New bracing and pickups make this mid-priced take on a Gretsch classic a lively and engaging inspiration machine.

Smooth playability on par with much more expensive instruments. Airy, open pickup sounds with lots of clean-to-mean latitude.

Blue finish is pretty but thick in spots. Vintage sticklers might miss some old-school Filter’Tron bite.

$799

Gretsch G5420T
gretschguitars.com

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Though big hollowbodies like the Gretsch G6120 are beautiful and an essential ingredient in countless classic records, they can be a tricky playing experience for the uninitiated. Navigable fretboard space is limited by solidbody standards. Big bodies can feel bulky. They’re sometimes feedback prone in high-volume situations, too. Consequently, I’ve watched many solidbody-oriented chums who rarely play hollowbodies handle a big Gretsch with the baffled look of a spacefarer deciphering an alien tongue.

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See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

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