"A small guitar – with useful depths": Gretsch Jim Dandy Deltoluxe Parlor acoustic guitar review

Short on scale and price with an electric bonus

  • £279
  • $279.99
GRETSCH JIM DANDY CONCERT DELTOLUXE
(Image: © Gretsch Guitars)

MusicRadar Verdict

MusicRadar verdict: A surprising little guitar that really takes on a whole new level of value when it's plugged into effects – and it looks good doing it too!

Pros

  • +

    Pickup is great for combining acoustic guitar and pedals

  • +

    Looks good

  • +

    Affordable

Cons

  • -

    Not the best in class when it comes to unplugged sound

  • -

    No second strap button

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Gretsch Jim Dandy Deltoluxe Parlor : What is it?

GRETSCH JIM DANDY CONCERT DELTOLUXE

(Image credit: Gretsch Guitars)

Gretsch has really flown the flag high for making its electric guitars more accessible in the last decade; the Electromatic and Streamliner ranges give players friendlier prices in exchange for much of the core values the brand offers further up the spec tree. Namely, extremely retro cool guitars (many with Bigsbys) and pickups that help them thrive as versatile and alternative workhorses. On the acoustic side things are a bit different. 

Like Fender, Gretch doesn’t sell premium spec flat top US-made acoustic guitars like Martin and Taylor. Its G5034TFT Rancher with Fideli'Tron pickups and a Bigsby tops out the line at $999.99. Yes, Gretsch makes an acoustic with an electric humbucker and a Bigsby. 

But there’s plenty of Rancher options with piezos, followed by non-electro Jim Dandy models at $189.99. This falls somewhere between the worlds with its single-coil soundhole pickup, but the affordable build of its siblings.

That means it has the laminate sapele top, back and sides of the Dandy range. A laminate top in 2024 may feel slightly surprising at a time when solid Sitka spruce examples are fairly standard but at this price point, less so. It helps keep the guitar light and ‘sturdy’ but few would argue its a preferable choice to solid wood when the vibration of the top needs every help it can get. Still, let's not be hasty. 

Gretsch Jim Dandy Deltoluxe Parlor: Performance and verdict

Gretsch Deltoluxe Concert

(Image credit: Gretsch)

This Deltoluxe looks good; the Black Top semi-gloss body and nato neck finish look far more satin than its name implies to me and the trade-off of the sleek aesthetic is that it will readily pick up fingerprints as a result. The tortoiseshell-coloured binding is a lovely touch, with the matching scratchplate and pickup inlay really tying things together, like Jeff Lebowski’s rug.

The Deltoluxe soundhole pickup – with a slightly different inlay design featuring less tortoiseshell – is available separately for $89.99. So the $279.99 pricing here checks out considering a non-acoustic Jim Dandy will set you back $189.99. But you can’t buy one of those in this Black finish to achieve that perfect match. 

Gretsch Deltoluxe pickup

A version of the Deltoluxe pickup is available separately  (Image credit: Gretsch)

This model is also available in a larger-bodied 24.75”-scale Dreadnought and Concert versions but I’m looking at the smaller 24”-scale Parlor here. And it really does feel small – more like the 23.5” of my Taylor GS Mini than I expected.

Unlike that pricier acoustic guitar, the Dandy is making no attempts to warp our preconceptions in terms of output. It has the boxy alt-folk character to it that has tempted some players to mod their Dandy guitars with rubber bridges for the full lo-fi experience. And it may appeal to players out there, but I’m very much aware that I’m playing a cheaper acoustic. And honestly, I’ve played better all-rounders on an unplugged level than this for similar money as a Jim Dandy non-electro example – Fender’s own CD-60S being one. However…

GRETSCH JIM DANDY CONCERT DELTOLUXE

(Image credit: Gretsch Guitars)

This is a smaller guitar with a specific aesthetic. Its charms are undeniable as a handy house guitar that’s actually a nice accompaniment for vocals. And solid top specs be damned – it resonates pretty well. It’s definitely an appealing size for younger players too – feeling much less like an obstacle compared to a full-size acoustic, and I think it could aid the process of bonding with the instrument for a newcomer.

