If you’re ready to head back to 1930s Tennessee, then Gretsch is ready to take you there, with their vintage-inspired G9210 squareneck resonator. The American brand manage to combine affordability with a higher-end feel, leading to an instrument that’s perfect for experienced bluegrass players as much as it is beginners to lap steel playing. It’s a popular instrument, and features on our chart of the best resonators on the market, so let’s check out why it’s so admired.
The G9210 is very straightforward in its design with a classic 25” scale length non-cutaway body, made entirely of laminated mahogany with a lovely grain. It offers that timeless 1930s look and a comfortable feel. There are no screened soundholes on this model – instead Gretsch opt for traditional f-holes in the upper bout.
The mahogany stretches up into the squareneck, which is perfect for bluegrass and country playing (although a more blues-suited roundneck version, the G9200, is also available). This neck is finished with a semi-gloss and features 19 frets, marked by simple white dot inlays. The whole vintage look is completed by the 1930s Gretsch headstock with an aged pearloid finish. In all, a delightful instrument to both look at and play, showing good craftsmanship and playability out of the box.
The hardware on the G9210 keeps the quality feel going. It features Gretsch’s ‘Ampli-Sonic’ spun aluminum resonator cone and a spider bridge, with an ebony-tipped maple saddle and standard aluminum tailpiece. This is shielded by a nickel-plated coverplate with an attractive poinsettia design. On that beautiful headstock, you’ll find a set of Grover Sta-Tite die-cast tuners in a classic 3+3 configuration, while just below is a tall bone nut offering the high action that’s required for this lap steel playing. The guitar comes strung with a set of heavy-gauge D’Addario EJ42 phosphor bronze strings. Not bad at all.
So how does it sound? Pretty great to be honest! For a guitar that barely reaches $400 it has quite a high-end tone. The mahogany lends itself to a warm and woody tone, while the spider resonator gives great sustain, a real growl, and ample projection. If you can’t play one for yourself it’s worth checking out a video to hear what’s on offer, as it may just sway your decision.
If you like a few more bells and whistles, it’s worth looking elsewhere, but for fans of the traditional thirties style and sound, this sub-$500 G9210 is a real steal. There’s nothing overly fancy, but the adept build and beautiful vintage tone is worth the cash, while the headstock adds a little flair. For lap steel-style players looking for an affordable resonator, it’s hard to go wrong with this one.