Simultaneously, the G5220 Electromatic Jet is a perfect choice for players who know and love Gretsch, as well as players who may have not considered them before.
Built for the player that wants something a little bit different, It’s a perfect intro to that iconic Gretsch sound while also being super versatile and flexible. This Electromatic Jet line can handle a lot more than the rockabilly and jazz models you may associate with the Gretsch name.
In this review, we’re going to dive into what makes the G5220 Electromatic a great budget-friendly choice for any player.
About Gretsch Guitars
The Gretsch brand has been around since 1883, when Friedrich Gretsch started building a variety of instruments including banjos, drums, and tambourines. They really made a name for themselves in the guitar market in the 1950’s when they worked with famous country guitarist Chet Atkins, and created their now classic 6120 hollow body model. In the mid 60’s George Harrison of Beatles fame became known for playing Gretsch guitars, which really made them a household name and boosted their success even further.
Although it is up for some debate, Gretsch engineer Ray Butts may have created the first ever “humbucker” pickup by stacking two single coils together, eliminating the hum issue that pickups had up to this point.
In 2002 Gretsch began a business partnership with Fender in which Gretsch still holds ownership, but Fender now produces and distributes their guitars. These guitars are usually made out of the Fender plant in Corona California. The deal has been great for the brand, utilizing Fender’s massive global resources to give them a global reach.
Gretsch G5220 Review Highlights:
For a guitar listed at under $600, there’s a lot to like here. At first glance it may seem similar to another well-known singlecut mahogany dual humbucker guitar, but it absolutely has a vibe all of its own.
What We Liked
- Great pickups! The Broad’Tron humbuckers have a clarity that is unmatched.
- Comfortable neck profile – the Thin-U profile is a great size and shape for most players.
- Style – the sleek chambered body, and pearloid-black inlays look great on this.
- Lots of great finish options
What We Didn’t Like
- No locking tuners
- No hardshell case
Gretsch G5220 Review: Features & Specifications
- Chambered mahogany body with a laminated maple top, lightweight and very resonant
- 2 Broad’Tron humbuckers provide a classic Gretsch tone
- Thin-U neck profile, with a bound black walnut fingerboard
- Anchored adjusto-matic with V-stoptail
Gretsch G5220 Review: Our Insights
We’re big fans of this G5220 for a lot of reasons. The main reason being that it just feels so much different than other solidbody guitars in this price range. Since Gretsch introduced the Electromatic series, they’ve been consistently releasing killer guitars at a reasonable price.
The focus on these G5220 is simplicity, so you can get right to rocking. There’s no Bigsby on these, which is something you might associate with the Gretsch name. The simple volume and tone control setup you’d normally find on a Gretsch is found here as well.
Even though it is technically a solidbody guitar, the choice to use a chambered mahogany body gives it a similar feel to the semi-hollow guitars we know and love Gretsch for. The set-neck construction helps provide extra stability and sustain.
As with all of the Electromatic and Streamliner series guitars, they are built in Korea. Although it is an imported instrument, that doesn’t mean you should expect any less quality, there’s no major build quality issues to be found here.
Out of the box, it was pretty much ready to play and only needed a minor action adjustment as well as a string change.
The finish was clear of marks or scratches, and the grain of the mahogany back and sides and black walnut fretboard look to be top-notch woods.
The semi-transparent plastics used for the pickguard and pickup covers feel nicer than traditional plastic rings and guards, a really nice touch that makes it feel a bit “classy” if you will.
My favorite thing about this guitar is the chambered mahogany body. You notice right away when playing the G5220 that it is extremely lightweight and resonant thanks to this design choice. The laminated maple top adds a touch of brightness that pairs well with the mahogany, and the black walnut fretboard is an interesting choice that we don’t see very often.
Hardware and Electronics
Gretsch’s Broad’Tron pickup set is one of the best sets you can find in a budget friendly guitar. They are loud and bright, but retain all the clarity and definition which is really impressive. Tonally, they seem to fall somewhere between a PAF humbucker and a vintage P90 sound and they really cut in a mix.
