Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele - REVIEW

25 Sept 2021

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele - REVIEW

Ukulele review day and a return for Gretsch in only their second appearance on Got A Ukulele. This is the G9112 Resonator.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele



Gretsch are a huge name in the world of musical instruments, started in New York and with artists who play / have played them including the likes of Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, Brian Setzer and George Harrison. Those are the Gretsch guitar players though, but they have also had a line of about half a dozen ukuleles too. I looked at another Gretsch uke, the G9110 Concert back in 2018 and really rather liked it. This resonator is in the concert scale too and, in fact, is largely the same instrument, minus the traditional soundhole, using a resonator cone instead. It's also nice to have another resonator on the site, as there are not that many about really.

This is an all mahogany laminate body, double bout ukulele with a very 'old-timey' traditional look. This one comes it what they call a 'honey stain' and is an open pore satin finish. To be honest with you that just means 'a bit orangey' to me rather than anything more exotic. Compared to the much darker finish on the G9110 I must say I prefer that one and its deep, almost coffee colour. This looks a lot more like so many other mahogany laminate ukes out there, though to be fair there is a touch of grain interest here and there. It's made from two pieces on the top, back and sides, and the back is very slightly arched.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele body


Fitted into the lower bout of the instrument is a chrome covered six inch resonator cone. It's extremely similar to most other resonator covers, including the Kala KA-RES-CHR and the Sound Smith Resonator, both tenors. Like most ukulele resonators it's a single cone design with a biscuit bridge as opposed to it being a tri-cone or spider variety. It differs from the Kala and Soundsmith with the bridge arrangement. On the Kala the strings tie on to a wooden bar (which I prefer for reasons below) and on the Soundsmith you simply tie a large knot or a bead on the end and hook them into holes. This is kind of a tie bar, in that there are actually two holes per string that you thread the string through and then tie off like a normal tie bar (hence the fancy knots in the image). I actually have concerns about this arrangement (and that on the Sound Smith) as experience has shown me that unless the metalwork edges are extremely smooth, this style can easily lead to string snaps at the bridge. Before tying the strings off they run over an ovangkol biscuit 'puck' topped with a maple saddle. Like with most resonators, that is covered with a chrome bar to avoid it being knocked.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele bridge and cover


There is no other decoration to the body such as edge binding, but I must say that the finish is good, even and without any flaws. I also prefer the F hole designs on this which are closer to the Sound Smith than the Kala.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele decor


Inside is tidy enough as far as I can see. I can't get my camera in the F holes to show you. The kerfing is notched.

The neck is made from mahogany, and surprisingly in a single piece. The finish on the neck is darker than the body which jars with me for not matching, but looked at in isolation is deep brown and very pleasing on the eye. It's full satin too so not too grippy. It's relatively flat in profile at the nut too, but sadly only a very average 34mm (28mm G to A) which is not my preferred width.

That is topped with an Ovangkol fingerboard which is in only reasonable condition and needs a touch of oil (easy enough to do). The edges are not bound, rather stained so you can 'only just' see the fret ends. It has 16 of those joined at the 12th and there are no sharp edges at all. Abalone 'snowflake' fret markers face out a the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th, and 15th. Sadly one of the 12th markers has a noticeable flaw in it. They are repeated on the side with small abalone dots.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is the same headstock as on the G9110 and I love it. It's got a real vintage feel to it and I love the look of the curved sides. The Gretsch logo is inlaid in pearl and you also get extra detailing in the middle of the face. I think it looks great and love the grain on it.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele headstock


Tuners are a pleasant surprise in the form of excellent Grover 9NB gears with small black buttons. Great tuners and no complaints.

Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele tuners


Finishing the deal off are a set of Aquila strings and a really nice quality padded gig bag with the Gretsch logo embroidered on the front. And price wise this is coming in at a shade over £300 in the UK, though if you hunt around you will find some discounting.  That's a little more than the Sound Smith offering, but about on a par with Kala pricing. They are both tenors though so on that side of things, this is a little expensive. Saying that though, the Kala and Sound Smith don't come with a single piece neck, Grover tuners or a gig bag, so I think it evens it out. A fair price, let's put it that way.


Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele back


All in all the majority of my takes on this one are positive. I like the overall look, even though I think the body would be nicer in the darker vintage stain. The neck is touch scruffy on the board and too narrow for my tastes (though your mileage may vary), but otherwise I'm largely impressed. Those tuners are great, the finish is all good and it's put together well. Being a resonator it's heavier than an acoustic concert, but comes in less than that heavyweight Lanikai quilted maple concert at 710g. It balances ok too. Setup is ok, though I'd possibly adjust the nut down a little, but it's comfortable. It' a shame about that neck width for my hands though.

Sound wise, resonators are always going to come out louder than many acoustic ukes for the simple reason of that being what they are designed to do (they were developed for louder performances in the days before electricity). What I do find with resonators though is the price point can massively affect how they sound with cheaper entrants to the market sounding a bit too metallic and, almost rattly. The Kala I mention above suffered from that to my ears and I didn't wholly like it. But then not all resonators can be at the level of Beltona ukes or even more expensive Nationals.

Volume here though, whilst likely louder than a lot of acoustic concert ukuleles is not out of the park for a resonator and sounds kind of subdued. That's not a criticism as such because you will still be heard, but if you want a resonator for massive punch, this is not it. Saying all that, I rather like it for that reason! Like all resonators sustain is not massive, as they tend to have a more staccato sound.

I'm impressed with the tone though - sure it's metallic (there is a lot of metal in there), but it's not thin and reedy like I found the Kala. This actually has much more warmth that I find quite pleasant. As with all resonators I find the strummed tone a bit muddled as those higher overtones fight for space in the mix, but it works. Where it comes into its own is when fingerpicked which has a chime with warmth and decent projection. It's really rather pretty played that way and would sound great with some bluesy old time / ragtime tunes.

So all in all a positive review from me and a nice alternative contender if you are in the market for a reso. One or two small gripes and if you want top volume you may look elsewhere - but if you are looking at that resonator tone without scaring the dog, i'd put this on your shortlist.



  
 

UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Gretsch G9112 Resonator
Scale: Concert
Body: Laminate mahogany
Bridge - Ovangkol biscuit, maple saddle
Resonator diameter: 6"
Finish: Honey stain, open pore satin
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ovangkol
Frets: 16, 12 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 34mm, 28mm G to A
Tuners: Grover 9NB gears
Strings: Aquila
Extras: Gig bag
Weight: 710g
Country of origin: China
Price: Circa £300

UKULELE PROS

Great old time looks
Tidy finish in most departments
Nice headstock design
Single piece neck
Great tuners
Nice bag
Warmer sound than expected
Pretty when fingerpicked
Fair price

UKULELE CONS

Slight finish flaw in position marker
Neck needs tidying up
Neck too narrow for my tastes
Neck colour out of step with body, and body 'orange' not to my taste
Not as loud as you'd expect for a reso

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 9 out of 10
Sound - 8.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.9 out of 10

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2 comments :

  1. I just returned a SS reso and they have switched to the wood tie bar and it now comes with a violin type case but the price has gone up to $310 for the tenor and the one I got was scruffy. The Gretsch is selling for between $249 and $299 and I've found some open box/floor models in "mint" condition for $210. I'm seriously thinking about buying a Gretsch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I got one for years but I was dissiponted in the volume. I bought a better one and when I replaced the old one I found out that it was much thicker than the new one.I never saw one that thick.
    With the new one it is very very loud and metallic.
    Dick's One Man Band

    ReplyDelete

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