The satin feel of the neck (or semi-gloss if you listen to Gretsch) also helps on the comfort side, and after a little truss rod tweak the action is reassuringly low enough to make this an enjoyable guitar to play. I found myself really warming to it as a go-to guitar in the home, and as that’s where I do most of my playing, the asking price seems all the more agreeable. With my kids running about on weekends and evenings, a Martin no longer seems a practical option for me! 

GRETSCH JIM DANDY CONCERT DELTOLUXE

(Image credit: Gretsch Guitars)

Fingerstyle on this guitar unsurprisingly brings out as much warmth as the low-end offers, and with a pick things are upper-mid leaning. But it feels and sounds like the guitar it is; a small parlor. It's plugged in that the Deltoluxe gets to show what more it could be.

Piezos are something we guitarists often have to tolerate and shape to a compromised liking. Things have got a lot better in the lower end of the market but there’s always this sense of a trade-off with your sound. The kind of pickup on the Jim Dandy Deltoluxe is not a piezo, it is essentially the kind of magnetic design you find on electric guitars, and here it’s inspired by the DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1000 – a still-available option that’s been used on Guild archtops since the ‘50s. So the impression is something that will allow this acoustic to blur the acoustic and electric lines somewhat.  

Plugged into a PA it’s warmer than you might imagine – bringing a new dimension and a more muted upper range to the Dandy experience. It’s certainly pleasing and could be a real asset for solo performers, but it might need some EQ shaping to cut through. Let’s bring out the pedalboard and see what happens! 

Line 6 HX One

(Image credit: Line 6)

I like the concept of bringing an acoustic guitar to an electric rig for practical reasons and the Deltoluxe magnetic pickup feels right at home as I put it through various modulations and analogue delay sounds I throw at it

It soon makes a lot of sense. Using a Universal Audio UAFX Dream ‘65 pedal as my amp I can dial in the right amount of treble cut, and throw on some spring reverb. I like the concept of bringing an acoustic guitar to an electric rig for practical reasons and the Deltoluxe magnetic pickup feels right at home as I put it through various modulations and analogue delay sounds I throw at it. 

There's resence and weight behind notes without being harsh – this guitar takes on a whole new meaning and sounds edgy and driven under some light gain from my Wampler Tumnus, where a piezo will never sound quite right

GRETSCH JIM DANDY CONCERT DELTOLUXE

(Image credit: Gretsch Guitars)

Feedback will be more of a risk than say, Fender’s much more expensive Acoustasonic guitars, but I actually cut a soundhole cover in two to fill the gaps around my Taylor GS Mini’s aftermarket soundhole pickup and played gigs with a drummer just fine. I’d have been more than happy to have taken this out to those shows too.  

So, a small guitar – with useful depths. It’s a shame there’s no second strap button for such a giggable guitar but that can be addressed. And with the amount of people with pedals out there in the market for a home picker and some inspiration, I’d say the potential appeal here is wide. 

MusicRadar verdict: A surprising little guitar that really takes on a whole new level of value when it's plugged into effects – and it looks good doing it too! 

Gretsch Jim Dandy Deltoluxe Parlor: Hands-on videos

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Gretsch Jim Dandy Deltoluxe Parlor: Specifications

GRETSCH JIM DANDY CONCERT DELTOLUXE

(Image credit: Gretsch Guitars)
  • BODY: Laminated sapele, X-bracing 
  • NECK: Nato, C-shape 
  • SCALE: 24"
  • FINGERBOARD: Walnut
  • FRETS: 18 (12 to body), Gretsch Vintage-size
  • PICKUP: Gretsch Deltoluxe Soundhole Pickup
  • HARDWARE: Gretsch open-gear die-cast tuning machines, walnut bridge with compensated saddle
  • FINISH OPTIONS: Semi-gloss Black Top
  • CASE: Not included 
  • CONTACT: Gretsch
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.