Gretsch G5622T Electromatic Review

Easily one of the prettiest guitars I have ever held in my hands!

Cost: $799.99 new, or find a better deal on Reverb.com!

Huge thanks to the whole Gretsch/Fender team for lending me this stunning semi-hollow!

Overview & Final Score: 8.3

The Gretsch Electromatic Series gives players classic Gretsch sounds and shapes in a more affordable, imported design. The G5622T may just be the best of the whole Electromatic group, with its center block design, Bigsby tremolo system, and this eye catching Walnut Stain finish with gold pickguard. These G5622T models also feature two Hilo’Tron humbuckers that can really chime and sing. The controls may seem daunting with knobs all over the place, but are actually quite simple. The 3-way selector sits right at the top of the near body wing, while a master volume sits across the way from it, on the far body wing. Above the f hole are dedicated volumes for each pickup, with a master tone knob on the other side of the f hole.

I had a ton of fun reviewing this alongside the equally vintage-inspired Harmony 8418!

Sound: 8.5

For a fraction of the price of an American-made Gretsch, their G5622T model gets pretty darn close that classic Country Gentlemen sound. While the Hilo’Tron pickups don’t maintain all the clarity that classic Filter’Tron models do, they have that same chime and Gretsch sound. They sound the best when plugged into a cranked tube amp, providing a ton of breakup and sizzle that is somewhere between a Telecaster and a Les Paul.

Plugged into the Harmony 8418 I just reviewed, I got the most authentic ’50s and ’60s guitar tones I ever have. All three pickup configurations provided plenty of output, more than expected, making fuzzed out lead riffs and punk power chords fill my whole house with sound. The neck pickup has far less clarity than other Filter’Tron style pickups I’ve played and sounded best when played with a slide. The middle and bridge positions had more clarity and jangle, letting me dial in everything from Beatles to Rancid with ease.

One of the most fun things about this guitar is the Bigsby, even if it makes changing strings a complete hassle. Bigsby’s are back in the mainstream suddenly, with tons of players putting them on old pawnshop guitars or new signature models. It really gives the guitar some added dimension, especially when you drench the guitar in reverb. You can go from surf to rockabilly to new wave so fast, I loved how many styles I could play with this plugged into my Vox AC15.

Playability: 8.0

Overall, the G5622T’s tuning stability is a bit compromised by the Bigsby, with it quickly slipping if you push the tremolo bar too far. If you ignore the vibrato bar all together, you’ll find a much more reliable guitar waiting for you. The neck feels about right for the price, maybe a bit better than expected. The 24.6″ scale length felt really comfortable, even though I’ve never really played a lot of Gretsch products before. The 22 medium jumbo frets had no sharp edges, and the neck was straight, stable, and fast. Some of the higher frets may look hard to reach, but still felt pretty easy to get to, especially with a slide.

Finish & Construction: 9.0

Gretsch’s Walnut Stain on the G5622T is killer, and the other finish options (Black, Georgia Green, and Vintage Orange) are probably equally as impressive. I can’t find any flaws on the finish or construction, even if the hardware isn’t the top shelf stuff you’d find on slightly more expensive models. It’s pretty close to perfect, with only a few overall issues throughout the whole guitar. Durability wise, the guitar seems well built and solidly put together, even if I’m always a bit skeptical of semi-hollow or hollow guitars. The tuning stability, looks, and almost noiseless pickups make it a reliable live option.

Value: 7.5

This guitar is no doubt a phenomenal six string, I really have loved playing it. Part of me still thinks it’s priced about $100 too much. With so many awesome sub-$500 on the market today, I feel like you are paying just to have “Gretsch” on the headstock. Plus, Bigsby’s are so ridiculously up-charged, that I’d rather have the guitar without one if it saves me some money. Apparently, there are only left handed models available of that version too?? It’s not a rip off and it’s a fantastic guitar, but my final thoughts are that I would only pay $700+ for this if I absolutely wanted this Gretsch guitar above all other Electromatics. I’m sad to see it go, and I went back and forth over trying to find a way to keep this thing because at the end of the day, it just feels and sounds killer!

