Ask your grandad about his first guitar and chances are he’ll reminisce about his ol’ Gretsch Rex – a parlor guitar that was a staple for beginners in the 1930s and the decades that followed. Part of the Roots Collection, Gretsch has rereleased the Rex in the form of the G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top, which is faithful to the style this iconic acoustic is remembered for, as well as an affordable price that will make it an irresistible prospect. Let’s check it out!
First things first, the G9500 doesn’t look like a cheap guitar. Sure, it doesn’t look like a high-end model either, but for an acoustic under $200, it really impresses with its vintage-soaked design. It sports a 24” scale length non-cutaway flat top parlor body, made from laminated agathis on the top, back and sides. This is all covered in one of three cool retro color choices – Vintage Sunburst, Vintage White or Chieftan Red Burst, all with a vintage semi-gloss finish and screened white binding.
Due to its petite size, the G9500 proves a great model for beginners, players with smaller hands, children, travel and just for something compact to keep around the house/studio. The neck is equally small-hand friendly and feels great. It’s made of solid nato with a C shape and a smooth semi-gloss finish, while it’s capped with an 18-fret rosewood fretboard. For such a budget guitar, the build, fit and finish is very commendable, although the setup out of the box – as is the case with many cheap acoustics – lets it down a bit.
With such a nice style and build for under two hundred bucks, there wouldn’t be much room for electronics left in Gretsch’s budget, so the G9500 is a solely acoustic model. Still, it comes fitted with some decent hardware that enhances the reliability of this model. On the cool 1950’s Gretsch headstock, in a 3+3 configuration, you’ll find a set of open-gear die-cast tuners, which are solid enough. At the other end there’s a rosewood bridge, with a compensated saddle. Nothing spectacular here, but all reasonable for the budget price.
We come to sound and, all in all, it’s very acceptable. Due to the smaller size, the overall projection of the G9500 lacks compared to bigger guitars, but it still has a bit of punch and is great for practice and campfire performances. The overall tone is quite sweet and boxy, which is particularly good for blues fingerstyle, thirties jazz and slide guitar, although it sounds nice enough for most styles of acoustic playing.
It’s far from perfect, but you don’t expect perfection at under $200! You do expect a decent style, tone and playability though, and the G9500 Jim Dandy certainly delivers on these fronts. So, whether you’re looking for your first guitar or your fifteenth, it’s worth making a little room for this beautiful acoustic from Gretsch.