Gretsch Electromatic Junior Jet G2202 Reviews 3

I have a bit of history playing basses by companies not known for manufacturing basses, so it isn't a surprise to find a Gretsch Electromatic G2202 Junior Jet bass beside me as I write this review. This little four string is visually a simple beauty. Did I call her little? She's a tiny thing with a thirty inch scale and nineteen frets. For years now, My primary instrument has been an a full-sized Ovation (Ovation makes basses? Who knew?) with the full twenty-two frets and a thirty-two inch scale. Switching over to the Gretsch, makes it immediately apparent why this axe was named 'Junior' by the manufacturer. It is a 'student' sized instrument to be sure. This model has one color and one finish: a charcoal to black, super shiny, sunburst. The black is continued on the back of the neck. This is accented by one smooth chrome pickup smack in the middle of the body, two knobs and a floating faux mother-of-pearl pickguard. The marks in the sufficiently thick rosewood fretboard are inlaid mother-of-pearl rater than the painted dots one can find on other entry-level or budget models. The enclosed tuning machines and fender-type bridge are both chromed. The overall visual effect is of a workhorse of a bass, not concerned in any way with frills and neon but with an intention of providing years of use, ready to pass through many hands before losing its voice.

I bought this instrument at Guitar Center in Peoria, Illinois for $250. While I was working on a budget, this price was most assuredly not at the top end of what I was prepared to pay. I went through eight to ten different instruments From Fender (and Squier) through Ibanez, Gibson (and Epiphone), Carvin and Dean. looking for the right sound, departing The ultra-sustained and folksy Ovation sound while still retaining a fair amount of warmth to balance the extra punch I was looking for. At the end of the day, after agonizing over pros and cons in minute differences between the sounds of the varied basses, the Junior Jet caught my eye and five minutes of playing rendered all other arguments moot.

The lone TV Jones humbucking pickup is a behemoth delivering more sound than twice the pickups on other basses costing up to twice as much. It was immediately apparent as soon as I plugged in and started playing. The lows are big and punchy; the highs are crystaline with no dead spots or buzzing even on the last fret. Also, the shorter scale means the strings have more slack, giving my slaps and bends a warbling almost vocal quality. The passive electronics and single tone and volume knobs provide smooth gradients, with no jarring leaps between the '2' and '3' settings, for a surprising variety of sounds. The factory preset action and decent enough round wound strings were ready to play the moment it was in my hands. Though some players may want to lower the action a tiny bit, I found the fingering smooth and, quite frankly, delightful.

As stated earlier, this item comes in a variety of colors to rival a Detroit rainbow - which is to say from coal gray to coal black. The body design is somewhat blocky, being one thickness with no beveling to accommodate the player's wrist. The black, high-gloss finish extends over the back of the neck. This is a complaint based on aesthetic preference and not on playability as the very smooth and well cured finish has no tackiness and does not hinder the hand. The thickness of said bolt-on neck, however is taking a touch of getting used to. There does not seem to be a case made specifically for this instrument and that is something that can definitely be more than a problem based on taste. As anyone who has taken an instrument from trucks over icy parking lots knows, a hardshell case is the only difference between a cherry instrument and a castoff with a cracked neck waiting for some unsuspecting sucker in a pawnshop.

This seems to be a soundly constructed unit with no play in the neck, which, being a bolt on type, can be a cause of concern to the conscious shopper. The dials rotate smoothly and have noticable response to even the slightest tweaking. The tuning pegs have enclosed machinery and seem a bit too easy to turn. This is one that might drift a bit from temperature change or even from sitting unplayed for a few days. This is really too new an instrument for me to offer a final judgement on how well it stays in tune as the inevitable breaking in and stretching period for new strings may work out any drifting issues that come with a brand new piece. I, again, can not say enough about the pickup on this little beast! Its central location on the body gives the player all sorts of opportunities to to change the character of the notes played depending on how low or high one wishes to attack the string. And the sound reproduction is awesome. I don't mean small 'a' awesome the way you might describe the taste of an ice cream cone or the idea of going to see a move but real, thundering, mountain-sized, voice of God, all capital letters AWESOME. This is the pickup that made Gretsch a legend from the earliest days of rock and roll placed under four strings and it must be played to be believed.

If you're looking for a no-frills, ready to play unit ideal for small stages (or for small hands) than this black beauty deserves the time it takes to pull it off the rack and plug it in. It's equally at home in the garage, the classroom or on the stage and looks like its ready to give you whatever you want to take. The Junior Jet is not about frills - no flashy colors, deep cutaways, active electronics or bass boosters in sight. What it does give is crystal clear, deep, punching tone that is unequaled in instruments costing far more. This is the late model short scale bass I've been seeking for years and I see no reason to expect anything other than years of satisfying playing in return for my patient search.

Daniel McGowan rated this unit 3 on 2010-01-20.

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