Good For: Rockabilly, New Wave, Classic Rock

Harmony 8418 Combo Amp Review

Cost: $399.00 new from Reverb.com!

Huge thanks to Ben from BandLab Technologies for loaning me this awesome combo amp!

How it Works and Final Score: 8.5

Harmony’s recently released 8418 combo amp was one of my most anticipated amps of 2019. I’ve been dying to try it since I first saw it was available for sale last Fall. Luckily, Harmony agreed to loan me one of these 5 watt beauties for review. The 8418 is a reissue combo amp that boasts the same looks, circuitry, and construction as their original 8418 amps from decades ago. 6V6 vacuum tubes paired with an Italian-made 6″ Jensen speaker provide classic ’50s and ’60s guitar tones in an apartment friendly package. The amp has two input lines, but only one controllable parameter. A volume knob lets you go from subtle tube tones that never really get clean to Jack White-friendly crunch that never really gets distorted.

The Harmony 8418 next to a soon to be reviewed guitar in my home studio (AKA an empty bed room)

Sound: 7.5

Harmony’s 8418 provides some very interesting sonic soundscapes. It kind of sounds exactly how I imagine every amp in Dan Auerbach or Jack White’s garage sounds like, just much quieter. The tones you can produce are phenomenal but lack clear note to note definition. This should be expected though as this classic ’50 amp is meant to provide a ton of vintage vibes. It’s got an almost radio-like quality to the tone, and I mean that as a compliment!

I noticed that after the launch of the amp, the 8418 was advertised as doing two things: taking pedals great and having plenty of headroom for clear tones. First off, this amp does take effects, especially drives and fuzzes, incredibly well. You can warp the fuzzy, crackly tones from the the amp with ease through a Blues Driver or Big Muff. However, I really didn’t feel it actually had much headroom and the clean tones still retain some sizzle (which sounds great!) and lack note definition. Overall it limits the versatility of the amp to be a true practice amp unless your playing styles are limited to the blues and crunch-drenched rock. BUT, every tone you can get of this amplifier is otherwise fantastic and inspiring!

Durability & Construction: 9.0

Despite an incredibly budget friendly price, this amp boasts the original handmade construction and wiring of the first 8418s. That craftsmanship is evident and the amp not only looks awesome, but seems perfect for a bedroom or studio setting. The Tolex wrapping, compact size, and lack of complicated wiring make me think these things will last a lifetime. Sometimes it is hard to judge an amps durability in comparison to a guitar, but considering this amp isn’t likely to hit the stage soon, I’m a big fan of the job Harmony did here.

Value: 9.0

In addition to stellar vintage tones, the 8418 is also incredibly affordable. Coming in around $400, this makes the amp even more appealing for players who want a smaller combo amp to pair with their main gigging amp. In my opinion, it isn’t quite as versatile as something like a Vox AC4, but it has just as much, if not more character and magic inside. Overall, Harmony knocked it out of the park with this one and perhaps even I’m being too hard on this little amp. Check out the 8418 soon as they are only a limited edition reissue!

Boss CH-1 Chorus Pedal Review

Our first review of 2020, but does the popular chorus pedal live up to its popularity?

Cost: $119.99 new, or find one cheaper HERE from Reverb.com

How it Works and Final Score: 8.5

The Boss CH-1 Super Chorus is one of the most popular and reliable guitar pedals on the market. Built incredibly tough and resilient, like many Boss foot pedals, the CH-1 features 4 controllable parameters. Effect level controls the volume of the chorus effect while the EQ controls the high/low frequency contrast in your signal. Rate predictably controls the speed of the modulation, going from subtle to swirling chorus in no time. Lastly, the depth control allows you to shape the intensity of the chorus effect. Even better, the pedal has both mono and stereo outputs for shaping your tone through your live or studio rig.

Sound: 8.0

The Boss CH-1 certainly didn’t disappoint once I plugged it in. However, it certainly feels like a “safe” pedal, in the sense that it provides so many classic chorus tones, without the ability to descend into true modulation mayhem the way some newer, more pricey chorus pedals would. Everything from The Police to The Cult and even jazz and funk tones pour out of this pedal with a few turns of the dial. While I didn’t feel the EQ knob does much to drastically vary the tones, the depth, rate, and effect level controls give you a wide range of sounds.

