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Gretsch G5191BK Tim Armstrong Review

Armstrong, I'm Black When it comes to punk music, Gretsch is not really the first guitar brand you think about. And yet, Tim Armstrong, Rancid's famous guitar player, chose the US brand for his signature model. Overview of the "no-future" Gretsch. read more…

User reviews on Gretsch products

Not a perfect, smooth instrument, but one with a lot of character (G5622T-CB Electromatic Center-Block)

By tarz200tdi, 21/08/2016
Bought used, but almost new (and from an AudioFanzine user through the classified ads ;) )

For detailed specs, go read the Gretsch website which is more complete than my (limited) memory !

My two playing configurations :
at home through a Pod HD pedalboard directly plugged to the mac
with a band into an Orange TH30 head with Orange 1x12 cab

It’s flawless constructionwise, from design to finishing nothing is to be particularly criticized, it seems built to last. Plus, it looks so good!!
I find the neck quite peculiar, yet comfortable: it features a mix between the Gibson scale (still even a bit shorter) and a thin, Fender-like “D” profile. I haven’t totally found my marks on it yet, but I believe it’ll soon make itself forgotten.
My main three concerns are as follows:
- its weight is slightly heavy, probably due to the large semi-hollow-body format
- unequal hardware quality: while the Grover tuners really do the job, the nut and Gretsch’s “tunomatic” (can’t remember the exact name)’s saddles needed to be serviced (finished + lubrication) at my local guitar repair shop so the guitar finally was stable. The (pretty yet not practical) Gretsch strap buttons were also replaced by Dunlop straplocks
- the pickups’ routing is a bit surprising at first with two switched – a tree-way to choose between the neck and bridge pickups, and another two-way switch to “add” the middle pickup to either of the first two. You need to get used to it

Soundwise, it’s really great, yet particular:
Here’s a semi hollow body guitar with a large sound spectrum, delivering a lot of harmonics. The pickups are very good yet very special: humbuckers that sound like single coils, but without any hum! Also, you’ll need to abuse the guitar to get feedback, and even then it remains agreeably easy to control.
The rather low output level allows to retranscribe all playing nuances in styles ranging from round jazzy sounds to indie, almost stoner rock, plus an impressive variety of crunch sounds, all with a common, original trademark sound mixing both warmth and twang: it sounds bright, hot, growling… On the lead channel of an amp or followed by a distortion pedal, it’ll let your right hand shape the outcoming sound.
As far as the grain and tone are concerned, it’s a great example of the "Great Gretsch Sound", with the addition (through the middle pickup) of a slightly Fender-like sound – you know, these Strat-like intermediate pickup positions…

To conclude : with a few tweakings and once fine-tuned, this guitar reveals apt to many things, very easy to play (and it seems it likes to be played), but with a real, recognizable sound signature! You either like it or you don’t, but I really love it!

Unique (G6131T-TVP Power Jet Firebird)

By be23, 08/09/2017
The Gretsch Powerjet is a made-in-Japan semi-hollowbody guitar. Its shape and construction are clearly inspired by the mythical Gibson Les Paul, with a mahogany body, maple top and mahogany set neck. However, it features important differences: the body has been heavily hollowed out, making the guitar lighter and sounding like a hollow body modelwhen played unplugged, a bit ala Gibson ES 339. The fingerboard is made of ebony, and there is a Bigsby tremolo which is associated to a very “Les Paulian” ajustomatic bridge. This Gretsch Powerjet is just imperial with no apparent flaw – the finish is really perfect, and its look leaves you speechless (no exaggeration here, several buddies of mine could testify). As for the pickups, nothing Gibsonian here: a pair of TV Jones Powertron with a special wiring. Let’s start with the usual features: one volume per pickup, and a 3-way sswitch in the upper body part. Now, for the weird part: a master volume knob, and a second 3-way switch for tone setting. The way it works is quite peculiar: in the middle position, no tone correction is applied, a bit like the “10” setting on a basic tone knob. The high setting provides a boost on the low freqs, while the lower position provides a mid boost…
Very disturbing at first, this wiring actually replicates that which used to equip the mythical 1954 Gretsch Duo Jet. Here we are: the Powerjet is actually a Duojet with a few modern touches, especially this incredible set of chubby-sounding pickups.

Let’s make things clear, I’m mostly a Gibson Les Paul player so I’ll start by trying to describe those Filtertron' humbuckers that are features on many a Gretsch guitar. These are real humbuckers (with two coils, that is) but with coils twice as large as on a standard PAF. The result is a lot of power but a lesser loss in the highs. In the end, you get a sound that takes gain like any humbucker will, but that can also sound as slappy as a single coil. I’ve tried these pickups for the first time on this model and found them incredible. Clearly, TV Jones makes awesome pickups!
In clean sound, the typical lows of a humbucker can be heard, but in a better defined – less blurry – version compares with a Les Paul. Yeah, as much as I can be a Classic 57 addict, the Powertron sound more slappy and can even shine! It’s hard to describe, I’ve read somewhere that these pickups were in-between P90s and PAFs and I rather agree with that. The neck pickup sounds clear and defined, yet incredibly hot. The bridge pickup twangs and growls all at once, without ever sounding shrill or aggressive – a sort of an overdoped version of a vintage Telecaster… The semi-hollow structure gives the sound a 3D aspect, which is incredibly pleasant – and unheard of as far as I’m concerned: I’m really crazy about this Gretsch! Paradoxically, the tone control is disappointing on clean sounds: the low boost brings in a certain boxyness that is not to my taste (but may suit jazz players), and the mid boost, while easier to use imho, sounds strangely nasal. Now, let’s engage the "POWER" switch... The Powerjet takes a huge amount of gain, and the pickups simply astounded me: the neck pickup sounds round and warm, while the bridge position growls while remaining sharp, with a whole intermediate range. I’ll dare say these pickups are the most incredibly musical-sounding ones that I’ve ever heard (I may get back on it later with a little more hindsight). Suddenly, my fingers get back to the tone selector and – oh my Guinness! Neck pickup + low boost, and you’re in Les Paul grounds with an awesomely warm sound, making the lead phrasings like coated in caramel. Need a bit more bite on a solo? Here we go, a medium boost and the teeth are out, a mere switch hit and the sound gets more intelligible within the mix. The bridge pickup is sharper, but always very musical-sounding and never shrill or aggressive – more on the punchy, lightning side. The low boost brings an incredible sound, with a sound reminiscent of a wah locked in its highest position – a pure delight. The bridge pickup + mid switch provides the fiercest rhythm sounds – the cavalry’s coming!

I’ve tried a (very) high number of high-quality double-humbucker guitars, and the ultimate test remains the rehearsal session: I play in a power trio that plays good old 70s rock on steroids, and I need to get through in the mix with mids and volume. The Gibson Les Paul perfectly does the job, and so far no double-humbucker guitar had managed to do as well – there always was a moment when it sounded too thin, too much in the background, so in the end I always ended up getting back to Gibson. There’s now an exception with this Gretsch Powerjet that gets the job done thoroughly with an astounding sound. It could have managed to do it by merely copying the mythical Les Paul, but it only resembles it aesthetically as for the rest the sounds it offers are totally unique.

News Gretsch

Gretsch's 50th anniversary celebrations

Published on 10/19/15
This time, Gretsch's series of in-store event to celebrate the brand's 50th anniversary hits Brookfield, Wisconsin.

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Published on 01/07/15

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