Gretsch G5120 Electromatic Hollowbody Electric Guitar (2505811506) Reviews
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Gretsch G5120 Electromatic Hollowbody Electric Guitar (2505811506)

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Gretsch Electromatic G5120 Hollow Body: Plays Great, But Careful With The Sound

Feb 5, 2008 (Updated Feb 5, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Competitively priced, comfortable and easy to play

Cons:Pickups were a little muddy

The Bottom Line: The Eletromatic G5120 is a nice rockabilly guitar at a good price. But listen to it carefully through a clean amp and make sure you're happy with the tone.


Gretsch has a well-deserved reputation as a manufacturer of great electrics that were essential to the sound of early rock and roll. It’s hard to imagine rockabilly without somebody playing a Gretsch, even if the most famous Gretsch player is a guy who played rockabilly nearly twenty years after the genre was basically dead (i.e., Brian Setzer, if you’re counting). The guitars are famous for their playability and fabulous twang which, in the company of a Bigsby, defined 50’s and 60’s rock.

I was over at my local Guitar Center the other day looking at the toys when I ran into a Gretsch Electromatic Hollow Body G5120 guitar. This is a Korean built machine that retails for about $599 street. I have a certain affinity for hollow body guitars (they’re all I played until I bought my first solid body when I was in my 40s) and I thought, why not, let’s give it a whirl.

The G5120 is a semi-hollow body guitar with a single soft cutaway and equipped with two humbuckers. My particular model was black. For a Korean built guitar, I didn’t see any workmanship issues. In fact, I was impressed by the lack of flaws on the paint job and binding. Somebody is really teaching these Koreans how to build guitars. However, I will note that there was some buzzing on the lower strings on the fifth fret and I’m wondering, can’t we get a decent set-up here?

The G5120 is surprisingly light and comfortable to play with a 2.75” body. It feels more like a Gibson ES-335 than a ES-175. There won’t be any back stress if you use this guitar for a two-hour performance. The narrow, laminated maple neck (with rosewood fretboard) is fast and clean up and down the twenty-two frets. It’s a pleasure to play. Unplugged, it has a nice, crisp acoustic sound, helped by the maple body. There is an Adjustomatic bridge and a Bigbsy tailpiece and trem bar (how else are you going to get that cool sound?)

Yet all is not perfect in TV Land. I don’t care for the clear pick-up guard, which looks cheap and silly. That’s grousing, I admit. A more serious issue for me is the electronics. The guitar is equipped with two covered humbuckers controlled by a three-way (neck, both, bridge) selector switch. There are volume controls for each pick-up as well as a master volume control and master tone control. Now, I find this silly and confusing. Why can’t we keep it simple, stupid, and have separate volume and tone controls for each pickup? I find that lack of dedicated tone controls to be really stupid.

The other thing is the tone. I played this guitar through a Vox Valvetronix modeling amp using various clean channels with lot of different eq settings and a minimum of gain so I could get a good understanding of the Gretsch’s sound. Frankly, the guitar sounds muddy to me, especially the neck pick-up, which I thought was quite dark. Now, this could be me, but I was expecting a brighter, twangier sound, and I couldn’t find it.

So . . . .

So if you’re thinking of buying this guitar, listen to it carefully to make sure you are happy with the sound (it plays great, like I said). But at this price range, you might look at competitively priced guitars like the Epiphone ES-335 knock-offs or the Sheraton, which deliver a similar sound and play great as well.

So who should buy this guitar? Rockabilly and vintage rockers who want a moderately priced guitar for performance or practice. Country guys might like it as well. I don’t think it’s clean enough for jazzers—go buy yourself a ES-175, if you don’t already own one.





