Modern Gretsch Guitars

First Gretsch, terrible quality

1

Just picked up a 5222 and I must say I'm not impressed.

2

Just picked up a 5222 and I must say I'm not impressed. I'm 55, been playing for 45 years and own mostly high end electric guitars such as 1960 reissue les paul, EBMM majesty, EVH USA, Fender strats, PRS McCarty 594 etc. This G5222 won't stay in tune to save it's life. The volume and tone pots are pathetic and next to non functional. Strings bind coming out of the v shape tail piece, then bind on the bridge then bind on the nut. The tuning machines are ridiculously sloppy. My question is how am I reading so many stellar reviews and holding such a piece of crap example in my hands? Does this model seriously need to be completely re-outfitted from the ground up or did I just get a complete reject?

3

You must have gotten a Friday guitar. The new ones I've played lately are all pretty fantastic. Did you order it or not play it before purchasing?

4

I'm with Shane, sounds like you got a guitar with NO quality control checkoffs. Depending on your buying experience, perhaps Joe or his replacement might be able to help you resolve your tuning issues.

5

Don't buy a Gretsch guitar online unless it's from Rocky at Street Sounds, Joel at Shanghai or Wildwood, Sweetwater or one of the other independent stores that actually setup and make sure their guitars are good to go before letting them out the door. I'm guessing you bought it online from some big chain otherwise you would not have brought it home with you. Send it back and buy one from Rocky.

7

5222 is a Electromatic yes? Those are a little lower on the totem of price, parts and quality. I’d check out a Proline. With your pedigree you deserve one! Im in the same life time line as you.. a nice Used Setzer Hot Rod can be found for as little as 1200$ more commonly 16sh. It will be worlds apart from your current Blemish. However... I’m sure there are Electro’s out there that are amazing but they will never feel like a Pro or have the quality parts or build... Set ups are somewhat of a crapshoot and depends on the character of the seller...

8

Plus one on what Slickfaster said. Gretsch lower end guitars can be okay, but if you’re used to high end, buy a Gretsch Pro Line, new or used.

9

Have you reached out to the place of purchase? I guess I don't understand the first notion to be to come to this site and gripe about it. As others mentioned, send it back and buy from Joel or Rocky they'll steer your the right direction. And frankly expecting a guitar that lists for 550 bucks to be on par with PRS, American made Fenders, etc... is disingenuous on your part

10

I tend to agree with BD. I've played numbers of proline and lesser Gretsches in the local outlets over the years, and while there are nice things about many of the Electros that come quickly to mind, there exists a greater percentage of less-than-scintillating examples as well.

That's not to say there are no "good" Electromatics out there. Over the years, I've been tempted more than once to add to my stable (sorry, honey!), but no, you can't compare an entry-level Gretsch with a high-end PRS or even a high-end proline Gretsch.

It's a little like comparing a Honda Civic to an Acura. They look the same, but under the hood, there are a lot of changes...

11

Just picked up a 5222 and I must say I'm not impressed. I'm 55, been playing for 45 years and own mostly high end electric guitars such as 1960 reissue les paul, EBMM majesty, EVH USA, Fender strats, PRS McCarty 594 etc. This G5222 won't stay in tune to save it's life. The volume and tone pots are pathetic and next to non functional. Strings bind coming out of the v shape tail piece, then bind on the bridge then bind on the nut. The tuning machines are ridiculously sloppy. My question is how am I reading so many stellar reviews and holding such a piece of crap example in my hands? Does this model seriously need to be completely re-outfitted from the ground up or did I just get a complete reject?

– mikey007

Nice friendly first post. Thank you for immediately crapping on our doorstep without even knocking, or so much as a "hello".

That takes real class. Welcome.

12

Lol..., it ain’t crap if true.. guy came here looking to vent to an understanding crowd n get some insight. Now he’s not alone.. -much respect to ya Tartan That was a stinger!!!

