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Old 04-16-2021, 10:13 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Default Which Gretsch 2.0 - E-matic vs. Pro Series Shootout

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, a sort of Gretsch mini-cult has arisen over the last few years here on the Electric subforum , and the question of where the Korean-made Electromatics stand in terms of tone/quality vis-a-vis their MIJ Professional Series stablemates is a recurring one; for those who are presently contemplating purchase but still sitting on the fence, I located this side-by-side YouTube demo of a MIK 5420 ($849 street) and a $3K 6120 limited edition:



While everyone's concept of tone is necessarily highly subjective, any fellow AGF'ers who may have read/responded to/taken with a grain of salts (plural intended ) any of my own comments can get a better idea of what tones I'm getting/hearing from my own gear, and using as my frame of reference: although I'm strictly guitar-cable-amp I too regularly run mine at moderate volume through a stock '65 Super Reverb RI, also with some classic Fender tube 'verb dialed in (go to around the 15:00 mark where he takes the slapback echo out) but with a set of wound-G flatwounds - 11's on the E-matic, 10's on the MIJ Falcon - to smooth things out a tad in the low end compared to his Elixirs...

The big question: are the Pro Series instruments truly worth the substantial premium over the MIK 5400/5600-Series E-Matics, or would it be a wiser long-term move to go with the lower-price-but-high-quality option as a primary recording/gigging guitar...?

BTW this guy's got some chops, and really knows his way around a Gretsch; listen with an open mind/ears, over a good set of speakers/headphones - without being a spoiler, I think members of both camps will be quite surprised at the results...
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Old 04-17-2021, 08:42 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Steve,

I have watched this video before and I watched it again to remind myself what I heard in the past.

I think the 5420 holds up quite well against the 6120. I can hear some very classy refinement in the tone of the 6120 pickups, whereas the 5420 pickups have perhaps a little more twang. There are some differences in the sound from each of these guitars, but to my ears both of these guitars sound really good.

What appeals to me about the 5420 is the twang. I already have refined pickups on other electrics. I don't have anything that sounds quite like that 5420.

I really do like the sound of both of these guitars and Jack Fossett is, as you say, a good guitar player, so he makes these guitars shine.

About the 5420, a person could maybe see their way towards spending $800-$1000 on a guitar of the quality of the 5420. It's much harder to make that leap to the 6120, which clearly is a stellar guitar but 3 times the price.

I hope all is well for you Steve!

- Glenn
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Old 04-17-2021, 09:04 AM
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Pickcity Pickcity is offline
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Yes Jack has taken lengths to provide good input about the versatility of these guitars. The key word being versatile. Gretsch has it in spades.

The 5000 series work for me because I don't mind taking them out to shows, and I don't feel that I'm sacrificing in sound, playability, etc. I just love the sound of my 5420t through the ol' Fender Deville. I can get the classic rockabilly sounds that I love, along with any type of rock or country sound that I desire.

Admittedly, I GAS for some of the pro series guitars, and hope to add a couple of them sometime in the future, but for now, my working man guitars will be the Electromatics. They are impressive, and the cost makes them a no brainer for me. The build quality is off the charts. They are durable and road worthy. Of course, the same can be said of either series.

If I were more of a collector I would dive right into the 6000's. Not that they are only for collectors. They are fantastic pro player's guitars, and I believe a bit better, perhaps refined, than the 5000's. Are they better enough to justify the extra cost? I think so, but everyone has to be their own judge...While I mention that, I also want to mention the 5000's are more than "good enough". They are excellent, and I am very happy with mine.
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Old 04-17-2021, 11:53 AM
gfirob gfirob is offline
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I'm a Gretsch fan and owner ('67 6120 Nashville) and everything I read about Korean Gretsch's is good. My guitar has the original Filter'trons on it, but the newer Gretsch pickups have always sounded basically true to form. I sold my Les Paul after buying a Gretsch because they just have more character. These are great sounding versatile guitars.
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Old 04-17-2021, 12:21 PM
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I have owned three of the G5420 electromatics and a few others of the Korean Gretsch guitars. I also own two of the Japanese models. I think the Pro and Player Japanese made series guitars are a step up, but it's not a huge difference. Both are well worth the cost.
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Old 04-17-2021, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pickcity View Post
The 5000 series work for me because I don't mind taking them out to shows, and I don't feel that I'm sacrificing in sound, playability, etc. .
I was a Pariah on Surf Guitar board back when I was in that scene for saying that I would never take something like a brown Fender out to your average barely paid surf gig in a bar. I would take a crate powerblock instead of my Blackface Showman or Bandmaster unless it was a really special show. By the end I was only playing the Showman at outdoor gigs!

