Eastwood Classic 12
At first glance one would think this is a copy of a “faithful reproduction” of a Gretsch 12 string from the golden age of chiming folk rock. Well indeed, Gretsch has had 12 strings in their catalog in their past, but in 2006 issued their own 12 string in response to this guitar. It was called the Country Classic 12 and listed for over $3000. With a street price of of $499, this is certainly the more economically sound way to go and good luck finding one of the Gretsches as it was discontinued.
Coming in two sweet colors, a Gretsch-faithful walnut and a sumptuous cherry sunburst called Fireburst, this Chinese guitar is made for laying down waves of heavenly jangle. The bound maple neck and the “shark’s teeth” inlays are a wonderful touch and even with the oversized headstock the guitar is well balance.
Equipped with Eastwood’s EW-Retro Humbuckers, the tonal colors are sweet and creamy. Though they look like low power Filtertron knockoffs, they exhibit a nice grind when pushed. Other specs include a flamed maple top, bound F-holes, rosewood fretboard, 3-way controls: 2 volume, 1 tone, fixed Tun-O-Matic Bridge and Gotoh Nickel/Chrome hardware. I especially like the fixed bridge as on many Gretsch-styled guitars, even 12 strings, a floating bridge can be a nuisance.
The only drawback for this guitar is, once again for Eastwoods, the lack of setup from the factory. Luckily Eastwoods are not strictly mailorder so you can find them in many shops. Most small stores will set up their guitars for the sales floor. If you do order direct, chances are you will have to either have a pro set this thing up or you will have to invest a great deal of your own time to make it play correctly.
The review model had sky-high action beyond the 4th or 5th fret and a general stiffness that is evidence of a bowed neck. I am guessing this is probably a result of the Classic 12 being shipped with the strings tuned to pitch. Better care needs to be taken at either the factory in China or the distribution point in Canada to assure the guitars that go out will be playable when they arrive.
So, if you find one in a store that is playing sweetly or you don’t mind the hassle of setting it up yourself, you will be richly rewarded with an inexpensive guitar that looks beautiful and brings forth a sweet array of chime, jangle and retro-vibe that will get you noticed on the dimmest of stages.