Gretsch Jim Dandy

Published on 15 February 2024

 

How cool are Gretsch’s Jim Dandy guitars?

From perhaps the most stylish guitar brand on the planet comes a range of affordable, super-cool and super-fun acoustic guitars. The Gretsch Jim Dandy range has been refreshed for 2024, so I felt it was high time we took a lil’ look at the models.

Care to join me?

 

Contents

Gretsch Acoustic Guitars

Who is Jim Dandy?

The Range

Playing the Jim Dandy Range

Deltoluxe

Guitars for Everybody

 

Gretsch Acoustic Guitars

Gretsch have carved out their own unique niche within the world of guitars. Obviously, the gobsmacking good looks of their hollowbody electric guitars put them on the map, but there’s a sound and a sensibility to the brand that fans love. F-holes, Bigsby tremolos, Art Deco stylings, an inimitable sound and an attitude that is very ‘rock n roll’ all play a part in the appeal of Gretsch electric guitars.

The same is largely true of the brand’s acoustics, too. There’s a wonderful eccentricity to Gretsch that plays particularly well on their acoustics: what other brand fixes a functioning tremolo unit to the top of a dreadnought? Or indeed, who uses full-on Fitertron pickups on acoustic guitars? Gretsch definitely do things their way, and that makes the brand all the more fascinating, not to mention fun.

 

Who is Jim Dandy?

This all leads us to the Jim Dandy range of acoustic guitars. Who was Jim Dandy, anyway? Which mysterious country band from the past did he emerge from, to put his name to these Gretsches? What music outlaw goes by the name of ‘Jim Dandy’?

Well, sorry to disappoint you, but there ain't no such person as Jim Dandy. He never existed! In fact, the term ‘Jim Dandy’ is a mid-nineteenth century slang for anything that’s really good or nice. ‘Say, that new car of yours is a real Jim-Dandy!’

So there you have it! It just means really nice, which is appropriate for this range of guitars!

 

The Range

The Gretsch Jim Dandy range comprises a number of smaller-bodied acoustic guitars, all of which - even the ‘dreadnought’ - are smaller than your average dreadnought. The designs are deliberately retro, calling to mind lots of mid-century and even pre-war styles. They are extremely cool looking, with contrast binding, specially cut pickguards and other details that really sell the vibe.

So, the body shapes include Parlor, Concert and Dreadnought, though remember I mentioned that the dreadnought is not your typical Martin-style creation at all! What we have are a trio of smaller bodied acoustics, all made from laminate woods and featuring X-bracing. There are two finishes available - Rex Burst and Fronter Stain - and interestingly, the type of laminated wood depends on the finish you choose!

Indeed, irrespective of the body shape, Jim Dandies finished in Frontier Stain will be made from laminated Sapele, and those finished in Rex-Burst are made from laminated Basswood.

Otherwise, the build is pretty much the same throughout the range, apart from the shape, of course! Here’s a quick spec rundown for you:

  • Laminated top, back & sides (basswood or sapele, depending on finish)
  • C shaped neck profile
  • 24.75” scale length (24” for Parlor models)
  • X bracing
  • Painted pinstripe purfling
  • G logo on pickguard

Given the laminated nature of the construction, I wasn’t holding my breath about the resulting sound, but I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised! These guitars will never sound like D-28’s or Hummingbirds (they are about a 20th of the price, let’s remember!), but they do impart that snappy, toppy ‘Recording King’ type of sound that’s entirely appropriate for Americana and trashy blues genres. 

Think of these guitars the way you’d think of a Danelectro electric, for example: purposely cheap and chic, but with a genuinely unique sound that more expensive instruments can’t and won’t give you. For this reason, I’d say that these affordable guitars are well worth inspection from every guitarist. They’re authentic, it’s just a different type of authenticity!

 

Playing the Jim Dandy Range

The first word I have for you is ‘fun’, followed by ‘addictive’. What is it about slightly smaller acoustic guitars that makes you want to keep reaching out for them? I tried all three body sizes (some were sapele, some basswood) and had a great time with all three. I happen to like the concert model, but can’t particularly recommend it as being better than the others: they are all equally good to play on! The 24” scale length of the parlor is the main differential, and it suits the more intimate nature of the parlor style anyway, so it’s a good move on Gretsch’s part to design it that way.

Beginners will enjoy these guitars but I see lots of experienced players taking to these as well: the sounds on offer are not big and sophisticated, but they are cool and interesting, and the guitars themselves are easy to play. The larger body sizes do up the volume and low end sound, but there is definitely a ‘house style’ to the sound.

 

Deltoluxe

I’ll briefly hit on the Deltoluxe models too, since those are an important part of the Jim Dandy range. The Deltoluxe guitars are basically a further trio, all in black, of the parlor, concert and dreadnought guitars. What’s different? The addition of a soundhole pickup.

The Deltoluxe pickup - where the guitar gets its name - is a distinctly retro magnetic pickup that is pre-fitted to the soundhole, just at the end of the neck. Once again, we are not looking at cutting edge technology here, since that is very much not the point of the endeavour! The Deltoluxe follows in the footsteps of those other eccentric Gretsch acoustics I mentioned earlier, and also the likes of the Gibson J-160E beloved of John Lennon. Acoustics with magnetic pickups will always sound a certain way, and whilst it won’t give you ‘LR Baggs into an AER amp’ realism, it’s a classic and useful sound nonetheless. Again, it’s a very useful addition to your armoury.

 

Guitars for Everybody

Firstly, it’s a no brainer to recommend the Jim Dandy range of guitars to beginners. They are cheap, cool and - due to their shorter scale lengths - particularly easy to play. Also, since they have their own snappy, Bluesy sound, they justify being hung onto even when it’s time to upgrade to a more expensive guitar.

That said, these Jim Dandy models are much more than excellent beginner’s choices.

As I mentioned above, there’s a really fun, more-ish vibe to these guitars which makes them eminently pick-uppable. They have tons of character and a unique tone that justifies their inclusion in any guitar collection, no matter how up-market that collection otherwise is. I’d say there’s room in every guitarist’s rack for an instrument with a deliberately ‘downmarket’ sensibility, particularly when it’s carried off as well as the concept has been here. These Jim Dandies could be the perfect house/ideas/travelling guitar for many players, and with the cool styling and Gretsch logo, there’s still a level of gravitas attached to them, regardless of the price.

So, to wrap up: the Gretsch Jim Dandy range is cheap, cool, fun, interesting and genuinely worthwhile to musicians of all calibres. Whichever model you opt for, it won’t take the place of your J-45 or D-18, but it will proudly sit next to those guitars, whilst offering something genuinely separate and equally worthwhile.

 

Click to View our Gretsch Jim Dandy Selection

 

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About the author

Ray

Features Editor, Warehouse

I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

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