Review: Gretsch Electromatic Pristine LTD Jet Single-Cut with Bigsby

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Review: Gretsch Electromatic Pristine LTD Jet Single-Cut with Bigsby

Gretsch Electromatic Pristine Jet
Words by Christopher Hockey

Gretsch Electromatic Pristine LTD Jet | Fender Music Australia | RRP $1299

Sleek, head-turning opulence and raw rock and roll power come together in the new ‘Pristine’ series by Gretsch. With a focus on detailed, elegant design and powerful high fidelity sound, the Pristine series encapsulates everything there is to love about Gretsch guitars, for a refreshingly accessible price. 

Gretsch Pristine Jet

The Pristine Jet model is a solid body, single-cut weapon of mass seduction. Its stunning gold-flecked white finish, intricate gold hardware and downright dangerous good looks could convince even the most cynical amongst us of love at first sight. With a creamy hue that perfectly compliments its mahogany back and sides, the Pristine Jet’s subtle flecks of glittering gold accentuate its stunning hardware magnificently.

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If you manage to tear your eyes off it for long enough to pick it up, you’ll doubtless be equally as stunned by the Pristine Jet’s powerful sound. Featuring classic FT-5E Filtertron humbucker pickups, the clarity and depth of this guitar’s timbre is like pouring the sonic equivalent of hot chocolate into your grateful ears. The chambered mahogany body provides resonance, fullness and punch to balance out the bright, snappy tonality of the maple top, making this guitar extremely versatile and ensuring it can span genres with ease. 

Featuring an ultra-comfortable thin U-shaped neck, this Jet feels great in the hands and is addictively fun to play. With a slinky gloss finish that is built for speed, the U-shaped neck is perfect for everything from jazzy chord work to rockabilly shredding. The Pristine Jet’s beautiful Laurel fretboard is adorned with 22 medium jumbo frets, as well as Gretsch Pearloid Neo-Classic Thumbnail inlays, completing the guitar’s vintage look.

Gretsch Pristine

Featuring a 24.6” scale length and a 12” fretboard radius, the mahogany neck matches the Jet’s beautifully stained back and sides and its set-in construction ensures optimal tonal transfer between neck and body. Tying the whole thing together is a matching white headstock complete with die-cast gold tuning pegs that maximise the guitar’s 50s charm. 

In the bridge position, the Pristine Jet has all the bright snappy response and shimmering top end that Gretsch is famous for. Never sounding shrill or thin, there’s plenty of depth and bottom end on tap, as well as a vocal midrange that really sings. When set clean, this position is perfect for snappy Setzer-esque leads and chimey rhythm tones, and when pushed into overdrive it produces a rhythm sound that would make Malcolm Young blush, as well as positively screaming tones for solos. 

In the middle position, the Pristine Jet takes on a single-coil-like, almost out of phase sound that adds many tonal colours to this guitar’s palette. A nice tone for country leads as well as for a natural, clean rhythm sound for strumming, this position is particularly versatile thanks to Gretsch’s fantastic wiring layout. Whilst each pickup has its own independent volume control, there is also a master volume that affects both pickups. What this means is that players can create a blend of the two pickups in the middle position that is to their liking and still have the ability to control their overall volume without disturbing that blend. 

Another excellent feature of the master volume is that it includes a treble-bleed circuit. For those uninitiated, a treble bleed circuit is a high pass filter that allows high frequencies to pass or ‘bleed’ through a volume pot as it is turned down. This allows you to maintain your note clarity and brightness at low volumes, rather than dulling and muddying your tone as you turn down. This is particularly useful for players that don’t use pedals for their distortion, and instead prefer to set their amp dirty and roll back the volume on their guitar to clean up their sound. 

The Pristine Jet’s neck pickup is particularly special. A rock solid bottom end, smooth highs and a throaty midrange make this pickup perfect for ‘woman tone’ leads and even Duane Allman style slide tones. Whilst Gretsch is known for its bright sparkling sound, and for good reason, the Pristine Jet really nails things on the warmer end of the spectrum, a bit of gain and reverb on this pickup takes you to a warm, velvety sonic heaven full of sweet sustaining leads that will be the envy of your LP-playing mates.When set clean, this position is perfect for rounded off jazz tones, retaining just enough smooth high end to cut through a band.

Bigsby B50 vibrato tailpiece

Finally, in classic Gretsch style, the Pristine Jet comes stock with a Bigsby B50 vibrato tailpiece attached to its anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge. The Bigsby is essential to capturing the beloved surf, rockabilly and even spaghetti western sounds that we’ve come to lovingly associate with Gretsch over the years, and is an essential part of the brand’s aesthetic. The Bigsby on the Pristine Jet, finished in gold of course, is well set up and the guitar holds its tuning well even during the most distasteful of dive-bombing attempts. 

From its stunningly classy good looks to its throaty, roaring tone, this is an incredibly special guitar. The white and gold colour scheme is truly gorgeous, oozing with opulence whilst retaining a rock and roll edge. Small details like the subtle black and white binding separating the instrument’s maple top from its chambered mahogany body, the retro Gretsch arrow logos on the control knobs and the mother of pearl colouring of the logo on the headstock all come together to remind us why Gretsch’s commitment to making their instruments beautiful is a cut above the rest. 

From country twang to jazzy warmth, razor sharp leads to earth shaking power chords, the Pristine Jet can do it all in style. One would be forgiven for simply hanging it on their wall as a piece of art, but you’d be robbing yourself of the pure joy of playing this fantastic guitar, and for $1,299 RRP, why wouldn’t you? The Jet may not be the first guitar with its body shape, but in this new iteration, it is certainly the best in its price range. 

For more info, visit Gretsch Guitars.