13

While Electromatics - and, even more, Streamliners - generally show fit, finish, QC, and from-the-factory setups that consistently exceed much of the competition, it remains true that a 600.00 guitar is not a 2,000.00-and-up guitar. That's the transparently unrealistic comparison being made here.

mikey, if you spent big on Fender, Gibson, PRS, and Music Man...why go economy on the Gretsch? And why then make the comparison?


In practical terms, several suggestions.

As you've obviously seen the benefit of buying expensive gear, you surely understand that part of what you pay for in those purchases is more attention to the setup of individual guitars, in particular the nut and the entire string path.

If you bought from a dealer or e-tailer who did only cursory (or no) setup, the guitar is almost certainly not at its best yet.

Most tuning problems, 89% of the time, are caused at the nut. While Gretsch's Asian contractors do a good job with nut dressing, it's only sometimes perfect. That's because the factory can't know what strings you're eventually going to put on the guitar, and how you prefer your action. They default to leaving the string slots a little higher than might be ideal, on the theory that it's easier for a buyer (or his dealer/tech) to remove material than to put it back.

And in fact new guitars of any price point need nut dressing: slots perhaps widened (if you put on heavier strings), and maybe deepened and angled/tapered down toward the tuners on the headstock side. A properly dressed nut is often the difference between a guitar and a sculpture. When I'm not confident of my own ability to get the nut just right, I gladly pay a good tech to do it. When I've bought a 600.00 (when I have 2,500.00 taste), I consider that 50.00 still a bargain.

Did you put new strings on it, to give it a chance? Who knows what the history of the original strings might be. Did you buy the guitar new?

While tuning issues are almost always the nut - and almost never the tuners - I do have my suspicions about the gorgeous open-backed tuners that come on some Electromatics. Yours has the closed-box sorta-Schallers, and I have no reason to suspect them.

Bridge and tailpiece, another conversation. (Full disclosure: I market Tru-Arc one-piece replacement bridges, often used on Gretschs.)

There are many perfectly serviceable Tune-o-matic type bridges on the market. The best ones don't usually come on 600.00 guitars. That's economics. But when I sell Tru-Arcs to replace Adjustamatics on Gretschs, it's more often to get the tonal and playability benefits of a one-piece bar bridge (or to kill rattle and buzz) than to solve tuning problems. And when someone wants to buy a bridge hoping it will resolve tuning issues, I offer a lot of qualifications, because I don't want to be blamed when a bridge doesn't solve nut or tailpiece problems.

Strings bind coming out of the v shape tail piece, then bind on the bridge then bind on the nut.

Where do they bind in the tailpiece? Where do they bind on the bridge? On the saddles, or do they touch the body of the bridge behind the saddles? (And of course they bind in the nut. You have 2,000.00 expectations and a 600.00 guitar.)

I haven't closely inspected a V-tailpiece guitar, so can't know the geometry of the string travel. But I do know that everything about string travel - and especially binding - is sensitive to string tension. Lower tension (within reasonable bounds) can alleviate binding issues. Not a lot, but maybe enough to resolve issues on the 5222. I'm sure you know you can adjust that tension by raising the V-tailpiece: the higher it sits, the shallower the string break over the bridge, and the better for tuning stability.

You could try that. New strings. More string stretching. Nut dressing.

The volume and tone pots are pathetic and next to non functional.

You could have bad pots, but it's unlikely. What is true is that Gretsch pots have a different taper and behave very differently from Gibson and PRS practice. Most of the adjustment is in the upper 20% of the pot's rotation. The guitars are also wired differently, with different interaction between the pickups. One's not inherently better or worse, they're just different. You can certainly prefer one over the other, and Gretschs can be rewired in Gibsonny ways. I know when I first got Gretschs, I always intended to do that. Then I noticed they sounded great, I'd gotten used to the controls, and here I am, permanently blinded by the Kool-Aid.

So much for the actual guitar you actually have.

But you may not have bought the right Gretsch for you. I sense a collision between your habitual expectations of a solidbody guitar - and the geometry of the particular Gretsch you bought. You may (or may not) know that a bridge on fixed studs mounted into the top of a guitar, with a stop tailpiece a couple inches behind it, is not a "classic" Gretsch configuration. It's not a design the most characteristic Gretsch tones and timbres have been built on.

