The name Gretsch conjures up images of big-bodied guitars, with cool names like White Falcon, Black Phoenix and Country Gentleman being out through their paces by legends like Beatle George Harrison, 50s rock 'n roller Eddie Cochran and king of rockabilly Brian Setzer. But there's more to Gretsch than big fat guitars with f-holes and Bigsby vibratos. Back in the 60s the company produced a solid-body electric guitar named the Corvette, and this little beauty was reissued as part of Gretsch's Electromatic range, so there's no need to trail around second-hand guitars shops.
Over the years Gretsch's solid bodies have been seen in the company of The Cramp's Poison Ivy, the late Bo Diddley's guitarist The Duches, Edwyn Collins and Jimi Hendrix. What's interesting about this list of players is the healthy proportion of female guitarists. In the early days of rock 'n roll Gretsch was one of the few companies that went out of its way to entice girl axe-slingers. The Corvette was designed to appeal to feminine guitarists' - so that's girls, and presumably guis in touch with their feminine side (stand up Placebo's Brian Molko). But despite its attempt to appeal to the more feminine among us, Gretsch hasn't resorted to covering the Corvette in pink finish or buckets of glitter.
What does the Gretsch G5135 Electromatic Corevette got?
Like its four-wheeled namesake, the Corvette is sleek and streamlined. Reminiscent of a Gibson SG it shares the guitar's solid mahogany construction, mahogany glued-in neck and rosewood fingerboard. The finish is a vintage-style cherry that allows the grain of the mahogany to show through. The thin double-cutaway body make this guitar much smaller than the usual behemoths that we're used to, which is a great first step on Gretsh's mission to appeal to female players. The strings are strung across an anchored Adjustomatic bridge, and end at a Bigsby B50 vibrato tailpiece. In the engine compartment you'll find a pair of Mega'Tron humbucking pickups with individual volume controls and a master tone. By the way, we love the chunky silver control knobs, each decorated with the Gretsch 'G-arrow' custom logo - a nice touch!
Gretsch G5135 Built to Last?
Being made from solid mahogany, the Corvette isn't about to snap in half without warning. It's actually quite difficult to see the join where the neck is attached to the body, and there's a dowel rod joint holding it in place (instead of just glue) that creates an added level of sturdiness to the overall construction. As with most guitars, don't treat it badly and it'll stay in one piece.
Gretsch G5135 Electromatic Covette Hands on
Ok, so let's put that 'feminine guitarists' claim to the test. As we said before, the Corvette is smaller than most Gretsch guitars, so the reduced bulk makes it less cumbersome and lighter, which is great for anyone of smaller-than-average build. That's not to say this is a light guitar, but its weight is particularly well distributed, so you won't be left needing a visit to the chiropractor after a night's gigging. The neck is perfect for smaller hands too, so fretting chords can be done with ease.
The Mega'Tron pickups give a brighter tone, which is perfect if you want jangly open chords, but it can be adapted to sound a little dirtier if you turn up the gain. The Corvette responded well to a touch of filth. The tone was equally suited to garage rock, punk and rockabilly, although we probably wouldn't recommend it for metal. The Corvette stayed in tune well and was an absolute pleasure to play. Make sure you use a straight jack adaptor to connect it to your amp; we found that the right-angled one kept falling out, thanks to the raised metal rim round socket on the guitar. This is our only (tiny) complaint though.
Gretsch G5135 Electromatic Covette Verdict
The Corvette rocked our world. Its retro looks are enough to appeal to a wide spectrum of guitarists: garage rockers, punks and mods, etc. its size, weight and dimensions mean it also caters well to female players, particularly those who want something 'un-blokey' but not pink or sparkly. But don't be put off if you're made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails'. We could imagine Pete Doherty or Keith Richards digging the Corvette. As you can probably gather by now, GV was suitably impressed with this axe - you could do far worse than being in the driving seat of this Corvette.
Source: Total Guitar inspired by Musician's Friend