MODEL NAME G5120 Electromatic¨ Hollow Body
MODEL NUMBER 250-5811-(Color#)
SERIES Electromatic Collection
COLORS (506) Black, (512) Orange,(537) Sunburst
CATEGORY Hollow Body Guitars
BODY STYLE Single Cutaway
SCALE LENGTH 24.56" (624mm)
TOP Laminated Maple
BRACING Parallel Tone-Bars with Sound Post
BACK AND SIDES Laminated Maple Body, 16" Wide, 2.75" DeepLaminated Maple Body, 16" Wide, 2.75" Deep
NECK Laminated Maple
PICKUPS 2 Chrome Covered Dual Coil Humbucking Pickups
PICKUP SWITCHING 3-Position Toggle:Position 1. Bridge Pickup Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups Position 3. Neck Pickup
CONTROLS Volume 1. (Neck Pickup), Volume 2. (Bridge Pickup), Master Tone,Master Volume
WIDTH AT NUT 1-11/16" (43mm)
FRETBOARD Rosewood
BRIDGE Rosewood Based Adjusto-MaticTM Bridge
TAILPIECE Bigsby¨ Licensed B60 Vibrato Tailpiece
HARDWARE Chrome-Plated
FINISH Gloss Urethane
CASE Optional G2162 Gig Bag, US MSRP $100.00, P/N 0996458000
NO. OF FRETS 22
MACHINE HEADS Chrome-Plated Die-cast Tuners
UNIQUE FEATURES Neo Classic "Thumbnail" Inlay Position Markers,Black Headstock Overlay,Pearloid Gretsch and Electromatic Headstock Inlays,Bound Top and Back,Bound Fingerboard,Clear Plexi Pickguard,Knurled Strap Retainer Knobs,Adjustable Truss Rod



You may find some of my other guitar reviews interesting:

Epiphone Zakk Wylde Les Paul Custom
Epiphone Les Paul Standard
Epiphone G-400 SG
Fender Classic 50s Esquire
Fender Cyclone
Fender VG Stratocaster
Fender American HSS Stratocaster
Fender John Mayer Stratocaster
Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster
Fender Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster
Fender 57 Stratocaster Reissue
Fender 50s Telecaster
G&L Legacy Strat
Gibson ES-5
Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster
Gibson ES-165 Herb Ellis
Gibson ES-175
Gibson ES-333 Memphis Style Hollow Body
Gibson ES-335
Gibson ES-335 1959 Reissue
Gibson ES-350T
Gibson ES-350T
Gibson Les Paul Classic Custom
Gibson Les Paul GT
Gibson Les Paul 1957 Goldtop
Gibson Les Paul Studio
Gibson Les Paul Classic Ebony
Gibson SG 61 Reissue
Gibson Super 400
Gretsch Electromatic G5120 Hollow Body
Gretsch White Falcon II
Ibanez Artcore AS73 Semi-Hollow Body
Ibanez Steve Vai Jem7
Martin D-28 Acoustic
Ovation VXT Acoustic Electric
PRS McCarty
PRS Single Cut
PRS Santana SE

Schechter Diamond C 1
Variax 700 Acoustic

Other amp reviews from buffoonery:

Crate Acoustic CA30
Crate Power Block
Fender Cyber Twin
Fender DSP 65
Fender 64 Vibroverb Custom Blackface
Fender Super Sonic 1x12 Combo
Fender MH 500 Metalhead
Hughes and Kettner Switchblade 50 Combo
Line 6 Spider II Head
Line 6 Flextone III Plus
Line 6 Vetta II Combo
Line 6 Spider III 75
Marshall Super 100 JH
Mesa 5:25 Express
Mesa Stiletto Ace
Mesa 5:50 Express
Mesa Dual Rectifier Roadster
Mesa Stiletto Deuce
Mesa Triple Rectifier Head
Mesa Lone Star Combo
Peavey JSX Joe Satriani Signature Head
Peavey Classic 30 Combo
Peavey Triple XXX Head
Peavey Penta Head
Roland Micro Cube
Vox Valvetronix AD60VT
Vox AD50VT-XL 50 2x12 combo

My effects and stomp box reviews:

Line 6 POD X3 Guitar Multi-Effects Board
Boss ME-20 Guitar Multiple Effects Processor
Boss GT-8 Multi-Effects Processor
Boss ME-50 Multi-Effects Processor
Digitech RP50 Guitar Effects Processor
Digitech RP80 Guitar Effects Processor
Digitech Brian May Red Special Overdrive Pedal

And you may also be interested in a few books such as:

Hugo Pinksterboer – Tipbook Amplifiers and Effects
Ritchie Fliegler – Amps: The Other Half of Rock and Roll
Michael Ross – Getting Great Guitar Sounds: A Non-Technical Approach to Shaping Your Personal Sound
Nick Freeth – Classic Guitars: Identification and Price Guide


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