Not having a Bigsby may be a deal-breaker for some, but the added tuning stability and sustain you get from the adjust-o-matic bridge and stoptail more than make up for it. For tuners, we’ve got a set of standard Gretsch closed back vintage style tuners.
Let’s get to what really matters when buying a guitar; how does it sound?
Well, I can assure you this guitar sounds huge. The Broad’Trons can easily achieve that 50’s rock and roll sound that Gretsch became famous for, but they’re also quite versatile and can handle anything from jazz to high-gain riffage. In the neck position, it’s easy to achieve that round clean sound you’d get from a big body jazz guitar. The bridge position can handle anything from spanky funk tones to fullbore distortion and never lose a bit of clarity.
Another cool feature often found on other Gretsch models is the master volume style control scheme. Because this guitar has a volume for each pickup, as well as a master volume and a master tone, you have lots of combinations for blending the two pickups together when using the middle position on the pickup selector.
Gretsch’s Thin-U neck profile is a joy to play. It’s fast enough to hit those quick licks when needed, but chunky enough to sit perfectly in your hand for chording up and down the neck.
The medium jumbo frets make note bends a breeze, and the 24.75” scale length makes nailing those big stretches quite easy as well. Playability is no issue on the G5220 Electromatic.
Because there is no tremolo system to worry about, the G5220 Electromatic Jet does a great job of staying in tune, which is one of the best qualities a guitar can have. Locking tuners would have been a nice addition, but at this price point we can’t complain, and the standard tuners here work really well.
As with the other Electromatic series guitars, the G5220 is a great value. It’s a professional-grade guitar that can tackle nearly any job, and look killer while doing so. For a guitar under $600, you are getting more than your money’s worth.
Gretsch G5220 Review: Buying Experience
While Gretsch guitars come with their own warranty policies, other details like shipping costs and return policy will vary depending on where you shop for gear.
If you’re shopping at your favorite local store, consult their policies. If you’re shopping online, however, it’s tough to beat Sweetwater. The information below is based on their policies.
If you buy your guitar online from Sweetwater, it will ship for free if you’re in the continental United States. This covers ground shipping, though you can also get Next-Day shipping for a fee if you can’t wait to start playing.
Another great thing about buying guitars from Sweetwater is that each instrument goes through a 55-point inspection before shipping. This ensures that the guitar will be ready to play out of the box.
Gretsch offers a 1 year warranty on their guitars, but does not cover wear and tear items like fret wear, saddle or nut wear, etc. Additionally, the warranty only applies to guitars purchased from a retailer, so if you buy them second-hand the rules will not apply.
Also, be sure to keep your receipt as it will be needed in order to file a warranty claim with Gretsch.
Most major retailers have great Return Policies these days, and Sweetwater is no exception. If you’re not satisfied with the Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet, or it’s just not the guitar for you, it can be returned within 30 days of purchasing.
If you’re trading the guitar in for something else, Sweetwater will apply the difference. If you’d like a full refund, they will typically deduct the cost of shipping from your refund.
Should You Buy the Gretsch G5220 Electromatic Jet?
While I can’t make that decision for you, I can outline some final thoughts after writing this review.
This is a gorgeous guitar with a sound and look that immediately separates itself from other popular guitars. It can handle all types of music from blues to r&b to hard rock and everything in between.
If you already own other guitars with traditional humbuckers or single coils, the G5220’s Broad’Tron pickups would be another great sound to add to your collection.
Gretsch G5220 Alternatives
These days we have a lot of options that fall into this $400 to $600 range, so let’s explore some other options that might also work for you.
Gretsch G5220 Vs Epiphone Les Paul Standard
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard captures the same look, feel, and sound like an original Gibson Les Paul at a fraction of the price.
Read our full Epiphone Les Paul Standard Review
We all know the Les Paul is one of the most iconic guitars of all time. In recent years the quality we’re seeing from Epiphone has been a huge step up, so they’ve become one of my favorite guitars to recommend to folks.
