With standard model Gretsch guitars averaging around $4,000, impecunious guitarists have been finding that classic sound in the company’s Electromatic line of Koreanmade models, which offer much of the Gretsch mojo at more wallet-friendly prices. The Center- Block offshoot of the series is geared to those who like the Gretsch look, feel, and sound, but need to keep feedback under control at higher volume and gain levels. Hence, these models all feature a solid-spruce block inside the laminated maple body that helps to tame howl while also providing a solid foundation for the bridge.
I tested a black, double cutaway G5622TCB, which comes equipped with three dualcoil Super HiLo ’Trons (the original HiLo ’Trons were single-coil). Played clean, through either a Fender Blues Junior, or a Little Walter 50 Watt head driving a 12" Eminence Texas Heat speaker, these pickups put out a chiming sparkle that spoke fluent “Gretsch.” They are fairly low output too, sounding best either clean—where they served up their best Beatle-esque chime— or with a significant amount of gain, where the low output and bright voicing kept them from sounding muddy.
The G5622T-CB is easy to get in tune, and a nicely worked nut ensured that it stayed in tune after extensive Bigsby bar workouts. The 24.6" scale length combined with the 12.5" radius and medium-jumbo frets made for effortless string bending, while an excellent setup and fine finish work on the frets allowed speedy runs to fall easily from my fingertips. Despite the center block and Bigsby hardware, the guitar felt no heavier than a typical 335 or Les Paul—a good thing too, as the instrument played so well it was hard to put down.
One benefit of the middle pickup is it allows Stratocaster-style “out-of-phase” tones. This pickup has its own switch and Volume control, and the neck and bridge pickups also have dedicated Volume knobs. A master Tone control operates only on the bridge and neck pickups. This setup provides a wide variety of sounds, although turning off any one Volume knob shuts down the whole shebang, making it impossible to use the middle pickup by itself. Within the range offered, though, there are many cool sounds to be found here that cover styles from roots to heavy rock.
The G5622T-CB is a lot of guitar for the money. It looks great, it plays extremely well, and its workmanship is excellent. If you’re seeking classic Gretsch tones, you’ll find them in abundance here, and the fact that the G5622T-CB also sounds so good in high-gain settings makes it mighty appealing to players who may not have considered a Gretsch before.
G5622T-CB ELECTROMATIC CENTER-BLOCK
PRICE $899 street
NUT WIDTH 1.6875"
NECK Maple, set
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 24.6" scale, 12.5" radius
FRETS 21 medium jumbo
TUNERS Grover die-cast
BODY 5-ply maple
BRIDGE Anchored Adjusto-Matic Bigsby-licensed B70 vibrato
PICKUPS Three dual-coil Super HiLo ’Tron
CONTROLS Master Volume, Master Tone (bridge and neck pickups), Neck Volume, Middle Volume, Bridge Volume
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario NPS, .011-.049
WEIGHT 8.5 lbs
KUDOS Plays beautifully. Classic Gretsch tones and more.
CONCERNS Can’t use middle pickup by itself.