REVIEWED: GRETSCH ROOTS COLLECTION

Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | Expect To Pay: G9511 - $799 | G9521 - $949

The Gretsch Roots Collection of acoustic guitars is inspired by traditional designs filtered through the very identifiable Gretsch sensibility. In some ways they have an ‘old Gibson’ appearance until you look closer and start to see their uniqueness. It’s in the visual flair as well as certain player-friendly improvements. There are three instruments in the line: the Style 1 Single-0 Parlor, the Style 2 Triple-0 Auditorium, and the Style 3 Double-0 Grand Concert. Fender Music Australia sent us the first two to check out.

Both guitars have a lot in common. They each have laminated mahogany bodies with solid spruce tops, mahogany necks and rosewood fingerboards, and they share Appalachia Cloudburst finishes which look like crème brûlée that took a few too many swipes of the blowtorch: a rich caramel in the centre, ringed by carbon black. It’s a great effect, and it’ll make you hungry for dessert; win-win. Both guitars have 19 frets, but the necks are very different. The Parlor neck is bound while the Auditorium is not, and it makes a huge difference to the feel between the two guitars. The firmer edges of the Parlor’s binding seem to encourage harder, firmer playing styles than the softer edges of the Auditorium which provoke a more gentle, delicate approach.

 

This is borne out further by each guitar’s voicing. There’s a distinct airiness to the Auditorium’s overall tone. It feels very three-dimensional, as if the high and low notes are coming at you from different directions. It’s a guitar that rewards nuanced playing, which is great news for fingerpickers and percussive players who operate on a fine level of detail, and the sustain is fantastic. The low, thin frets are also a huge advantage for advanced fingerstyle players. You never feel like you’re fighting the guitar, but every note sounds very clearly, even when you barre a finger across all six strings. Open tuning fans are going to love it.

 

As for the Parlor, it’s loud to a surprising degree. The smaller body shifts the voicing more towards the midrange, still with a decent amount of high end but a more restrained bass range. It sounds just a little honky, which is great for single-note lines or old ‘30s-style blues accompaniment. This is one of those guitars that sounds best when it’s on its own with a voice – rather than in a band situation – because its particular frequency distribution could clash if there are too many other midrange instruments in the mix. But that huge natural projection makes it a great guitar for unamplified venues, and it’ll easily go toe-to-toe with an enthusiastic vocalist.

 

Each of these guitars has its own strengths and charms. The Parlor is loud and brash. The Auditorium is delicate and diverse. Which one you choose depends on what your musical personality looks like, but each guitar shares the same comfortable neck and strong build quality.

Hits and Misses

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Easy to play necks

Understated yet classy looks

Gretsch logos are damn cool

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No onboard preamp

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