I play in an Indie band and own a bunch of electric guitars that suit the band’s sonic vista. A few months ago, I got together with a couple of musicians to set up another enterprise – a jazzy/bluesy lounge trio. I’ve been using my Fender Stratocaster and Les Paul Gold Top to gig with the new trio, but the other day I accepted the inevitable – some of the songs in our set demand an acoustic guitar.
I considered using my old acoustic, but it has no in-built pickup. Gigging with it would have meant buying a guitar mic or pickup. It’s not the best acoustic ever made, so it didn’t make sense to invest in it. I was, therefore, in the market for a new electro-acoustic.
I did my research. Tried a few electro-acoustic guitars here and there. But nothing really excited me. Then, the other day, while browsing in Guitar Guitar in Epsom, I spied a red giant. Standing out from the crowd, in the shop’s humidified acoustic room, was a Gretsch Rancher Jumbo Cutaway Electric G5022CE in a gloss Savannah Sunset finish. Ooh La La!
I picked it up and played a few open chords. It felt comfortable and sounded lovely. The action was incredible. Low, but no fret buzz. The treble was sweet and sparkly, the mids were punchy and rounded, and the bass sounded deep and mellow. Being a jumbo, the dimensions are similar to Gibson’s 1937 J-200. The huge body makes for plenty of volume and it resonates forever.
From the feel of the strings, I’d say the guitar ships with a set of 0.12s. My boney fingers find them a bit tough, so I’ll probable change the gauge to 0.11s.
The biggest and fullest-sounding Rancher is the G5022CE Rancher Jumbo Cutaway Electric, which produces great volume and broadly expansive tone complemented by its elegant Venetian cutaway for easy access to the fingerboard’s upper reaches and onboard electronics that let it be heard even more loudly and clearly. Premium features include a solid spruce top with scalloped X bracing and the traditional Gretsch Rancher triangular sound hole, flame maple back and sides, mahogany neck, 21-fret rosewood fingerboard with Neo-Classic™ thumbnail inlays, 1940s-style pickguard with Gretsch logo, compensated bridge with rosewood base, gold-plated hardware, deluxe die-cast tuners and a classic gloss Savannah Sunset finish. Onboard Fishman® electronics include a Sonicore under-saddle pickup and Isys+ preamp system with onboard tuner, battery life indicator and controls for volume, treble, bass and phase.
The build quality is faultless and the finish blemish free.The guitar stays in tune and the onboard tuner works well. The Fishman electronics and Sonicore under-saddle pickup (piezo type) are a great partnership and sound fab through my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amplifier. The Fishman phase control is useful for managing feedback in high volume situations. When gigging, with the guitar plugged into an amplifier, you can flip between using the phase switch either in or out to find the position that sounds best and subdues mid-bass feedback.
The guitar doesn’t come with a case or gig bag. I recently bought a black Hiscox case for my Les Paul and was mightily impressed with the build quality and features. So I bought a Hiscox Pro II GJ for the Gretsch. Hiscox designed the case for jumbo-sized acoustics. The fit is incredible. You’d think it had been custom built for the guitar. I’m not sure what range of colours the Hiscox Pro II series comes in, but mine is ivory. Looks kinda cool. For those concerned with sartorial elegance, it matches the guitar’s binding. I think the case may also comes in black.
The Gretsch Rancher Jumbo Cutaway retails anywhere between £310-£410, depending on the outlet. Compared with the guitar, the Hiscox case is relatively expensive at around £130. But it’s a quality case and my beautiful Gretsch Rancher will be doing a lot of travelling to and from gigs, so demands decent protection.
Jack White owns three custom built Gretsch Ranchers. If they are good enough for Jack, they are good enough for me.