Most importantly, the CH-1 is incredibly clear. The pedal adds all that muscle and harmony to your guitar tone without losing notes in chords or the full bodied tone of each note in a guitar solo. The CH-1’s ability to go from warm to cold at a moment’s notice is inspiring, even if it is limited in scope. For rock, jazz, or country players, the CH-1 is a perfect pedalboard partner, for more experimental players in the indie or shoegaze arena, perhaps looks elsewhere.

The Super Chorus has taken a place on my no-thrills pedal board.

Durability: 9.5

Just like any Boss pedal, this one deserves an almost perfect score. This pedals are simply built to last, which makes them that much more attractive to me. I love knowing that having this and DS-1 on my pedalboard means they will work today, tomorrow, and probably twenty years from now. The CH-1 feels exactly like every other Boss pedal I’ve played and I shouldn’t even have to say much more on this.

Value: 8.0

Value was a bit harder to judge for the CH-1 than the durability was. The $119.99 price of a new pedal seems a bit heavy for such a mass produced, simple chorus pedal, especially when many great Boss pedals like the DS-1 or Blues Driver are under $100. However, they can be found much cheaper used, in the $50-60 range. For the reliability and quality, “safe” tones, the CH-1 is hard to beat at that price point. For someone like me who uses chorus just to add a little thickness or dimension to their tone, there probably isn’t a better option at this price, as it beats out the vastly smaller and cheaper Ammoon pedal. Overall, it generally lives up to all the hype and popularity, though I wish it had just a bit more madness to it.

Where it all started just a short year ago…

Happy New Year!!

January and February 2020 are about to have more guitar reviews than all of last year, so now is a good time to make sure you follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated! And stay tuned for our new Instagram page coming up the pipeline.

New reviews coming soon for products from Gretsch, Towner USA, Goldfinch Guitars, Schecter Guitar Research, Mooer, Harmony, and many many more!

Harley Benton DC – Junior Guitar Review

Credit: Harley Benton

Cost: $184.00, from Thomannmusic.com

Overview and Final Score: 8.0

If you grew up a fan of The Clash like I did than a Les Paul Doublecut Junior with one dog ear P90 is like the holy grail of guitars. I even tried to turn my very nice, double P90 Les Paul Special into one with a decent amount of success (I always missed the double horn look though).

So needless to say, I was pretty pumped when Harley Benton announced they would be releasing a super affordable, sub-$200 version of the classic guitar model. The Mahogany body is paired with a set-in Mahogany neck and Amaranth fretboard that feels slim and comfortable. A single Roswell P90D Alnico-5 dog ear provides that classic, single pickup appearance that many have come to know and love. One important caveat though, the TV Yellow they advertise is almost more of a mustard color, which looks great, but simply isn’t that same, classic Gibson yellow you may be looking for.

Other great features on the Harley Benton DC-Junior include 22 medium-jumbo frets, simple volume and tone knobs, and the classic wrap-around style bridge. The C-shaped neck profile features simple dot inlays and the whole thing comes strung with some quality D’Addario EXL110’s.

There she is, in all her dirty mustard glory…

Sound: 7.5

Right off the bat one weird thing stuck out to me: this guitar sounds great but it sounds a lot like the bridge pickup of a Fender Telecaster. Now, that’s certainly a compliment as it sounded like a really nice Fender Telecaster, but the P90 has a surprising amount of slap and spank, making it excellent for chick-n-picking and country music. Even better, you could really shape the sound with the volume and tone pots, which had shockingly good sweep for such an affordable guitar.

While I was overall super impressed with the tones and sounds of the Harley Benton DC-Junior, I was also a bit disappointed that it didn’t really sound like that mid-heavy tone that made Les Paul Juniors so popular. The tones became a lot more rounder once I layered on the right amounts of distortion and overdrive and rolled the tone knob down. It just took some finding to get a real “authentic” DC Junior tone. However, did the guitar sound great? Hell yes and it’s a joy to play, so I can’t really knock it too much, just don’t expect this to replace a real deal Gibson.

Playability: 8

The slim Mahogany neck on this DC Junior is crazy comfortable and really fast. Those medium jumbo frets feel great, and the setup and action was great right out of the box. Overall, the playability is top shelf, only held back a little by the okay tuners. The tuning stability was by no means bad, but I have the say the tuners are probably the only weak spot in my mind. If you were to upgrade these to some type of locking tuners or more traditional Grovers, you’d have one hell of a guitar that sounds way closer to being $500+ than $100+. But, the DC-Junior has a fast, slim neck and the wrap around tail piece gives the strings a distinctly different feel, almost slinkier, than my Gibson Les Paul with the stop bar tailpiece set up.

Finish & Construction: 8

I had to take a few points off here mainly for false advertising. It’s not TV Yellow, it’s Dirty Mustard (which they even say once you read the guitar’s specs). Really it’s not a big deal, and I mostly knocked a little something off for the lower quality tuners used to cut costs. But overall, this guitar is about $180 and feels great, don’t over think it. Pretty much all the construction and wiring seems to be in great shape. Another obvious issue is that like with many big single coils/P90’s, this guitar has a ton of buzz. It’s not a deal breaker, and it’s even common on many Gibson’s with P90s, but it is something to consider.

Value: 8.5

For just under $200 the Harley Benton DC-Junior is a steal. This guitar is comfortable, fun, and looks great. Even better, it’s so lightweight I can’t wait to use it in a live setting. While the sounds may stray a bit from the traditional Les Paul DC-JR expectations, it still sounds like a well above average guitar for barely more than a Squier Affinity Series model. I’m very pleased to be adding this to my collection, and I would argue that upgraded tuners and maybe a Seymour Duncan P90 would have this rivaling a newer Gibson Les Paul DC (just not a vintage one). I love this guitar, plain and simple.

2019 Electric Guitar Roundup: Ranking Every Electric We’ve Reviewed

It’s finally here, a complete ranking of everything we’ve been sent for review!

With the holidays just around the corner hopefully you’re getting a new guitar, or at least getting one for someone you care about. After the first full year of Guitars For Idiots, we’ve cycled through quite a few reviews. We’ve tried out big names like Fender or Yamaha, boutique offerings from CMG Guitars, and vintage reissues from Eastwood and Guild. Let’s take a look at the ratings, cost, and purchase options for each guitar!

If you need a refresher, here is how we rate and review guitars! New guitars will be added as they are reviewed before the end of 2019 so check back to see where they fit in!

The Rules: Only guitars that you can purchase new from the manufacturer or retailers are ranked here. Click on each guitar to get to the original review article. Also, any guitars reviewed starting Jan 1 2020 will be included in next years list.

And remember, each one of these reviews was hands on! Unlike a lot of sites who skim through other writer’s reviews and compile the scores, these are my scores after playing the guitars through my amp and pedals in my house.

Superlatives

Best Overall: Guild Jetstar in Seafoam Green Buy Here

Best $500 and Under Option: Chapman ML1 Modern V2 in Lunar Buy Here

Best $1000 and Over Option: Fender Ultra Stratocaster SSS in Red Plasma Burst Buy Here

Best Guitar to Use for a Mod Project: Squier Affinity Telecaster in Black Buy Here

Needs Most Improvement: Glarry GST3 in Blue Buy Here

OVERALL RANKINGS

ModelRatingCostFind Your Own
Guild Jetstar
9.7$599.00From Reverb.com
Fender Ultra Stratocaster
9.5$1999.99From Reverb.com
Chapman ML1 Modern V2
9.4$499.00From Reverb.com
CMG Guitars Ashlee
9.2$1149.99From CMGguitars.com
Yamaha Revstar RS420
9.2$499.99From Reverb.com
DeMont Guitars Goldfinch
8.9$999.00From DeMontGuitars.com
Aria Retro-1532
8.3$299.00From AriaGuitarsGlobal.com
Eastwood Sidejack Pro JM
8.2$1099.00From Reverb.com
Xaviere PRO845
8.1$229.00From GFS.com
Harley Benton DC-Junior
8.0$184.00From Thomman
Dean Modern 24
7.8$649.00From Reverb.com
Aria DM-01
7.1$329.00From AriaGuitarsGlobal.com
Epiphone SG Special
6.4$179.99From Reverb.com
Squier 2019 Affinity Telecaster
6.0$199.99From Reverb.com
Donner DST-100W
5.4$129.00From Amazon.com
Glarry GST3
3.9$56.99From Amazon.com
A graphic showing the ratings for each guitar versus the price of each guitar, there is a noticeably large clump in the $500-$1000 area that represent great value!

What other guitars do you want to see us review?

What was your favorite guitar we reviewed this year?

Disagree on a score? Let me know in the comments.

DeMont Goldfinch Electric Guitar Review

Courtesy of DeMontGuitars.com

Cost: $999.00 for this model, but check out options on their site or find one on Reverb.com!

Overview and Final Score: 8.9

The DeMont Goldfinch caught my eye the minute it popped up on my screen. The distinctive finch pickguard, offset body, and gold foil pickups make it one of the most unique guitars I’ve reviewed all year. The Goldfinch is made of Silver Poplar with a Walnut top paired to a Quarter Sewn Rock Maple neck. The Walnut fretboard holds 22 frets on a 25.5″ scale length build. All lumber is milled, dried, and cut by the crew over at DeMont, giving you a truly American-made boutique guitar for a surprisingly not-boutique price. The two pickups are controlled by a blend knob, which takes the place of a traditional 3-way selector switch, by letting you roll on different mixes of the two pickups’ signal in addition to just neck, bridge, or an even split. The two gold foil pickups are microphonic to mimic the classic, vintage guitars produced in Chicago in the ’60s. Lastly, volume and tone controls round out this inspiring take on the electric guitar.

A close up with the stunning Goldfinch I was sent!

Sound: 9.5

The pickups are probably the best feature on the Goldfinch, giving you crazy fun sounds to mess around with. First off, the two gold foil pickups are warm, buzzy, and pretty quiet even though they are microphonic. The hand wound DeMont pickups provide a lot of sustain and chime, but really shine with a distortion or fuzz pedal cranked up. Don’t get me wrong, the clean sounds are great, clear and rich, with note to note clarity ringing out in chords. But with fuzz, this instantly takes you to the Black Keys/White Stripes world. Even better, you can get some of those delta blues tones that inspired those two bands with ease. The pickups sing and snarl and hiss with aggression but complete clarity.

The blend knob deserves a particular shout out too. You can mix and match so many tones that are not available on other guitars by controlling the signal blend between the two pickups. Of course you can get the 3 classic sounds, neck, bridge, and both together. But you can really dial in everything from warm, chime with heightened bass response to straight up round, neck tones. Using the other two knobs make it borderline limitless when it comes to tone shaping and a lot of fun to play. Fans of simplicity shouldn’t be scared either, pretty much everything sounds good if you don’t want to go searching for tones.

Playability: 8.5

The tuning stability on the Goldfinch seems phenomenal so far, with note bends and hard picking attack doing little to throw it out of pitch. The neck looks and feels great, but I have to say the gloss finish felt a little sticky, even though it seems nicely applied and thin. Perhaps it just needs to be worn in a bit, but it wasn’t a huge deal and more personal preference. I love the look of the vintage, covered bridge, but it does add a few seconds to string changing, so if you’re really picky about that take notice. Otherwise, there are no really playability flaws, the neck is smooth and fast, and I really love how easy it is to access the higher frets.

Finish & Construction: 9

The clear finish they put on these guitars is perfect because the wood they use is just naturally gorgeous. The Silver Poplar and Walnut top have this beautiful, natural grain that just looks super unique, and gives the guitar a rustic look. It’s definitely a really cool looking guitar to have on your wall or in your studio that even non-musician’s would appreciate. Besides the good looks, the guitar is just built well. It’s incredibly small and light, really deceptively small from the images. But that makes it incredibly comfortable to play sitting down or standing up. The hot pickups and light weight make it especially interesting to me for live rock shows and I would love to take this on the road for a nice Black Keys cover or two. The finish looks good, everything is screwed or wired in well, and the guitar doesn’t have a ton of buzz like I thought it would.

Value: 8.5

One of the best things about this guitar is that it mixes boutique quality and really stunning design together, all without having a really inflated price tag. Most American-made guitars are thousands of dollars while most boutique American-made guitars can be $4000-$10,000 for something that’s fairly comparable to a standard Gibson or Fender. Not the Goldfinch, it is its own beast, with a unique, “pawnshop” guitar inspired sound and artistic aesthetic. This specific model is going for $999 and will be available for purchase, but others seem to range from $750 to $1000. It’s a hell of a guitar for that price, and it’s one I certainly would want to add to my collection!

Vox MV-50 AC 50-Watt Tube Head Review

The MV 50 packs a lot of AC30 tone into a small amp head!

Cost: $219.99, new but look for a deal on a new or used one on Reverb.com HERE.

How it Works and Final Score: 7.8

The Vox MV50 is an interesting and unique take on the classic Vox AC30’s chime and jangle. The 50 watt head fits in the palm of your head, but provides maximum volume thanks to the use of a Nutube in the preamp that emulates that classic tube performance. On the AC version of the MV50 you’ll find gain, master volume, and tone controls all on the front panel.

The back gets a bit more interesting, an “eco” mode switch sets the amp to automatically turn off when not used for 15 minutes. A normal standby switch is next to an interesting EQ control that has two settings, deep and flat. Deep lets you get a little extra low end when played through a smaller cabinet while flat is a more traditional signal path. You can also alternate between 50, 25, and 12.5 watts thanks to an attenuator switch on the back. Tones are in no shortage here on this solid state meets Nutube hybrid amp, plus the power supply is included! Also, there is a very convenient headphone/line jack on the back as well.

Sound: 7.5

Right off the bat, I’m surprised at how nice it sounds for such a small, almost toy-like amplifier. It does a really nice job getting that classic AC30 chime and harmonic richness, especially with the gain and volume around the 12 o’clock. This is a really good emulation of the sound for a real fraction of the price. Single coils and P90s definitely sound the best through this head, no matter what cab I used, as they really bring out the top end and brightness that the MV50 AC sets out to achieve.

Humbuckers pushed the clean tone into a pretty nicely overdriven, crunchy sound that I really liked. However, with these high output pickups I felt like the MV50 AC lost some of the chime and note to note definition you want from a Vox AC30. Regardless of pickup choice, the gain produced by that Nutube simulation just doesn’t quite get the touch sensitivity and fizzle that I love from my Vox AC15. It’s not a bad tone at all, in fact it comes far closer to tube driven crunch than most solid state amps do, it’s just not quite at the level of the Vox AC30. Therefore, I recommend it to players who absolutely can’t afford to go out and get a real deal AC15 or AC30.

Durability: 9

This is always hard to judge in the short time frame that I have gear for review, but I can’t find any type flaw or construction issue so far. The wiring seems good and the mirrored front plate material seems to be sturdy itself. However, I’m not overly familiar with Korg’s Nutube and how it holds up over time or on the road. It certainly sounds good, but Korg is known for producing pretty tough stuff, so I’m not too worried about taking this 50 watt head out on the road so far.

Value: 7

In terms of the $200 or so price tag, it’s definitely a great value. The MV50 AC sounds great, seems built to last, and supplies a ton of sound and tone in a micro package. With any head though, you have to spend money on a decent set of cabinets so you want to factor those expenses into the equation. Part of the reason I can’t give it a higher score is that I feel it really only emulates the cleaner Vox tones well, not so much the dirty, overdriven tones. And I know they make an MV50 that’s specifically for crunchier tones that is labeled the “Rock” model, but you want versatility in any amp that you’re going to rely on for live use. If this is limited to your practice amp then you might as well spend the same money and get a nice little combo like the Orange Crush 20W. Overall, the MV50 AC sounds great and costs next to nothing, but you’ll be boxed into clean chime and extra expenditures for the cabs.