Gretsch's dark horses: Are the new $279.99 Jim Dandy Deltoluxe guitars the most exciting new acoustic/electric hybrids around?

Gretsch Deltoluxe
(Image credit: Gretsch)

The Gretsch Jim Dandy line has represented an appealing affordable guitar option in the acoustic world for some time now, but the company has always been keen to push the perceptions of what an acoustic guitar can sound like. 

A decade ago it was putting a Bigsby and humbucker on the G5034TFT Rancher to delighted and bemused reactions. But I love its willingness to push acoustic guitars into electric tonality in ways other makers don't – and the new trio of Jim Dandy Deltoluxe could be its best attempt yet.

Gretsch Deltoluxe

Gretsch Deltoluxe Parlour (Image credit: Gretsch)

They're a refined and expanded relaunch of sorts – similar to the Gin Rickey model from a few years back. First up the Concert, Dreadnought and Parlor Deltoluxe models are all $279.99/£259.99 (and even less from Thomann) – so automatically they've got my attention. The fact Gretsch has come out of the gates with three different shapes is also great to see, widening the potential appeal further.

So what do you get? With a laminate top, back and sides, plus walnut fingerboard and nato neck, the emphasis seems to be on the electric side of things rather than maxing structural spec value unplugged. They certainly look great – a satin Black Top finish, torte and gold combo that's classy. 

Gretsch Deltoluxe Concert

(Image credit: Gretsch)

But the eye is also drawn to the soundhole pickup – nicely linking up with the tortoiseshell look of the pickguard and something rarely seen on acoustic guitars as a stock feature and more of an aftermarket option. Even then, it's usually something from LR Baggs or Fishman that's designed for traditional acoustic amplified sounds. This pickup, well it looks like something more electric and DeArmond-like.

It sounds it too. Check out the Andertons video above with the new Jim Dandy line – including purely acoustic guitar models that also represent tempting value. The 24.5" scale Parlor Deltoluxe is much more edgy, overdriven and magnetic in an electric way in the hands of the talented Ben Smith and his delta blues-style playing.  I'd wager it could also be appealing for those who appreciated the sound of Kurt Cobain's DeArmond-loaded 1959 Martin D18E on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged. 

Gretsch Deltoluxe Concert

The Gretsch Deltoluxe Concert – all three models feature a 12" radius fingerboard with a C-shape neck  (Image credit: Gretsch)

While the Parlor looks a fun little model for the house and stage, with the Concert a middle-ground, I really like the slop-shouldered approach Gretsch has taken with the dreadnought that looks a little more J-45 than I was expecting from the brand. 

I'm looking forward to investigating one further, and it's actually something I wish I'd had as an option when I was playing in an acoustic rock band with a drummer. For the price, it would have been a very viable choice indeed. 

In the meantime you can check out the Gretsch Deltoluxe and other new Jim Dandy models at Andertons, Sweetwater and  Thomann 

Gretsch Deltoluxe pickup

(Image credit: Gretsch)

You can also buy a version of the Gretsch Deltoluxe pickup separately to retrofit to your existing acoustic from Thomann and Andertons 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.