Some of the notable features of the Epiphone Les Paul Standard:
- Mahogany body with maple top, rosewood fretboard
- 2 Epiphone Probucker pickups, alnico-II magnets
- 60’s slim-taper neck profile, 22 frets, 24.75” scale
- High quality CTS pots and upgraded Grover tuners
While the design of these guitars looks pretty similar at first, they do feel quite different. The first thing I notice between these two is that the Epiphone is quite a bit heavier, which is all just a matter of personal preference. The chambered body on the G5220 make is extra light, while the Les Paul is a true solidbody build.
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard might take the win in the hardware department. Between the upgraded Grover tuners, and the high-quality CTS parts, it has a few upgrades that would serve the G5220 well. Both feature an adjust-o-matic style bridge and tailpiece.
In the world of mid-priced solidbody electric guitars, both this and the G5220 Electomatic would be an awesome choice. Both guitars can cover a wide range of tones easily, and hold up well in any gigging situation.
Gretsch G5220 Vs ESP LTD EC-256
In terms of value, the ESP LTD brand is hard to beat, and their EC-256 is no exception.
Based on the ESP Eclipse model, the EC-256 takes a hard inspiration from Les Paul style singlecut guitars but with some sharper edges and contours that make these great for metal and hard rock players.
This years EC-256 features:
- Mahogany solidbody / set-neck construction
- Thin U neck w/ 24 frets, jatoba fretboard, and binding all around
- Dual ESP LH-150 pickups with coil-splitting options
- Stylish gold hardware
The EC-256 is definitely a different beast than the G5220. It feels a bit more aggressive, with a flatter fingerboard and thinner neck built for shredding and fast riffing. It feels like a more modern approach to the classic LP designs you’d find in Epiphone or Gibson guitars.
An added bonus on the EC-256 is the coil-splitting option, which is something the Gretsch G5220 lacks. Both guitars are versatile enough to tackle most styles, but the option for a single-coil tone is nice to have.
While both are great, I think the aggressiveness of the ESP LTD EC-256 would be more well-suited for heavy music, while the Gretsch might be a better choice for other styles of music. Both are priced below $600 which is an excellent value either way you go.
Gretsch G5220 Vs Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster
As a Tele guy myself, I love these Classic Vibe models that Squier has been releasing. Let’s check out the Squier CV ‘50’s Telecaster and see how it compares to the Gretsch G5220.
Coming in at under $500, the Classic Vibe Telecaster is an absolute bargain:
- Solid pine body and maple neck with gloss finish
- Fender designed Alnico Tele pickups
- 25.5” scale length, narrow tall frets, bone nuts
This Classic Vibe series is all about making these guitars feel like a vintage instrument from 70 years ago. This is a great choice for players who prefer the feel of those classic old guitars. Features like a more curved fretboard radius and small frets give it an authentic feel that some love, but others find harder to play than modern spec’d guitars.
While the G5220 has a Thin-U neck profile, and a 12” radius which is quite flat, the Telecaster has a full C profile that’s quite chunky, and a 9.5” radius that is quite rounded.
The other large difference is the pickups, one being single-coil and one being humbuckers. The G5220 will likely be quite a bit louder and not have the hum issues that single-coils usually have. Both the single-coil pickups from the Classic Vibe Telecaster and the Broad’Tron pickups in the Gretsch G5220 can get quite twangy when dialed in correctly
While quite different from each other, both guitars are loaded with value and both have their places where they shine. In my opinion, the biggest deciding factor would be whether you prefer single-coil sounds or humbuckers.
The Bottom Line
Gretsch is releasing some excellent guitars for any price range, whether imported or made in the States, and the G5220 Electromatic Jet is no exception. They’ve paid a lot of attention to what players want and need in a modern guitar, while paying homage to the classic Gretsch design philosophies. Guitars like this really fill a void for players who want something classic that is outside of a typical Gibson or Fender design.
This guitar offers:
- Classic Gretsch design and sound
- Lightweight and resonant chambered body
- Incredibly clear and defined Broad’Tron pickups
- Versatility to cover any tone
We hope this review gave you the information you need to pull the trigger on Gretsch, or provided you with some additional singlecut style options that may work best for you.