Review: Gretsch G5230T-140 Electromatic 140th Double Platinum Jet

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Review: Gretsch G5230T-140 Electromatic 140th Double Platinum Jet

Gretsch G5230T-140 Electromatic 140th Double Platinum Jet
Words by Christopher Hockey

Fender Music Australia | Gretsch G5230T-140 Electromatic 140th Double Platinum Jet | RRP: $1299

Guitarists are an opinionated bunch. Green rooms and rehearsal studios across the world are being filled with fiery debate even as we speak; humbuckers vs single coils, solid bodies vs hollow bodies, rosewood vs maple fretboards. The list of eternally contentious topics goes on and on.

There is, however, something I think we all agree on: Grestch make beautiful guitars.

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As Grestch enters their 140th year as a company, that statement is as true as it’s ever been. And what better way to commemorate this anniversary than with a brand new line of instruments? The G5230T-140 Electromatic 140th Double Platinum Jet, part of Grestch’s new limited edition 140th Double Platinum series, is a beautiful guitar.

Featuring a stunning two-tone platinum finish, white binding, pearloid inlays and chrome hardware, the G5230T-140 is a sight to behold. The whole instrument has a mesmerising pearlescent shimmer and exhibits the timeless Gretsch design qualities that have long been compared to the classic cars of the 1950s.

The body is sleek yet delightfully ornamental, featuring a classic shape, a generously functional cutaway, and all the bells and whistles that the brand is known for.

Pleasantly heavy, strapping on this guitar is reminiscent of sipping from a weighted whiskey glass, not too much weight, just enough to know it’s there. This is a benefit of the guitar’s chambered mahogany body, which is finished off with a beautiful maple top. The chambering not only alleviates some of that notorious mahogany heft, but provides a deep and balanced acoustic resonance that serves as the foundation of the instrument’s tone.

Sitting atop of that foundation are perhaps the true secret to Grestch’s signature sound, a pair of Filtertron pickups. The Filtertron design has always been a crucial element of the Gretsch aesthetic, and there is something effortlessly classy about them that still exemplifies the brand’s commitment to cool. The FT-5E humbucking pickups in this model carry on that visual tradition, whilst providing an astoundingly balanced and versatile tone.

In the neck position, the guitar takes on a warm woody character without losing any of the clarity that Filtertrons are known for. The bottom end is full but controlled, allowing the solid midrange and soft yet clear high end to shine through even when overdriven. Whilst the full bodied punch of the guitar is in full swing in this position, that classic Gretsch chime never goes away.

The bridge pickup provides the sultry Setzer-esque shimmer that Grestches are famous for, perfect for country and rockabilly sounds. This position exhibits as much chime and bite as anyone could wish for, but never becomes shrill, even at its brightest setting. In tandem, both

pickups can create a myriad of sounds that are applicable to any situation. This is largely thanks to the guitar’s master volume control.

Whilst each pickup has an individual volume control, it’s the addition of a master volume that makes the guitar’s middle position so special. The three knob setup allows players to set a sonic balance between the pickups that pleases them, whilst still having control over their overall level. The weight of the neck pickup and zingy chime of the bridge work beautifully together, making the option to maintain this balance at any volume invaluable.

This also comes in handy for players who set one pickup loud for overdriven sounds and one low for their clean tone. Players can set and forget their chosen difference in level between pickups and then use the master volume to adjust their overall level throughout their performance. This makes for a very dynamic and versatile setup that would normally require the use of pedals to achieve.

The G5230T-140’s tone control acts as a pleasantly linear treble roll-off, providing a very usable spectrum of tonal options in all three positions. Guitarists are often frustrated with the very binary ‘zero or ten’ nature of most tone knobs, but thankfully Grestch have ensured that this guitar does not suffer from the same limitation.

Another fantastic facet of the G5230T-140’s circuitry is the inclusion of a treble-bleed. For many years, players have been modding their instruments to include this handy circuit, so it is an excellent choice by Grestch to save them the trouble with this model.

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.

Aside from the sound, the feel of this guitar is spectacular. The U-shaped neck, featuring a Laurel fretboard, is thin and speedy whilst still feeling full enough in the hand to be comfortable. The Bigsby tremolo arm, a classic feature of Gretsch guitars, feels similarly comfortable whilst providing the perfect amount of resistance, and tucking conveniently away under the bridge when not in use. Even when used liberally, the Bigsby co-operates well with the G5230T-140 which holds its tuning nicely.

Guitarists certainly are an opinionated bunch. I’ve given you mine, and you will formulate your own when you go out and try one of these guitars for yourself. But surely if one thing is undeniable, it is that which has always been undeniable: Grestch make beautiful guitars.

The way they sparkle under stage lights, their top end shimmer that cuts like glass through the messiest of mixes, the solid crunch of Malcolm Young, the gentle melodies of George Harrison, the crispy virtuoso flash of Brain Setzer. Some things aren’t up for debate.

Like a 50s Cadillac sitting at a stop light, surrounded by grey shapeless bubbles of modernity, a Grestch stands out from the crowd; harkening back to a time when things were made to be as beautiful as they possibly could be, down to the last detail. The G5230T-140 is a fine example of that beauty, as is the sound it makes.

For more information, head to Grestch. For local enquiries, head to Fender Music Australia.