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With a history spanning over a century, American instrument manufacturer Gretsch is one of the world’s leading guitar producers. Their unique, vintage-style guitars rival heavyweights like Gibson and Fender in terms of tone and playability.
Gretsch’s catalog of guitars features a diverse mixture of designs and styles. Some of their instruments are better suited to rock guitarists, while others are more targeted toward jazz, country, or blues players.
Due to the abundance of exceptional guitars that Gretsch produces, it can be difficult sifting through them to find the best options.
But the great thing about Gretsch is that they produce instruments to suit everyone’s requirements. This list contans the best Gretsch guitar options to suit all budgets, styles, and levels of experience. Read on to learn more!
In a Rush Roundup
How We Tested
To identify the best Gretsch guitar for the money, we assessed them based on several criteria. This included testing the versatility of the guitar’s tone, how it feels to play, and its compatibility with other devices like tube and solid-state amps or pedals.
We also analyzed all of the components installed on these Gretsch guitars and tested their impact on sustain, vibrato, tuning stability, and resonance. You can find the guitars that impressed us the most in the reviews below.
Best Gretsch Guitar Reviews
Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody - Fairlane Blue
Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollowbody - Fairlane Blue Review
The Gretsch G5420T is a stunning hollow-body guitar from the manufacturer’s popular Electromatic range. It features everything you’d expect from a Gretsch axe – a diverse, resonant tone, solid build quality, and a Bigsby tailpiece.
With a pair of Filter ‘Tron humbucker pickups, the G5420T delivers a bold, dynamic output. When paired with a tube amplifier, you get some warm saturation by digging into the strings.
These pickups are designed to soak up the resonance from the F-holes in the guitar’s body, adding richness to the tone. The midrange has plenty of presence, and the low-end is consistently powerful.
The maple neck has been finished with gloss urethane, ensuring smooth and fast transitions up and down the responsive rosewood fingerboard. 22 medium jumbo frets provide ample space for chord shapes and complex finger positions.
The addition of a Bigsby B60 tailpiece completes the vintage look of this Electromatic hollow body guitar and allows you to add vibrato to your playing effortlessly.
- Maple body, top, and neck
- Rosewood fingerboard
- 2 x “Black Top Filter ‘Tron” humbuckers
- Produces smooth, immersive vibrato
- Tone and volume pots increase versatility
- Naturally bright and clear tone
- Large hollowbody design may not suit all tastes
Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT
Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet BT Review
The G5220 Electromatic Jet BT could easily be mistaken for a high-end Gretsch guitar. In reality, this solid-body instrument is amongst Gretsch’s most affordable offerings.
Distinguished in appearance, the G5220 blends modern and vintage characteristics. It boasts a pair of Black Top Broad ‘Tron pickups, which deliver a creamy, full-bodied humbucking tone perfect for rock n’ roll guitar playing.
The chambered mahogany body feels solid and robust, and the maple top increases the prominence of the mid-range frequencies. This combination of tonewoods promotes a resonant tone, with good note separation.
Even when this guitar is played through the most aggressive of distortion or overdrive pedals, it retains its clarity. For an affordable instrument, this consistency is rare, as most similarly priced guitars tend to sound a little muddy when gain is added to the signal.
The neck of the G5220 has been set slightly lower than your average solidbody. This makes it easier to slide from the lower notes into the upper registers. Reaching the highest frets is slightly challenging, but it can be done with practice.
- Mahogany body and neck, maple top
- Black walnut fingerboard
- 2 x “Black Top Broad ‘Tron” humbuckers
- Classic Gretsch feel and sound at an affordable price
- Highly playable thin “U” neck profile
- Great for both rhythm and lead guitar parts
- The highest frets are difficult to reach due to body thickness
Gretsch G6120T-59 Vintage Select 1959 Chet Atkins - Western Orange Stain
Gretsch G6120T-59 Vintage Select 1959 Chet Atkins - Western Orange Stain Review
The G6120T-59 Vintage Select Edition ‘59 Chet Atkins is one of the finest guitars Gretsch has ever created.
This unique hollow body is modeled meticulously on Atkins’ preferred instrument, with even the finest of details considered during the design process.
It’s hard to know where to start when describing this incredible instrument. Firstly – it plays like a dream! With a luxurious ebony fingerboard housing 22 vintage-small frets, this guitar is made for technical players who value feel as much as they do sound.
One interesting component that caught my attention when analyzing this guitar was the new “Squeezebox” capacitors, which Gretsch has developed to enhance the treble output of their high-end guitars.
The maple neck is shaped in a rare “V” profile, which was the norm for hollow-body guitars back in the late 1950s.
Tonally, this instrument is incredibly diverse. It produces a twang that you’d expect from a Telecaster, rather than a hollow-body Gretsch. Chords sound full-bodied and resonant, and the note separation is simply stunning.
Several high-end add-ons make this guitar stand out from the crowd. These include a Bigsby B6CVT vibrato tailpiece, G-arrow tone, volume pots, and classy Pearloid inlays.