Virtually all Gretsch designs from the 50s and 60s have floating wood bases on a guitar with a high neck set (that is, the neck sits higher off the body), and either a trapeze tailpiece screwed to the butt of the guitar or a Bigsby vibrato. As every guitar you've listed in your collection has one or another version of classic solidbody construction - I'm guessing you may not be familiar with those Gretsch characteristics, and/or may consider them antiquated and "not rock-n-roll." Or whatever. But every one of those details - neck set, floating bridge, strings at a shallower break angle over the bridge, headed through a long "harp" to a tailpiece - has been part of the physics which contribute to the most characteristic Gretsch sound.

The guitar you bought has none of those. It's built "like a Les Paul." Gretsch is doing a lot of that over the past 8-10 years - making guitars whose physics and build are more like 335s and Les Pauls. They're doing it to capture players who are uncomfortable with all those old-time quirks of classic Gretschs - and they've been successful at it. You have an EVH and a Petrucci - making you a feller who hasn't been the core Gretsch demographic - and look! you bought a Gretsch! It worked!

It's just that I don't think stopbar Electromatic Gretschs are the company's most refined design.

I personally don't like the V-tailpiece, and personally I think Gretsch has gone as far as they should to attract Gibson-build buyers. It's not that they've sacrificed all of the elements which go into making a Gretsch different from other guitars - but they've compromised them.

Which makes me curious why you bought a Gretsch. (And not just a mid-line Gretsch instead of one more in your usual price range - which, I assure you, would come set up to a nicety.) If you're looking for just a touch of what have been the great Gretsch sounds of the past, the 5222 at best ... will give you that. A touch. The fixed-stud bridge and short-harp stop tailpiece compromise the classic Gretsch response, and the Broad'Tron pickups may be Gretschier than overwound humbuckers - but they're not the Filter'Trons, DynaSonics, or HiLoTrons which are Gretsch's family jewels.

The 5400 series Electromatics - true hollowbodies with floating bridges, non-tension-bar Bigsby vibratos, and Blacktop Filter'Trons - get you much closer to archetypal Gretsch tones and response. They provide a much greater contrast to the other guitars in your collection, and a reason to have a Gretsch. (The 5222 at its best will be a Les Paul wanna-be. You have a Les Paul. I don't think it was ever the droid you should have been looking for.) But, unless you get one from a dealer who attends to such details, the 800.00 5400s will still take some setup to completely satisfy someone who's used to 2,000.00 guitars. I'm also not a huge fan of the Blacktops, but they're easily swapped out.

So, in the worst of all worlds, let's say you spent 800.00 on an Electromatic 5400, and then changed out nut (50.00), tuners (80.00), bridge (90.00 - 140.00 for a Tru-Arc, but I DON'T WANT TO SELL YOU ONE), and pickups (120.00 - 250.00). At that point it has all pro-quality appointments. You're still around 1,200.00...and have saved hundreds (or more) under the price of the pro gear you usually buy. Where's the problem with that math?

AND - with attention to the nut, you may well find an Electromatic 5420 or 5422 completely satisfactory without mods. It will still be waaay different in tone and response to any of your other guitars, and plenty Gretschy.

But. You bought a LesPaul-sized guitar. Maybe you went in wanting an alternative to a Les Paul that said Gretsch on the headstock. Well...for my taste, the 5222 isn't that alternative.

Maybe an Electromatic Jet with a Bigsby - but that still has the infernal fixed bridge on studs.

To get to a Les Paul-sized guitar in the Gretsch line which is truly a direct competitor to a Les Paul, in the same quality range, it takes a Pro-line Jet, which come with both Filter'Trons and DynaSonics, and in either Players Edition (fixed bridge) and Vintage Select (floating bridge) versions.

The true alternative is one with a floating bridge...and if you wanted to experience a 14" chambered "solid"body which differed in tone and response as completely as possible from a Les Paul, it would be a pro-line Jet with floating bridge and DynaSonic pickups. That's the guitar that changed my playing life (years ago when I was a kid of 52).

