Let’s put our cards on the table from the off.
Now we know that a hollow-bodied guitar is not for everyone. But if you’re into 50’s Rockabilly, Roots Rock, Country or Jazz, the latest Gretsch G5420T has plenty to say for itself. Even if you not into those kinds of musical genres, this is a guitar still worthy of consideration.
After all, who can forget the image of the magnificent Malcolm Young smashing it with his Gretsch White Falcon in the iconic official AC/DC Hells Bells music video. And Billy Duffy from The Cult has also used a White Falcon for most of his career. Brilliant.
There’s no doubt about it; there’s plenty of versatility in the G5420T.
What’s more, having now firmly positioned itself in the middle of the Gretsch hollow-bodied series, the G5420T offers a great value proposition, whilst maintaining those key elements of Gretsch that we’ve come to expect.
So, let’s get this Gretsch G5420T Review underway and take a closer look…
The Gretsch G5420T is a hollow-bodied twin ‘f’ hole guitar. It sits in the middle of the Gretsch range as part of the Korean made Electromatic series. The Streamliner is the entry-level series which are made in Indonesia. The Professional and Player are the high-end series made in either Japan or the USA.
The Gretsch G5420T is constructed using five-ply maple to the top, back, and sides. The original Gretsch guitars were made with three-ply, so this latest has more solid and substantial feel over the vintage models.
The neck is solid maple with a slimline 12’ ‘U’ shaped neck. The neck attaches to the body with a dove-tail joint. The fretboard is rosewood with a scale length of 24.6” and a nut width of 43mm.
It has a soundpost kind of bracing mated with a pair of square-edged longitudinal front braces. Additionally, there’s a square section block positioned centrally under the bridge, and this, in turn, connects the top of the guitar to the back.
All good so far, but what’s even better is that the combination of maple, which is a lightweight wood, together with its hollow body, makes the G5420T very light.
The fact is, though physically a large guitar, it manages to weigh in at a mere three and a half kilograms. That’s really not much. When you compare it to a Gibson Les Paul, which would typically weigh around five kilograms, you get a real idea of how light it is for such a big guitar.
The latest Electromatic series is based on the classic 6120 Chet Akins Hollow Body guitar. As part of this upgrade, the G5420T now has large, aged-white bound oversized ‘f’ holes and a bound headstock.
Additionally, it’s been given hump block, Pearloid fretboard inlays. And don’t they look great?
The choice of four available colors is superb. We absolutely love the orange version we’re looking at today, but that new Fairlane Blue, oh wow. The Fairlane Blue is a new color for Gretsch. It’s a deep metallic blue derived from the color of a 1955 Ford Fairline. This was actually introduced in the same year that the Chet Atkins Hollow Body Gretsch was first brought to market.
Nice work, Gretsch.
The build quality and finish on this guitar are great. With its classic Gretsch looks, classic Gretsch hardware, and high gloss polyurethane finish, the Gretsch G5420T is a stunner. No doubt about it.
Specifications & Hardware
Given its price point, this is a guitar loaded with some great iconic looking and quality hardware.
The 5420T has a pair of their latest Black-Top Filter’Tron pickups. There’s plenty of the typical Gretsch dynamic and sound to be had from these fellas. But more of that later.
There is, of course, a chromed Bigsby Adjustomatic tremolo. No semi-hollow or hollow-bodied Gretsch truly feels or looks like a Gretsch without one. Ok, you can get a Gretsch without one, but why would you? We just don’t get it.
The bridge is a chromed Adjustomatic on a secured rosewood base.
Chromed master volume knob, two chromed individual volume knobs, and a chromed master tone control knob. All of them are thoughtfully etched with the Gretsch logo. A really classy look. What’s more, there’s also a chromed three-way pick-up toggle switch, vintage style chromed tuners, and chromed strap buttons.
We think you’ve probably got the message. Lots and lots of chrome here. The cool thing is that it gives an overall highly stylistic effect reminiscent of the 1950s, classic Americana, and classic American cars.
Also, good to see on this model is the inclusion of the classically designed silver-plexi pickguard. This is proudly emblazoned in black with both the Gretsch and Electromatic logos.
The good news is that the latest Gretsch G5420T Electromatic sounds like a Gretsch should.
Indeed, the new Black-Top Filter’Tron pickups sound every bit as cool as they look. These are Gretsch through and through. Unlike the Broad’Tron pickups found in the Streamliner, which have a sound similar to standard humbuckers, Filter’Tron pickups blend with the hollow body to create a distinctive full, complex, and resonant tone.
These are essentially low output pickups. The bridge pickups sound bright and twangy with a clear mid-range. The neck pickups are decidedly more mellow and scooped. The overall effect is that distinctive chime that blends with the mix to give you the unique Gretsch sound.
When you turn down the master volume, chasing that mellow vibe, the master volume has a treble bleed capacitor to keep those highs in the mix. We ‘re sure you’ll agree there’s nothing worse than turning down the volume and losing way too much of your treble to leave a bland mess of tone.
Conversely, if you’re ramping up and pushing for a more distorted sound, there’ll be plenty of bark and grit, but the guitar’s tone and clarity will still manage to shine through.
The Gretsch 5420T has a good level of feedback suppression. This is superior to what can be found in the Streamline series though falls short of the levels achieved in the Professional series.
The fact is, despite this, it’s not going to have the same levels of feedback suppression as most semi-hollow guitars. But never the less, feedback can be either good or bad. Let’s face it, you’re pretty much playing something akin to an electro-acoustic here. Despite the very best of feedback suppression, it’s never going to be stopped completely.
However, harness it correctly, and you’re going to get some amazing resonance and sustain to support your playing.
This is a big guitar and will take some getting your arms around if you’re used to a standard hard-bodied guitar. But once you’ve got over the physicality of its size, it’s actually surprisingly easy to play.
This is all helped by the fact that it’s nicely finished, and there are plenty of smooth surfaces on the fretboard ends and fretboard. The action on the Gretsch G5420T can also be set up nice and low. Additionally, the neck is slimline and easy to get your hands around.
The Gretsch holds relatively stable tuning though if you’re giving the Bigsby some heavy use, it’s worth making sure that your nut is properly lubricated. If not, the friction could quickly push the guitar out of tune.
So, all in all, a very playable guitar.
Just don’t buy one for your five years old daughter or niece.
Well, we clearly love this Gretsch G5420T, but it might not be the guitar that you’re looking for. If that’s the case, then please check out our reviews of the Best Blues Guitars, and the Best Hollow Semi Hollow Guitars currently available. Also, our review of the Ibanez AS73 ArtCore Semi Hollow, as well as our Oscar Schmidt OE30CH review, may well be of interest.
Gretsch G5420T Pros & Cons
- THE Gretsch sound.
- Stunning 50’s retro looks.
- High build quality.
- Superb playability.
- Master volume treble-bleed control.
- The cool choice of colors.
- Its size makes it not for everyone.
In short, what we love about this guitar is both its amazing looks and truly unique sound.
The Gretsch 5420T is a well-made guitar with the Gretsch DNA running all the way through it for an incredibly affordable price. If you’re rocking out with a white one of these on stage, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from a White Falcon.
The Gretsch 5420T is a guitar that’s going to be noticed and get you noticed. If you do buy one, just don’t try to sneak it past your other half. That old trick of “I’ve had this guitar for ages” is unlikely to wash.