Cheap Guitar of the Week #18 - Gretsch G5421 Electromatic Jet Club Firebird
The more I look at this guitar, the more I want one.
The Gretsch Electromatic Jet Club Firebird is, simply put, a cool guitar.
This is one of those guitars that's easy to dismiss, but the more you look at it, the more you notice the details, and the more you want one.
First, it's a two-tone body. The back and sides are walnut-stained.
Second, yes it does have the "G" arrow knobs. This is a Gretsch thing where the knobs they use have a rather ornate look to them - even on a Jet priced this low.
Third, which the photo can't show because of the angle, it does have an arched top.
Fourth, bound body. Real easy to miss, but makes for a very nice look.
What about the sound?
That's the best part about this guitar.
The Gretsch dual-coil pickups that come on this are absolutely not "muddy," but rather bright and trebly in a real good way. I best describe the sound as a mix between a Jazzmaster and a P90. It's a very, very usable sound that works for everything from rock to country to stoner to shoegazer (if you know that that is) to just about everything you can think of. No, it does not do metal. However, I'd even recommend this to a metal player for when he needs a guitar to record clean parts.
For the "atmospheric" guitar players out there, one thing I know this Gretsch does better than most guitars is work with effects. Put a washy-style reverb or delay on this and it sings. Why? Because of the way the pickups sound.
For players who are into vintage, stoner rock and 1990s grunge tones, this guitar handles fuzz tone like you wouldn't believe. Even better than my Jazzmaster. You hook this Gretsch up to a Big Muff Pi and look out... crazy-big sound. Drop the 6 string to a D, let the power chords ring out and oh yeah, good stuff.
Looks much better in person
Gretsch Cardinal Red looks more like this compared to the stock photo above:
...but that still doesn't convey the wow factor you get seeing one in person.
I'll put it another way. Strats are Strats, Teles are Teles and so on, but with Gretsch, it's different. Way different. Even their black guitars don't really show off how good they look in person. Why? I'm not exactly sure. There's just something about Gretsch design where the photo never really captures what the guitar truly looks like when you see it with your own eyes, similar to Rickenbacker guitars. No photo of a Ric accurately shows off how good a Ric looks in person either.
Worth it to get a cheap Gretsch?
Yes. I have played an import Gretsch before, the Electromatic Double Jet with Bigsby, and was very impressed with it. That's a guitar that runs a few hundred bucks more. If the Jet Club Firebird is even half the guitar the Double Jet is, oh yes, it's worth the buy, no question about it.