In the days before seven- and eight-string guitars, the easiest way to go low was to grab a baritone guitar. Radio waves and film scores of the ’60s were filled with examples of the middle sister of the guitar family – from surf to country to cinematic Westerns.
A rebirth of sorts is in session, and Gretsch’s G5260 Electromatic Jet Baritone fits nicely into the traditional role of a baritone, but also offers something for the more-modern role of the baritone – metal. The balance is tricky, but Gretsch has found a pleasing middle ground.
Loaded with Gretsch mini humbuckers (they’re not given a clever name), the Jet is remarkably versatile. A little delay and reverb do a serviceable job of re-creating the spaghetti Western-sound; add some tremolo and you’re surfing. The mini humbuckers don’t seem to have the output to really match the drive of a modern metal sound – some experimenting is likely in order.
With a 29.75″ scale length, the G5260 actually matches up with the Bass VI scale instead of the typical baritone. Out of the box, the .014-.072 strings tuned B to B feel a little stiff. There’s room for lighter strings – and there’s also room to go very low with the factory gauge. Our tester handled G to G tuning without issue.
The setup was comfortable; fit and finish on the mahogany body/maple neck were impeccable, with nicely manicured fret ends. And while its price is mid-range, it certainly doesn’t look, feel, or play like a budget instrument.
One downside of the mini humbuckers is that the options for replacement are limited or require a rout. Another potential hang-up is the extra-long scale length, which may present a learning curve. And at nine pounds, this guitar isn’t hefty, but it’s definitely a bit of a chunk.
On balance, Gretsch has done a fine job of producing an affordable, versatile, and stylish baritone that can be appreciated by a wide swath of players looking to go low.
This article originally appeared in VG’s July 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.