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Something for Rocky to consider

1

I was ruminating today on how long I've had my SSLVO and it occurs to me it is as old now as Brian's original '60 Stray Cat 6120 was when he bought it in '77.

This got me thinking about old vs. new, vintage vs. modern, etc., and it doesn't take much thinking like that to see that Bax's original labels for forums now seem a little outdated.

When Bax started the site in '95 Fred III had only had the company name back in family ownership for 10 years, and only actually producing guitars for 6, so it was reasonable to refer to the newer Japanese built guitars as 'modern' to differentiate them from the US built ones. But Fred III has been at the helm for 35 years now; the 2nd longest head guy after his grandfather Fred Snr (47 years) and way longer than 3rd placer, his uncle Fred Jr (19 years) who was in charge during what we've come to know as the Golden Era.

And get this; Fred III's earliest guitars ('89) are now 31 years old - the same age a 'vintage' '64 Golden Era Gretsch was when this site was born.

Gretsch guitars weren't out of production for very long at all - certainly less than a decade - and all these years on it seems a little odd to use this barren period as an arbitrary watershed.

Maybe it would be more appropriate to have forum names that represent certain periods of the Gretsch company history. For example:

  • The Founding Years (1883 - 1948)
  • The Golden Era ('48 - '67)
  • The Baldwin Years ('67 - '84)
  • The Rebirth Years ('89 - '03)
  • The Fender Years ('03 - date)

Just an idea, y'know...

2

Definitely makes sense to do something different. I get the logic in your scheme, and it makes sense to the informed Gretschophile - but while most of the divisions have to do with ownership and management changes, the break between Founding Years and Golden Era is more arbitrary. And it occurs to me that five is a lot of divisions, especially for a newbie to absorb.

Most of the contemporary confusion about the brand does arise from the 89-present period, which has the clear markers you've identified.

I'm thinking Founding Years and Golden Era could be lumped together. I think I agree that it makes sense to break the Baldwin Years away - even though, especially in the early Baldwin years, all the same models soldiered on, changing only gradually over time. And, yes, given the BST and hockey stick and similar adventures, the Baldwin era guitars did take on distinct identities.

That compression would leave 4 eras, all based on who's managing and marketing the brand.

Least that's my take. Ed Ball should weigh in, and other vintage hounds. But from my perspective, dividing the "modern" era makes sense. And I like abandoning the words "vintage" and "modern" in forum heads, as the meaning of those words gradually morph over time in ambiguous ways. Hard dates for the eras avoid judgment calls.

If such a scheme is implemented, we have to wonder what to do with existing threads. Do we leave them as they are, perhaps locking them as "legacy forums" and start fresh with the new categories - or does someone laboriously trawl through the forums and re-file existing threads under the new heads? A viable middle ground might be to re-file threads going back a few months - ones that are more likely still to attract new posts - and turn older ones into legacy forums.


And while we're working on the eras...what do we do with Electromatics?

There's a separate forum for them now, but it does not specifically incorporate the Streamliner line - meaning if someone is trying to conscientiously put a Streamliner topic under a most likely heading, Streamliners end up lumped in with "Modern" (or even Other Guitars or Misc Rumbles). That's a result that makes no sense and was clearly never intended.

Is it confusing to have two overlapping organization schemes - chronological on one side and series on the other? Should the Pro Collection/Electromatic/Streamliner distinctions be dropped altogether so that those lines all fall together under the appropriate era?

I'm not sure I have a hard opinion about that - I'm thinking about it - but at the moment I tend to think it is useful to break those series out: easy enough to turn Electromatics to Electromatics and Streamliners - AND include dates in the heading.

It would be nice if those dates corresponded to the date breaks among the pro series guitars...so does that imply a forum for Rebirth Years Electromatics, Synchromatics (and maybe Historics), as well as the FMIC-era Electros & Streamliners?

I'm not against that division. There was such a confusing proliferation of models, types, and sub-pro-line series in the Rebirth Years that it almost makes sense for them to get their own forum - not so much because it would be busy as to keep their confusion out of the FMIC-era Electro/Streamliner forum.

If such a scheme were followed, along with Deke's (or a modified Deke's) divisions of the pro line, we'd end up with 6 or 7 main forum heads for Gretsch guitars: 4 (or 5) for the oldies, 2 for the entry and mid lines since the 90s. Not terrible.

(That does, however, lump all pre-1989 entry/mid lines in with the pro-liners from those eras, so it's not a perfect scheme. But I think the further we go back in time, the more the era of production seems more important than the market segments.)

In case, the idea of having a separate forum for Electros and Streamliners is that those lines are the current entry points for more new Gretsch players in the past few years than Gretsch has ever had - many of those younger players, and/or older players who've never Gretsched before.

I think it makes a strong impression on those folks if they find forums here specifically targeted at them. More like they've been invited, and there's a place for them here. I think that's important to keeping the site active and vital, which we're not going to do by catering mostly to us old bastids.

3

I've thought about this too; calling a 31 year old guitar "modern" does seem a bit silly. But the current division between vintage and modern -- because of the break in manufacturing from '81-ish to '89 -- seems to be a very convenient distinction.

If you're going to get granular, you can start making distinctions that may be too challenging for a newbie: e.g. Baldwin Brooklyn and Baldwin Boonesville are quite different from each other. Then there is the whole pre-war, wartime and post-war eras, all quite distinct, and perhaps not even appropriate given that wartime Gretsches seem to be re-branded Harmony/Kays.

But that's part of what I love about Gretsches: always the most interesting puzzles to figure out. But Deke's point addresses the "accuracy" of the current divisions and that is a worthy endeavor.

4

Just sort them by color.

5

Oh, I like that idea.

6

seems to me that such a granular level of reorganization runs the risk of being more confusing than anything else. separating "Founding Years" from "Golden Era" is just going to set up a Founding Years sub-forum that gets little if any use. a division between pre- and post-Baldwin makes somewhat more sense, but again would lead to a Baldwin Years subset that's really not going to be used enough to justify the effort of drawing the distinction. likewise, i think that separating the modern pre- and post-FMIC era is coals to Newcastle. i think it's simpler to have fewer well-used subgroups so folks won't have to look in 4 or 5 places when one or two is much simpler to contemplate. imagine being a total noob and trying to understand four or five more distinctions than the ones that already exist. do we want a forum, or an encyclopedia?

on the other hand, a Streamliner subforum really should already exist separate from Electromatics. a place for everything, and everything in its place.

7

and what about the 70s Dorado "by Gretsch" acoustics? and flat-top acoustics in general, which seem clearly a group apart?

8

do we want a forum, or an encyclopedia?

Well...it was always supposed to be both, actually - though most of the encyclopedic action was to be in the model histories and the database. I don't know how the database/registry is doing, but the model histories are a woeful mess, and have been for some time. They need editing and updating with new info.

That said, I'm not worried about current members finding their way around. I'm most concerned about new people finding the site, and finding an obvious place to belong.

If it's someone who's already somewhat familiar with Gretsch history, the subdivisions in the "vintage" (ie, 1833-1984) era won't be terribly confusing. At worst, it will be someone who just came into an old Gretsch and wonders what it is, when it's from, what it's worth. They can take a guess at an era, and if turns out they're wrong, they'll quickly be directed to the "right" place.

My concern is for the vast multitudes (by comparison to any past Gretsch era) who are coming into the brand via Electromatics and Streamliners. I want them to see immediately where they belong, and it's my expectation that/those forum(s) will be the most heavily used - which is good. We need an influx of new players, young players, people just discovering the whole Gretsch thang - and who are not (at first) in the least motivated by or interested in the rambling cogitations of The Old Hands.

I think like attracts like, and everyone wants to associate with others more or less of his ilk - and that if we build it, they will come. I think more needs to be done to attract those people - but a first step is providing a door with their name on it.

9

any kind of reorganization by time periods needs to be delineated specifically. perhaps a "START HERE" page with a relatively detailed timeline/family tree that aims people at specific places, a kind of "if you have a [guitar type/era] it goes HERE" thing. i think that it would be unwieldy to try to do that in the headers for the sub-groups. i could be wrong, though...it's been known to happen occasionally.

10

Uh, don't forget that there were vintage Streamliners and Electromatics....

11

There's lots of things that can be done here -- I have a pile of ideas but would suggest for Gretsch it not get too complicated ... never understood why Electromatics had its own category. Seem to me there now more activity the the Modern/Recent section -- it should go first, sorta like newest to oldest

As far as other areas ... sections around persons -- Dan Duffy's gone, Easton never checks in, he's more a Gibson guy anyway, etc. -- why keep them, -- but if they are kept ... just some area of archival sections is good enough

12

The dates I suggested were just thinking aloud, but for the record I made a mistake with the Golden Era, that should really start in ‘54 when the 6120, Duo Jet and White Falcon arrived. Something big really did happen that year and Gretsch as a company blossomed exponentially.

