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Review: Gretsch Jim Dandy G9500 – Budget Parlor Guitar

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Let’s be honest – we all know that Gretsch makes fantastic guitars. I always thought that their gear is expensive, but when I saw the Gretsch Jim Dandy G9500, I realised that it’s a real bargain.

Jim Dandy has pretty much everything that you need from a parlor guitar. It’s cheap, fun to play and it features a really cool vintage aesthetic. Original pre-war guitars are extremely expensive, so having that feel for less than two hundred bucks is just awesome.

In today’s article, I’ll examine the famous G9500 model. I’m literally writing this article with this guitar next to me, so you can be sure that this post is written by an actual person – not some random AI. I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible and I won’t be afraid to mention the flaws too.

We’ll start with a sound sample to get you excited. Of course, all photos and demos below are mine.

About Gretsch Jim Dandy

The Jim Dandy is actually one of the cheapest acoustic guitars made be Gretsch. I know – you’re probably surprised. Axes made by this brand are usually quite expensive but this one is actually VERY affordable.

And since it’s pretty cheap, it’s also popular all around the world. People generally love the old-school vibe of that model, so I’m sure that they aren’t going to discontinue these guitars anytime soon.

As you can see on the photos, my model has a 2-tone sunburst color (which looks sick in real life). I’m pretty sure that Gretsch releases other colors too from time to time as a part of their limited edition. They’re dope too, but they’re usually a bit more expensive.

Body

The guitar features a compact body made of basswood. It’s a pretty lightweight type of wood so that’s a good thing. I’m sure that you wouldn’t expect any guitar of that size to be heavy though!

For those who don’t know anything about parlor guitars – it basically means that they’re smaller than regular ones. Not a huge difference, but it’s noticeable. If you’ve never used them, no problem – you’ll quickly get used to the smaller neck.

Neck

Speak of the devil! I’m a big fan of that neck (mainly because of the satin finish at the back). It’s super comfortable to play and it just makes you want to practice more and more. There’s one but though… the fingerboard was extremely dry in my case.

So here’s my advice – I’m not saying that your fretboard will be as dry as mine, but if you do experience something similar, it can be easily fixed. You just need to apply a bit of lemon oil to moisturize it and that’s it! But unfortunately it requires taking off the strings too.

Bridge & Tuners

The hardware used in that model is not bad at all, but obviously – since it’s a cheap guitar, you can’t expect it to be amazing. I’d say that tuners could be better and you may consider replacing them, but it’s not necessary. They also look cool too!

The bridge was made of walnut and it has a compensated saddle. Generally, it fits the guitar very well and just like the rest of stuff in here, it has a vintage vibe. I can’t say anything bad about it. It looks cool and it works fine – so what’s there not to like?

Build Quality

Here’s an important fact: Jim Dandy is manufactured in Indonesia. I know that some of you have mixed feelings now – in the end, the reputation of guitars from Eastern Asia isn’t the best.

I’d rate the build quality of that model as 8 out of 10. There’s a few things that could be improved. As I said before, the fretboard was dry so it needs some oil.

I also saw some reviews online where people mentioned that they had to either sand down the bridge saddle. One guy mentioned filing down two frets. It’s all pretty easy to fix, but if you don’t know anything about guitars, it may be tough.

But my Jim Dandy didn’t have these issues. I can only complain about the dry fretboard and pretty cheap tuners. And that’s pretty much it!

So summing up, G9500 isn’t ideal but considering the fact that it’s an entry-level budget guitar, that quality is actually not bad at all.

Sound Samples

I took some time and I recorded a few samples for you to hear. They all come from my full video review of Jim Dandy, so if you want to check it out – you know what to do. I played a few different styles so you’ll hear that G9500 is great not only for strumming but also for playing with fingers.

Sample 1 – Blues

Sample 2 – Strumming

Sample 3 – Folk Fingerpicking

Specifications

Time for the boring stuff! Here’s a list of full specs of that model. If you’re a nerd like me and you want to know everything (literally everything!) before the purchase, you’re going to love the table below.

BodyBasswood
NeckBasswood
Neck ProfileC
Fingerboard materialWalnut
Body width330.2 mm
Body depth98.5 mm
Nut width42.9 mm
Scale610 mm
BridgeWalnut
StringsD’Addario EJ16 .012 – 0.53
Frets18
Dimensions93 cm x 33 cm x 9.5 cm

Maintenance

Let’s imagine that you decide to get your own Gretsch Jim Dandy. How will you maintain it? Well, it’s all pretty simple.

I’d recommend:

  • oiling the fretboard
  • replacing the strings with better ones (I love Elixirs!)
  • potentially changing the tuners, but it’s not necessary and it may be expensive

You can also consider adding a pickup, but again – it all comes down to your preference.

Apart from that, maintenance should be very simple for you. Just make sure to wash your hands before playing and change the strings every couple of months.

Also, you can try using a hardshell case just to keep your axe safe from unnecessary scratches and damages. And that’s pretty much it!

