Modern Gretsch Guitars

Modern Gretsch acoustics? Yes/No?

1

Hello all, I've been playing Gretsch electrics both new and vintage for most of my playing career. I used to manage a chain of Guitar shops on the East coast and in doing so I was fortunate enough to have played and owned just about every high end all solid wood acoustic flattops; from I guess what most pro level players would consider the "big 3"; when it comes to all solid wood acoustic flat tops, (Gibson,Martin,Taylor).

I'm in the market for a new acoustic flattop and because Gretsch is the only brand of electric guitars that I have consistently played and not bought/sold/ or traded, I've been considering staying brand loyal and going with a Gretsch acoustic?

The only issue I have is that Gretsch isn't and haven't ever really been known for making stellar acoustic flattops. Sure those old 50's Gene Vincent ranchers are amazing but I'm not looking to shell out that much. It sure would be nice if Gretsch still offered a more, "pro level", made in Japan acoustic flattop instrument. Since they no longer offer those and without getting into a big debate about, "it doesn't matter where a guitar is made" discussion; I'm curious about their current Indonesian made Rancher Jumbos as well as the blinged out version, Falcon jumbo electric acoustic?

I can't seem to find a local area dealer that carries any of these models and so I was wondering what some thoughts were for those of you that have or currently own one? I know they get good reviews for their plugged in sound, but I'm more interested in using it mostly unplugged for recording purposes. I have no doubt it will sound ok seeing that they do at least have solid wood tops. And, for the price point I get it, its obviously not going to sound as well unplugged as a $1,000 plus all solid wood acoustic.

I really want to stay loyal to Gretsch, seeing as I have owned several electric Gretsch models for years and years. I realize that these Indonesian made Gretsch acoustics aren't meant to compete with all solid wood higher end acoustics, but I'm just on the fence here, especially since I can't find any local dealers where I could try one first. Any comments and or opinions regarding these newer acoustics from Gretsch would be mighty helpful.

I'm currently not looking to spend crazy money on a flattop right now, but I'm really on the fence if I should just try one of these Gretsch's or spend a few hundred more on say like a Tayor 210E Deluxe or 214 Deluxe, (I know different body styles), but I've had great luck with Taylors in the past, and I really love that the new 200 series comes with the Rupert Neve designed Experession system 2 electronics, (which in my mind blows away most peizo fishman/braggs style under the saddle pickups). The taylor also comes with a deluxe hardshell case that is super nice.

Like I said, I'm on the fence. I can stay Gretsch loyal and get a brand new one plus then have to buy a hardshell case for about what I could pay for a slightly used or almost new taylor 200 series that comes with a deluxe case and probably would sound better unplugged seeing that Taylor has always specialized in acoustics, (lets face it I don't know too many players who bought Taylors T5 Electric hybrid thingy).

I really would just love to hear from Gretsch acoustic owners for a change. Again I love all of the Gretsch electrics I currently have and have owned, (arch tops, Jets, etc..) . I'm just real curious and on the fence regarding the newer acoustic flattops. Like Said I would love to stay Gretsch loyal, I especially like the looks of the guitar, but Im just afraid its going to be lacking unplugged especially when compared to the Taylor series I mentioned?? On the fence? Thanks for your time.

:)

2

I tested out a Black Falcon Rancher at a music store a few weeks ago. It made my big toe shoot up through my boot. Constantly tempted to go back and buy it.

3

Red acoustic guitar is a Gretsch.

4

Howdy!! I have the Rancher in sunset.I had to put 0.13- 0.56 Gibson J200 strings on it, to make it really lose the stiffness.Compared to my Epi J200 (one of the first batches and sounding nearly similar to the real deal) it's more woody.A good string separation for fingerstyle but not that sparkly as the Epiphone.Not bad sounding and it depends on, what you like!

5

I got two Gretsch acoustics—Jim Dandy and a Rancher, nothing home to write about, but they're good guitars to say the least.

6

I recently went out looking for a flat top 12-string. The White Falcon Rancher sounded pretty good both plugged in and unplugged and was not hard work to play — but I just can't see myself gigging with that much bling around my neck. Now if they made a 12-string Black Falcon Rancher, and not just a six-string model in black, then I'd probably go for that, but as things stand I'm leaning towards either a Takamine or Breedlove. My price point is somewhere around £500-£600 UK.

7

Check out the Historic series acoustics from Gretsch. Made in the late 90's, early 00's, many have thin solid Sitka tops and really sound great. I have my second 3410, as I traded my first for a great JBGretschguy built amp. He will also testify on behalf of the Historics.

They show up on eBay a lot, and there is a brochure posted on this site that show construction materials and other specs.

8

I recently went out looking for a flat top 12-string. The White Falcon Rancher sounded pretty good both plugged in and unplugged and was not hard work to play — but I just can't see myself gigging with that much bling around my neck. Now if they made a 12-string Black Falcon Rancher, and not just a six-string model in black, then I'd probably go for that, but as things stand I'm leaning towards either a Takamine or Breedlove. My price point is somewhere around £500-£600 UK.

– Dave_K

Dave, it may be just me but I wouldn't spend that much on a 12-string, especially new. There are many vintage Made in Japan guitars out there that are mostly great bank for the buck. Ibanez, Yamaha, Maya, Suzuki... Add costs for a set-up and a pickup and you are well under 500.

If it has to be new I'd also look at the Guild line.

9

I understand brand loyalty, but Gretsch aren't really known for their acoustics. Why not go for a brand that is known for acoustic guitars? What would be the equivalent to Gretsch in acoustic guitars?

As a big fan of the 6120 I have wondered how to get what I love about the 6120 from an acoustic guitar. The issue I have with most steel string acoustics is that they are all high end zing and jangle, and that's not what I want. I want a guitar with raunch and grunt, like my 6120. I have discovered that I like shorter-scale length guitars, because they have more grunt to the tone, and less silvery sheen. The Taylor GS Mini has a remarkably chunky tone, and it has a tiny scale of 23" or thereabouts.

I have also played some incredible Santa Cruz small body acoustics which have the kind of tones I want. I can't remember the model but they make a 12-fretter with an O-size body and short scale which has a huge tone with loads of personality. So my problem is that THAT'S the sound I want - but I can't afford it. It is the closest thing to my 6120 in an acoustic I have found.

10

The Korean made Gretsch acoustics, the Historic Series, that came out in the late 90s, are really nice. I've had a 6-string jumbo and still have a rare 12-string jumbo, and I love it.

If the guitar line is from around '99-'03 or so, (not sure of the years) are those "tweeners," neither vintage or modern?

...------

11

Go to Reverb.com and I think you may find a vintage Sun Valley flat top. That model is patterned after a Martin D-28 (as is the Gibson Hummingbird) and hence is a square shouldered dreadnaught. I happened to have a vintage Sun Valley and I LOVE IT. Mine sounds just beautiful and may very well be the best sounding acoustic I have ever owned -- and right now I own 11 acoustics!

12

JimmyR. Oh my brother-in-law just came off a UK theatre tour (he's actually a keyboard player) having picked up a Taylor GS Mini while on his travels -- it's certainly easier to play on an overnight tour bus than his Hammond! You're quite right, it's a lovely thing -- good tone, great to play and I loved the ebony fingerboard.

Sascha: yes,I should look at Guild -- there is one Guild 12-string electro in my price range. It's just that the Takamine I've been looking at is deep gloss black -- and I'm a sucker for a nice black guitar. I know -- pathetic for an old idiot like me. One day I'll grow up!

13

I tried out a 32xx series (based on a Gretsch Hawaiian) made in the '90's with a great tone and action; I've seen a couple on reverb for around $300. There is a series which just came out which looks promising but I've yet to find them. So far, I've been really impressed with the Martin Dreadnought Junior. I hear you about wanting to stay brand loyal. The Jim Dandy looks like a little cheapo but has a great sound for $140. Gretsch can make great acoustics; I had an early Synchro 400C that I loved (and could do everything!) but eventually I couldn't get on with the scale length/neck shape.

14

One day I'll grow up!

Please don't!

15

I am certainly no authority on Gretsch acoustics, although I currently do own three of them. Mine are as follows:

  • G5013CE NAT Rancher Jr.
  • G5024-E Rancher Dreadnought
  • G5022-CWFE-12 Rancher Falcon 12 String

I would say that, with the exception noted below, the Gretsch acoustic guitars that I have played acoustically are adequate for beginning and early intermediate players. Played acoustically, they sound a little thin and lack the richness that one finds in the guitars of other better known acoustic guitar companies. Being a Gretsch fan, I have longed for a high quality professional Gretsch acoustic, but I have finally come to grips with the fact that it won't be happening anytime soon. That just isn't what Gretsch is trying to do. They are content to allow other companies, like Martin, Santa Cruz, and Taylor to do that.

