I first “played” (I’m using the word very loosely) a Gretsch hollow body guitar around 2010 or 2011 at a local guitar store. I immediately fell in love with the sound of the guitar. At the time, my brother and I were just goofing around, mostly looking at acoustic guitars, and he was beginning to think about getting an electric guitar. I hadn’t planned to buy an electric guitar, but I couldn’t get the Gretsch out of my mind.
As far as Gretsch’s go, it wasn’t a horribly expensive one. In fact, the guitar I fell in love with is, essentially, the entry-level hollow body, the G5120. One neat thing is, the 5120 is very similar to the more expensive models other than the wiring harness and pickups. So, if you wanted, you could buy the 5120 and then put another few hundred dollars into upgrades and have a guitar that matched up with one worth $1500 or so for about half the price.
Regardless of that, I really loved the sound of the 5120. It sounded sweeter than a regular solid body electric guitar. People say that’s because of the movement of the air inside the body. Also, it has enough projection that you can play it acoustically (not super loud, but loud enough for quality practice or just playing in a room with a few folks). And, it was versatile enough to sound really good plugged in.
Most people who are attracted to the Gretsch hollow body sound have visions of Brian Setzer of The Stray Cats or, for one generation back, Chet Atkins. I enjoy those, but I also have enjoyed hearing other more contemporary artists go to town on a nice hollow body guitar.
Anyway, I’m not that good at playing guitar, and I decided it was foolish to splurge on an instrument that I really couldn’t appreciate. However, I would regularly notice artists playing a Gretsch while watching concerts on Palladia (one of my favorite channels, now MTV Live), and I think I drove my wife and kids crazy because I had to point it out. every. single. time.
But in early March 2012, I decided it was time to buy a guitar. After trying out several slightly less expensive options, I realized I just wasn’t going to be nearly as happy with them as I would be with the Gretsch. To check my motives on that, I also tried some more expensive guitars and found that I was still happier with the Gretsch. So I began my quest of finding the best deal I could on a new or like-new Gretsch G5120 hollow body guitar.
Then, I stumbled across something that fascinated me: a version of the 5120 called the Jimmy C Custom. Gretsch commissioned California artist Jimmy C to pin stripe 700 guitars. Each one looks a little different because he did them all by hand. To my shock, I found one being sold by a Canadian Gretsch dealer that was less than the regular 5120 here at home.
The common advice is to not buy a musical instrument online. I knew that, but I decided this was worth the risk. So, for the past five years, I have been the happy owner of an orange Gretsch G5120 Jimmy C Custom hollow body guitar, and I LOVE it!
Unfortunately, I still stink at playing guitar; but at least my guitar looks good when I try.
Anyway, you don’t need to run out and buy a guitar, but I would encourage you to pursue the gift of music in any way that you can. I find music to be a wonderful bridge from here to Heaven. I am constantly filled with wonder when I hear good music. It’s one of those things, like looking at the mountains, that just makes me feel the presence of God more clearly.
And the thought that I can make my own music with such a beautiful guitar is just really cool. I really encourage you to try out a Gretsch G5120 if you have the opportunity.