Pros & Cons

For those who don’t want to read the whole article, here’s a quick summary of all advantages and disadvantages of the Gretsch Jim Dandy.

Advantages include:

  • VERY unique vintage aesthetic – it will be difficult to find a similar guitar at this price level
  • compact size makes it perfect for traveling
  • affordable price makes it great for those who don’t want to spend too much cash
  • really nice tone for both strumming and fingerpicking

On the other hand, there are a few disadvantages that mainly include:

  • build quality issues – rare, but they can occur
  • the factory strings aren’t the best, I’d recommend using a bit lighter set
  • the case is not included, so you’ll have to get it separately.

Do these cons disqualify that guitar? Absolutely not. I think that the Jim Dandy is just one-of-a-kind. It may be a bit controversial but I’d say that it’s actually underpriced. It’s crazy that you can get such a good replica of a pre-war acoustic guitar for less than $200. For me that’s a MASSIVE green flag.

Who Should Get It?

Based on my experience, I’d recommend the Jim Dandy to:

  • everyone who just wants to chill with a guitar on sunday afternoons
  • beginners who are looking for their first acoustic guitar
  • anyone who’s searching for a travel instrument
  • intermediate musicians who are looking for a very special instrument with an oldschool vibe

Since it’s great for both fingerpicking and strumming, it can be used for a lot of different genres of music. You’re into country? Great. Blues? Sure. Pop or rock? Of course! Jim Dandy can pretty much do it all.

So generally I’d say that Gretsch G9500 will be a good fit for the vast majority of guitar players. I mean it must be hard to not to like that model. It sounds good, it’s comfortable to play and it’s not overly expensive. It may sound suspicious, but it’s actually a very good deal.

Other Parlor Guitars

The market is full of great compact guitars, but apart from the Jim Dandy, there’s an another one which also deserves a lot of attention – it’s the Fender Sonoran Mini.

I had the pleasure to compare both of these guitars and they’re both very unique. I can’t really say which one is better – it’s like choosing your favorite child.

While Jim Dandy has the oldschool aesthetic, the Sonoran Mini features an absolutely beautiful all-mahogany construction. This is very important, because guitars made of that wood usually sound nice and warm. It’s a perfect guitar for soothing fingerpicking at evenings after work.

Have a look at the photo below – they both look stunning, right?

And what’s important, Sonoran Mini is pretty much on the same price level. So it all depends on what exactly you’re searching for. If you want something VERY special and unusual, choose the Jim Dandy – it’s just unique. The Sonoran Mini is also an amazing option, but it doesn’t have that oldschool vibe.

What to consider before buying

Making a purchase isn’t easy – in the end, it involves spending money. No one wants to spend cash on stuff that’s not good for us, right?

So here’s a few things that you have to consider before buying the Jim Dandy:

  • are you looking for an acoustic guitar with a vintage vibe? If not, choosing a more regular model may be a better option
  • are you okay with the fact that this is a small-bodied model, which means that it’s slightly smaller than regular acoustic guitars?
  • are you willing to put some extra work to make the Jim Dandy sound better? That means replacing the strings or adjusting potential factory issues (which are rare, but they can occur)
  • are you okay with the fact that this is not an acoustic-electric guitar? If you want to perform with an amp, you’ll have to modify your Jim Dandy and buy an additional pickup. You can also consider getting Gretsch Gin Rickey instead (which is basically a brother of Dandy – but it’s an acoustic-electric instead)

Answering all of these questions should give you a solid understanding if this guitar is designed for you. If not – that’s totally fine. It’s not for everyone! But those who will decide to get it, I’m sure that they won’t regret it.

Where I Bought My Gretsch

The guitar that you can see on all photos above came from Thomann – my favorite music store of all time! I can totally recommend their service – they ship guitars fast and their prices are really good too. If you’re from Europe, you probably already heard about them. Plus the 3-year guarantee and return policy makes it even better. They always ship guitars in two cardboard boxes, so you can be sure that it will arrive safely.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, I don’t see many reasons why you should not consider getting this acoustic guitar. I’m VERY happy that I bought mine and I will probably keep it for years to come.

It’s just one of these guitars that will stick to you for a long time. It’s hard to describe that feeling. Sometimes you just pick a new guitar up and you just know that it’s going to stay. Imagine how cool would it be to give your Jim Dandy to your grandchildren in 40 or 50 years. That would be awesome!

And yeah, I know that it’s not perfect. No one is. And no guitar is (well, that’s quite subjective). But these minor issues don’t matter – it’s all about the vibe. And Jim Dandy is 10/10 when it comes to the vibe!

If you do end up with buying it, come back to this article after a while and leave a comment under the post – share your thoughts with my readers! I’m sure that everyone will be happy to hear what you think about it and if you experienced any issues.

Hopefully this review was helpful! For more reviews of guitars – make sure to visit my Gear Reviews category. And if you want to find out more about some tips that I have for both amateur and more advanced guitarists – check out the Guitar Tips page.