Hands-on review: Gretsch G5434 Pro Jet

(John Gorbe | Posted 2011-11-20)

Hands-on review: Gretsch G5434 Pro Jet

What do you think of when you hear the name, ďGretschĒ? There are a few things I think about: Tradition, quality, tone and versatility. Now, versatility may not be the first thing that comes to mind but with the Pro Jet thatís exactly what you get. This is a guitar that not only is a looker but sounds great, too. Letís check out what the Pro Jet has to offer.

The G5434 Pro Jet offers a chambered mahogany body mated to an arched laminate maple top, maple neck paired with a rosewood fingerboard, 22 medium jumbo frets, pearloid hump-block inlays, Blacktop FilteríTron bridge and neck pickup, 3-way toggle with chrome tip, 2 volume, master volume and master tone controls, anchored Adjusto-Matic bridge, synthetic bone nut and ďGĒ Arrow knobs. My tester had a gloss black finish. Itís also available in Gold and 2-tone Sunburst.

Sound
This guitar has a pure, chime-like sound that sounds very pleasing. The neck pickup is full and round but not muddy or too ďwarmĒ. Iíll attribute this to a combination of the pickup itself as well as the maple neck instead of the typical mahogany.

The guitar has a very open, air-like quality when both pickups are engaged. This is a great overall setting for many styles whether youíre playing rhythm or lead as it easing in a bit of bite from the bridge and cuts through. This guitar really cuts through a mix no matter how itís set! I used it with a band rehearsal and was astonished that I had to adjust the controls on my amp and levels on some of my pedals! I had plenty of headroom to increase the volume if needed.

The bridge pickup can make this guitar sound like a Telecaster with enough high-end spank and twang that a Tele really isnít needed in your arsenal. I also liked that the volume was balanced among all 3 positions with just a slight bump when using both pickups.

Performance
I feel I need to write about the placement of the master volume regarding performance. This is not only unique to this guitar but is smart and effective for live performance. I like to perform volume swells to create synth-like textures so one of the tests I perform on a guitar is how well the volume tapers. First, the volume is clean and gradual and doesnít jump in unexpectedly Ė this is very welcome for a guitar Iím going to perform with. Second, I really like the placement of the master volume. Instead of pivoting my picking hand on an angle to reach the knob, I can play more naturally and have the master volume knob within reach. Way to go, Gretch!

Tuning stability isnít an issue with the G5434 and I didnít think there would be. Of course, this Pro Jet has a simple setup with a stop tailpiece, which I like. There is nothing that can go wrong and maintenance is simple.

This guitar was also setup well from the factory. It didnít require any adjustments at all and was performance ready out of the box. This is rare so I was very impressed

Something else that needs mention here are the strap buttons. Yes, strap buttons. As silly as this sounds, they aid in the quality of the guitar. These buttons are cylinder shaped and knurled. The texture grips to your leather strap nicely and keeps it secure. I havenít seen these strap buttons on other guitars, so I believe Gretsch added a nice touch here. The location of the buttons are well-thought out as well resulting in a balanced instrument while standing. Aesthetically, these buttons just look incredible!

The only gripe I have with this guitar is the painted neck. This may not bother a lot of players or stand out at all, however I felt a little restricted while sliding around the fingerboard. My thumb would stick to the neck enough that Iíd be aware of it and be more conscience of my thumb movement. Again, maybe not a huge concern but I have to mention it.

The Bottom Line
If youíre looking for a great sounding guitar that plays and looks great, think 5434 Pro Jet. Itís very versatile and looks classy anywhere no matter what company it may keep! I recommend taking one for a test drive at a local dealer.

The 5434 Pro Jet lists for $850 USD. Visit Gretsch at http://www.gretschguitars.com

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