“Electromatic” guitars can be traced back to the 1940s. And, in its current form, they are called “Streamliners.” For almost a decade ago, specs have changed, but they preserve the looks and the vintage sound of the guitar. Based on the classic 6120 Chet Atkins hollowbody Gretsch, the G5420T is definitely made to project the classic ‘Gretsch sound.’
In today’s review, I am going to unveil to you why Gretsch G5420T is among my favorites. I will highlight its amazing features and also my opinions on some aspects. But, overall, it’s an excellent guitar waiting for you to play it.
- The guitar is well-balanced and the neck is just perfect
- Fantastic design with classic vibe and finish
- Reliably stays in tune and accommodates aggressive players
- Made of premium materials and the craftsmanship is excellent
- Some slight buzzes and rattles occur
- Bridge is difficult to adjust, especially when changing strings
- Takes time to get used to this guitar
Design & Construction
Chet Atkins and George Harrison were some legendary musicians who fell in love with the classic design of the Gretsch guitars. As a modern guitar that features old-school looks and craftsmanship, I find the Gretsch G5420T quite entertaining.
This is a hollowbody electric guitar with a five-ply laminate Maple top, neck, back, and sides. It’s a gorgeous instrument especially with its glossy finish and striking colors. I have the Aspen Green, by the way. Other options include the eye-catching Orange Stain and the flashy Fairlane Blue.
Aside from the nostalgic color finishes of this guitar, I am much drawn into it for its neck. It has 43mm width at the nut and 20mm depth at the first fret. And, the single-cutaway makes it easy for me to access the upper frets without any problem, even for fast play.
You can see the beautiful rosewood fretboard with 12-inch radius, 22 medium jumbo frets and offset Perloid thumbnail inlays. It has a shorter scale length of only 24.6-inch, which is very easy to play with the glossy finish of the neck. The stability of this guitar is aided by the neck joint that extends to the 20th fret.
Weighing only 7lbs, this guitar isn’t much of a baggage, so you can focus on playing. The body depth is around 2.75-inch, 11.625-inch upper bout, 16-inch lower bout and 9.625-inch waist. For my profile, it’s a bit big, but I find it comfortable.
Still featuring a late ’50s Gretsch headstock, it’s decorated with vintage-style open-back tuning machines. Stock strings are the Nickel-plated steel (.011-.049 gauges). It comes with chrome-plated hardware with two oversized f-holes and an elevated Silver Plexi pickguard. The pickguard features both Gretsch® & Electromatic® logos.
You can see Bigby B60 vibrato tailpiece with the tremolo bridge system. A pair of Black Top Filter’Tron pickups is there to aid players looking for vintage sound in the 1950s and 60s. These pickups are like those inexpensive guitar models, but with simple volume knob, tone knob and the three-way pickup selector switch.
Playability & Performance
Just by simply holding the guitar, you’ll have the solid and more robust feel. It’s not heavy, but lightweight and practically comfortable even when standing and playing for extended hours. The lap and strap balance is great, so it’s never an off-put for small players.
The neck seems to be the holy grail of this guitar. And, it should be. As an electric guitar, it offers the U-shaped neck with a gloss urethane finish. It offers great sustain which is perfect for playing fun, jazz and blues.
The single-cutaway makes it easier for players to access the upper frets. The string action is perfect, producing buzz-free performances, while the fret edges are flawlessly rounded. With the flatter neck, you can surf up and down the fretboard effortlessly.
Although I said a lot of things about the neck and its playability, for starters, it takes more time to get yourself accustomed to this guitar. However, once you’ve continually played the guitar for several times, ramifications are amazing and you can start playing this to your heart’s desire.
Another thing that’s worth noting in getting the best performance every time is the consistent tuning of the guitar. Thanks to the open-gear tuning machines, strings will remain in tune and accommodate aggressive playing.
The humbuckers on the neck and bridge positions are easily adjusted with individual volume control, a master volume knob, a master tone knob, and the pickup selector switch. The three-way toggle gives you access to the bridge pickup, neck pickup, and both the bridge and neck pickup positions.
While the playability of the guitar is outstanding, sooner or later you’re going to replace the stock strings. It might be very hard for you to replace them, especially that it’ll affect the intonation of the guitar. I don’t mean to scare you, but if you’re not sure of what to do, maybe a professional guitar tech could help you.
Reliving the sweet sound of the 50s and 60s is what you’ll get when playing the Gretsch 5420T. Not all guitars are playable out of the box. But, with the 5420T, you only need a few tweaks of the tuners and you can now sing to the ‘Gretsch tone.’
The loaded quality hardware, particularly the Blacktop Filter’Tron humbuckers in the neck and the bridge, give a plethora of sounds. When played unplugged, it’s still fun to play with its naturally loud treble. However, like an electric guitar, it’s designed to be played with an amp.
The humbuckers, plus the volume and tone controls allow you to get more interesting tonality. With the three-way selector switch, you can be more versatile. I like to experiment on my guitars to familiar it, in case, my playing environment allows me to access registries I never played before.
The volume controls of the humbuckers allow you to get a balance between warmth and brilliance when both the neck and the bridge pickup are engaged via the switch. Additionally, the master volume allows you to go from clean to growling sound of the amplified tone. The tone control allows you to fine-tune the sound once you’ve locked in your pickup using the switch.
The guitar can produce pretty much everything, from clear tones to jazzy sounds and anything in between. It can also take on classic rock with right overdriven tones. As mentioned, it can accommodate jazz players, funk and blues, among others.
There is buzzing on the bridge area and seldom chocking out at 14th fret. However, these issues can be easily alleviated with the proper setup.
Value for Money
I’d like to emphasize that this guitar is made in Korea. While many are snob of guitars made in Asia because of its poor quality, I don’t think you should generalize it. Try to hold and play the Gretsch G5420T and it’ll change the way you think about Asian-made guitars.
That being said, given its price, it’s a worthy guitar. Giving you more versatility with the humbucker pickups and the few controls onboard, you can get a wide range of classic sounds. The sound is one thing, but the playability and construction of the guitar, though Asian-made, is of no-fault.
All good things are said about the Gretsch G5420T because it deserves it. I mean, Gretsch deserves all the praises for making such a stunning and beautiful-sounding guitar. Though made in Korea, it doesn’t make the Gretsch guitar any less, in fact, it’s offered at a price that anyone can afford.
While out of the box the guitar is already playable, but to get the best performance it needs to be professionally setup. This isn’t a deal-breaker as most guitars need initial setup before you can actually play it. A great-sounding guitar with good looks is what you should have.