Should I buy a Gretsch 5120 vs 5420?

jonlarsen002

Member
Messages
634
So, the old Gretsch 5120 is selling for $460-500 now that the newer 5420 has been released (with blacktop filtertrons and some other cosmetic upgrades) for $750. Am I really going to want those new pickups? I haven't heard much or a comparison. Or should I just go with the 5120? The costmetics don't matter much to me.
Btw, I play mainly alternative-ish modern worship music.
 

wilder

Member
Messages
764
Many (myself included) end up replacing the stock pups in the 5120. They don't suck, they just don't have much Gretsch character.
 
Messages
34
You may want to also check out the Electromatic series that was discontinued a few years ago that had DeArmond pickups. If memory serves correct it was models 5124-5129. These are killer guitars and came stock with USA made pickups. I would imagine you could get one used for a pretty reasonable price. I have had many Gretsches including old ones and this series "sounded like a Gretsch".
 

barryg_nyc

Member
Messages
569
The 512x series with DeArmonds are great - but they are very hard to find.

The 5120 is a great guitar (I have the doublecut version - the 5122). But, they come with "Gretschbuckers" - humbuckers that don't come close to that "great Gretsch sound". I swapped mine out for TV Jones classics. A cheaper option would be to swap for HS Filtertrons or GFS Surf 90s. But few people I know of keep the Gretschbuckers (though some claim that if you adjust the pole pieces you can get close to the Gretsch tone).

So. It's up to you. If you can save $300 by getting a 5120, you can drop a set of Surf 90s in (another $70) and save some cash.

Or, go for the new ones with the Filtertrons.

Whichever you do, I'd also recommend replacing the bridge with a TruArc or Compton (google them for details). The stock bridge is the achilles heel of the Electromatics.
 

Waxhead

Member
Messages
5,917
So, the old Gretsch 5120 is selling for $460-500 now that the newer 5420 has been released (with blacktop filtertrons and some other cosmetic upgrades) for $750. Am I really going to want those new pickups? I haven't heard much or a comparison. Or should I just go with the 5120? The costmetics don't matter much to me.
Btw, I play mainly alternative-ish modern worship music.
Test out the new Blacktop Filtertrons b4 you decide is my suggestion.
And remember you can swap TV Jones Classics into a 5120 for $200 :D
 

Daryl_Licht

Member
Messages
34
My 5120 is a really good guitar, but as others have pointed out the Gretschbuckers don't have the sound of a set of Filtertrons. The stock bridge is cheesy too, it rattles pretty bad. I don't notice it coming from the amp, but you can hear it while playing.

I've thought seriously about the new 5420 and will check one out as soon as I see one locally. If it needs a pickup change I'll probably just bite the bullet and buy a proline Gretsch.

The 5120 doesn't sound bad, it just doesn't have that sound that is instantly identifiable as a Gretsch. The only way you could really tell is to go somewhere and play one.
 

GA19RVT

Member
Messages
534
In the end, you will get a 6120. They are just better from the start.
Good point. Resurrecting this thread as I am about to buy either a Gretsch 6120 or an Electromatic 5420. If I get something this week, it will be the Electro. If I wait 6 weeks I can get a real Gretsch.

Any and all wisdom very much appreciated.
 

UrbanHymns

Supporting Member
Messages
2,341
Facing a similar dilemma. Dropping $2K or more on another guitar is not an option right now. But I could do $500-$800 and have been wanting a Gretsch for some time. So a 5120 or 5420, and then upgrading the pickups and bridge is an option for me right now.
 
Messages
5,037
I had two Korean electromatics and just got a Chinese made one. The Korean ones were made a bit nicer and played nicer as well. The humbuckers in the Korean ones were pretty good but not traditional Gretsch in nature. The filtertrons in my Chinese Gretsch are ok, not spectacular. I'd try to find a korean one and upgrade with some aftermarket pickups if the stock ones were to taste.
 

twitch

Member
Messages
641
I would HIGHLY recommend being patient, saving up extra money, and getting a 6120 or any other pro series Gretsch. IMO, while you are spending more, you are getting far greater value and better bang for your buck.
 

yoyoyoseph

Member
Messages
351
I love upgraded 5120's because they are lighter and have a very alive tone. They are different beasts which I enjoy differently than 6120's. 6120's are amazing, more fancy and better built guitars, but I don't always want that especially with the price tag. 5420's a more alike to 6120's to me, which is a huge value savings.
 

Blue4Now

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,019
I would look for a nice beat up 6120 for 1200 bucks. I think the step up in price is worth it.
 
Messages
5,037
I would HIGHLY recommend being patient, saving up extra money, and getting a 6120 or any other pro series Gretsch. IMO, while you are spending more, you are getting far greater value and better bang for your buck.
The Japanese Gretches are really excellent but the electromatics are probably the best budget guitar line being made
 

Rupert Rigsby

Member
Messages
3
Hi,
Thinking of buying a used Gretsch Electromatic G5129 (with case). It comes with 2 X Dearmond 2000 Single Coil Pickups. Do you think this would give me a good Gretsch sound or should I go with the 5420?
 

sunking101

Member
Messages
1,167
I would HIGHLY recommend being patient, saving up extra money, and getting a 6120 or any other pro series Gretsch. IMO, while you are spending more, you are getting far greater value and better bang for your buck.
In the UK it's £650 versus £2800. Sure the 6120 will be a much nicer instrument but is it worth four times the price? If you upgrade the pickups, bridge, tuners and buy a hardcase then you're almost there for a little over a third of the cost.
 

singlecutarmy

Member
Messages
1,408
I do not have these but a different electromatic with blacktops.

As a rock/metal player these are not my usual guitar at all but I was so impressed by the tone I took it home.

I can say however the pots leave me VERY lacking and they do NOT dial down well, so if that's a concern I would save for the 6120.

I believe that a couple of my pots don't even work properly as they seem to be volume pots but there's still volume rolled back to 0?

Only the master volume will completely cut the volume, I think it's a master volume, 2 independent volume + 1 tone setup but it's hard to tell.
 




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