I'm a HUGE believer in not taking really nice gear to gigs unless it is "worth it". The definition of "worth it" is of course personal. Things like nice Korean Gretsch and Epiphones are more than good enough with good care in set up, and maybe in some cases some minor upgrades.
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Old 04-17-2021, 02:29 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue View Post
I was a pariah on Surf Guitar board back when I was in that scene for saying that I would never take something like a brown Fender out to your average barely paid surf gig in a bar. I would take a Crate Powerblock instead of my blackface Showman or Bandmaster unless it was a really special show. By the end I was only playing the Showman at outdoor gigs!
At the risk of getting too far OT, from what I read the final-edition Fender Frontman 212R - the one that could be mistaken for a blackface Twin from six feet away - gets a lot of cred from the surf crowd, and when retrofitted with a full-size 'verb tank and a pair of ultra-efficient Eminence Cannabis Rex or Swamp Thang speakers can go toe-to-toe with a '65 Twin RI (only drawback is the Swamp Thangs will put it over 60 pounds - in the same weight category as the Twin, and a real handful for a SS amp ). Scored mine brand-new for $157 when the Lancaster (PA) Best Buy was closing out their musical-instrument operation in 2013 - prices are going up as they're being (re)discovered (the replacement Champion 100 doesn't even come close) but you can still land a nice one in the $200-250 range if you're patient; FYI it sounds real nice with my 3-PU Gretsch E-matic - a little too crispy for my taste with the Falcon (a pair of C-Rex speakers should cure that) - with plenty of big blackface-style clean power, and if you own a piezo-UST acoustic-electric it'll kill a lot of the quack and ice-pick highs if you run through the low-gain input...
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Old 04-18-2021, 07:05 AM
Pnewsom Pnewsom is offline
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A while back I spent about a hour checking out a 5420, and apart from it's persistent tuning problems, likely stemming from a poorly cut nut and lack of a roller bridge, I thought it was a pretty decent guitar for the money. However, when I plugged in a $3000, Player Series Gretsch, it was all over. Same amp(Fender Princeton Reverb), location and settings.

First of all, the Player's tuning was spot on and solid, and the set up felt ready to go right out of the box. The hardware was of better quality, particularly the Bigsby. The improved resonance, sustain, and thickness of tone was very noticeable, both acoustically and through the amp. Overall, it was just a better guitar to my eyes, ears, and hands. It definitely made me consider moving my Gibson 335 for it. I didn't, but only because I like 335 too.

The 5420 is a nice guitar to dip a toe into the Gretsch world, and its definitely a gig worthy instrument, but by time it's upgraded with better tuners, pickups, and perhaps the Bigsby it would to cost about 2/3's the price of the Player, and still not be as nice or have the same resale value down the road.

As I've noticed quite often with guitars, its the little things that make the difference.
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Old 04-18-2021, 12:28 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Interesting - I own a 3-PU 5622, played an easy 2-3 dozen 5000-Series E-matics since they first came on the market, and the only times I found those problems was in the first run (before the changeover from Broad'trons - the same PU's used on the Chinese E-matics and Streamliner Series BTW - to Filter'trons/Super Hi-lo's) and the recent Chinese production; while I don't doubt your experiences/impressions for a second, I've never personally encountered these issues in any post-2012 MIK E-Matic - then again, there's bound to be a bad apple in every barrel...

By the same token I also own a 2013 6136DC White Falcon, and while the hardware is in fact generally better-quality (USA Bigsby; Space Control bridge that actually plays in tune unlike the '60s stuff; re-created early-60's High-Sensitive Filter'Trons with split-top covers, true-replica jeweled knobs) - FYI they both have modern sealed Grovers (Rotomatics on the 5622, Imperials on the Falcon) - and there's a bit more cosmetic refinement, there's nothing lacking in either tone or QC on the E-Matic that's been serving as my go-to gigging/home-practice guitar for the last five years. As far as resonance/sustain/thickness of tone are concerned, aside from the different pickups (Baldwin-blacktop Filter'Tron versus the TV Jones PU's fitted to most of the Player Series instruments) they're equipped with different-gauge strings - 10's on the E-Matics, 11's on the Pro Series (not sure about the PE models) - which IME make a major difference in all the areas you cite; aside from using flatwounds on all my Gretsch instruments (I also still have the sunburst Double Annie I bought brand-new in 1964), I found I got the best results by going instead with 10's on the (25-1/2" scale) Falcon and 11's on the E-Matic (traditional Gretsch 24.6" scale). Frankly, that's what I like about the way the A/B comparison was conducted: same strings, same amp/same settings, straight guitar-cable-amp for most of the actual head-to-head (after the 15:00 mark), same licks - the guitars do all the talking with no extraneous influences, and you're free to form your own impressions...
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Old 04-18-2021, 02:14 PM
nightchef nightchef is offline
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I've watched this video at least three times now. I find it maddening, because:

1) Listening to the 5420 clips, I think "that's a great sound! I want that guitar!"

2) Listening to the 6120 clips, I think "that's the sound I've been dreaming of all my life! I must have that guitar!"

If I had seen only the 5420 clips, I'd probably already have an Electromatic by now, and I'd doubtless be very happy about it. But having seen/heard the 6120, there's a voice in my head saying "how can you buy that guitar when you know what this guitar is capable of?". (I probably will, though, in the end...because $ are $, and I don't have an unlimited supply of them.)

First world problems!
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