, he'd probably say:

• the ones with center-blocks (which are relatively new to the Gretsch line) have the most focused and concentrated tone, are most resistant to high-volume feedback, and the best in the Gretsch stable for screamin' rock approaches (though they work for other approaches as well). You might think of them as a cross between Gretsch tone and 335-like note envelope, attack, and sustain.

• the thinline hollows without centerblock have a more open, airy, chimey tone, arguably with more of the characteristic Gretsch twang-n-jangle - while still being manageable at volume, and adaptable to nearly any style (I'll guess you're not looking for a metaloid shredder).

• full-deep hollowbodies with trestle or ML bracing have a somewhat deeper, more resonant tone than either of the above - but with more rigid bracing that makes them resistant to uncontrolled feedback, but conducive to feedback controllable at harmonic pitches, and with a tighter, more focused tone than the final category...

• full-deep hollowbodies without such bracing. They have the deepest, most resonant tone in the line, with lots of woodiness and air, and classic full-bodied Gretsch twang.

Two of those build techniques (centerblock and full-deep hollow) are available in all three Gretsch lines - ie Streamliner, Electromatic, and Professional Collection (arranged in ascending order of cost).

Thinline hollows come in Electromatic and Pro Collection models, while ML or Trestle bracing are only available in the pro-line.


As Wabash says, a 6120 is a good place to finish a search for the perfect Gretsch (if you happen to love that build - it's not the right perfect Gretsch for everyone). Until and unless you know exactly what you want - and as the article illustrates, it's the intersection of Gretsch's unique pickups and body construction which determine the tone and behavior of a given guitar - I don't think buying from the pro line is the way to go.

Well OK, if you can afford to spend big on numerous guitars, or are willing to buy and sell guitars-you-might-like till you find the one you do like, then OK. Or if you just have to have "the best" - or most expensive - right out of the chute, there you go.

But a danger of the pro-line first approach is that if it's as significant expense for you as it is for most guys, it becomes a pride-of-ownership aspirational thing. You could be so overly proud of just owning the first one you get, knocked out by the looks and build quality, etc, and so infatuated during the honeymoon period that you overlook if it doesn't really suit your expectations for tone or feel.

Then, because you know it's a great guitar, it just stays in your collection and becomes a rarely-played case queen - when a different pro-line model might have been your cold-dead-hands guitar, but you'll never know unless you keep swapping till you find it. For some guys, it's harder to flip the expensive guitars - both because more expensive guitars simply take longer to sell, and because (depending on what you've promised), a significant other might be saying "I thought you said this was the best guitar in the world, and all you ever wanted, and you'd never want another..."

I think a better approach would be to start in the Electromatic range, where your hollow and semi choices are the 5420 and the 5422, two distinctly different and classically Gretsch guitars. (Streamliners are an incredible value for their low dollar, well-built and beautifully playable, but I don't find their pickups wonderfully Gretschy enough to give a full impression of what "that Great Gretsch Sound" is all about.) If you have to buy online - ie, don't have a Gretsch dealer in reasonable travel distance - the Electromatics are affordable enough to conceivably try both at home, then send back the less belovéd candidate, or keep both.

And if and when you've played some pro-lines, and find one you think is more compelling than your Electro, that's the time to trade up (or, as most of us do, keep the Electro and just buy the pro-liner). But the Electro experience gives you a start on figuring out what body build you most like. (Along the way you can always replace the pickups with something from TV Jones' line, and get the Electro even closer to pro-line territory.)

There are some things in the pro line you simply can't get close to in the Electromatic or Streamliner liner, but unless you already know what those things are - and that nothing else will even substitute - Electromatics are the perfect starting place.


If you have a local/regional Gretsch dealer, call and see what he has in stock. If it's a reasonable selection across all the lines, make the effort to visit, and play all of them. That will give you a better sense of the character and differences among them than any amount of internet pontification.

