As a guitar brand, in terms of pedigree, Gretsch is every bit as iconic as Fender and Gibson.
The company has been manufacturing guitars since 1883 and offers a wide range of styles to suit every budget. But think of Gretsch and you’ll probably summon up images of large hollow bodied electric guitars often with Bigsby tremolos.
But Gretsch make damned fine acoustics too. And here we’re taking a closer look at the G9520E Gin Rickey acoustic electric guitar with Deltoluxe Soundhole Pickup. And we’re glad we did.
It also bagged runner-up honors in our sub-$300 acoustic electric guitar roundup.
The G9520e Gin Rickey acoustic electric is a parlor guitar with classic vintage vibes that wouldn’t be out of place in any spaghetti western. Picture the scene – our gunslinging hero, downing a Jack Daniels or two singing the blues on the back porch. This is clearly the vibe Gretsch is aiming to create.
As we’ve mentioned, the G9520e Gin Rickey is a ¾ parlor-size guitar with a 24” scale length so by definition it’s a small instrument. Scale length is the distance from the nut to the center of the 12th fret multiplied by 2.
Parlor guitars may not suit those with hands like bunches of bananas. But we think you should give it a try because whatever your stature, you’re not going to want to put this little beauty down.
With its solidly constructed X-braced basswood body (top, back and sides) and comfortable C-profile nato neck that joins the body at the 12th fret, the Gin Rickey certainly looks the part. Basswood exhibits a pleasing full bodied midrange tone and it’s a very lightweight wood.
Nato is often used as an inexpensive alternative to mahogany with a similar structure and properties. The smooth walnut fingerboard features 18 vintage-style frets and pearloid dot inlays. A top load walnut bridge with compensated synthetic bone saddle also finds its way into the specification.
Incidentally, the top load walnut bridge is ‘pin-less’ so restringing is hassle free.
It’s often the small touches that really finish a guitar’s appearance and the Gin Rickey doesn’t disappoint. Its satin hot smokestack black finish is exquisite for a guitar at this price point – as is its aged white body binding, gold and white soundhole rosette, nickel hardware, vintage open gear die cast tuners and Gretsch ‘G’ graphic.
But taking center stage with the Gretsch Gin Rickey is its secret weapon – the Deltoluxe magnetic soundhole pickup. This really is the icing on the cake with this guitar – but more about that later.
Oh and Gretsch offers a two-year warranty.
Dimensionally and aesthetically, the G9520e Gin Rickey is very similar to its stablemate the Gretsch Jim Dandy – but this baby has a built in soundhole pickup giving you even more sonic flexibility.
If you need to use your guitar live or want more versatility then buying the Gin Rickey really is a no brainer. Not surprisingly, it is a little more expensive.
If you don’t need the pickup and want to save a few bucks, get the Jim Dandy but hey this is an acoustic electric guitar review so we won’t dwell on that point for too long.
To describe how the G9520e Gin Rickey sounds, it’s best to review it both unplugged and amplified because sonically the two are entirely different.
Acoustically, the guitar offers a bright, clear sound with decent projection and a powerfully resonant voice for such a minimally dimensioned beast. The walnut fretboard produces a maple like tone but with a tad more grit. It stays in tune pretty well.
Bass and treble frequencies are acceptable, but mid-range focused is how we’d describe the sound. You shouldn’t overlook the fact that this is a small scale guitar so don’t expect the rich, full low end you’d get on a dreadnought.
There’s nothing pretentious about this – It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. Many of the best blues players started off on cheap instruments and this is a modern day recreation of that philosophy.
Can’t vouch for this, but some have said that fitting a bone nut improves the acoustic sound significantly.
This blues guitar really springs into life when you plug it into an amp because the Deltoluxe soundhole pickup is the real star of the show here. It sounds good at quieter volumes but when pushed through an amp, the mid-range shines.
It exhibits a distinctly bright twangy tone when amplified and you can see why this lends itself to playing the blues. A bit of reverb and tremolo if that’s your thing and you’re away. But it can also sound pretty mellow if you tweak your amp settings. Hawaiian anybody?
Add a bit of overdrive and you’ve got instant blues crunch. Play it through a tube amp and you’ll be in blues heaven. Although the pickup is pretty basic – there are no tone or volume controls at all – it’s just perfect for this guitar. The input jack is part of the strap button
The G9520e Gin Rickey will suit full-on strummers and fingerpickers alike but it’s also absolutely fantastic for slide players. Not only that, it also records really well. Use it with a decent condenser microphone acoustically or a mic’d amp.
The pickup gives a very different tone to classic piezo style pickups. Amplified, it sounds more like a vintage hollow bodied electric rather than your standard acoustic electric guitar with a pickup so please bear that in mind.
This is a guitar that sounds totally different unplugged than it does amplified – but for us that’s all part of its appeal.
Who should buy this guitar?
It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t like this dinky parlor guitar because it’s just so much fun to play, but it will suit certain players more than others.
Because of its size and inherent portability, it’s ideal for travelling, road trips, camping and taking to a friend’s house for a strumming session. But for the same reasons, it’s just great for leaving it hanging round the house ready to be picked up when the feeling takes you. And take you it will!
It’ll certainly appeal to adults but because of it’s small size and price tag, it’s great for kids as an entry-level guitar as well. The vintage style frets aren’t rough on the fingers at all and it’s a relatively risk-free and cost-effective way of introducing kids to playing guitar.
If they don’t like it, nab it for yourself!
What about a case?
Feel free to gloss over this if you’re only going to use your brand spanking new G9520e Gin Rickey around the house, but as it’s such a portable instrument, chances are you’ll want to transport it around.
To protect it properly, we recommend a hard case. This may not be the cheapest option but it’s certainly the best. We like this Gator hard shell wood case which at 38.4” long is designed from the ground up for ¾ size acoustic guitars.
It’s tough, ergonomic and well-balanced with chrome plated lockable latches. Plus it’ll house a ton of accessories.
What we liked
- Its size, sturdy construction and overall finish. The black satin is awesome
- It sounds good unplugged, but great amplified
- The Deltoluxe soundhole pickup is the magic ingredient on this guitar
- Superb value for money
- Just great fun to play
And what we didn’t
- The action. This will vary but it’s a little high for our tastes. But if you play mainly slide, this may actually work in your favor. Every cloud and all that…
- The string spacing is quite narrow at the nut which may not suit those with larger digits – particularly when fingerpicking. The fingerboard could certainly accommodate wider spacing so don’t be afraid to replace the nut
Summing up then…
Blues and slide players who crave a vintage vibe just won’t want to put this down. Drop D tuning is particularly sweet sounding. A fantastic little guitar for the price.