There’s no denying that the iconic design language synonymous with Gretsch makes for some upsettingly good-looking instruments. And, in recent years, every tier of the Gretsch catalogue has benefitted from sensible upgrades that make the playability of these dream machines match their stellar tone and aesthetics. New to the Electromatic range for 2021 is this G5622 – a doublecut hardtail design with a chambered spruce centre-block, in a maple body painted in brooding Black Gold and loaded with Black Top Broad’Tron humbuckers.
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Giving off strong Country Gentleman vibes, the only immediate clue that this instrument belongs to Gretsch’s Chinese-made range is the discreet Electromatic logo on the gold plexi pickguard. While some of Gretsch’s larger hollowbody instruments can feel ungainly, the G5622’s slimline body and 24.6” scale length make for a very welcoming squeeze, especially in combination with the lower-profile neck angle. The set ‘Thin U’ neck profile is engaging and characterful, and a far cry from some of the more generic shapes coming out of China.
Fit and finish is uniformly good, although there are a couple of untidy spots in the cream binding. The laurel fingerboard certainly looks looks the part, the pearloid thumbnail position markers are a classic touch and the fretwork is very neat indeed. The hardware is serviceable with all pots and switches feeling solid, and the master volume control is even equipped with a treble bleed circuit to retain high-end content when you back it off.
It could be argued that a centre-block guitar’s primary raison d’être is to explore the sort of higher gain stratospheres that would usually cause fully hollow instruments to scream off into a wilderness of uncontrollable feedback. However, though we don’t usually need prompting to slam a guitar into a molten tube amp, it would be a shame not to explore this instrument’s cleaner textures as they are very good indeed.
Few companies offer as wide and potentially bewildering a range of pickups as Gretsch. While they display a family resemblance, the Black Top Broad’Trons in this guitar have a very different character than what old-school Gretsch players might expect. There’s still an element of skinny jangle here when you want it but these pokey humbuckers are more PAF-like in terms of response to anything else we’ve played from Gretsch.
While a Gretsch may not be the obvious choice for jazz, the neck pickup here is capable of some extremely smooth and pleasing textures for chord and solo work. The middle pickup position has a beautiful breath to it, and the bridge pickup’s voice has a bluesy edge that also works beautifully with delay and other temporal effects. Very musical!
Presented with an angry amp at full chat, the G5622 rises admirably to the challenge with no loss of either warmth or definition as things proceedings get increasingly heated. The bridge pickup is particularly impressive here with a bite to it that gets the point across even through the heavy fuzz of a Wren And Cuff Box Of War.
While there’s no danger of a sudden shortage of affordable semi-hollow instruments, the G5622 should definitely be on the radar of any player looking to explore sounds outside of the vintage Gretsch palette. It also looks damn good into the bargain.
- PRICE £729
- DESCRIPTION 6-string semi-hollow electric guitar, made in China
- BUILD Laminated maple body with chambered spruce centre block, set maple neck with laurel fingerboard, aged white plastic binding, Graph Tech NuBone nut, pearloid Neo-Classic thumbnail inlays, 12” fingerboard radius
- HARDWARE Anchored Adjusto-Matic Bridge, Gretsch V-Stoptail tailpiece, die-cast sealed tuners
- ELECTRONICS 2x Black Top Broad’Tron humbuckers, 3-position toggle switch, master volume, master tone, individual volume knobs for each pickup
- SCALE LENGTH 24.6”/625mm
- NECK WIDTH 42.9mm at nut, 53.5mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 20mm at first fret, 23mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 35.5mm at nut, 53mm at bridge
- WEIGHT 3.6kg/7.9lb
- FINISHES Black Gold (as reviewed), Aged Walnut, Bristol Fog
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- CONTACT gretschguitars.com