Street Sounds and Dave's Guitars are both good dealers, as is Shanghai Music in Kansas, Cream City Music (Milwaukee, I think), Sweetwater in Indiana, Fullers in Texas, and Wildwood in Colorado (that I can think of). But for your purposes, any dealer with a couple candidate models in stock - and which you can drive to - is a good dealer.

Another, perhaps crazy, way to see, hear, and play more Gretschs than you ever imagined would be to attend a Gretsch Pages Roundup (see top of page, under Happenings). Two are coming up in September, one in CA and the other near Nashville. It would a relatively expensive weekend - but cheap in the long run if your purpose is to thoroughly investigate and understand what Gretsch has to offer.

You'd also be warmly welcomed by a fraternity of Gretsch enthusiasts and made to feel right at home, no matter your age, musical background, or skill level. It's a pretty good community.


But short version of a recommendation for a first Gretsch hollow or semi? Try recent 5420s and 5422s.

11

If you are going to go for a 5420 this exclusive Sweetwater model would be the one I would want. It's as close to a Pro-line 6120 as you're going to find for under $1,000.

12

One of my favorite sounding and playing Gretsch guitars is the 5422. It's a double cutaway hollow body.

13

I have a like new, original, no issues G5420T Fairlane Blue that I'm half-heartedly trying to sell for $700, plus shipping costs. The price includes a Gretsch G6241 Deluxe Black Case. This combo would cost around $1000 plus tax from the big box guys.

15

Welcome ToolTime, I'm happy to hear that you are interested in getting your first Gretsch guitar. This is my first Gretsch guitar, it's a 2018 Electromatic G5422TG, a full hollow body guitar. These are a great place to start, at about a third the price ($999) of the Pro Line 6120. This and the single cut away G5420T, offer a tremendous amount of value for the price. I mostly play clean fingerstyle on this guitar, but it's very capable of playing hard rock as well (but not metal). You'll need to budget for a hard case though, another buck fifty or so. I absolutely love this guitar, it would have been a bargain at twice the $ one grand price.

16

And Beatbyrd's Fairlane Blue is a waaay better Gretsch than the 5120. For the money, kind of a no-brainer.

That's one of the gorgeous colors 5420s have sported over the last few years. That, the candy red, and the Aspen green get you RGB in the classiest way. I mean, if you're a serial collector of 5420s, not that anyone should be.

And not that the orange'un from Sweetwater isn't also mighty sweet. But they're the same blacktop Filter'Trons, and that's where the heart of it is.

17

Another vote for the Fairlane Blue that Beatbyrd has. Karolyn got one two years ago in Nashville at the roundup. It is every bit as sweet as my Falcon (In playability) and that color is freaking gorgeous.

18

Hi. Looking to buy my first Gretsch snd asking advice. I play some acoustic, no electric now. Like many typed of music, Love the Gretsch sound. What models would you recommend to get me started? Thanks

– ToolTime

These days there are many Gretsch sounds. What guitar players do you like?

Lee

19

You’ve had some awesome advice here. I’d echo the recommendations that: 1) you do your research about what body types, pickup style (Dynas vs filters are the two big ones), and scale... there are lots of threads here and elsewhere discussing these issues 2) get to stores and put your hands on them. While I really wanted a 6120, I had trouble finding one where the neck felt golden for my hands.

I would also add that you should set your budget and then be patient for the right guitar at the right price. If you can stretch your budget, pro lines can be had for around $1400 in good used condition. You’ve had great input in the 5*** models, but it’s a real buyers market for the prolines.

20

Used Pro Jet. Pick one up for around $300.

21

Echoing what's already been well said; the 5420 is an ideal model to jump into a Gretsch. It's the closest to the legendary tone and feel of their 6120, without the large expense.

Their Electromatic line is a great tier for regular players new to Gretsch.
The Streamliner line is great for starters, tight budgets, kit-bashers. Decently crafted guitars but limited capabilities.

I have no regrets starting with my aspen green 5420. I found a minty used one through Craig's List for $550, including the hardshell case. Great deals are out there, but even purchased new they're a great value.


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