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Gretsch applies high-end guitar making expertise to classic electric guitar designs on its new Masterbuilt models

Gretsch Masterbuilt Series 2022
(Image credit: Gretsch)

Gretsch has turned loose its Master Builders for a trio of Custom Shop high-end electric guitars that add an extra layer of refinement to some of the US brand’s most-loved designs.

Not, of course, that a guitar such as the Country Gentlemen – six-string of choice for the likes of George Harrison, John Lennon, and Chet Atkins – needs any more refinement, but it’s sometimes a refreshing exercise for a brand with such heritage to lean on its most talented luthiers to offer a fresh take on the instruments.

The three new models include a Country Gentlemen, sans f-hole, and gently relic’d and finished in Aged White, a Baritone Duo Jet in Silver Sparkle, and a Flame Maple Falcon with a finish that reveals all the eye-popping detail of what is a premium piece of maple.

No, they don’t come cheap, but Gretsch has the budget market covered with its superlative Streamliner models, with the Electromatic models offering a little more luxury at the mid-price point, and the Players Series positively pro. These? Well, they’re dream machines, aren’t they? Particularly if you count yourself one of the American Graffiti generation.

Let’s take a closer look…

Gretsch Custom Shop G6128 Baritone Duo Jet, Closet Classic Relic in Silver Sparkle, Masterbuilt by Chad Henrichsen – $6,899

When people talk about That Great Gretsch Sound they might typically be referencing to the gnarly bounce and snarl of the standard tuning of the regular lineup. But the brand has proven time and time again that it knows how to make a baritone guitar that adds some weight to that bounce, and accesses that magic Duane Eddy-esque low-end.

Here Chad Henrichsen has given this a classic finish, Silver Sparkle one of if not the coolest Duo Jet finish Gretsch presently stocks. It has a mahogany body braced by a centre block and topped with laminate maple for off-the-charts resonance.

An adjust-o-matic bridge and V-stop tailpiece offers a no-fuss platform for rock ’n’ roll, while the V shape of that tailpiece gives it that Cadillac vibe. Henrichsen has used nickel tuners, and the Closet Classic vibe should make this look as though it has been stored in a case for a few decades before opening – much like how you might cellar a wine.

Gretsch Custom Shop G6122 58 Country Gentleman, Light Relic in Aged White, Masterbuilt by Stephen Stern ($11,999)

Senior Master Builder Stephen Stern reached to the bookshelf for the inspiration behind this very cool Country Gentleman with a twist, whereupon he found a photo of a 1958 model in Ed Ball’s Manual of Gretsch Guitars that was ripe for recreation.

First off, you’ll notice there are no f-holes, giving it a real prototype/built-to-order vibe, and making it a solid choice for high-volume players allergic to feedback. But the shape, the iconic 17” double-cutaway body, is instantly recognisable. 

It comes equipped with a pair of TV Jones Full Fidelity pickups and Tone Switch wiring. The Bigsby tailpiece offers wobble. The gold pickguard sets that Aged White finish off nicely. And the Grover Imperial tuners rule.

Other features include a maple neck with an ebony fingerboard, inlaid with thumbnails, a 25.5” scale, and under the hood you’ve got Tone Switch wiring.

Gretsch Custom Shop G6136 Flame Maple Falcon, NOS in Natural, Masterbuilt by Gonzalo Madrigal ($11,599)

Last but by no means least, Gonzalo Madrigal’s Flame Maple Falcon ennobles luthiery to an art form. The price is eye-watering, but the specs… The specs. There is tortoiseshell binding for the neck, body and headstock, complementing the ridiculously figured curly maple that you see on the top, back and sides.

There’s a lot of tone to explore on this, too, with TV Jones Classic pickups at the bridge and middle positions, and a TV Jones T-Armond pickup at the neck. Once more we have Grover Imperials giving it that art deco vibe, while the Bigsby B6G is on hand for fun times with the whammy bar.

Elsewhere you have 22 vintage frets on a 12” radius fingerboard, gold hardware and a black ‘guard with gold Falcon inlay, and of course it ships with a deluxe hardshell guitar case, and you get a strap and a COA because this is what some folks might call an investment-quality electric guitar.

The Custom Shop Masterbuilt models are available now. See Gretsch for more details.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.