In any case, per guitar selection and expectations: get to a store - or just order from a vendor with a good return policy - and try a Pro series Gretsch. Then compare fit-finish-QC-playability to your expensive wood.


And that's all I've got. If you were looking for good information, I hope that provides some: I think you should send that guitar back and get a Gretschier Gretsch, if not all the way to a pro line.

If you were just looking to troll, well shame on you, and congratulations, I guess, for wasting an old man's time. It wouldn't be the first time I've fallen for it.

14

As others have mentioned, it depends a lot on where you bought it. I've been a guitar tech most of my life, and have been doing it professionally for about a decade. That said, I've never met a guitar, of any price point that didn't need a setup. Some are better than others, and honestly, Gretsch has been consistent at least.

If you bought it at Guitar Center, Musicians Friend, or somewhere similar, they did not do any kind of hands on setup. To expect a factory (any factory) setup to hold up from Korea to your door is asking a lot. I get initial frustration, but don't blame the guitar for a crap retailer. There is not a single instrument that leaves my shop without time on my bench, and we offer a free setup within the first year should the seasons shift things around too much.

So, others have posted solutions, and I'm always happy to answer questions directly, but ultimately you should find a worthy guitar tech (which will not be found at GC or the like) or buy from a place that will do that kind of thing for you. I know not everyone has access to a good brick and mortar store, but there are plenty of shops that do that kind of thing and ship to you.

15

Don’t look here for high end guitars. Ya get what ya pay for.

16

Don’t look here for high end guitars. Ya get what ya pay for.

– Powdog

That may have been true when we were growing up. The fact is, the Chinese have been producing high quality instruments for quite some time.

17

That may have been true when we were growing up. The fact is, the Chinese have been producing high quality instruments for quite some time.

– Bluecap

My two cents. There area two types of factories in China : factories under licence (Epiphone in Shandong province) and independant makers (there is a village in Guizhou province churning out guitars). Quality varies, to say the least, from OK to downright unplayable. There is also a huge difference between guitars for overseas markets and guitars for the Chinese market.

18

My Electromatic was a Christmas present from my wife, so I wasn’t gonna return it. But the playability wasn’t very good. Two tuners barely turned, a knob had fallen off and the pot had a wonky shaft. The bridge didn’t work well with the Bigsby. Had I tried it out in a store I wouldn’t have bought it.

I’ve since put Schaller keystones on it, Tim supplied me with a Truarc bridge and Mel installed his Alameda pickups. It’s a sweetheart now, but out of the box no one would ever confuse it with a “high end” guitar.

19

Hmmmmmm....Interesting to me why no additional input from OhPee to address comments and suggestions made by folk here. All observations are spot on and are high quality remarks. I would think some form of counter argument would ensue unless just trolling.

20

Hmmmmmm....Interesting to me why no additional input from OhPee to address comments and suggestions made by folk here. All observations are spot on and are high quality remarks. I would think some form of counter argument would ensue unless just trolling.

– BigJImSlade

I've been suspicious on this one from the get-go. It was just too much, too soon. I'm surprised that he didn't complain about the lack of "gold piping" on Gretsch cases.

The first sign was the immediate shoring up of "street cred" by listing all the awesome expensive guitars he's played over the years, as if that make any difference when complaining about a $500 Chinese-built instrument.

21

I've been suspicious on this one from the get-go. It was just too much, too soon. I'm surprised that he didn't complain about the lack of "gold piping" on Gretsch cases.

The first sign was the immediate shoring up of "street cred" by listing all the awesome expensive guitars he's played over the years, as if that make any difference when complaining about a $500 Chinese-built instrument.

– Tartan Phantom

Yup and yup. Reeks of disingenuous BS.

22

Dost thou suggest "Thunderball", perchance?

23

Next, "Mikey" will be lecturing us on his boxing career and washboard abs

24

Electromatics, Squiers,and Epiphones are budget-level, entry-level guitars. For cheap, they aren't bad, but they're still cheap, and they won't do what their appearance implies. If you want the real thing,it'll cost you. Always has.

25

Well I'm glad we got all over this one.


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