2014 Gretsch G9200 "Boxcar" Roundneck Resonator Guitar

Modern Gretsch products get a lot of love, these days -- they're cheap, well-built, look good, and usually have pretty darn-good tone. Despite the gimmicky "Boxcar" name (I don't know anyone who rides in boxcars playing a new Gretsch resonator -- it's more the college folkies hanging out on Church Street in Burlington who I've seen with them), the sales advert on these is somewhat accurate. They do take after their 1930s counterparts, specs-wise, but have some modern features that the originals mostly lack -- a "real" soundwell, truss-rodded milder V-shaped neck, big modern frets, and a better neck joint.

Modern innovation does change the sound a bit, though. The new Eastern European-made cones (this one has a Dobro-style spider bridge cone under the hood) are a little heavier which supplies a darker, huskier tone than the originals which are a bit more "open" and zingy. These are also cleaner-looking instruments with a thin, satin finish and ply bodies that use mahogany veneer to good effect -- the end result is being a subdued, "deep pumpkin orange" color to the whole instrument. The fretboard is rosewood and radiused, too, which sure beats flat and dyed-maple like the originals (for most players).

The overall specs, though, are quite similar -- with a 25" scale, 12-fret body, 1 3/4" nut width, 14 1/4" lower bout, and 3 1/2" body depth.

I will say, however, that these import instruments always need to be thoroughly setup to play correctly. On this one I had to dress the fret-ends, modify the saddles a bit, relocate the cone and properly tension the bridge to it, and install a heavier gauge of strings (it has 56w-13 mediums on it) to counterract what appears to be built-in backbow on the neck. With the mediums on, the neck is dead straight with the truss barely engaged. If one stepped-down to 12s or 11s I'm sure it'd buzz a bit near the nut.

The pearloid headstock veneer and truss-rod cover look great, don't they?

Action is set on-the-dot at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret.

 The tuners work just fine.

'Surprisingly, the endpin is rosewood.

A good, hard case comes with the guitar. These are an option when you purchase these new.

Here's a shot during setup. Note the small patches of duct-tape I use to hold the cone in place. It doesn't damp the tone any that I can hear and means that, despite rough playing and clumsy hands, that the alignment of the saddles (for good compensation) will remain true.

I've compensated the saddles for better intonation.