Personally I would suggest against using models (or model groups) as dividers, as I feel this would create even more confusion. Back in the old days Electromatic, Streamliner and Synchromatic meant very different things to what they do today.

13

Yes, Streamliners and Synchros and Electros are also historical. But I think that, at the age of those historical bearers of those names, their antique vintageness takes precedence over their model line designations. I don't think it makes sense to segregate them from the general population of Old Guitars based on their model names.

I do think it's well worth doing in the "modern era," for reasons I've flogged above. Simply making the date range part of the topic heading suffices: Electromatics, 2003-Present. Or Electromatics & Streamliners, 1999-present.

Like so.

14

The '55 catalogue is called "Guitars For Moderns" which was modern for the current era. I think that we are currently in a "Golden Age" for Gretsch guitars.

15

Yes, Streamliners and Synchros and Electros are also historical. But I think that, at the age of those historical bearers of those names, their antique vintageness takes precedence over their model line designations. I don't think it makes sense to segregate them from the general population of Old Guitars based on their model names.

I do think it's well worth doing in the "modern era," for reasons I've flogged above. Simply making the date range part of the topic heading suffices: Electromatics, 2003-Present. Or Electromatics & Streamliners, 1999-present.

Like so.

– Proteus

this.

16

I think I agree on a bunch of points here - I reread the Headers and Subheaders (which I don't ever use anyway, it's always "new topics" that I ever look at). Here's existing:

*Vintage Gretsch Guitars - From Brooklyn to Baldwin.

Modern Gretsch Guitars - From Traveling Wilburys to today*

Without being overly broad, technicially you could call the pre-FMIC years "Modern Vintage" but then you get super confusing with the player select and etc newly branded guitars, right?

For me, honestly, I always think of Vintage like the subheaders - Brooklyn to Baldwin

Any Modern iteration (for me) is simply broken up into pre-FMIC or FMIC.

17

i can see the point of splitting the "Modern Era" based on pre- vs. post-FMIC, but given the relatively low sales in the pre-FMIC years this might be splitting the lemon too thin.

18

Go by series:

1xxx, 2xxx, 3xxx, 5xxx, 6xxx, 7xxx, Other

Or by color.

19

Going by series actually makes sense to me. Then you have all examples of a given model in one category.

20

but weren't some of the model numbers recycled over the years?

21

And there are a LOT of them.

22

Anyone else okay with the way it is? A manufacturing lapse of the better part of a decade (not to mention a coincident change of ownership and place of manufacture) seems as good a division as any.

Do we really need to divide them all up like metalheads inventing new genres for every album?

A 90s guitar isn't "modern" but it's definitely not vintage by any commonly used definition in the guitar industry.

24

Anyone else okay with the way it is? A manufacturing lapse of the better part of a decade (not to mention a coincident change of ownership and place of manufacture) seems as good a division as any.

Do we really need to divide them all up like metalheads inventing new genres for every album?

A 90s guitar isn't "modern" but it's definitely not vintage by any commonly used definition in the guitar industry.

– Otter

I'm okay with the way it is, particularly using the decade break in production as a good dividing point. Pre and post FMIC seems like another logical separating point for the changes incorporated. Delving into all the various iterations of models is a big waste of time to me as we have newer models plus models that are reissues to add complicating the matter. I think of vintage as running up to the end of the Baldwin era. Post and pre war (WWII) also seems like a natural division as well. The war years can't always be pinned down via features as guitars were built with what was available in many cases. More modern building techniques were used following the war and the guitars didn't use some of the features we value today.

There really is two distinct Baldwin eras as things stayed the same for the most part (yeah I know the rot from the glue change seems pretty distinct) for the mid to end of the '60's. Changes began appearing at the end of '71 and were more or less completed by June '72 and the later group don't show the rampant rot and were not badly made guitars.

25

A 90s guitar isn't "modern" but it's definitely not vintage by any commonly used definition in the guitar industry.

Well, that’s kinda my point. If, in 1995, vintage meant anything before c. 1984, that would mean if we use the same nomenclature now it would apply to at least anything pre-2009.

The adjectives ‘modern’ and ‘vintage’ mean nothing without some frame of reference. It’s true that ‘we’ would call a pre-84 Gretsch a vintage, but that’s only based on our pre-existing knowledge of the Gretsch company history. To a newbie it means nothing.


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