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  1. #1

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    OK, I got an itch for a small, inexpensive, semi-hollowbody guitar. I've been burning up the internet getting specs, reviews, and listening to demos. (I listed the guitars I've checked out at the end of this message.) The Gretsch G2655xxx Jr lineup *seems* to exceed everything else in their price range in bang for the buck. In fact they sound quite nice to my ears in every demo. Much less of the semi-hollowbody boxiness, balanced sound, seem to intonate well, have nice articulate voices. Seem very flexible for sounds from jazz to rock, especially the one with a neck humbucker and a bridge P90. But even the cheap $450 one sounded good! All of the Epiphone ES-339 demos had the same boxy, toy sound. The Ibanez AM153QA is gorgeous, but I can't determine whether it has the Japanese Super 58 pickups or the inferior Super 58 Custom pickups.

    I haven't laid hands on one of the Gretsches yet, so I thought I'd ask if anyone here has experience with them, and what your opinion of them might be?

    all guitars listed: unless otherwise noted, all are semi-hollow, small body, double-cutaway, thinline, hardtail, 24.75" scale, under $1000
    ibanez am53 $300
    sapele body/top, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard, "infinity r" pups

    ibanez am73b $400
    maple body/top, rosewood fretboard, ach pups

    gretsch g2655 jr $450
    maple body/top, nato neck, laurel fretboard, gretsch broad'tron bt-2s pups, made in indonesia

    epiphones: unless otherwise noted, all have maple body/top, slim-taper D mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard with 12" radius and medium jumbo frets, grover tuners, epi alnico classic humbuckers, epi tune-o-matic bridge, epi stopbar tailpiece, and are made in china.

    epiphone es-339 $500
    splitcoil, 'deluxe' tuners

    epiphone es-339 p90 $500
    epi p90 pups, 'deluxe' tuners

    epiphone casino coupe $500
    fully hollow, epi p90 pups

    gretsch g2655t jr $550
    maple body/top, nato neck, laurel fretboard, gretsch broad'tron humbuckers, bigsby b50 tailpiece, made in indonesia

    gretsch g2655tg-p90 jr $600
    maple body/top, nato neck, rosewood fretboard, 1 gretsch broad'tron neck pup, 1 gretsch p90 bridge pup, bigsby b50 tailpiece, made in indonesia

    ibanez am93qm $650
    maple body, quilted maple top, maple/mahogany neck, ebony fretboard, super58 custom pups

    ibanez am93me $650
    macassar ebony veneer body/top, nyato "c" neck, laurel fretboard, super58 custom pups

    hagstrom viking $770
    hagstrom hj-50 pups, maple neck, hagstrom tuners and trapeze tailpiece, 'resinator' fretboard, (body size?)

    ibanez am153qa $1000
    ibanez super58 (custom?) pups, coiltap, maple/mahogany neck, 43mm nut, 21mm thick at fret 1, 24.7" scale, ebony fretboard, bone nut, medium frets, quilted ash body/top, gotoh locking tuners, hard case, made in japan

    gibson es339 studio $1800
    maple body/top, mahogany neck, hms-ii pups, made in usa


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  3. #2

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    What is very noticeable is the many different Gretsch pickup offerings on their guitars. Since I've only picked up 2 or 3 of that maker, it may indicate that I've missed my calling by not trying more of their guitars.

    Regarding Ibanez, the lower end models did not float my boat in terms of the onboard pickups. And, it seems an all-too-common thing for the purchasers to shuck the OEM pickups immediately on the lower end Ibby semi-hollow guitars. For that reason, I chose a pricier Ibanez model, and have been very pleased with the original pickups.

  4. #3

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    Right. I was just surprised to find that you can buy a guitar for $450, like the cheapest Gretsch, that actually makes a variety of different pleasing sounds. If the demos can be trusted, and I've watched far too many, it can do both mellow, melodic stuff and rock stuff really well. Those "Broad'tron" pickups are much better than you'd expect to find at such a low price range. But it's just the general unamplified sound of the instrument that I'm finding so consistently good, for the cost, in the demos. Especially for a semi-hollowbody, and a reduced size one at that. I think the trick might be the chambered spruce block inside, instead of a heavier, solid block.

    The Ibanez Super 58 Custom pickups are "ok". The Japanese "Silent 58" and Super 58 (without the "Custom") pickups sound *better* than Gibson pickups IMO. If the AM153QA has those installed by default it's a steal at $1000. At any rate, I'm fairly sure that if Hollywood Guitar Center has a decent G2655xxx Jr in stock next time I'm in there, I'll be walking out with it. But we'll see.

  5. #4

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    I have an Epi ES-339, and looking to acquire an AM153QA when they come in. The Epi is a great guitar, IMO. But I'm no connoisseur.

  6. #5

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    The Gretsch is now made, marketed and distributed by Fender Musical Instrament corp. But is still owned by the Gretsch family. But Fender now owns the Bigsby part of it. Any way that is a good price for a new Gretsch.