- Maple body, top and vintage “V” shaped neck
- Ebony fingerboard
- 2 x “TV Jones Classic” humbuckers
- Plays effortlessly thanks to maple neck design
- Immaculate recreation of Atkins’ guitar
- Great note separation and definition
- Has a large, slightly heavy body
Gretsch G5422TG Electromatic Hollowbody Double-Cut with Bigsby
Gretsch G5422TG Electromatic Hollowbody Double-Cut with Bigsby Review
With its double-cutaway design, the Gretsch G5422TG is a highly playable hollowbody guitar that oozes sophistication.
Part of the affordable Electromatic rage, this guitar looks and feels like an authentic Gretsch instrument from the 1960s. It comes equipped with a Bigsby B60 tailpiece that aids tuning stability and allows you to add vibrato to chord sequences.
With volume controls for each of the Black Top humbucking pickups, you can alter the EQ of the guitar without reaching for your amp or effects pedals. This is very useful if you like to switch up your tone for certain songs or parts during a live set.
The humbucking pickups produce a punchy, bright tone that cuts right through the mix. Combined with gain or overdrive, they sound incredibly warm, and can be used for riffs, chords, or soloing.
The G5422TG is littered with gold hardware, which adds to its elegance. The sound post has been braced to ensure that every last bit of sustain enters the pickups and comes out of your amplifier’s speakers.
- Maple body and neck
- Rosewood fingerboard
- 2 x “Black Top Filter ‘Tron” humbuckers
- Classic Bigsby vibrato
- Warm, prominent midrange
- Suitable for all styles of rock guitar
- The second volume control doesn’t seem necessary
Gretsch G2622 Streamliner Center Block - Walnut Stain
Gretsch G2622 Streamliner Center Block - Walnut Stain Review
Gretsch’s Streamliner range is perfect for beginners or those who need to stick to a tight budget. It allows guitarists to experience the unique feel and tone of a Gretsch guitar without breaking the bank.
Appearance-wise, the Gretsch G2622 looks like it should cost significantly more than it does. This is because Gretsch has used a variety of components that you’d expect to find on a high-end model, including their V-Stopail.
The Adjusto-Matic bridge is renowned for its impact on tuning stability and sustain. It is used on many of Gretsch’s Electromatic guitars, and here they have employed it on the G2622.
The Broad ‘Tron BT-2S humbucking pickup is paired with a center block that is made from spruce. This combination results in high output, with a defined bass response and a strong-sounding midrange.
The laurel fingerboard is filled with 22 medium-jumbo frets, which are ideally sized for rock guitarists who mix up rhythm and lead guitar parts frequently.
- Laminated maple body
- Laurel fingerboard with nato neck
- 2 x “Broad ‘Tron BT-2S” humbuckers
- Great guitar for beginners
- Open tone with plenty of resonance
- Sounds great with high-gain amp settings
- Lacks a tremolo arm
Gretsch G6128T-57 Vintage Select Edition ‘57 Duo Jet - Cadillac Green
Gretsch G6128T-57 Vintage Select Edition ‘57 Duo Jet - Cadillac Green Review
The 1950s and 1960s are considered by most to be the golden years of Gretsch guitars. During this time, the prolific brand produced some incredible instruments that have cemented its legacy today.
The Gretsch G6128T-57 is a truly wonderful solidbody guitar. It is based on the Duo Jet models released in the ‘50s and includes almost all of the unique features and components found on those guitars.
A chambered mahogany body leads to impressive power across the frequency spectrum. This guitar is rich in harmonics and sounds incredibly consistent no matter where you find yourself on the rosewood fingerboard.
There’s no question that this Duo Jet looks the part, but its sound is even more breathtaking than its aesthetics. With a pair of TV-Jones T-Armond pickups, Gretsch has faithfully reproduced their highly sought-after ’50s tone.
The final touches are added by a Bigsby B3CBDE tailpiece, gold hardware, era-consistent tuning machines, and control pots.
- Mahogany body and neck, arched maple top
- Rosewood fingerboard
- 2 x “TV Jones T-Armond” single-coils
- Warm 1940’s style single-coil tone
- Effortlessly smooth and responsive feel
- Lots of sustain and resonance
- Quite heavy for a solid body guitar
Gretsch Guitars Buyer’s Guide
Gretsch guitars are renowned for their elegant appearances, versatile tones, and excellent build quality. With a decorated history of producing guitars and other instruments, Gretsch is one of the most iconic brands in the industry.
Although Gretsch produces a vast range of guitars with different designs, one thing that all of their creations have in common is their vintage appearance and style.
The designs have remained very similar since the 1950s, which makes them stand out in the modern era. Gretsch offers many affordable and high-end guitars, with options to suit all styles of playing.