I must say that the guitars do sound pretty good when amplified. I gig regularly with my White Falcon 12-string with the Fishman isys pickup system. Does it have the broad dynamic range of a D-35/12? Honestly stated, no. But, it sounds good enough that I am not embarrassed by it. Same with my G5024-E Rancher Dreadnought -- plugged in, it sounds pretty good.

One other thing about both the White Falcon 12-string and the Rancher Dreadnought: They are both extremely easy to play. With some 12-string guitars, there is a bit of a struggle that occurs when you try to play them. However, that is definitely NOT the case with the White Falcon Rancher 12-string. It is easily among the most playable 12-strings that I have ever played.

The foregoing notwithstanding, I was quite favorably impressed by the new smaller body acoustics that Gretsch has begun building as a part of their Roots Series when I had the chance to play them at the NAMM Show in January. These guitars are clearly an attempt to build a better quality acoustic Gretsch that can be played acoustically and their tone is a substantial improvement over the acoustics that Gretsch has been building up until now. If you are determined to play a Gretsch acoustic guitar without amplification, then I would begin with them.

And, besides being good sounding and playing guitars, they are absolutely stupid inexpensive to boot with street prices ranging from $300 to $400.

Read about these guitars beginning at Post 147 in the NAMM Show coverage

16

I gig pretty regularly both electric and acoustic and I just pulled the trigger last year on an all black Taylor 214ce Deluxe, which I love. The Taylor replaced my gigging acoustic of the past six years that was actually built by a good friend, but because of the sentimental value to me, I don’t necessarily want to subject a custom build to some of the venues I play in. I play a lot of bars, I get stuffed into corners. My gear gets knocked around.

Despite my love for the Taylor as my new main gigging acoustic, I’m GASing for a Rancher Falcon. That that price point, I could totally go for the over the top white and gold bling as a change of pace or alternate tuning option on stage. Unlike the OP, I would most likely rank “plugged in” a little higher. The GAS in me right now is okay with the unplugged sound leaving a bit to be desired. I have others in the stable if I need a great sounding unplugged sound.

17

No. The ones I've tried sound cheap. Lower end Martins sound good and are on sale. Lower end Taylors sound good. Gretsch sound cheap. Don't waste your money just because it has Fred's name on it.

18

They don't sound "cheap" plugged in, which is probably important for 75% of the consuming public. However, for this OP, he just wants to play it acoustically. For that reason, I would recommend that he look at the new Roots Series acoustics mentioned above. They sound very acceptable acoustically and are sold at a great price point.

19

Until I started playing electric guitar in the 21st Century, my only guitars were dreadnaughts that I needed to punch through the mix in Bluegrass bands. In 50+ years of trying just about any acoustic guitar I could lay my hands on, I've never really played a Gretsch flat-top that I thought was a hands-down winner. The local music store recently had a couple that were somewhat better than the Gretsch acoustics of days gone by, but still seemed lacking compared to other guitars in the same price range.

Don't get me wrong, I really like the Gretsch electric guitars that have come into my hands since I took up playing electric. On the other hand, it seems that Gretsch, like Fender, doesn't put a lot of emphasis on their acoustic line. Much as I like Gretsch electrics, I'd look elsewhere for an acoustic guitar.

20

OP:

I own a Jim Dandy (of which I'm very fond, though I knew exactly the kind of bag I wanted it for and thus was well aware of what I was getting into for next to no money, and so there were no unrealistic "expectations" to be dashed upon the shoals of reality), and have also sampled many larger-bodied Gretsch acoustics. For your stated uses, you'd be much better served taking your thousand dollars and getting yourself a pre-owned, near-mint Taylor 300 series in your preferred size (every model in the series is built from all solid woods) off either your local Craigslist, or www.reverb.com. You can also find equivalent value and similar specs in used Yamahas. For purely acoustic tone in a one-owner, almost new guitar at that price point, the all solid wood offerings from either of those two makers (and from Larrivee, too) -- along with, many would argue, their laminated back and sides models, as well -- will trump any similarly-sized Gretsch (none of which, of course, have solid backs or sides).

Your post seems to indicate you have the professional and playing experience to know I'm steering you in the direction you're already aware you ought to be going, so, good luck!


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