Gretsch is a company known for its unique guitars, and especially for their hollow and semi-hollow electric guitars. However, they also make respectable solid-body electrics for decent prices. One such solid-body is the Gretsch Electromatic G5426 Jet Club. This Les Paul-style electric offers a glowing, vintage-style tone, and its eye-catching silver finish is at home on any stage.
Features and Benefits
Now, let's dig into some of the features of the Gretsch G5426.
Tonewoods And Body Style
One of the first things you'll probably see when reading about this Gretsch Electromatic is the fact that it has a chambered basswood body. This has a couple of advantages. One is that the body becomes lighter. If you play for many hours and want to reduce the strain of carrying the guitar, the lighter body is an asset. Another is the fact that chambered basswood has more resonance than solid wood. The result is notes that sound a little "rounder," a feature many players like.
Generally speaking, guitarists tend to have mixed feelings about basswood as a tonewood. It's known as being lower-quality and easy to get, and some people don't like its tone as much as they like the tone of alder and similar higher-end woods. However, some people really prefer the sound of a basswood body, as you can see in the below video. When you're making a purchase, be sure to let your ear guide you -- if you like the sound of a guitar, it doesn't matter if it's made with a so-called "inferior" tonewood.
This body material may not be every player's favorite, but it does have a maple top to add some bite and extra brightness. The maple top is arched for easier playability and good looks. The combination of a basswood body and arched maple top is a little uncommon, but it's part of what gives this Gretsch guitar its standout sound. It should be noted that the maple material on the top is a laminate and not a slab of solid maple, but it still does a decent job of brightening the tone.
The single-cutaway body of the Gretsch Electromatic Jet Club is similar to that found on most Gretsch guitars. It's built a lot like a Les Paul, which is something a lot of players will like. The maple neck is a bolt-on, and it's capped with a rosewood fretboard.
Sound and Playability
When looking into an affordable guitar like the Gretsch Electromatic G5426 Jet Club, some people may be concerned about tone. However, while the sound of a Gretsch Jet Club electric guitar is certainly unique, we think it's well-suited to a lot of genres.
When you first hear this guitar being played, you're likely to hear a lot of trebles. Basswood is known for high-end sparkle, and the chambered basswood body makes the guitar's tone especially resonant. But the Gretsch Electromatic G5426 Jet Club has a sound that has a little more bite than sparkle. Some of this is due to the arched maple top. Maple is often used to add some extra brightness to a guitar's construction, and it adds the extra "bite" to the basswood body that makes this Gretsch Electromatic Jet Club electric guitar sound so distinctive.
Gretsch is also known for its remarkable humbucking pickups -- they play a major role in creating the great Gretsch sound. This guitar comes equipped with two, although unlike the pickups on higher-end models, neither the bridge pickup nor the neck pickup has a specific name. They do still have a surprisingly good sound, but some players have noted that they can start to sound a little muddy. This is especially true if you use a lot of high-gain effects.
The controls are decent -- you get a master volume and a master tone, as well as a three-way pickup selector switch. The selector lets you play with the neck pickup, the bridge pickup, or both. However, it's located on the upper bout of the guitar, which some players may find frustrating -- a lot of people like the selector switch to be near the rest of the controls.
There's no coil tap (as you may find on some higher-end humbucking pickups), although that's expected on a guitar in this price range. The fact that there are a master volume and master tone instead of controls for each pickup limits your sound sculpting abilities, but again, that's pretty standard in this price range.
Playability-wise, the Gretsch Jet Club is a great guitar for the price. The neck material is maple, which is comfortable for just about anyone, and the 22 medium jumbo frets can accommodate just about any hand size, and the 24.6" scale length is fairly standard. The rosewood fingerboard is also comfortable to play, and it's fairly rare to find a genuine rosewood fingerboard on guitars in this price range. It's marked with neo-classic thumbnail inlays instead of the more typical dots. Neoclassic thumbnail inlays add just a touch of distinction without becoming overwhelming as some inlays can be. The body with an arched top is also a playability feature, as a lot of players prefer a carved or arched top as opposed to the flatter top found on many electric guitars.
If you want to hear and see this Gretsch Electromatic in action, check out this video demo.
Finish and Appointments
Often, less expensive guitars like this one cut costs in the area of appointments. However, this Gretsch Electromatic guitar is fairly well appointed. It comes with an Adjusto-Matic bridge. This bridge type has six individual saddles (one for each string) that make it faster and easier to achieve the right intonation.
This guitar comes with Gretsch die-cast tuners. While die-cast tuners look nice and tend to be stable, some customers have noticed that these tuners do not hold tune particularly well. However, if you want to upgrade them, that's something you can do fairly quickly and easily.
This Electromatic also has a synthetic bone nut. Synthetic bone is a great material that supports tuning stability and reduces the risk of the strings getting "pinched" at the nut. If you do see some pinching, lubricating the nut with a little graphite goes a long way.
In terms of fit and finish, we think this guitar is excellent, especially for the price. It comes with a white Pearloid pickguard that looks great against the silver body color. The headstock is adorned with the Gretsch logo. Beneath the Gretsch logo, the world "Electromatic" appears in white. This guitar isn't too prone to quality control issues -- the only things we've seen appear are issues with the tuners and the occasional issue with strings pinching at the nut.
If you want to get a closer look at this guitar and its appointments, check out this video demo.
Social Proof of the Pedal
When digging into the customer reviews for the Gretsch Electromatic G5426 Jet Club, it was almost impossible to find a negative review. Here are some helpful options we found:
For this reviewer, the basswood used in the G5426 is an asset, and the resonance offered by the chambered body gives it a unique sound. Its comfortable playability and unique tone made it a must-have for this player.
This is a helpful review of the Gretsch Jet Club because it points out a couple of potential issues. While this guitar is a decent value and looks great, it may be helpful to change the tuners to something more reliable. And for this reviewer, it outshines Epiphone and Squier, two other brands producing fairly affordable electric guitars.
This brief review is helpful -- the reviewer learned to play on a Jet Club electric guitar. But even though they now have a higher-end guitar, they still enjoy the sound and feel of this one.
The Gretsch G5426 Electromatic Jet Club is one of the more affordable electric guitars out there, but we think it's a great guitar for the price (and an affordable way to get that great Gretsch sound). Its distinctive tone combined with the body with an arched top makes it a real standout, and if you want to take it to the next level, it's fairly easy to upgrade. Click here to check it out!