Things To Consider When Buying
Consider hollowbody and solidbody models
Gretsch’s guitar catalog consists of a mixture of hollowbody, semi-hollowbody, and solidbody instruments. Solidbody Gretsch guitars provide a fast attack and a strong presence. Gretsch’s hollowbody guitars deliver a wider, more resonant tone, with the complexities of an acoustic guitar.
Think about the tailpiece
Gretsch guitars use a variety of tailpieces. If you’re looking for maximum vibrato, a “Bigsby” tailpiece is one of the best options. Additionally, Gretsch also uses “G-Cadillac” tailpieces, which are known for robustness, on their high-end models. “V-Stoptail” bridges are installed on many of their solidbody guitars.
Decide on the bridge type
The various bridges used on Gretsch electric guitars look incredible and impact the tone and dynamics of the instrument. The “Adjusto-Matic” bridge improves tuning stability, while the “Synchro-Sonic” bridge allows each string to vibrate freely.
Identify the Gretsch pickups you need
Gretsch has been producing pickups since the 1950s, and their quality is undeniable. Are you looking for a typical, thick, creamy humbucker tone? If so, the “Filter ’Tron” pickups may be a good option. Or, if you prefer a hotter, growling tone, the “Full ‘Tron” pickups are worth considering.
Semi-Hollowbody Gretsch Guitars
Gretsch originally manufactured hollow body archtop guitars, which were highly popular amongst jazz musicians in the early 1950s. The company then began to focus on semi-hollow bodies and solidbody axes towards the end of the decade.
The semi-hollowbody guitars that Gretsch produces are regarded as some of the finest in the history of guitar manufacturing.
Blending the resonant, thick tone of a hollow body guitar with the clarity and dynamic response of a solidbody, Gretsch’s semi-hollowbody guitars are great all-rounders.
The commitment to stay true to the semi-hollow body designs that truly put Gretsch on the map in the late 1950s has been an undeniable contributor to the company’s continued success and has helped to cement them as arguably the most popular alternative to Fender and Gibson.
Solidbody Gretsch Guitars
Gresch may be best known for semi-hollow body guitars, but the company also offers an extensive selection of solidbody instruments.
These guitars are generally better suited to styles that incorporate more lead guitar playing, compared to semi-hollowbody guitars that are ideal for rhythm guitarists.
The Electromatic range is an affordable offering from Gretsch that includes many good-quality solidbody instruments. These guitars come with two different body types – the extended chambered body, or a parallel double cut.
Gretsch Guitar Pickups
A huge part of the signature Gretsch tone is the manufacturer’s iconic pickups. In my opinion, Gretsch pickups don’t get the recognition they deserve – particularly the Filter’Tron and DynaSonic pickups.
The DynaSonic single-coil pickups were some of the earliest created by Gretsch. Originally, they were named the DeArmond Fideltone pickups, and included a large Alnico V magnet which deviated from the magnetic pole-piece design of most single coils.
DynaSonic pickups are included on many of Gretsch’s most popular solidbody guitars, and they are renowned for their bright, classic clean tones. Gretsch guitars with these pickups installed are more prone to noise issues, though, due to their vintage single-coil makeup.
Due to the noise issues that can occur with the popular DynaSonic pickups, Gretsch introduced the Filter’Tron humbuckers in the 1950s. These pickups are still used in a large number of Gretsch semi-hollowbody and solidbody guitars today.
Sonically, Gretsch guitars with Filter’Tron pickups are likely to sound punchy, twangy, and more aggressive than those with DynaSonic pickups.
The versatility of these Gretsch humbuckers is also impressive, and they can be used across a wide range of musical styles including rock, jazz, or indie.
Some guitarists prefer the vintage unpredictability of the DynaSonic pickups, whereas others may find them to be a little too noisy for their liking. Whichever of these two varieties of Gretsch pickups are installed on a guitar, you won’t be disappointed by the tone they produce.
Gretsch Guitars FAQs
Where Are Gretsch Guitars Made?
Gretsch manufactures its guitars in several different countries around the world. The location that the specific guitars are made in is often a sign of their quality and is reflected in their price.
High-end Gretsch guitars are made in Japan or the USA, while some of the more affordable models are made in either Indonesia, Korea, or China.
What Are the Different Types of Gretsch Guitars?
Gretsch produces guitars in the main collections. These guitars are grouped based on their price, the materials and components that are used to construct them, and their style.
The Professional line includes Gretsch’s high-end instruments. This flagship range includes exceptional guitars such as the Duo Jet and White Falcon and is by far the most expensive collection that Gretsch manufactures.
The Electromatic range is the most popular selection of Gretsch guitars. It combines quality with affordability, and these instruments are made in Asia.
Finally, the Streamliner range is the most affordable collection that Gretsch produces, and is perfect for musicians who want to experience the Gretsch sound on a budget.
Which Guitarists Have Used Gretsch Guitars?
Gretsch guitars have been used by many iconic musicians over the years. Some of the most notable include George Harrison of The Beatles, Chet Atkins, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones.