In this Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy review we’re going to delve into the world of parlor guitars. Gretsch, being synonymous with higher end guitars, piqued my interest with the Jim Dandy.
I wanted to see how a $169 guitar would shape up as a beginners guitar. There’s a lot of surprises with this guitar, although I shouldn’t be surprised given Gretsch’s reputation. Let’s find out more.
Overview of Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy
The G9500 is a parlor guitar, meaning it’s a little smaller than your standard acoustic guitar. It’s 3/4 scale, meaning it’s 3/4 the size of the standard guitar. You don’t get the bass you’d find in a standard or juggernaut design, but you do get good punch and twang.
The guitar is made from Agathis, a tonewood similar to basswood. It’s commonly found in lower end guitars. Agathis is said to be weak at providing sustain, however the G9500 somehow subverts that, providing decent natural sustain. The G9500 doesn’t have a solid top, which isn’t a surprise given the price point, however the tone and the feel stands out from other beginners guitars.
There’s no cutaway, so you won’t be doing much at the higher register, but most people who opt for this guitar won’t have much interest in that anyway. The finish on the Jim Dandy is semi-gloss, but it’s probably better described as semi-matt. The matt effect is much more noticeable. There’s white binding around the body, giving it extra style points.
The guitar has x-bracing, which helps to deliver some of the punch. The neck is a “C” shaped profile, which although not that slim is still comfortable to play. The fingerboard radius is 12″ so it’s reasonably flat, making it a little more comfortable on your fretting hand.
The neck thickness is important. If you’re looking for a 3/4 scale guitar for a child, just bear in mind that the neck isn’t slimmer than a standard full scale guitar. There are 18 frets in total, although only 12 frets accessible until you get to the body of the guitar.
The frets are “vintage style”, which means they’re narrower than the medium or medium jumbo frets found on most modern guitars. Vintage frets are good for playing chords and make playing barre chords easier.
They’re not great for string bending, but that’s probably not a prerogative of someone buying this guitar. If you’re a beginner you won’t notice the change from medium or medium jumbo frets, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
The fingerboard is made from Rosewood, which is exceptional in a guitar at this price point. Rosewood is increasingly being reserved for higher end guitars due to it’s conservation status, so finding on the Jim Dandy is a very pleasant surprise.
The frets are marked out by rather large pearloid dot inlays. The neck material is Nato, which is a cheaper alternative to mahogany. It’s widely used in Gretsch and Epiphone guitars. The headstock is the classic Gretsch 1950’s style, with the classic Gretsch logo and “Jim Dandy” emblazoned in vintage style.
Some compromises have been made on the nut, which is made of plastic. That’s to keep costs down and is often an area designers compromise on. You can have the nut swapped out to something a little better, such as graph tech. Your local guitar shop will probably be able to help you with that.
Uncharacteristically for a guitar at this price point, you can adjust the action via the Truss Rod adjustment. The guitar comes with a hex wrench (some will know it as an Allen Key). Again your local music store will be able to help you with adjustments if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
Tuning is handled by some very vintage looking open back, geared tuning machines. These can feel a little tight, but they’re solid and hold the guitar in tune well. There’s a chrome finish to the hardware back here too.
Moving back to the other end of the guitar we find a Rosewood bridge. Rosewood is a great solid wood to use for the bridge and it’s again a surprise that they haven’t gone for a cheaper alternative here.
Another unusual feature is that the bridge is string through, rather than using pegs to anchor the strings in place. It makes for a cleaner design and plays well into the overall vintage feel of the Jim Dandy.
The guitar comes with a set of D’Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze 12 gauge strings. These are pretty heavy, but give them a try, they’re decent quality strings. If you find they’re a little heavy going for you, swap them out for a gauge more suited to you.
As you can see in the image above, there’s a rather fetching pick guard, complete with a vintage styled “G”, found on all Gretsch guitars. Not only does it add a nice contrast to the sunburst wood, it protects the finish of the body.
So how does the Jim Dandy sound? Well it doesn’t have the bass that you’d get from a standard or juggernaut guitar, but it does have a great plucky punch and a nice twang to it. It’s great from vintage styles, and a good guitar for blues styles.
More than that, it’s just a great guitar to have around the house. If you’re sitting in the lounge and want to practice, the 3/4 scale of the Jim Dandy is perfect to noodle around with, without needing to go to your practice space.
The Jim Dandy is also a great choice for those who travel but still want to be able to practice. Again the 3/4 scale makes it a very portable guitar. It’s not one for stage performers, although you could put a set of pickups in. I think it more suitable as a practice guitar.
It’s definitely a great guitar for beginners. In terms of production, there’s a great finish to the frets, with no discernible sharp edges. The guitar usually comes well set up right out of the box, so you can just get on and play. Don’t just take my word for it.
I’m overwhelmed by the quality of the guitar for the price. But then in my experience I’d expect nothing less from Gretsch, a company that’s synonymous with quality. Here are the best bits:
- Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge
- Great For Casual Practice
- Outstanding Value For Money
Of course, not everything is perfect. There are a few things that make this guitar impractical for some guitarists. Here are some things to consider:
- Plastic Nut Material
- Not Good For Bass
- Tuning Machines A Little Tight
The G9500 Jim Dandy is a great choice for those just starting out, or for those who want a guitar that’s suitable to pick up and play casually. One of the most outstanding things about the G9500 is the value versus quality. Gretsch are synonymous with quality, but to able to produce a quality guitar for $169 is frankly wizardry.
The Rosewood bridge gives it a strong foundation with the Rosewood fingerboard ensuring a quality tone. The vintage styling is a nice bonus and again makes the guitar look as if it should be more expensive. If you’re not specifically looking full scale guitar then the G9500 has to be a serious contender.
If you’re looking for something else be sure to check out my Acoustic Guitar page. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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