Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

  1. #1

    Default What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    Hello all,

    My father passed away this past March, and I inherited his mandolin. My dad was a fantastic guitar player, and he had many guitars but he bought this mandolin at a yard sale a few years back. I decided to start learning how to play.

    It's a Gretsch New Yorker G9320. It's an A-style with f-holes. After playing it for a while, I realized it hadn't really been set up properly, so I took it to a local Luthier recommended to me by a friend (David Strait, Boiling Springs, PA) who replaced the plastic nut with a bone one, made sure the bridge was fitted properly, etc.

    Mr. Strait's price was reasonable -- a bit over $200 -- and given that the instrument itself was free, I am more than pleased with the mandolin based on my limited experience. The tuners hold their tune well. Before the setup , I found pressing strings to the first fret to be very hard, but that's all fixed now. I like the tone it makes, and I'm having fun working through Brad Laird's lessons.

    My question is: how does this mandolin compare to others? I thought I read somewhere that the neck is thicker than normal. Is that true?

    Part of the reason I'm asking is that I just learned about the Northfield Calhoun flat top, and it sounds like a really good mandolin. It's billed as being easy to play, and geared toward beginner players. What about it would make it easy to play compared to an A-style like I have?

    So, I'm interested in any thoughts Cafe members have on Gretsch mandos like I have and how they might compare to something like the Northfield Calhoun.

    Thanks,
    -Drew

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,286

    Default Re: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    They’re really two very different instruments. The Gretsch is a ~$200 archtop built in an overseas factory and cuts cost through labor and materials (laminate back and sides). The Northfield is an $800 flattop built in a domestic shop and controls prices by simplified construction methods (flattops are less labor-intensive than archtops). Most would take the Northfield over the Gretsch, but it’s also roughly four times the cost.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  3. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    4,091

    Default Re: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    Since the Gretsch is well set up it won’t hamper your progression and is perfectly acceptable as a starter (and later “beater” when you upgrade). The Gretsch mandolins from recent years are similar to other 150-250 dollar mandos. Savannah and The Loar’s Honey Creek offerings pop into mind, and they definitely have their fans. The Calhoun (or Flatiron 1N if you see one for sale used) are much higher quality instruments and will sound very different (flat top, oval hole). They’re great mandolins for everything but bluegrass (you just don’t get the chop a carved top F hole instrument gives you).

    I’ll never try to talk you out of another mandolin, but you’ll develop preferences as you progress that you may not know/understand presently. A flat top would be a nice quality upgrade and a different voice, but the tone may not be for you, just depends on what you want to play.

    And, welcome to the obsession!

  5. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to CES For This Useful Post:


  6. #4

    Default Re: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    Thank you both for the kind responses. I'm in no hurry to get a new mandolin. I'm mostly trying to learn about some of the differences people describe among different types of mandolins.

    For instance, some people describe the flat iron, oval hole mando's as being easy to play. What makes them easy to play? Are they easier than the arched top f hole a style that I have? If so, why?

    The set up made a real difference on my Gretsch and I don't feel any inherent handicap as I work through my lessons.

    Thanks,
    Drew

  7. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,603

    Default Re: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    The Gretsch New Yorker G9320 mandolin is a decent lower-mid-range mandolin, with a solid, heat-pressed spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard. It retailed in the $250-325 range. Cafe opinion was that it was OK for the price.

    You paid about the used retail price to get it set up, and get a new, better nut. As stated above, it could be a decent student instrument, properly set up. If you reach the point you want to upgrade, you could get a trade-in allowance out of it.

    "Easy to play" usually refers to a mandolin that's well-set-up, rather than to the basic design -- the "action" (string height) is adjusted so it's easy to fret, the tuners work dependably, the bridge is properly located for accurate intonation. The "pancake" mandolins you're asking about often have a slightly shorter scale, meaning the frets are closer together, reducing "finger stretches." Not a huge difference, but noticeable. Other variables affecting playing ease include neck shape, usually a matter of individual preference, weight and balance -- "pancakes" are generally lighter -- and others not related to the instrument's construction, such as string gauges.

    After a few months of playing your mandolin -- and perhaps trying out others to which you can get access -- you may have a better idea of what you like and don't like in an instrument. Then you can search of one that meets your needs and preferences.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  8. The following members say thank you to allenhopkins for this post:


  9. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,286

    Default Re: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lufbery View Post
    For instance, some people describe the flat iron, oval hole mando's as being easy to play. What makes them easy to play? Are they easier than the arched top f hole a style that I have? If so, why?
    The only variable that I can imagine is that flattops are general lighter built (as Allen noted) and therefore lighter strung (typically with medium-lights).
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  10. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  11. #7

    Default Re: What can you tell me about the Gretsch New Yorker?

    Great information, and once again, thanks for the thorough responses!

  12. The following members say thank you to Lufbery for this post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •