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The Grosh ElectraJet is an attention getter. It first got my attention a while ago when I was scouting out dual P-90-equipped vintage-style guitars. What grabbed me first was the look— somewhat familiar, even strikingly so, without being a case of simple flattery… sort of a Jazzy-Stratmaster-meets-Goldtop thing. Even with its blend of recognizably classic shapes and narrow, slightly offset waist, it manages to look like a new guitar that belongs to a tradition, rather than simply being a copy of an old guitar. When the ElectraJet first debuted almost two years ago, it was, like all of Don Grosh’s instruments up to that point, fully customizable. The impetus behind the Standard model, however, was Grosh’s desire to bring the ElectraJet to a wider group of players by making it more affordable, without shortchanging the quality his instruments have come to be known for.
The formula he hit upon was a matter of cutting customizable options to just a few and keeping the rest to a standard spec, hence the moniker. It may be a new direction for an operation that’s built a name on its custom work, but it seems like a formula that’s able to succeed. These guitars are built in the same shop, with the same materials and the same attention to detail as all of Grosh’s instruments, and the standard specs are familiar enough to feel right at home in the hands of any player who’s used to traditional, bolt-on style guitars. And there are some choices to be made in terms of color and pickup configuration (S/S/H, P-90/P-90, or H/H).
A Looker and a Player
When this particular ElectraJet Standard first arrived at PG and came out of its case (a nicely appointed G&G case is included), it got plenty of attention. And it is striking, with its gold metallic suede finish, cream pickguard and pickup covers, and amber speed knobs, but the chrome hardware, natural maple neck and rosewood fretboard keep the look from getting too precious—a bit modish, perhaps, for a grunge outfit or a bona fide punk rocker, but plenty of retro verve for a straight-up rock ‘n’ roller.
Body wood for the Standard is alder, with very subtle body contours and a flawless finish that shows off well on stage but isn’t glossy. The 25.5” scale neck is a standard roundback shape made from a tight-grained piece of maple with a light flame and a comfortable satin lacquer finish, a 1-5/8” nut width, 6150 frets, 12” fingerboard radius, and single-action truss rod that’s adjusted at the neck heel. Although there’s no skunk stripe, non-locking kluson tuners, a single string tree and vintage dot inlays keep it conventional.
The Standard hardware also includes a Wilkinson vintage tremolo, which is no kind of bad news for this reviewer. The push-in tremolo arm stays right where you put it, the sustain block has staggered string holes for better intonation and tuning stability, and the guitar has a marked sustain—and it has given me no significant tuning problems, even during a few outdoor gigs with the notoriously unstable weather conditions of an early midwestern summer.
Sounds like Rock ‘n’ Roll
Don Grosh’s very own P-90s are easily the high point of this guitar. They were developed, he informed us, through painstaking trial and error. The folks at Grosh handwound set after set until they found the sound they were looking for, and now they’re produced on CNC winders for consistent accuracy. Intended to produce exceptional clarity and string definition, these pickups are just as capable of sharp-edged modern rock tones and high-gain crunch as they are of the raw and raunchy midrange grind and “hairy” clean tones of P-90s past. They come in fairly close to vintage spec at around 7.2k and 8.1k ohms for the neck and bridge, respectively, so they’re not as hot as many of the popular modern P-90s around—and they certainly don’t sound a lot like the “overwound” crowd—but they’re extremely sensitive and quite eager to break up an amp, and they’ll give off loads of sizzle on the right settings.
Sonically, they have the sparkling clarity and indelible warmth that puts them reasonably close to the Jazzmaster pickup, but with greater range, and some real oomph when you need it. Plugged into the EF86 preamp channel of a 15-watt XITS Sadie (a Vox-inspired boutique firebrand), their tonal range became conspicuous. In the upper reaches of the guitar’s Tone knob settings with the volume slightly rolled off they’re very modern sounding pickups: clear and very open with just a touch of the P-90 heat around the edges. But roll that Tone knob down and the Volume knob up and they get lean and tight.
Plugged into the Sadie’s Hot Top Boost channel, and dialed in for crisp cleans, the guitar produces a thick, detailed texture and a distinctive cluck. The neck pickup by itself has a full-bodied growl, and the bridge pickup can cut like a knife. The latter is capable of becoming excessively bright without much sparkle, but if you keep the Tone control rolled off generously, they’ll both chime like church bells.
Plugged into the Vox Valvetronix AD120VT modeling amp I usually gig with, I found the pickups almost too sensitive. Even with the guitar’s volume rolled down a bit, digging in caused breakup more readily than any of my regular single-coil guitars. The second time I gigged with the Grosh, I set the amp up for much more headroom than usual, and found the payoff in more dynamic extension, from clean to breakup to full-on saturation, than I had thought this amp capable of with single-coil pickups.
The Final Mojo
This is a guitar that requires some control, but it responds to control very well—it can be clean and articulate or it can be thick, mean and raw. While it may not be Grosh’s fully customizable model, it looks, feels and sounds like the handbuilt, quality instrument it is. For a street price below 2K, that hardly seems like a trade-off. There are more and more new, retro-inspired guitars every day. Some, like the Grosh ElectraJet Standard, are finding a new coolness quotient in the art of combining old and new elements in unique ways, and of striking the right balance between them.
you're on the prowl for a handbuilt, vibe-heavy rock 'n' roller with real sonic muscle.
you just have to have an ElectraJet built to your preferred specs, and don't mind paying the premium.